How to Cook Halloumi?

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how to cook halloumi
Photo by NastasyaDay on Pixabay

Soft, salty, squidgy, white yummy cheese is halloumi that people rave about. How to cook halloumi is another common query. Read along and get to learn about halloumi first and then how to cook halloumi. 

Halloumi

Halloumi is a Cypriot white, semi-hard, salty cheese produced from goat’s or sheep’s milk or a combination of both. Cow’s milk is also used to produce these halloumi cheese in some areas where goat or sheep milk is not available. It has a distinctive layered texture same as Mozzarella cheese but this has a salty flavour.

halloumi cheese
Photo by BestNerdLife on Pixabay

Origin of Halloumi Cheese

Halloumi cheese originated in the Mediterranean islands of Cyprus in the Medieval Byzantine period, and become popular throughout the rest of the eastern Mediterranean region. It is often served as a Mediterranean breakfast.

How Halloumi Cheese is Made?

Halloumi cheese is prepared by adding rennet in the warm milk which separates the curd and whey naturally. The curd portion is left to firm up then later it is poached in the whey with added salt. The second process makes this halloumi cheese unique by giving its high melting point.

The prepared hard cheese is kept fresh by keeping it in brine or salty water. Traditionally in earlier days, halloumi cheese was kept fresh by wrapping it in mint leaves so you can find little flecks of these mint leaves on the cheese surface. Sometimes it is compared to Mexican Queso panela, Greek kefalotyri, Indian paneer, or hard tofu.

The Flavor of Halloumi Cheese

The halloumi cheese has a creamy, salty flavour without being overly cheesy. The intense flavour of halloumi cheese adds a lot of taste to your food, so just a small amount of this can lift your dish.

Where to Find Halloumi?

Halloumi has become popular in recent years in western countries. You can find halloumi in sealed packages in most major supermarkets in the speciality cheese section.

Halloumi is of ‘log’ shape, packed in packets with little brine to keep it moist and fresh. It is a ‘roll’ of cheese, while slicing you will see a split through the middle.

Traditionally, it was wrapped in mint leaves to keep it fresh. So sometimes you can see little flecks of mint leaves on the surface. Preferably, use a genuine Cypriot cheese brand, its taste and texture are better.

Can You Eat Raw Halloumi?

Halloumi cheese is tastier and irresistible when cooked but you can enjoy it fresh raw as well because it tastes good in that way too.

How to Store Raw Halloumi?

After opening a sealed package of halloumi, you can store raw halloumi leftovers in these ways.

  1. In an airtight container or bag– if you want to use the leftover within 2-3 days, then store it in an airtight container or sandwich bag in the fridge. You can keep it in a similar manner for up to 3 days.
  2. In brine– to store for up to a week and extend its life further, store the leftover in brine. Make a simple salt brine. Mix 2 teaspoons of salt with 2 cups of water in a bowl together until salt dissolves, pour this brine over raw halloumi in an airtight container and store in the fridge. You can keep them for a maximum of 2 weeks.

  3. Freeze the halloumi– cut your halloumi into slices, wrap them tightly and freeze halloumi to use later.

Is Halloumi Suitable for Vegetarians or lactose Intolerants?

Halloumi is generally made with rennet which is nonanimal derived and would be suitable for vegetarians. But you should check the package for your assurance. Since it is made with milk, so it is not suitable for lactose intolerant or vegans.

Nutritional Value of Halloumi and its Health Aspects

  • The nutritional value of halloumi varies depending on the ingredients used by the cheesemaker or companies manufacturing it.

  • Halloumi is a good source of calcium and protein, but also high in saturated fat and sodium.

  • Diet-conscious people can look for low-fat halloumi, which is also available.

  • Because of its high calories, it is good for building muscles.

  • Olive oil is used for frying halloumi which is considered one of the healthiest oil for cooking. 

  • People who are advised to take less salt in their diet due to health issues, should avoid the halloumi or consume it less.

How to Cook Halloumi?

Since halloumi cheese has a high melting point, it can be cooked in different ways. Halloumi cheese can be baked, grilled, and fried. So read along to learn how to cook halloumi in these different ways. 

It is so versatile and can be served as an appetizer, salads, burgers, kebabs, and many more ways.

Ingredients Required

  • A log or roll of cheese.
  • Olive oil.
  • For garnishing, you will need lemon, fresh herbs, paprika, black pepper, honey, Balsamic vinegar or glaze.

How to Cook Halloumi by Frying Method?

Frying is the most common and easy way to cook halloumi. Follow these steps and learn how to cook halloumi by frying. 

fried halloumi
Photo by promar on Pixabay
  1. Cut the halloumi into slices

    Cut halloumi cheese into thick slices of approximately 1 cm or 3-inch thick. This thickness will keep the cheese gooey and soft in the middle because thin slices will dry up and become hard.

    To get that brown grill mark on your cheese, either you should fry halloumi in a girdle pan or cut the cheese with the crinkle cutter. So you will get beautiful golden stripes across the cheese.

  2. Add the halloumi to the frying pan

    Preheat a non-stick frying pan and put halloumi slices into it. There is no need to add oil to a non-stick pan. Halloumi cheese releases some liquid as it cooks and doesn’t stick to the pan. Turn up to medium heat and cook halloumi. This is called “dry fry”.

    But If you are using a stainless steel pan then you should add a little olive oil first and then put halloumi slices into it.

  3. Cook halloumi on its first side

    After putting slices into the pan, after one or two minutes cheese will release some liquid. Wait till all the liquid is released and evaporates. Some salty substance is left after the liquid dries up.

    Notice their colour change because their colour corresponds to the colour of the bottom part of cheese slices. When they turn golden brown it means your bottom side of the cheese is done and it is time to flip over. You should move around your cheese slices in the pan so that it gets cooked evenly.

  4. Flip the halloumi cheese

    When the underside of your cheese is browned as you like, then flip over the cheese slices of halloumi one by one. Repeat cooking with the other side. This side will take less time to fry since all the liquid has already been released.

    Your chees will be cooked in 1-2 minutes. Do not overcook your halloumi otherwise, it will become tough and rubbery.

    Enjoy your pan-fried halloumi as your golden brown cooked halloumi is ready with crispy edges and soft and squidgy middle. 

How to Cook Halloumi by Baking Method?

Halloumi cheese tastes good when baked too. Follow these steps and get to know how to cook halloumi cheese by baking.

  1. Slice the halloumi.

  2. Put slices of halloumi into a baking dish and drizzle little olive oil all over and sprinkle herbs or spices.

  3. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius/fan or 180 degrees/gas in a medium heated oven until cheese softens.

  4. While baking halloumi, cheese soaks up all the flavour, hence you can add an extra twist to your dish by adding these.

  5. To get an extra crispy exterior, stick it under the broiler for a short period of time.

How to Cook Halloumi by Grilling Method?

grilled halloumi
Photo by NastasyaDay on Pixabay

Grilled halloumi is too yummy. You can marinate your halloumi before cooking for about 15 minutes. This will spice up your cheese and flavours will seep in deep through them. Here are some marinades you can try –

  1. Thyme mix- put a few thymes, oil, garlic clove, lemon juice, and blend in a food processor.

  2. Basil mint mix- blend mint leaves, chopped basil, and olive oil and pulse to have a pesto-like sauce.

  3. Honey lime mix- put lemon juice, honey, white vinegar, and olive oil and blend them.

Follow these steps and learn how to cook halloumi by grilling:

  1. Preheat your grill oven or barbecue grill.

  2. Cut the halloumi into small bite-sized cubes.

  3. Thread the cubes onto the wooden skewers.

  4. Soak your wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes before use.

  5. Brush the cubes lightly with olive oil and sprinkle herbs of your choice over them.

  6. Over medium-high heat, grill the cubes for about 5 minutes turning the skewer regularly until grilled halloumi become golden brown on all sides.

  7. Enjoy grilled halloumi warm.

How to Cook Halloumi by Air Frying Method?

You can cook halloumi in an air fryer and can make halloumi fries with an air fryer too. It is an easier, cleaner, and healthier way of course since you are using far less oil than you traditionally use frying halloumi.

Follow these easy steps and learn how to cook halloumi in a quick and healthy way:

  1. Brush the slices of halloumi slightly with olive oil and air fry them for 5-7 minutes on each side or till it is crisp golden brown.

2. Different air fryers have slightly different rates of cooking, so take account of that.

Some Tips on How to Cook Halloumi Perfectly

Cooking halloumi seems easy but to get that perfectly soft, squidgy middle with the crisp exterior layer is a little tricky.

Here are some tips on how to cook halloumi perfectly:

  1. Use a good non-stick frying pan– it is especially required if you pan-fry halloumi without oil.

  2. Oil should be well warmed– if you are using olive oil to fry halloumi, let the oil warm up till it starts shimmering. When you put your halloumi cheese in this warm oil, it will crisp well from the outside.

  3. The thickness of slices– slices of halloumi should be a bit thicker, approximately 1-2 cm thick slices because very thin slices become a bit harder.

  4. Do not overcook– overcooking may dry up all of its inside juice and make it harder. Cooking halloumi approximately for 2 minutes on each side is quite good.

  5. Serve immediately– enjoy your halloumi fries while it is warm and soft within 5 minutes of cooking. It becomes rubbery and chewy when cools down.

Things to Keep in Mind While Cooking

  • Vegetables take a longer time to cook, so if you are grilling your halloumi with them, first, start cooking with vegetables.
  • Do not put halloumi cheese and meat together on a skewer because meat takes a much longer time to cook.
  • Olive oil will help in preventing the sticking of cheese to the grill. Just brush little oil on both sides of the slice using the basting brush.
  • Since cheese cooks it sizzles and may splatter oil, so use a splatter guard on the pan while cooking halloumi for your safety.
  • You should pat dry your halloumi cheese with a paper towel to remove the excess brine on it. This will help in getting a good golden crust.
  • If you prefer a less salty flavour then either soak your cheese in cold water for 5 minutes and then pat dry it before use or simmer in hot water for 5 minutes and let it cool down before use because the cheese will soften too.
  • You can soften your halloumi by boiling it in water for 10 minutes before cooking and you will get soft squidgy middle.

Can you Reheat Halloumi Leftovers?

Halloumi cheese is best when eaten just after cooking. You can reheat cooked halloumi in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. It tastes satisfying but not soft and crisp like fresh cooked. It becomes tough and a little bit rubbery.

If you have left with leftovers cooked halloumi, try cutting them into small cubes and use them in salad and eat cold.

Ways to Serve Halloumi Cheese

There are endless delicious ways to serve halloumi cheese.

  • Halloumi cheese is most common in Cypriot cuisines, and cuisine Greek and Turkish cuisines too can be served as a part of savoury breakfast or brunch with warm pita or with veggie friends’.

  • It tastes good when served as a vegetarian doner kebab.

  • Serve it as a quick, indulgent appetizer.

  • Can be served as a part of your cheese plate or mezze platter.

  • Diced halloumi cheese can be used in pie and curry.

  • Crumble it into chilli.

  • Add fried halloumi to sandwiches or salads.

    halloumi salad
    Photo by katiklinski on Pixabay

Some of the Combinations which goes well with Halloumi

Since halloumi goes well with almost every item, here are a few things that pair perfectly together.

  1. Mint– fresh mint leaves sprinkled over cheese just before serving brings a burst of freshness to it.

  2. Chili– sprinkle over a few chilli flakes before cooking or serve some sweet chilli sauce as a dip. This hot spiced chilli flavour contrasts nicely with the milky, and mild flavour.

  3. Honey– it is delicious to have a sweet hint to your cheese. Drizzle a little honey over hot cheese before serving.

  4. Fresh Mediterranean herbs– simple, classic, and effective pairing. Sprinkle fresh oregano, basil, thyme, or any dried herbs over your cooked halloumi with a dash of lemon and little olive oil.

  5. Pomegranate – is a great pairing of salty, juicy, crunchy, and sweet. Sprinkle some pomegranate seeds over your halloumi before serving.

  6. Balsamic vinegar– a drizzle of balsamic vinegar or glaze is a nice contrast to the salty flavour of the cheese.

  7. Watermelon– this halloumi and watermelon is a popular combination. Prepare a salad by tossing cooked cheese with cubes of watermelon, your choice of dressings, and a few fresh mint leaves. It tastes amazing and is easy to do.

  8. Mediterranean style vegetables– vegetables like zucchini/courgette, tomatoes, capsicum, mushrooms, sweet potato, eggplant, and beetroot go well with halloumi. Roast the veggies and stack them with cooked cheese and drizzle balsamic glaze for a yummy and healthy meal.

  9. Pesto– it pairs nicely with halloumi either green or red, with or without nuts. Mix pesto with little olive oil and drizzle over cooked halloumi. You can also make tiny crostini with a slice of crisp cheese and a small spoonful of pesto on the top.

  10. Bacon or chorizo– the salty and punchy flavour of the meats like bacon or chorizo complements well with the mild and creamy, cheesy taste of halloumi.

  11. Onion/ fig/ tomato jam, relish, or chutney– the strong fruity, vinegary flavor works nicely together. Stack them all on a sandwich with fresh, green salad and hummus for an easy tasty lunch.

Popular Halloumi Recipes

Here are some popular halloumi recipes. You can see how to cook halloumi recipes effortlessly and enhance your dishes.

1. Finger Fries Halloumi Recipe

It serves as a quick yummy appetizer and people love fried halloumi. Follow these steps and learn how to cook halloumi fries.

halloumi fries
Photo by web3525 on Pixabay

Ingredients Required

  • Halloumi cheese.

  • Flour.

  • Olive oil.

  • Sauce or dip of your choice.

Method

  1. Cut the halloumi into slices.

  2. Take flour in a flattened dish. Roll these slices into the flour to coat evenly.

  3. Heat oil in a pan till 2 cm up. Slide the coated slices slowly into the oil.

  4. Fry until dark golden and crispy and remember to flip on another side.

  5. Serve immediately with sweet chili sauce or Greek yogurt.

Note- you can make halloumi bites like this. Just cut the cheese into little bites form and follow the same steps.

2. Fried Halloumi Recipe with Warmed Honey

It is a great, quick appetizer with a sweet and salty combination. Follow these steps and learn how to cook halloumi with honey.

  • Cooking time- 5 minutes.

  • Servings- 6 people.

  • Cuisine- Mediterranean.

  • Course- appetizer.

  • Calories- 180 kcal.

Ingredient Required

  • Halloumi cheese- 8 ounces, pat dried, cut into 1/2 inch sticks.

  • Olive oil.

  • Honey- 1/4 cup.

  • Sesame seeds- 2 tablespoons.

  • Red pepper flakes- crushed.

Method of Preparation

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in a non-stick frying pan.

  2. When the oil is hot and starts simmering, put the halloumi sticks in one single layer, but do not crowd the pan.

  3. Cook for 1-2 minutes, till golden brown crust forms, flip it over with a tong and cook for another 1-2 minutes on this side. Take it out on a plate.

  4. Warm honey in a skillet or put a tightly closed jar in warm water to loosen your honey a little.

  5. Arrange fried halloumi on a serving plate, sprinkle with sesame seeds and red chili flakes. Drizzle warmed honey all over. You can put the unused honey in a small bowl by side as a dip.

  6. Depending on your choice, arrange some fruits like grapes, figs berries to make a god platter around the cheese. Serve immediately.

3. Watermelon Halloumi Recipe

The cheesy halloumi and juicy watermelon are a great salty-sweet pair. Both of them together with a little mint and lemon make a delicious summer salad. Follow these steps and learn how to cook halloumi and watermelon.

  • Cooking time – 5 minutes.

  • Servings – 6 people.

Nutrition Value Per Serving

  • Calories- 100 Kcal.

  • Proteins- 5 grams.

  • Carbohydrates- 7.4 grams.

  • Fat- 6.1 grams.

  • Cholesterol- 15.6 mg.

  • Sodium- 230 mg.

Ingredients Required

  • Halloumi cheese- 8 ounces.

  • Watermelon – 1 cup.

  • Mint leaves – 1 cup.

  • Lemon juice- 2 tablespoons.

  • Olive oil- 1 tablespoon.

Method 

  1. Cut the halloumi into small pieces.

  2. Heat oil in a non-stick pan or griddle pan and put the cheese pieces in it. Pan fry them for 1-2 minutes and then flip them till a golden-brown crust appears or you can grill the cheese on a griller.

  3. Now add these pan-fried or grilled halloumi into a bowl with watermelon cubes, mint leaves, and a little lemon juice. Toss all of them together.

  4. Serve warm and enjoy this as a breakfast or supper.

Some More Halloumi Recipes

Halloumi is such a wonderful ingredient that you can make many halloumi recipes with this. You can learn how to cook halloumi in different ways and enhance your cooking practice. 

  1. Hasselback halloumi traybake.

  2. Aubergine pilaf with crispy halloumi.

  3. Halloumi stuffed peppers.

  4. Halloumi shawarma.

  5. Halloumi and Greek salad wraps.

    halloumi wrap
    Photo by IppikiOokami on Pixabay
  6. Aubergine and halloumi burgers.

  7. Halloumi and Mediterranean veg traybake.

  8. Halloumi mixed grill.

  9. Vegetables and halloumi kebabs.

  10. Halloumi Spicy halloumi curry with potato.

Different Ways to Use Halloumi

  • Use fried halloumi bites as an alternative to croutons in a salad or on top of a soup.

  • Add thin slices to a homemade pizza, sprinkle capers, chilies, and toppings over it, and cook. You will get a gourmet, restaurant-quality feel.

  • Make Mediterranean roast vegetables by adding slices to the vegetables.

  • Add cooked halloumi to any curry in place of meat. Stir it through the curry just before serving to keep its exterior crisp and squidgy middle.

  • Make chicken schnitzels. Grate some Halloumi and add it to crumbs.

  • It is a great addition to a cooked breakfast. Cook a few slices or cubes of halloumi cheese and serve along with bacon and eggs. Or bake with some cherry tomatoes and mushrooms.

  • Make crostini, flatbreads, sandwiches, and toasties with this.

  • Mix halloumi cheese with any kind of pasta or grain salad. Or, toss it with couscous, bulgur wheat, or any grains, roasted vegetables, and salad dressing.

The Footnote

Now, cooking halloumi will be easy for you. You have learned how to cook halloumi in different ways, and different halloumi recipes. Try on halloumi and other cheeses recipes too. Just cook and enjoy.

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