Fried halloumi is a Greek appetizer that's crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. Make this recipe to serve with a tasty Greek mezze!
Greek cuisine is well known for its delicious mezze items. Along with foods like marinated feta cheese and other Greek appetizers, this recipe is perfect for serving on a cheese tray or as part of a Greek mezze.
I include it in my recipe for fregola salad and when it's warm and crispy, it's the perfect snack food.
Cuisine: Greek / Mediterranean
Originating from Cyprus, halloumi is a semi-soft, brined cheese, with a slightly salty flavor, similar to mozzarella. It's primarily a sheep's milk cheese, but can also be made from goat or cow's milk.
What's especially unique about this cheese is the way it's produced. Unlike most cheeses, halloumi isn't made with acid or acid-producing bacteria. It's one of the few cheese that's cooked in its own whey.
hallomi, hallumi, anari
Difficulty: Easy 🥄
Pan fried strips of cheese drizzled with honey
Halloumi cheese FAQ
When it's fresh, the texture of halloumi is slightly rubbery but it has a wonderful salty, tangy flavor.
Yes! Pan frying halloumi cheese gives it a crispy, golden brown exterior, while the inside stays warm and soft. This makes it perfect for a Greek mezze!
The production of halloumi is very unique, and it results in the cheese having very long strands of protein that are resistant to melting.
Additionally, when those long strands of protein move across human tooth enamel, it results in a funny squeaking noise.
If you're interested in learning more about halloumi, check out this article about squeaky cheeses!
Ingredient notes and substitutions
You can find this product in most well-stocked grocery stores. I usually get mine at Trader Joe’s. If your local store doesn’t carry it or is out of stock, you can use Indian paneer or Finnish Leipäjuusto cheese instead.
However, keep in mind that paneer does have a milder flavor.
Making fried halloumi
It won’t take long to get the ingredients ready for this appetizer.
Just decide which garnish you’ll be using and have those ingredients on hand and prepared before you fry the cheese. This way, you are able to serve the dish while it’s still warm and gooey on the inside.
- Drain, slice, and dry.
After you’ve drained and sliced the halloumi, pat it dry so you don’t get extra moisture in the pan when frying.
Then, it’s just a matter of searing the slices in hot oil until they turn golden and have deep brown edges.
Add your choice of garnishes and serve while everything is still hot.
What to eat with halloumi
The cheese may be eaten raw if desired. The squeaky, semi-soft cheese is a delicious substitute for mozzarella in a caprese salad.
After frying it, serve it with sweet or savory toppings for delicious Greek appetizers. Or, use it as a meatless protein source. It has a firm, meaty texture similar to portobello mushroom caps.
This makes it fantastic in sandwiches, but it's also perfect FOR a sandwich! Use two slices of fried halloumi as a gluten free, keto substitute for bread!
- Sweet fried halloumi
A combination of drizzled honey, a sprinkle of chopped pistachios, and dried rose petals is sure to satisfy the sweet tooth.
Dried rose petals have a slightly sweet, earthy flavor that some people compare to strawberries. They're available in some grocery stores, or you can find them in specialty stores or from online retailers like Amazon.
- Savory Option 1 - Middle Eastern spices
Dukkah - An Egyptian condiment, dukkah (or duqqa) includes various types of ground nuts, sesame seeds, coriander, cumin, and salt. You can use my recipe to make your own duqqa, or buy it ready to use.
Za'atar - This is a savory and tangy Middle Eastern spice blend. Make some Lebanese zaatar and try it for yourself.
- Savory Option 2 - Greek style fried halloumi
This topping adds a Greek salad spin to fried halloumi. Balsamic glaze over chopped cherry tomatoes and a sprinkling of oregano is sure to win you compliments.
Storing the cheese
- When it's fresh and uncooked, store it tightly wrapped in its original wrapper or plastic wrap. If unopened, it will stay good for up to up a year.
- After opening it, use within two weeks. It's best to keep it submerged in salt water inside of an airtight container.
- Raw halloumi freezes well, and will keep for up to a month in the freezer without the texture being affected.
- After cooking, the fried halloumi appetizers are best eaten while they're warm.
Refrigerate any leftovers, then reheat and eat them again within 3-4 days. Although you can eat fried halloumi when it's cold, the texture is firm and quite rubbery.
This post, originally published on Silk Road Recipes Feb. 19, 2021, was last updated with new content on Oct. 24, 2021.
- 8 oz halloumi cheese (See Note 1)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Pistachios chopped
- dried rose petals
Savory Garnish #2
- Balsamic glaze
- Oregano leaves
- Cherry Tomatoes sliced
- Drain and cut halloumi into ⅜-inch slices. Pat dry with paper towel.
- Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add olive oil and sear the cheese in the hot pan until each slice develops a deep brown crust, about 2 minutes on the first side and 1 minute on the other.
- Remove from skillet and plate with garnish of choice (sweet or savory).
- Halloumi cheese does not melt. Paneer cheese is a good substitute for halloumi cheese. You can find it in the cheese section of larger grocery stores, or specialty stores like Trader Joes and Whole Foods. Another option is to source from a Middle Eastern or Mediterranean grocer.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.