The list below includes fifteen halloumi cheese substitutes that are all great options to use for your next recipe! The list consists of all dairy products except for tofu which is naturally dairy-free and gluten-free.
The best option for you may vary depending on how you’re preparing the halloumi alternatives and if you’ll be enjoying the cheese hot or cold.
If you’re enjoying any of the cheeses hot, the easiest way is to heat a non-stick frying pan with a little bit of olive oil and place the sliced cheese on the frying pan for about 2 minutes on each side.
A couple of the cheeses below, like gruyère and provolone, can be a little more delicate, so they likely won’t need as long in the frying pan.
Also, you don’t want the cheese slices to be too thick because the outside gets burnt, and the inside doesn’t have time to soften. Or, the opposite can happen when the cheese slice is too thin and melts too easily. So a cheese slice about half an inch thick should work!
WHAT IS HALLOUMI CHEESE?
Halloumi is a semi-hard, brined white cheese originating from Cyprus made with goat’s milk and sheep milk. Halloumi is a versatile, grillable cheese with a higher melting point, making it the perfect cheese for meat replacements in wraps or on its own.
The salty flavours of halloumi are released when it’s fried at high temperatures. If you’ve never tried halloumi sticks, they’re so good! But, halloumi is also great raw in salads or cold dishes.
Halloumi is an unusual cheese in that it has a rubbery texture when eaten raw. Once cooked, halloumi has a crisp golden brown texture on the outside and squeaks as you chew it. It’s a soft, milky and chewy cheese when it’s cooked. Overall, the flavour of halloumi is slightly salty but not overpowering.
Halloumi is delicious when grilled until golden brown and drizzled with honey and fresh lemon juice!
THE BEST SUBSTITUTES FOR HALLOUMI CHEESE
1. Feta Cheese
Feta is Greek brined curd white cheese made from sheep, goat, or cow’s milk. Sometimes it can be a combination of two types of milk! Feta cheese is saltier than halloumi but holds its shape well when frying at high heat.
Feta is crumbly and can be a good substitute for halloumi in salads. Feta has no skin and is generally stored or bought in a brine liquid. Overall, feta cheese has a firm texture, salty, and tangy flavour.
2. Paneer cheese
Panneer is a fresh soft cheese that is very popular in Indian cuisine. It’s ideal for frying and is similar to halloumi in that sense.
Paneer has a smooth and gentle flavour making it an ideal halloumi cheese substitute. It is made with milk and then curdled with acid from lemon or white vinegar separating the cheese into curds.
The curdled cheese then goes into a cheesecloth to drain and is compressed so that the cheese forms together. Panneer has the same squeak as halloumi, which occurs because of the long protein strands rubbing against the enamel of your teeth when you take a bite of halloumi or paneer.
Pan-frying paneer helps the cheese hold its shape and enhances the taste. Paneer is a mild cheese with a more subtle flavour compared to halloumi, so you may want to add some salt or seasonings to the cheese depending on what you’re making it with.
Manouri is a semi-soft Greek cheese made with goat and sheep milk. It’s a soft cheese that’s slightly crumbly but holds its shape when you slice and grill it.
Manouri has a high melting point and milky flavour similar to halloumi. However, Manouri is rich, buttery, and so delicious! An excellent option for Greek salads or salad dishes since this cheese can crumble similar to feta cheese. Manouri is tangy and slightly salty with a higher moisture content than halloumi.
4. Mozzarella cheese
Mozzarella is great because it’s easy to find in grocery stores! It’s a sliceable curd cheese with origins from Italy. Mozzarella is delicate, creamy and mild in flavour.
It doesn’t work as well as halloumi when frying at a high heat because it melts easily and doesn’t hold its shape as well as halloumi. But, it’s a great alternative for halloumi in salads because of its texture and mild, milky flavour.
5. Provolone cheese
Provolone is a light and mild Italian cheese made from cow’s milk. It holds its shape when frying and produces a golden brown crispy exterior with a gooey inside. Provolone is a great cheese for sandwiches and wraps or is just as delicious on its own, topped with a little bit of dried oregano.
6. Queso panela
Queso panela is a fresh Mexican semi-soft white cheese made using pasteurized cow’s milk. It holds its shape well when frying because it doesn’t melt easily and tastes similar to halloumi.
Queso panela has a little more moisture, so you may not get the golden brown exterior as you do when halloumi is grilled. Queso panela has a soft, mild flavour and is not very salty. Overall, it’s a good substitute for halloumi and is popular in sandwiches, wraps, and salads!
7. Kefalotyri cheese
Kefalotyri is a Greek-Cypriot hard white cheese produced using sheep milk or goat milk. It has a salty, sharp flavour and stronger taste compared to halloumi. However, it’s similar in that it has a high melting point and does well as a grilling cheese.
Kefalotyri has a full aroma and strong taste compared to halloumi.
Tofu is the only non-dairy option on this list, but it makes a good substitute for halloumi because it tastes excellent baked or pan-fried. In addition, tofu is naturally dairy-free and gluten-free.
I suggest buying a firm or extra firm tofu to get the best texture. It’s low in calories, high in protein, and has been a popular meat substitute for many years! Tofu can be sliced or cubed and tossed in corn starch for a little extra crispiness, baked in the oven, or enjoyed cold in salads.
9. Queso Blanco
Queso Blanco translates into white cheese in Spanish. It’s an unripened fresh cheese made from cow’s milk that has been curdled using an acid like lemon juice or white vinegar.
Queso Blanco is similar to paneer and halloumi since it has a high melting point, is mild in flavour, and holds its shape well. This Latin American cheese is also delicious raw in fresh salads or sprinkled in tacos.
Anari is a ricotta-style fresh mild whey cheese from Cyprus that works as a better substitute for halloumi in salads instead of grilling. It can also be challenging to find in grocery stores, depending on where you live.
Anari is a softer and slightly sweeter cheese compared to halloumi. Anari and halloumi are made simultaneously by Cypriot cheesemakers, but Anari is made from the whey and halloumi is made from the curd.
Kasseri cheese has a rubbery texture with a salty and buttery flavour. It’s an excellent melting cheese with a soft and stringy texture. It’s made with sheep milk and goat milk and in a similar process to feta, but kasseri is not aged in brine. As a result, kasseri is a good halloumi cheese substitute.
Saganaki is a firm, ripened cheese made from cow’s milk and goat’s milk. It’s a popular appetizer in Greek restaurants. The dish is often prepared tableside with a large square of saganaki cheese heated in a hot skillet or frying pan and then flambéed.
Saganaki is saltier than halloumi and has a similar flavour to feta cheese. Saganaki is grainy and firmer than feta. It has a very high melting point and produces a beautiful golden brown exterior when grilled or pan-fried.
Overall, it has a sharper flavour compared to halloumi and is not as creamy. Saganaki can be a little overwhelming in a salad since it’s pretty salty, but it’s delicious pan-fried with fresh pita bread!
13. Queso para frier
Queso para frier is an excellent halloumi substitute because of its ability to withstand high cooking temperatures and keep its shape. This cheese is produced using cow’s milk.
When grilling or pan-frying queso para frier, it browns nicely, has a mild flavour, and is deliciously crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
Gruyère is creamier, nuttier and more earthy tasting compared to halloumi. It’s a mild unripened semi-soft cheese that’s not very salty. When frying gruyère, the cheese can be a little more delicate. The outside of the cheese crisps quickly, and the inside is gooier when cooked.
Gruyère is not as chewy as halloumi when cold since gruyère is softer but would be just as good raw in salads.
Gruyère tastes great pan-fried or as a topping in a sandwich or burger but wouldn’t be as great served as an appetizer on its own.
15. Bread Cheese
Bread cheese gets its name from its bread-like toasted exterior and creamy interior. It’s meant to be heated in the microwave or sauteed in a skillet.
Bread cheese, also known as juustoleipa, originated as a Finnish semi-soft cheese made with reindeer milk, but it’s gaining popularity with American cheesemakers making bread cheese with pasteurized cow’s milk.
It has a mild, salty flavour and pleasantly chewy texture. It’s similar to halloumi in that it won’t lose its shape when heated but is best enjoyed warm, not cold.
15 Best Halloumi Cheese Substitutes
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