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Want to know how to cook halloumi? Here, we show you how. This delectable cheese hails from Cyprus but is widely eaten in Greece, Turkey, and the Middle East. It's also very popular in the UK.
Halloumi is a fresh, mild cheese that is both salty and tangy. It has a firm texture and because it holds its shape during cooking it's a great vegetarian substitute for meat.
Originally made from a mixture of goats' and sheep's milk, some halloumi brands also include cows' milk. This brined, unripened semi-hard cheese has a high melting point, which makes it ideal for grilling or frying. Halloumi is usually sliced or diced or cut into burger-sized slabs and then cooked. Although it can be eaten raw, heating browns and softens the cheese and takes away any rubberiness.
If you've ever wondered where halloumi gets its signature squeak from it's down to the long protein strands in the cheese, which run against our teeth when we bite into it. It's said that the fresher the cheese, the louder the squeak.
How to prepare halloumi
You are most likely to buy halloumi packaged in its own juices. This liquid, which stops the cheese from drying out, is often flavoured with dried mint.
When you prepare halloumi drain this liquid. If you have any leftover cheese keep it in a sealed container with salted cold water – this keeps it fresh.
Halloumi is a salty cheese so less is more so it's quite addictive. Cut it into slices to grill, griddle, or pan-fry; into large cubes to skewer for the barbecue or bake; or make it chip-sized for fries. You can also dice it and add it cooked or raw to salads.
How to cook halloumi: grill
Cooking halloumi is easy and quick.
- Cut the cheese into centimeter thick slices and, on high heat, griddle or grill in a pan. You can also use an oven grill.
- The halloumi should take 1-2 minutes on each side, depending on thickness.
Keep an eye on the cheese so it doesn't burn. You don't need to oil the pan first, though some recipes include a marinade for the cheese.
How to cook halloumi: oven
Baking makes a change from pan-frying, grilling, or griddling and it doesn't take much longer.
- Cut the halloumi into large cubes or slices
- Drizzle with a little olive oil and bake in a hot oven (220°C/200°C fan/400°F/gas 7) for 10-15 minutes
- Turn halfway through.
How to cook halloumi: BBQ
Halloumi is your savior if you're vegetarian, in particular at a BBQ. It cooks on the barbeque in minutes and doesn't fall apart.
- Cut the halloumi into big cubes and thread them onto wooden skewers.
- Soak the skewers in water for 30 minutes first so they don't burn.
- Grill for 5-10 minutes, turning occasionally until browned.
- To add flavour, you can marinade the halloumi first in a mixture of oil, lemon juice, and fresh herbs.
Can you microwave halloumi?
Microwaved halloumi isn't always as tasty as when it's cooked using other methods. This is mainly because it won't develop that gorgeous golden crust that frying or grilling gives it. If you want to microwave halloumi it's good as a quick fix for a speedy sandwich – simply cut into slices and microwave on high for around 30-40 seconds.
Can you cook halloumi in a toaster?
This isn't recommended as any liquid from the halloumi could damage the internal workings of your toaster. You could 'toast' halloumi in a sandwich maker (also called a sandwich press or toastie maker), though. Just slice and put it in a hot sandwich maker to cook through. There's no need to use oil.
Can you boil halloumi in its packet?
According to chef Matt Tebbutt who appears on the BBC's Saturday Kitchen show, it's possible to boil halloumi in its packet. Simmer it for 20 minutes then remove it from the heat (being very careful not to burn yourself), then slice. This method softens the halloumi.
Celebrity cook Nadiya Hussain does it a slightly different way. For her halloumi and watermelon skewers, which are featured on her BBC2 show Nadiya's British Food Adventure, Nadiya cubes the halloumi, puts it in a bowl, and pours boiling water over it for 20 minutes. She then threads cubes of cheese, watermelon, and bread onto skewers and griddles. This method also softens the halloumi and gives it a gooey center.
How to store halloumi
Unopened packets of halloumi will last for months in the fridge. Once opened, store it in cold salted water in an airtight container and eat within the recommended time on the package – this is usually 3 days but stored correctly it can last up to a week.
Cooked halloumi is best eaten immediately. If you have some left let it cool before covering it with clingfilm, then store it in the fridge.
You can freeze halloumi for up to 6 months. Because of its firm texture, it freezes better than many other kinds of cheese. You can freeze it in its original packaging, or it cut into slices then place baking paper between each slice. Before freezing wrap it in clingfilm so it's airtight. To defrost, thaw it in the fridge a day before you use it.
Best halloumi recipes
Joe Wicks' halloumi fries
What's not to love about these breaded sticks of pure cheesy joy, courtesy of national treasure Joe Wicks.
Get the recipe: Halloumi fries (opens in new tab)
Lamb and halloumi stuffed peppers
This simple meal has something for everyone – meat, veg, and cheese. And it counts as two of your five-a-day.
Get the recipe: Lamb and halloumi stuffed peppers (opens in new tab)
Cook these skewers on the grill or barbecue. Serve in pitta bread with a generous portion of salad.
Get the recipe: Halloumi skewers (opens in new tab)
Harissa onion and halloumi burger
This nicely spiced burger is lightened by the addition of fresh courgette ribbons.
Get the recipe: Harissa onion and halloumi burger
Griddled halloumi, courgette and asparagus
Here, a lemon, soy sauce, and honey dressing is the perfect accompaniment for crisp green veg and lightly grilled halloumi.
Get the recipe: Griddled halloumi, courgette and asparagus (opens in new tab)
Joe Wicks' 10 minute halloumi and cashew curry
Use halloumi instead of paneer in a veggie curry. This one is ready in moments. It's an ideal mid-week meal.