How to cook halloumi perfectly
An easy method for how to cook halloumi perfectly every time! For beautifully soft, squidgy, salty halloumi cheese that can be used in many different ways.
If you’re a regular blog reader, you’ll probably already know how to cook halloumi – I use it in my recipes alllll the time. It might just be my favourite cheese ever – it truly is the king of cheeses.
But if you’re new to halloumi, you might not have a clue what halloumi is, or how to cook it. If that’s the case: firstly, I’m very sorry that you’ve been missing out all this time, and secondly, read on to find out everything you need to know about halloumi cheese – including how to cook halloumi perfectly every time!
What is halloumi?
Halloumi (or haloumi) is a Cypriot cheese made from sheep’s, goat’s, and / or cow’s milks. It’s pretty unusual as far as cheese goes, because you can fry it up and it won’t melt away into oblivion like a lot of other cheeses would – it keeps its shape, and softens up just enough to become nice and squidgy in the middle.
It’s soft, it’s salty, it’s gooey, it’s crispy, it’s stringy… all at the same time. If you like the flavour of crispy cheese (and who doesn’t?!), you’ll love fried halloumi.
What does halloumi taste like?
The flavour of halloumi isn’t overly cheesy – it’s more just a super salty flavour, and a little creamy.
You only need a small amount of halloumi to add a lot of flavour to your food – it’s got such an intense salty flavour that really lifts everything you cook to the next level!
Can you eat halloumi raw?
Yes! Although, you wouldn’t usually see uncooked halloumi served in a meal.
It’s definitely tastier when it’s been cooked, as it’s just irresistible when it’s warm and squidgy. I always cook my halloumi if I’m using it in a meal.
But, I do often nibble a bit of raw halloumi straight from the block while I’m chopping it up, and it’s pretty tasty that way too.
Where to buy halloumi cheese
In the UK, halloumi is easy to find in pretty much all supermarkets. It’s often rolled in dried herbs (usually mint) before being sold – which explains the little black dots you can see on the halloumi in my photos!
I know it can be a bit trickier to find halloumi in the shops in other countries. Since I have a lot of American readers, I asked in my Facebook group where people had managed to find halloumi in the US, and people suggested Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and a few smaller stores – check out the full post here for more details (you’ll need to join the group first!).
You can even find it on Amazon*!
If you’re in any other country where halloumi is less common, I’d recommend either trying your nearest superstore, where they have the widest range of cheeses, or alternatively, try a smaller specialist store. It might be worth calling around first to see if anyone stocks it near you!
How to use halloumi cheese
Halloumi is understandably used a lot in Cypriot cuisine, as well as Greek, Turkish, etc. – it makes an incredible vegetarian doner kebab, for example.
The method for cooking halloumi that I detail in this post is for those occasions when you’re cooking up the halloumi on its own, as opposed to cooking it in a sauce – like if you want to add it to a sandwich, scatter it on top of a salad, or serve it for breakfast!
How to cook halloumi
Here’s how to cook halloumi perfectly, every time!
Step 1: slice the halloumi
Step 1 is an easy one; just get your slice on. I personally like to use fairly thick slices of halloumi – I find that if they’re too thin, they dry up and become a bit hard. Thick slices (anything from about half a centimetre, up to about a centimetre thick) go nice and gooey in the middle.
TOP TIP: You can cook halloumi in a griddle pan, rather than a flat frying pan, to get perfect grill marks across the cheese. Or, if you don’t have a griddle pan, you can cheat by using a crinkle cutter to cut the cheese instead! It makes those beautiful golden stripes across the cheese, which are so eye-catching. Here are a couple of options on Amazon (UK* / US*).
Step 2: Add the halloumi to a non-stick frying pan
If you’re using a non-stick pan, you don’t need to add any oil. Since the halloumi releases some liquid as it cooks anyway, it doesn’t tend to stick – but it’s worth using a good quality non-stick pan anyway, just in case.
Turn the heat up to medium, and let it do its thing.
Can you fry halloumi in a stainless steel pan?
If you don’t have a non-stick frying pan, you can use stainless steel – but I would always go for the non-stick if you have one.
For the purposes of this post, I tried frying some halloumi in a stainless steel pan using a few different methods – oil vs. no oil; pre-heated pan vs. cold pan.
I found that you need to use a much lower heat when you’re cooking the halloumi in stainless steel, and a dash of oil was helpful to stop the cheese from sticking. But even so, the cheese did cook (and burn!) a lot more quickly in the stainless steel pan, so bear that in mind if you don’t have a non-stick pan.
Step 3: Cook the first side of the halloumi
After a minute or two, the halloumi will begin to release some liquid. Don’t flip the cheese just yet – wait until the liquid has all been released, and any excess liquid has evaporated.
As you can see, a salty substance will be left in the pan, which will turn golden brown when all the liquid has gone. The colour of the residue in the pan pretty much corresponds to the colour of the underside of the halloumi, so once it’s golden, it’s time to flip!
Notice that the cheese browns more quickly in the centre of the pan (at least it does on my stove!), so you might need to move the cheese around a little to help the edge pieces cook evenly.
Step 4: Flip the halloumi
When the underside of the halloumi is browned to your liking, flip each slice over, and repeat with the other side.
Beware: this side will brown a lot more quickly, as all the liquid has already been released – it should only take about a minute this time. Don’t overcook the halloumi, or it will end up becoming tough and rubbery.
Step 5: Enjoy!
You should now have beautifully cooked halloumi, golden brown and crispy on the edges, soft and squidgy in the middle. Delicious!
Halloumi is best eaten straight away – just try to resist eating it straight from the pan, as that will probably be frowned upon by the rest of your family!
Can you reheat fried halloumi?
Meh… not really. Technically, you could pop it in the microwave for a few seconds to try to revive it, but it does tend to become tougher and more rubbery this way. It’s undoubtedly best eaten within a few minutes of being cooked.
How to stop halloumi from becoming rubbery
Halloumi can become a little rubbery and tough if you don’t know how to use it. There are a few things you can do to avoid this:
- cut your slices of halloumi on the thicker side – very thin slices tend to become a little hard, rather than soft and squidgy, like thicker slices do.
- don’t overcook the halloumi – a couple of minutes on each side is all it needs! You still want it to be soft, not totally crispy.
- eat the halloumi within 5 minutes or so of cooking it – if you leave it to cool, it will become a little more rubbery.
If I’ve inspired you to give halloumi a try, I’ve posted a huge round-up of delicious vegetarian halloumi recipes – just click the link to see them!
How to cook halloumi
- 1 block halloumi cheese (usually around 225g / ~ 8 oz)
- Cut the block of halloumi into slices. Don’t make them too thin – around half a centimetre thick is good. You can use a crinkle cutter to cut the halloumi if you’d like the fake ‘grill lines’.
- Place a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, and add the slices of cheese in a single layer. Don’t overcrowd the pan. Allow the cheese to cook for a few minutes without moving it – it will release some liquid, which will then cook off. When the excess liquid has evaporated, the underside of the cheese will turn golden brown fairly quickly. When it’s cooked to your liking, turn each piece over, and repeat with the other side. The second side will brown more quickly, as the liquid has already been released.
- Fried halloumi is best served immediately.
Note: Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on exactly what ingredients you choose. Information above is for 1/3 of a block of halloumi (approx. 3 slices).
Love simple cooking how-to’s? Check out my post all about how to cook tofu!
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