Halloumi cheese is known to be one of the best types of semi-hard tangy cheeses. It is traditionally made from goat or sheep’s milk but for cost reasons, it can be mass-manufactured using cow milk.
Even though Halloumi is prized for its unique flavor and consistency, it may not have that much of an appeal among people who do not prefer a tangy goat-milk cheese that can also be difficult to find, which is where its substitutes come in!
What are the best substitutes for Halloumi cheese? Halloumi is a semi-hard cheese with a high melting point. It has a salty and tangy flavor that can be substituted by several similar kinds of cheeses like feta, paneer, Kefalotyri, mozzarella, Queso panela, and more.
Read below to learn about Halloumi, how it’s made, its flavor and characteristics, and some great substitutes!
What Is Halloumi Cheese?
Halloumi is a traditional cheese hailing from Cyprus. It is usually made using goat or sheep milk, which is considered to be creamier than cow milk, thus the cheese’s unique creamy flavor and semi-hard texture.
Halloumi has a high melting point which makes it the perfect candidate for grilling or even frying. It is prepared in the same way as other cheeses, except that the final cheese block is simmered in whey and then soaked in brine.
The cheese process starts with the finest quality goat or sheep milk.
Unpasteurized milk is used to make a traditional batch of Halloumi! The milk is first left to cool and then lightly heated. An enzyme, called rennet, is added to the milk which helps separate the milk solids and whey.
The cheese curds are then collected and the excess whey is drained off. The curds have a scrambled egg-like consistency at this point which is why they are packed into a mold and then left to drain.
Once compacted and ready, the cheese block is then simmered in whey and then added to a special salt brine.
The simmering process is what gives the cheese its high melting point while the brine bath is what provides the cheese with its unique tangy flavor.
Here are some of Halloumi’s characteristics:
Halloumi has a whitish appearance but the color can also vary depending on the type of milk used.
Even though it has some moisture in it, it is generally firm and has a light spongey texture. As mentioned, Halloumi has a high melting point which makes it easier to grill or fry it.
Furthermore, Halloumi is also traditionally paired with mint or other seasonings. The seasonings are added as a garnish which gives this cheese an added unique color.
The flavor of Halloumi can be compared to paneer or feta, even though Halloumi is less intense than feta, it still provides a unique tangy flavor that is designed to be just right.
Meaning that it isn’t either too salty (like in the case of feta) or under-salted than paneer.
It has a creamy and buttery flavor and is tender enough to be chewed very easily. This cheese can also be grilled or fried.
Grilled Halloumi has a unique charred flavor that goes extremely well with its overall tanginess. The same can also be said for fried Halloumi which adds a tasty layer of caramelization.
Halloumi is usually consumed on its own since it is specially seasoned but it can also be added to salads, savory food, sandwiches, casseroles, BBQs, and more.
The cheese can also be melted at temperatures above 140°F which means that you can add the cubes or sliced pieces as a garnish on food and then bake it until the cheese melts.
For a simpler but delicious experience, you can also try eating a cube of Halloumi dipped in balsamic vinegar.
Why Substitute Halloumi?
Since Halloumi is made using unpasteurized goat’s milk, it may not be as appealing to many people. Furthermore, the tangy flavor and high melting point of Halloumi may not make it a suitable candidate for some recipes.
Another point of concern with Halloumi is its availability.
This cheese is a big seller across Europe but can be difficult to find in the USA due to the lack of authentic Halloumi cheesemakers or supply shortages.
Even if you do find it, manufacturers may opt to mass-produce this cheese using pasteurized cow milk instead, which defeats the purpose of consuming Halloumi.
Some people might also want to substitute Halloumi because many similar types of cheese share the same flavor and textural characteristics.
This is especially true for people who don’t feel the need to get out of their comfort zone when experimenting with goat-milk cheese.
Finally, nutrition may also be an important factor in substituting Halloumi. For example, paneer is a great substitute for Halloumi because of its similar firm texture, flavor, and high melting point.
Furthermore, paneer has more protein, less fat, and less sodium than Halloumi.
The 11 Best Substitutes for Halloumi Cheese
If you can relate to any of the above reasons for substituting Halloumi, then here are some great substitutes that you can try!
Paneer makes for an excellent substitute for Halloumi because it shares a lot of its textural and flavor characteristics.
Compared to other types of cheeses, paneer is extremely easy to make and is a popular food in Asia, especially in India. This cheese also has a high melting point which means that you can grill it and even fry it just like Halloumi.
In the context of flavor, Halloumi is considered to be a tad bit stronger than paneer but you can enhance the flavor of the cheese by introducing herbs and spices.
Paneer can be pickled, spiced, and can also be garnished with simple herbs like mint or even Italian seasoning.
If substituting with paneer, you can use the same serving size as Halloumi and for the best experience, we recommend pairing paneer with balsamic vinegar to get that signature rounded tanginess.
Mozzarella may not be an exact substitute for Halloumi but it is a highly convenient cheese that is commonly found in almost every household.
Mozzarella cheese shares similar flavor notes and can also be used in the same way as Halloumi.
However, one downside of using this cheese is that it does not have the same melting point as Halloumi and will usually melt before you can adequately grill it or fry it.
But you may be able to get more value if you fry mozzarella using a batter or a simple bread coating.
All in all, if you are out of Halloumi then this is the best commercial cheese that you can use to replace it in almost any recipe.
Feta cheese gets full points in terms of tanginess and is typically saltier than Halloumi. However, feta offers the same great flavor notes found in Halloumi and can be used in a lot of different recipes too.
While it may not have the same textural consistency, since feta has a crumblier texture, it can still be a great choice for salads or other recipes that requires a cheese garnish.
Just make sure not to add extra salt with feta since this cheese is already very salty.
For the best experience, you can use feta and paneer in varying proportions to get the right balance of texture and flavor.
4. Queso Panela
Made from cow’s milk, this cheese has a softer texture but a high melting point, just like Halloumi. Queso panela also shares a lot of the same tangy flavor points and is the perfect cheese for any recipe that calls for Halloumi.
Even though this cheese does not caramelize well, it will still offer the same great gooey and cheesy consistency that you expect from Halloumi.
We recommend using this cheese as a garnish; you could also try to add it to salads but Queso panela may prove to be a bit too chewy.
The best way to use it would be to pair it with baked or fried dishes. You could also use it as a great addition to sandwiches too!
5. Saganaki Cheeses (Graviera)
Saganaki is any cheesy dish made in a small pan featuring fried cheese. Graviera is great for saganaki and is an excellent substitute for Halloumi because it has a lot of the same flavor points but is less resistant to melting.
You can lightly grill, bake, and even use Graviera as it is but if you want the most flavor out of this semi-hard cheese then you have to try fried saganaki!
Frying adds a whole new dimension of richness and yumminess to this cheese and it can easily become a tastier alternative to Halloumi in any recipe.
Looking for a vegan option to substitute Halloumi?
Then tofu will offer more or less the same texture—however, its flavor will be different because of the lack of similar salt content.
The good news is that you can season the tofu with spices and herbs to make it taste according to your preferences.
Tofu is a healthy cheese alternative that can be used in several different recipes and because it doesn’t melt like cheese, you can use its semi-solid consistency in making salads, and vegetable recipes and they pair well with noodle dishes too!
Provolone may not share the same melting point as Halloumi but it is extremely capable of providing the right flavor and texture in several recipes.
The best way to get the most out of provolone is to use it in sandwiches, burgers, pasta recipes, and other general savory dishes.
Provolone has a balanced flavor that can come close to tasting like Halloumi if you use the right seasonings.
For people looking for a gooey and pliable cheese, provolone is the way to go!
8. Cheese Curds
If you want a great cheesy garnish that can withstand heat and provide about the same flavor as Halloumi then you should opt for cheese curds. This cheese can be bought from stores and you can also prepare a fresh batch at home too!
Cheese curds are basically curdled milk solids that have a low acid content, which makes them similar to the chemical structure of Halloumi. This also gives them the benefit of having a high melting point!
This cheese is a great alternative to Halloumi because it can be convenient and, in some cases, it can even be the healthier option of the two.
Want to keep things traditional? Then Kasseri is going to be the next best thing to Halloumi.
Kasseri is made using sheep milk and can also be made in combination with goat milk which gives it a flavor similar to Halloumi.
Even though this cheese has different visual characteristics (it has a pale-yellow color), it can be used as a direct substitute for Halloumi in any recipe.
It has a slightly higher melting point than other cheeses but is still considered to be an excellent all-purpose melting cheese.
Serve it in salads, sandwiches, pastries, and more! You may not be able to fry or grill it like Halloumi, but it will still prove its worth in other dishes.
Vlahotiri is a relatively new addition to the family of Greek cheeses and is considered to be a great substitute for Halloumi.
The best thing about this cheese is that it shares a lot of the same subtle flavor points when compared to Halloumi but is noticeably less salty.
This can make it a good substitute for people looking for a less tangy version of Halloumi.
Vlahotiri may melt quicker than Halloumi but you may still be able to get a light char on it when you grill or fry it.
This is perhaps the best and closest substitute for Halloumi. Kefalotyri belongs to the same family of cheese as Halloumi and shares a lot of its characteristics.
Like Halloumi, Kefalotyri has a pale white color and is also a hard cheese with a high melting point.
It has a noticeably lower moisture content which makes it a harder and drier cheese than halloumi, but it can still easily replace it in almost any recipe.
Kefalotyri can be baked, and fried and can also be eaten on its own as a flavorful snack!
Halloumi cheese is a tasty semi-solid cheese that can be used in many ways. The best thing about it is that it can be substituted using a number of similar cheeses too!
Now that you know the perfect substitutes for Halloumi, here are some related questions!
Can you freeze halloumi substitutes?
In general, semi-solid or hard cheeses can be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months.
To get the most out of its flavor, keep the cheese in an airtight container and store it at a stable temperature of 0F for the best results.
To thaw, simply move the cheese into the refrigerator and thaw overnight. Semi-hard cheeses are best served at room temperature but you can also serve them cold, like in the case of refrigerated cheese.
Is goat milk cheese healthier than cow milk cheese?
Cow, sheep, and goat milk offer more or less the same nutritional value but may vary in some nutrients.
For example, goat milk has higher levels of calcium, potassium, and vitamin A but cow milk can be rich in vitamin B12, selenium, and folic acid.
Depending on your dietary needs, you can pick and choose the type of milk that best fits your daily nutritional needs.
Can halloumi burn?
Yes. Halloumi may have a higher melting point but it is not impervious to heat. It can burn if grilled for an extended period which will give it an awful burnt flavor and will also make it very hard to chew.
Do not cut very thin slices of halloumi or you might end up overcooking the cheese!
Cubed halloumi (and its substitutes) works great in many recipes and is also a great way to get the most out of its flavor and texture when grilling or frying.