Halloumi Cheese

By Cook's Illustrated Published November 2014

Some supermarkets are starting to carry halloumi cheese. What’s the best way to use it?

Halloumi is a firm brined cheese originally from Cyprus that’s popular throughout the eastern Mediterranean. Made from cow’s, sheep’s, or goat’s milk or even a combination of the three, it has a semifirm, springy texture that some of our tasters described as “squeaky” when sampled as is. Its dairy flavor is mild, but it is typically quite salty.

Because of how it’s made, halloumi has a very strong protein network, which means that when it’s heated, it softens but doesn’t melt. Many recipes take advantage of this quality by calling for pan-frying or grilling cubes or slabs of the cheese, which gives it a crispy, flavorful exterior to contrast with the creamy interior. We tried both approaches. While grilling produced acceptable results, we found that the exterior dried out a bit more, and because this cheese is best eaten right off the heat, we preferred the easier approach of pan searing. Cook halloumi in a nonstick skillet with a small amount of oil over medium heat until it is well browned. Serve the cheese warm, drizzled with olive oil for an appetizer, or add it to grain or vegetable salads.

TRY IT PAN-FRIED: Chunks of seared halloumi work well in a meze spread.