Cypriot halloumi cheese is a highly versatile ingredient. It turns golden when cooked rather than melting, making it ideal as the main ingredient in lots of meat-free dishes. Learn every way there is to cook halloumi perfectly so you can use it more in your kitchen.


What is halloumi cheese?

Halloumi cheese comes from Cyprus, and it's traditionally made using a blend of sheep's and goat's milk, sometimes with added cow's milk. Its distinctive feature lies in its ability to maintain its shape when cooked thanks to its high melting point. This makes it perfect for grilling, frying, baking, barbecuing, or cooking in an air-fryer as it develops a deliciously charred exterior while staying firm and creamy inside.

Sometimes called ‘squeaky’ cheese due to its texture, halloumi has a salty flavour that works well when paired with sweet or acidic dressings and salsas, and given where it’s from, it also pairs well with Mediterranean vegetables like tomatoes and peppers. It can turn a simple salad into a main meal.

Though it is technically a cheese, given its meaty texture how it browns like meat when cooked, it’s often used instead of meat in wraps, burgers, and kebabs. See our top five recipe picks below and browse our collection of halloumi recipes for more inspiration. If you're looking for seasonal dishes, then discover our best summer halloumi recipes.

Is halloumi healthy?

Halloumi is a great source of bone-friendly calcium and is also high in protein which is important for cell repair and likely to keep you fuller for longer. However, it is also high in salt and fat, so should be eaten in moderation. Some supermarkets offer a ‘light' halloumi, which has a reduced total fat content, but the saturated fat and salt levels may still be high. It’s always worth checking nutritional information labels so you can make an informed choice.

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Discover more about the health benefits of halloumi.

How to prepare halloumi

Halloumi comes packaged in rectangular block stored in a bit of its salty brine and the preparation process is easy.

Chunk of raw halloumi, partially sliced on board
  1. Unpack and drain Start by removing the halloumi from its packaging and pat it dry gently with a paper towel. Making sure it’s dry will help achieve that crispy exterior when cooking.
  2. Slicing Generally for grilling or frying, halloumi is sliced into approximately 1cm-thick pieces.
  3. Other shapes It can also be into various shapes depending on how you are using it – for example you might want large cubes for kebabs or into chips for halloumi fries. It can also be grated and cooked whole.
  4. Marination. To give halloumi more flavour it can be marinated in olive oil and your choice of herbs, spices, citrus zest and other aromatic ingredients like garlic and chilli. This is totally optional and can make the cooking a bit messier but it does give the halloumi more depth.

How to pan-fry halloumi

Halloumi chunks being fried in a pan
  1. Pat the halloumi dry with kitchen paper and cut into 1cm-thick slices.
  2. Heat a drizzle of olive oil a frying pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Lay the halloumi slices in the hot oil, making sure they're not overcrowded. Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side until golden brown. Serve immediately while hot and crispy.

Watch our video for how to pan-fry halloumi or cook it on the griddle:

How to grill halloumi

  1. Heat the grill to a medium-high setting.
  2. Pat the halloumi dry with kitchen paper and cut into 1cm-thick slices. Brush both sides of the slices lightly with olive oil.
  3. Line the slices up on the grill rack or on a sturdy baking tray and grill for 3-4 mins until nicely browned and crisp around the edges then flip the slices using a spatula and grill the other sides until brown.

How to cook halloumi on the BBQ

Barbecued halloumi skewers on a plate
  1. Light the barbecue and wait for the coals to turn ashen and the grill to get very hot. Make sure the grill is clean. If cooking on a gas barbecue, heat to high.
  2. Pat the halloumi dry with kitchen paper and cut into 1cm-thick slices. Brush both sides of the slices lightly with olive oil and season with any spices, if you like – smoked paprika works well.
  3. Lay the slices of halloumi straight on the grill bars and cook for 2-3 mins on each side until grill marks form and the cheese softens. Turn them 90 degrees while cooking if you want to get a criss-cross pattern.

Browse our best BBQ halloumi recipes.

How to cook halloumi in the air-fryer

  1. Heat the air-fryer to 200C.
  2. Pat the halloumi dry with kitchen paper and cut into 1cm-thick pieces.
  3. Place halloumi slices in a single layer in the air-fryer basket. Cook for 8-10 mins, flipping halfway, until golden brown and crispy.

See our recipe for air-fryer halloumi.

Can you eat halloumi raw?

Halloumi could be eaten raw, but it typically isn’t as its flavour and texture is enhanced when cooked. A big part of enjoying halloumi is the crisp, browned outside and soft inside when cooked, and this would be lost if eaten raw.

How to serve halloumi

Halloumi is extremely versatile and can be served in lots of ways. Grilling, pan-frying, barbecuing, or air-frying slices lend themselves to leafy, grain or bean-based salads. Sliced halloumi also slides nicely into sandwiches, wraps, burgers or as the star of the of a meze platter alongside dips, olives and pickles. Large, diced chunks of halloumi can be skewered and barbecued or it can be cut into chips and deep-fried as halloumi fries. Coarsely grated halloumi can also be used in stuffing mixes for stuffed and roasted vegetables like peppers

What goes well with halloumi?

Halloumi and its salty flavour pairs well with lots of ingredients. Fruits like melon, figs and peaches that are often matched to cured ham all work well, and then vegetables that suit being charred on the barbecue or roasted, like aubergines, courgettes, peppers and red onions. Cooked halloumi can be dressed using fresh green herbs like mint, parsley and coriander, other salty ingredients like olives and capers, and acidity from citrus or good quality wine vinegars. As well as leafy and warm roasted vegetable salads, halloumi works with cooked grains like bulgur wheat and couscous, as well as pulses like green lentils and chickpeas.

Our top five halloumi recipes

1. Halloumi burgers

Four halloumi burgers on a wooden board with toasted brioche buns

Halloumi is an excellent replacement for meat in these fully loaded veggie burgers, served in toasted brioche buns. They make for a quick and easy lunch and are perfect for family camping holidays.

Halloumi burgers

2. Halloumi salad

Griddled halloumi fattoush salad

With griddled halloumi, toasted pitta pieces, grains, tomatoes, dill and mint, this Middle Eastern-inspired salad makes a speedy and satisfying lunch for four

Halloumi & quinoa fattoush

Also check out more of our halloumi salad recipes.

3. Halloumi fajitas

Halloumi fajitas with flatbreads, halloumi and avocado on separate plates

Halloumi pieces are paired with creamy avocado, crunchy veg and fresh lime juice in these super satisfying tortilla wraps. Serve with chilli sauce or soured cream for a quick and easy weeknight meal.

Halloumi fajitas

4. Halloumi fries

Hallloumi fries in a pot with sauce on the side

Crisp and slightly salty shallow-fried halloumi fries make perfect party food. Great with a sprinkling of za'atar and a spicy yogurt for dipping. Also check out our Za'atar & herb potato latkes recipe.

Halloumi fries

5. Halloumi traybake

Halloumi and vegetable traybake in a rectangular baking dish

This vibrant veggie traybake combines halloumi, roasted veg and chickpeas for a nutritious family dinner. Full of colour, it packs in four of your five-a-day.

Halloumi traybake

Get more ideas from our collections of halloumi recipes, or read our guide on new ways to serve halloumi.


Read more of our cookery guides:

How to cook aubergines
How to cook bacon
How to cook sweet potatoes
How to cook baby corn
How to cook steak
How to cook pasta

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