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Best Halloumi Cheese Substitute (12 Delicious Options)


Halloumi cheese has gained popularity among professional chefs and home cooks alike, thanks to its versatility and distinct taste and texture. In this article, you will learn about how to pick the best halloumi substitute and all the options to choose from.

What do you do when you don’t have halloumi available, but your recipe calls for it? Well, you can scour your fridge for any of the items we’ll be discussing in this article. 

cutting board with sliced halloumi cheese

What is Halloumi?

Halloumi is a firm and chewy cheese typically made from goat, sheep, or cow’s milk. It is often soaked in brine, giving it a salty taste. Mint leaves are also used to preserve and add flavor to halloumi cheese, so seeing bits and pieces of mint with halloumi is quite usual. 

This cheese is often served fried with a crispy exterior. Because of its low acid level, halloumi may be fried, baked, and exposed to heat while still retaining its shape – it won’t melt and become gooey

Another quality of this cheese is that the longer you cook it, the tastier it becomes. However, it should be noted that while in most recipes, halloumi is typically cooked, this cheese could be enjoyed raw or uncooked.

Best Halloumi Substitutes

Looking for the best halloumi cheese substitute might sound intimidating and complicated, but once you get yourself familiar with the other food items that come close to the taste and texture of halloumi, it gets easier. 

Here are 12 of the best halloumi cheese substitutes:

1. Queso panela

Because this cheese is made from cow’s milk and does not melt when heated, queso panela makes an excellent replacement for halloumi cheese. However, because queso panela is a crumbly cheese, it won’t be easy to keep its form throughout the cooking process.

Nevertheless, if you want your cheese to have a particular shape and form, you may want to consider another option on this list.

2. Saganaki

Halloumi is commonly referred to as the Cypriot equivalent of saganaki cheese in Greece. With this, it is reasonable to assume that saganaki and halloumi are nearly identical, except that they come from different places.

Rather than being used as a component in a recipe, this greek cheese is famous for being pan-seared, flambeed, and served with lemon. This does not preclude you from using it as a halloumi alternative.

3. Paneer

Paneer cheese makes an excellent substitute for halloumi since it’s a non-melting cheese. It’s often known as Indian cottage cheese and is prepared from cow or buffalo milk. The main distinction between paneer and halloumi is that paneer has a significant acid level, whereas halloumi has nearly no acid.

Furthermore, halloumi is saltier, so if you substitute paneer for halloumi, use more salt than the recipe asks for.

4. Queso para Freir

True to its name, queso para frier, alternatively spelled as queso para freir, is a type of cheese that is produced particularly for frying. As a result, if your recipe asks for fried halloumi, queso de frier is your best option.

Because queso de frier and halloumi usually have the same saltiness, you may swap them without adding salt.

5. Tofu

Tofu is created from coagulated soy milk and is also known as bean curd. Unlike the other alternatives described here, is a plant-based alternative that may satisfy individuals who avoid dairy. It’s worth noting that tofu is often unsalted, so if you want your alternative to be salty, make a brine solution and soak the tofu in it before cooking.

Tofu may be cooked, crumbled, or eaten raw, making it just as versatile as halloumi. It will taste different because it is not cheese, so if you want the cheese flavor, tofu may not be for you.

6. Feta

Feta cheese is manufactured from sheep’s milk or a mix of sheep’s and goat’s milk. It is also brine-aged, similar to halloumi. While cow’s milk is a regular component in halloumi, cow’s milk in feta cheese is unusual, but not unheard of.

Feta has a slightly more tangy flavor than halloumi, but the two are quite similar in terms of taste and texture.

Because they have nearly the same texture, feta may easily be used in place of halloumi. However, keep in mind that halloumi is saltier than feta so you may need to tweak your recipe and add more salt than what it calls for.

7. Mozzarella

Mozzarella cheese is a popular Italian cheese often included as a pizza component. It is typically manufactured from buffalo’s milk and sometimes cow’s milk. Mozzarella can be used in place of halloumi if your recipe does not ask for it to be cooked, unlike halloumi, mozzarella is melted cheese when exposed to heat.

Another thing to consider is that mozzarella offers only a slightly salty flavor, so if you need your dish to be salty, then you may want to add more salt.

8. Kefalotyri

Kefalotyri cheese is a salty cheese from Greece and Cyprus made from sheep or goat’s milk. This cheese is ideal for grating due to its firm consistency. Needless to say, kefalotyri is an excellent option if you want something that can be grated or sliced without disintegrating.

This substitute, like halloumi, has a high melting point, therefore it can be grilled and will provide similar results as halloumi – brown and crispy on the surface, but white and squeaky on the inside.

9. Queso Blanco

Queso Blanco is a white cheese that is made from milk and lemon juice or vinegar. Due to its uncomplicated creation process, this type of cheese can be made at home. That being said, if you are in dire need of halloumi, you can make your own queso Blanco, and then you’ll have a great substitute right away!

One of the best things about homemade queso Blanco is that you can completely control how hard or soft you want it to be, so you can alter it based on what your recipe calls for. Again, the texture of queso Blanco is quite similar to that of halloumi.

10. Manouri

Manouri is cheese made from the milk whey used in the production of feta cheese so it is safe to say that is somehow similar to feta. However, manouri is less salty and less smooth than feta obviously because leftover whey was used. The good thing about manouri is that its flavor is so mild, that you can use it for almost any dish that calls for cheese – may it be dessert or a savory dish. 

Of course, its mild flavor makes it an excellent replacement for halloumi, which is equally flexible as manouri.

11. Provolone

Because of its mild flavor, provolone cheese, particularly provolone dolce, is an excellent alternative for halloumi. It is made using full-fat cow’s milk, thus the flavor is similar to halloumi.

This type of cheese, unlike halloumi, does not have a high melting point. If you must cook it, you are better off using another halloumi replacement that does not melt as much. However, if you only need halloumi to top your salad, provolone will be a great alternative.

12. Anari

Anari is a cheese made from the leftover whey from producing halloumi. This cheese is less salty and has some sweet undertones as a result. When Anari is fresh, it is spreadable and goes well with jams for breakfast.

It is fairly hard in its dried state, making it ideal for grating. If your recipe asks for crumbled halloumi, you may use this alternative. However, if you need it to stay intact until you’re finished cooking, this may not be the best option.

How To Choose The Best Substitute

With the wide variety of halloumi substitutes, it is understandable if you’ll get confused. Not to worry, we have a guide to help you choose the best substitute. 

Here are 3 tips to choose the best substitute for halloumi cheese:

  1. Consider the saltiness. When deciding on the best halloumi alternative, consider whether you want a less salty option. Halloumi is often salty, so if you wish to avoid salt for whatever reason, you should opt for halloumi replacements such as paneer. Now, if you wish to keep the same amount of saltiness, pick salty replacements.
  1. Be mindful of the preparation. Before deciding on a substitute, examine how the halloumi is going to be utilized in the dish. If the recipe calls for crumbling, use a crumblier replacement, such as queso panela. However, if your recipe asks for frying or grilling, you may use alternatives with the same texture like kefalotyri to ensure that your substitute holds its form during the process.
  1. Take note of your dietary preference. Lastly, if you’re looking for a substitute because you are trying to go plant-based, then you should consider the source from which your substitute will come. On our list, tofu will be your best bet. 

What is halloumi cheese similar to?

Feta, which is brined chees, resembles halloumi cheese in taste. Another cheese that is similar to halloumi is queso Blanco. This cheese is also a brined cheese, but it has a slightly creamier flavor than halloumi.

Summary

There’s no reason to scowl if you find yourself in need of halloumi and discover that you don’t have any. Like any other ingredient, you will most likely be able to find something to replace it with while still achieving the desired taste and texture in a recipe. 

Keep in mind that various replacements may have different textures, so think about how the halloumi will be utilized in your dish before settling on one. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on the saltiness of your substitution since you don’t want to wind up with an overly salty meal because you used a salty alternative.

More Ingredient Substitutes

Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!

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