Looking for Halloumi Substitutes? You’re in the right place! Here is a list of 9 alternatives so you don't have to go without its taste and texture in your dishes completely.
Halloumi is a sharp sheep's milk cheese from Cyprus that's usually pan-fried until it's crispy on the outside while keeping the inside nice and melty. Unfortunately, it's not the easiest cheese to find unless you live near a deli or specialty-products store. Even so, you might be surprised by its price and not want to pay so much for something you've never tried.
Although our list is composed of nine alternatives, we certainly have some favorites! Without doubt, the best ones are paneer, queso panela, queso blanco, paneer, kefalotyri, queso para freir, and saganaki. That's not to say, our other alternatives won't work, they're just not as similar to halloumi in taste or texture.
1. Queso para freír
When you translate the name, it literally means "cheese for frying," so you can imagine what the best cooking method for this cheese is. Fried or grilled, feel free to incorporate it into all of your preparations. Similarly to halloumi, it develops a crispy golden crust on the outside while staying soft and melty on the inside. Where can you find it? The Central American dairy section at your local grocery store or online.
2. Queso panela
Panela is a semi-soft Mexican cheese that's similar in taste to ricotta. It's made from cow's milk, so don't expect the same sharp taste you'd get from sheep's milk. You can fry it, grill it, crumble it, bake it, or eat it cold. It's the perfect cheese! Unfortunately, it doesn't brown well because it's a high-moisture cheese that releases lots of liquid. What does it go well with? Mexican food and salads!
Kefalotyri can be made from sheep or goat's milk and is of Greek-Cypriot origin. It's perfect for grilling and frying because of its high melting point, so feel free to toss it into the pan or grill for an extra tangy and creamy experience. However, it does tend to be quite salty so keep this in mind when seasoning your dish or you may end up salting it too much. We recommend serving it as an appetizer.
It's typically fried until hot and bubbling and splashed with a bit of lemon juice before serving it with pitas. Although it won't brown much, we consider its taste and texture a worthy Greek substitute for halloumi.
5. Queso Blanco
Unaged and slightly salty, queso blanco is a milder alternative to halloumi that's perfect for crumbling or eating on its own. It cooks quite similarly to halloumi except it doesn't melt, so we recommend it for cold preparations rather than hot ones. Where does it taste best? Mexican and Central American food!
Finally, an Asian alternative. Straight from India, paneer is the perfect way to add a creamy but subtle tang to rich preparations like curries or stews. It's perfect for pan-frying or grilling, so use it in your favorite recipes! It is milder in flavor, though, so you may have to add more paneer than you would halloumi.
Tofu is another great Asian alternative to halloumi. It's also vegan and pretty much a blank canvas for anything you want to do with it. If you want to grill or fry it, we recommend going with at least a medium-firm consistency unless you want it turning to mush in your pan. All you need to do is add a little oil and let the heat do its magic in order to achieve the perfect crispy tofu with a creamy interior.
We love provolone for quick grills but don't forget to remove it from the heat right after unless you want to end up with a pile of melted cheese. We recommend it for bruschetta, crostini, grilled cheese, or even mac n' cheese! Cold or melted, enjoy the same saltiness and a similar tang to halloumi.
Can you really blame us for having so many Greek cheeses on this list? Feta is super crumbly and not particularly melty so we recommend it as a topping for cold preparations. It is saltier than halloumi, so please keep this in mind when adding it to your dishes unless you want very salty food.
Tip: If you really want halloumi cheese but can't find it in your supermarket, make sure to hit up specialty shops that carry Greek and Arabic products. If there are none in your area, you can order online.
Finding halloumi isn't always easy depending on where you live, other times it's just not within budget. Regardless of why you don't have any halloumi on hand, we don't want you to go completely without it. Adding just the right amount of tang and creaminess, these nine options are the best ingredients you can substitute halloumi with. With Latin American, Mediterranean, and Asian alternatives, what could possibly go wrong? We're sure you can find at least one of them in your fridge or your local supermarket if halloumi isn't available. Now that you know this, let's get cooking!
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