Hello to this cheery-sounding semi-hard cheese from Cyprus! That’s Halloumi cheese to you.
While halloumi cheese sounds like an aesthetic mainstay for salads and sandwiches, there might be a time when you’ll go from “hallo!” to “where’s the cheese?” If in case you run out of halloumi cheese at a time when you’re ready to fire the skewer, check out some of the possible substitutes so you can still go on with your lit meal.
- Queso Para Freir
- Queso Blanco
Don’t worry if you have upended your kitchen and still find the alternatives for the list above. We have a full comprehensive one for your below.
But first, let’s talk a bit about this Cyprus cheese.
19 Best Halloumi Cheese Substitutes
Halloumi cheese is colored white and comes from goat’s and sheep’s milk—which contribute to its mild and salty flavor.
If you want to sound like a cheese connoisseur, you can refer to it as an unripe and brined cheese with a high melting point.
This makes halloumi cheese nearly indestructible by fire, since it retains its melt-resistant form even after frying.
Here are the 18 best substitutes for halloumi cheese to always fire up your meal:
Paneer(Indian Cottage Cheese)
If you’re a fan of Indian cuisine, Paneer will not sound new to you. You’ve surely tasted something like Palak Paneer—and loved it!
Paneer also known as Indian cottage cheese covers all the traits of halloumi cheese such as its white color, firm texture, and a mild taste.
It is popular in Indian cuisine, and makes a great halloumi substitute for grilled recipes.
It has a firm and semi-hard texture at room temperature, but softens a bit when heated. It packs a lot of flavor and it’s a great substitute for improving the taste of your dish.
Paneer comes from curdled sour milk so it has an acid component—but the result is a versatile type of cheese that can be grilled, pan-fried, or added to curry dishes. It can be used in many dishes such as sandwiches, wraps, and salads.
It’s also a healthy alternative to halloumi since it contains less salt. It also has a milder flavor rich in calcium and protein.
If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to halloumi cheese, then feta can be an excellent choice. It’s another type of Greek cheese, which originates from the Balkan region.
Feta is a popular Greek cheese that comes from sheep’s or goat’s milk or a mixture—and is a common ingredient in Mediterranean salads, pasta, and sandwiches.
This type of crumbly cheese has a white color, and is often used as a salad topping.
Feta can be treated as a softer halloumi cheese substitute since it takes on a firm and crumbly form. It may appear brittle and cannot be fried outright, but its texture is far from flat.
Feta cheese is a perfect substitute for salads, sandwiches, and omelet recipes that require the use of halloumi. Their taste and texture are pretty similar, giving you a variety of options when you want to get creative.
Queso panela is a fresh white cheese that originates from Mexico. Even if it comes from cow’s milk, it bears several similarities to halloumi: the mild salty flavor and solid form that lasts even when fried.
It works quite well as an alternative to halloumi. It has a pretty similar texture and taste, but adds an element of crumbliness to your dish.
It’s also an excellent choice for fried and grilled foods, and some people even enjoy it raw. It’s similar to feta cheese and it melts well, making it a great option for nachos and quesadillas.
Queso panela has that rubbery texture that adds to its halloumi-like behavior. Since it’s “wetter” than halloumi, the only difference is that it doesn’t turn into golden brown when fried—but that isn’t a deal-breaker.
Use it as a burger or sandwich filling. Add panela cubes on soup, or top shredded pieces on tacos and quesadillas to get a winning halloumi fix.
Manouri can be called a distant cousin of halloumi and feta. It’s a Greek cheese, but with a softer texture and milder flavor. Manouri is produced from the whey used to create feta cheese, so the effect is a semi-delicate and milkier cheese.
If you’re looking for a good substitute for halloumi cheese with a very similar texture, then try manouri. Manouri has a creamy, yet firm texture, which is perfect for grilling and frying.
The milder taste makes it a flexible choice also for sweet and savory dishes. Manouri’s versatility is quite commendable since it can be topped on salads or mixed with pastries.
It’s also made from sheep’s milk, which makes it a versatile option for different types of recipes. On top of that, it has a lower fat content compared to halloumi, making it a healthy alternative.
Queso Para Freir
If you need a halloumi substitute with a bit of a milder flavor, then consider using queso para freir. It’s a type of Mexican cheese and is considered a classic alternative.
Queso Para Freir belongs to the cottage cheese family so it resembles cottage cheese: white, crumbly, creamy, and mildly salty. Add the high melting point, and you’ve got a piece of cheese with a lot of cool points.
It’s a good match considering the flavor profile of halloumi and it also has a bit of a similar texture. The mild flavor gives you options for preparing recipes with less bite in the taste.
It fulfils the number one requirement of staying firm despite high temperature, yielding a golden brown finish that adds aesthetic value.
The only downside is that finding queso para freir can be a bit difficult. Try finding it in the nearest Hispanic grocery stores, and you may have luck getting one.
Queso Blanco is a type of fresh cheese from Spain, which works quite well as a halloumi substitute. This white cheese is made from whole milk and has a crumbly texture.
Queso Blanco translates to “white cheese” in English and can refer to any white-colored cheese.
It has a mild flavor profile that matches the one you get from halloumi. It also melts easily and works great for recipes requiring some grilled food.
Queso blanco is a great source of protein, providing 42% of your daily nutritional values. It packs a lot of the essential vitamins and minerals such as phosphorus, calcium, zinc, vitamin A and vitamin B12. [Source]
Queso Blanco’s strongest suit, which makes it a contender as a halloumi substitute, is keeping its firm form when heated. The flavor is mild and subtle—which makes this cheese a simple and adaptable base for your cooking, grilling, and salad-topping requirements.
Mozzarella is world-famous for being that oozing cheese that makes pizza the best food ever.
If you’re planning to cook an Italian recipe calling for halloumi cheese, then try mozzarella as a substitute. It’s a great option if you’re aiming for something rather thick and creamy.
Mozzarella can be traced back to the 16th century and is believed to be a creation of buffalo farmers. This moreish cheese has a soft texture, which is used in many pizza and pasta recipes.
The mozzarella cheese you see in stores today can be made of cow’s milk or buffalo milk. Either way, it will still have that bouncy consistency that turns creamy when heated.
Fresh mozzarella is thick and firm, which makes it a low-sodium and healthier halloumi substitute. It has comparably fewer calories and fat content than halloumi and offers more protein.
Add solid cubes of mozzarella to your salads to pack more nutrition and enjoy the same kind of chewy texture.
Provolone is a type of cheese that originates from Italy, specifically in Campania near Mount Vesuvius. It is interesting to note that provolone cheese is known for being soft, lava smooth, and melts when heated—to make the volcano connection.
Provolone is a substitute for halloumi for recipes that don’t require a strong flavor profile. Just like other types of cheese on this list, provolone also melts easily, giving the same texture.
Take note that provolone has a lower melting point, which means it easily blends well with other ingredients. However, it’s not the best option if you’re frying or grilling your food.
Provolone has two types: Dolce with a milder flavor and Piccante with a stronger and grounded flavor.
Provolone Dolce is the better alternative to halloumi because of its gentle flavor. Use provolone for dishes that would be remarkable with the addition of melted cheese.
Have you ever been confused between graviera and the Swiss cheese gruyere? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Graviera actually derived its name from gruyere, and both have similar characteristics.
Graviera is a Greek cheese made from sheep’s and goat’s milk—or sometimes from cow’s milk—depending on the area this was sourced. Similar to feta and halloumi, graviera is hard and light. It can be cooked, fried, or added raw to salads.
Graviera offers a flavor ranging from sweet to nutty. A bonus would be the taste of young graviera, which is buttery and sweet.
Let’s just say that kefalotyri is the hardheaded sibling and substitute for halloumi—for interesting reasons you should consider.
Kefalotyri is much harder and more pungent than halloumi as a result of its one-year aging process. If your goal is to melt the cheese, you will be disappointed.
The dry texture and salty flavor of kefalotyri work well when grilled or barbecued—enhanced with a squeeze or spritz of lemon juice.
If you find it too strong for your dish, serve it in smaller portions or use it as a garnish for soups and salads.
Saganaki sounds Japanese, but is actually Greek in origin. It is another one of halloumi’s comparable cousins that comes close in the areas of flavor and form.
It’s just as salty as halloumi and has a rather firm texture, plus it also comes from Cyprus.
Aside from having a similar texture and salty flavor as halloumi, saganaki also adds a smoky flavor. If you want to boost its flavor profile, then add some oregano and lime juice to your recipes.
Saganaki is a good source of calcium and potassium. However, it does have a higher salt content, around 320 mg for every 0.25 gram pack. [Source]
If halloumi is “squeaky,” saganaki has less of a squeak because of its dampness. While saganaki will not achieve a brown hue when cooked. It will remain white and firm.
The taste is pretty much spot-on—so if you like a picture-worthy, mildly salty white cheese, saganaki would be a worthy alternative.
Are you looking for vegan options as substitutes for halloumi? You might be surprised that tofu makes an excellent and healthy alternative.
Tofu or bean curd is made from soybeans and lists several health benefits, so you’re good to add it to your cart ASAP. It’s the top vegan and vegetarian alternative for halloumi—so keep tofu in mind in case you’re having friends over.
The catch is that tofu doesn’t have the exact same flavor profile as halloumi. However, you can adjust the taste to match what the original cheese offers by adding salt, pepper, and spices.
Tofu is made from soybeans and it absorbs a lot of flavors quite well. It’s best to use it for stir fries and other dishes that require herbs.
Tofu is low in calories, sugar, and fat, and is an excellent source of protein, calcium, and iron. Even if tofu isn’t a type of cheese, it is an innovative and nutritious substitute for halloumi. It is crumbly and firm, and when fried, presents a crisp exterior and slightly creamy middle.
Tofu has no signature flavor, so it may come across as bland or acrid. It can soak up the brine flavor of your sauce or recipe—so maximize this versatile substitute with creamy sauces and spicy curry.
Vlahotiri is not a Harry Potter character but an aged Greek cheese that translates to Farmer’s cheese. That seems like a fitting way to name a cheese made of sheep’s milk.
The taste is somewhat similar to halloumi and it matches the texture quite well. It also has a higher melting point compared to other types of cheese. Other than grilled or fried food, this type of cheese goes great with salads too.
Vlahotiri can be a similar replacement for halloumi in pasta, casseroles, sandwiches, and antipasti since it is a tangy and hard cheese. With its subtle flavor, there is so much potential to season and experiment with Vlahotiri—depending on what your recipe calls for.
One thing you should notice is that vlahotiri isn’t as salty. This means you might need to add some salt to your recipe as needed to get the desired flavors.
Another cheese product of Cyprus, Anari is a soft, white, and mild whey cheese. It comes from goat’s and sheep’s milk and is a type of cottage cheese—which is reflected by its creamy and soft attributes.
It’s a milder alternative to halloumi, which is great for breakfast recipes. It goes well with other salad ingredients, and tastes great when combined with some honey.
The interesting part about Anari is that it has a hard and air-dried version. The dry anari is what you are looking for to replace halloumi for dishes asking for mildly salted and brittle cheese.
Anari is similar to provolone’s sharp and tart character. Even when used sparingly, it can add much-needed flavor to dishes like pasta and salads.
Kasseri is a Greek cheese made of 100% sheep’s milk, though some goat’s or cow’s milk may be added to its overall composition. The flavor is mild with a hint of saltiness and sweetness—which makes it a good candidate for a halloumi replacement.
Note that some recipes calling for halloumi may require goat’s milk, which might slightly alter the taste of kasseri. You may want to use other alternatives if this is the case.
Kasseri has a chewy texture, especially when it’s cooked. If you want to enjoy its firm texture, then it’s best to use it in cold dishes.
Kasseri is also known as “table cheese.” It gives off a pleasant buttery texture that makes it a perfect pairing for bread and olives and a filling for pastries and pies. It is semi-hard so it retains its form when served plain—like on sandwiches or salads.
Another name for Kasseri is “cheddar cheese of the Balkans” since its salty and tangy flavor can enhance every baked dish or grilled sandwich. Once cooked, it can take on a chewy form—a combination of the gooey mozzarella and the sharp provolone.
For those unfamiliar with the term (and read this as “cheese curls”), cheese curds are a French Canadian must-have for poutine, though these are also popular in areas like Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Cheese curds come from curdled milk and were formed in the cheddar cheese-making process but didn’t make the cut. Also called “squeaky cheese,” they are rubbery in texture and mildly salty.
Cheese curds can be used as a great substitute for halloumi. They can also achieve that gooey texture when deep-fried—similar to what you’d do with halloumi cheese.
It also blends well with the other halloumi alternatives on this list.
You can find cheese curds in many grocery stores, which makes it quite accessible. Its gooey texture matches that of halloumi.
Unfortunately, cheese curds don’t have the characteristic salty flavor. This means you may need to adjust the flavors of your recipe accordingly.
Cottage cheese is made from cheese curds with a mild flavor, making it a good halloumi substitute. It’s creamy and non-homogenous, often having a rather soupy texture.
It has low calories and high in protein, and packs a lot of essential nutrients. It’s widely used by athletes and recommended for losing weight.
It’s an excellent choice if you want to shed pounds and gain some muscle. It can help provide bone strength and prevent insulin resistance. [Source]
Kefalotyri cheese is another type of cheese originating from Cyprus, just like halloumi. It’s made from goat or sheep’s milk, which also matches up the flavors as well.
Kefalotyri cheese comes with a bit of a tangy flavor, but not that much, great for meat and fish recipes. Note that it is a bit salty, so remember to adjust the amount of salt in your recipe accordingly.
It also goes well with grilled food since it’s hard and has a high melting point. Alternatively, you can use kefalotyri for fried dishes as well.
If your recipe requires some cheese frying, then Leipajuusto can be an excellent substitute for halloumi. Leipajuusto is a type of cheese loaf hailing from Finland, which some simply call Finnish cheese.
Leipajuusto can be made out of sheep or goat’s milk, giving it that slight tangy flavor. However, some manufacturers use a combination of sheep and cow’s milk.
It has a firm texture and requires a higher temperature for it to melt. It has a slightly salty taste and milder flavor, which is great for savory recipes and sweet dishes.
Graviera is a popular type of Greek cheese, which has a varied range of flavors. Some types of graviera will taste sweet, while there are variants that will have a nutty flavor.
You should choose the type of graviera cheese as a halloumi substitute according to the flavor you want to get. You can use it for making outstanding sandwiches and you can also grill it for added flavor.