The best halloumi substitutes to use for frying, grilling, and homemade salads. From provolone to queso panela, these are the best alternatives to use today.
Halloumi is an unripened cheese originating in Cyprus made from sheep or goats’ milk. It is semi-hard with a firm texture and has a high melting point. In most recipes, you fry or grill it with seasonings, either in slices or chunks. It has a tangy taste. Your meal can leave out meat by using halloumi as an entree.
Because halloumi is a firm-textured cheese, it holds its shape when frying or grilling. Its relatively low moisture content allows halloumi to brown nicely on the grill. Softer cheeses will melt, resulting in a different and potentially unexpected texture.
Halloumi is somewhat uncommon and can be hard to find in grocery stores in the United States. If you have trouble finding halloumi, you have some substitution options. The replacements are not exactly like halloumi, but many of them are close enough to replace it in a recipe. Many substitutes have a similar texture to halloumi, though some crumble more easily.
Queso panela is the best substitute for halloumi in any dish with halloumi cheese. Alternatively, use feta in a salad or kefalotyri if you are frying or grilling slices or chunks of cheese. Tofu is the best option if you are avoiding dairy products. Any of these options will provide a similar flavor to halloumi.
Any of the cheeses below will replace halloumi in a recipe. Some are more suited to crumbling in salads, and others are better grilled or fried. All the cheeses below either have a similar flavor profile or can be pretty close with proper seasoning. Choose a stand-in according to the dish you are making and the texture of the replacement. Keep in mind that many substitutes melt quicker.
Feta cheese comes from Greece, which is close to the island of Cyprus. Cheesemakers blend milk from goats and sheep to create this cheese. Feta is a crumbly but creamy delight. It does not melt as quickly as some cheeses, but heating the cheese enhances the flavor. Feta is a great way to replace halloumi in a salad or casserole.
Feta is easy to find in grocery stores, so it is an excellent choice for replacing halloumi whenever possible. Almost every grocery store carries feta cheese.
Because it crumbles easily, you can not fry it up in a slab like halloumi. The texture is different, too. It is a bit saltier, so reduce any other salt in the recipe using feta instead of halloumi. Replace halloumi with an equal weight of feta in a recipe.
Manouri cheese is also called manoypi by some people. It is bright white and semi-soft, made from the leftovers after making feta. Manouri uses the whey that the cheesemaker drained from the feta. The Greek cheese comes from Thessalia and parts of Macedonia exclusively.
Manouri is creamier than its predecessor but also a little grainy. This sweet, rich cheese is good for salads. You can also cut slices of this soft-but-firm cheese and top them with savory bits of peppers, onions, and tomatoes.
Manouri has a unique mild sweet-and-salty flavor profile that makes it suitable for both desserts and entrees. It smells slightly sour. Its texture is comparable to cheesecake, smooth and silky, and its flavor is not too far off. Swap in manouri in equal portions to halloumi.
Mozzarella is an Italian artisan cheese, semi-soft and mild, with a smooth texture and is pliable. In the United States, cheesemakers age mozzarella cheese for longer storage life. In Italy, they make mozzarella daily, and the cheese only lasts a few days. The fresher mozzarella has a mild taste but is very popular.
There are six different types of mozzarella cheeses. The most common mozzarella in the United States tends to be rubbery but melts into strings. Other mozzarella cheeses include:
- Burrata, which has a creamy center
- Mozzarella made from water buffalo milk
- Scamorza, which is drier and firmer than the common mozzarella
- Smoked mozzarella
Mozzarella replaces halloumi well in salads and other cold dishes. It is not a good substitute for halloumi in hot dishes. While halloumi is firm even when fried or grilled, mozzarella melts and becomes runny. It has a much milder flavor, and you may need to add salt to the food when replacing halloumi with mozzarella.
Like mozzarella, provolone comes from Italy. It is a hard, pale yellow cheese. It tends to stay firm longer when heated than mozzarella. It is a good substitute for halloumi in heated dishes, though it does soften more than halloumi does. You can slice and fry provolone like halloumi. It is excellent for cold sandwiches and other recipes, too.
Provolone’s flavor is mild early on, when it is first made, but becomes more intense as it ages. However, even aged provolone is not usually sharp. Some describe it as having a nutty flavor, and it is slightly salty. Provolone is often smoked to give it a distinct flavor and scent. It replaces halloumi equally in any recipe.
Queso panela is a Mexican cheese. It is semi-soft and has a light taste and a bright white color. Its name comes from the baskets in which it drains. The cheese has a basketweave textured surface due to the basket and can be used in a snack or meal recipe or by itself.
Queso panela absorbs flavors from things around it, such as meats and spices. It is like halloumi and will stay firm when fried or grilled. It will not brown nicely, though, because it has more liquid. It has a similar flavor to halloumi, especially when fried or baked.
You can use queso panela in any recipe that calls for halloumi. Its similarity means that diners will find the resulting meal satisfactory.
A very salty and pungent cheese, kefalotyri starts with sheep or goats’ milk. It is a hard cheese with a high melting point. Its texture is flaky rather than solid, but it becomes creamy when heated. It is a perfect substitute for grilled halloumi and makes an excellent base for an appetizer.
Reduce added salt when using kefalotyri in a halloumi recipe. A sweet recipe is the only recipe category in which kefalotyri may not work well to replace halloumi because of the cheese’s extra salty flavor. There are exceptions even to that, of course. In the same way, some people enjoy salted caramel, and some may enjoy the salty kefalotyri in a sweet-and-salty dessert.
Anari is a sheep’s-milk cheese with a semi-hard outer layer. Its flavor ranges from mild to spicy and tart. Anari is much like ricotta in texture and flavor. After making halloumi, cheesemakers use the leftover milk to make anari cheese. It is not as popular as other substitute options and may be hard to find. If you can find it, it is excellent in fresh dishes.
You can use anari instead of halloumi in salads and other recipes that use crumbled cheese. It is a lot like cream cheese, and Cypriots often eat it as breakfast food. They either mix it with honey or fruit syrups or slice it and top it with nuts, honey, carob, or fruit syrup.
Graviera is a sophisticated Greek cheese made from sheep’s milk, sometimes mixed with cow’s. Cow’s milk is rarely used in Greece, as cows are uncommon there, but cheesemakers in other areas may use it. However, graviera is a protected cheese and if it is not made in Greece, it is not legal to use the name.
Graviera is a hard cheese you can slice, shred, and fry. It has holes and is light yellow. It is versatile and replaces halloumi nicely in all sorts of recipes. Greek people use graviera in salads or fried. Graviera fries well in cheese fritters, but when not breaded, it melts instead of frying. Use graviera in salads or casseroles for best results.
The flavor of graviera varies depending on where production occurs and how old it is. In general, it is nutty, buttery, and a bit sweet. The graviera made in Crete tends to taste a little like burnt caramel. When graviera is new, it is fruity and sweet. At least five months after production, graviera ages. The aging process gives it the crossed shapes from the cloth in which it drains.
Tofu is a product made from soybeans. It is creamy and solidified into a soft, spongy block. Tofu’s texture ranges from very soft to very firm, but all are mild in flavor. The various forms of tofu allow cooks to substitute it for halloumi in any recipe. Firm tofu slices, fries, and grills while softer tofu crumbles for salads.
Most people choose tofu as a non-dairy option to cheese. Vegans, vegetarians, or lactose-intolerant people will find this a perfect substitute. Tofu’s mild flavor allows seasonings to set the overall flavor. By itself, it is bland, so it can pair with any other food easily.