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How to make Halloumi cheese

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Making halloumi at home

Knowing how to make halloumi at home is not as hard as you might think. When we eat food that we love when we are travelling, we always try where we can to make it back home. We love cooking and trying new things but we also love to keep sharing in the memories of those special travel moments.

We recommend starting off small when you are making halloumi for the first time, otherwise, you run the risk of wasting a lot of milk if you just don’t get it right.

The great thing about this though is that once you master the technique (which isn’t hard by the way), you can upscale it for any amount. The process and the time taken to make the halloumi doesn’t change at all.

Note: Homemade halloumi is beautiful but it will take time. For this halloumi recipe, there are a number of processes where you just need to wait, rest and cook. It is recommended that you make this recipe only when you have time to hang around the kitchen and watch over every move.

Cook’s tip: We use a timer for every step just so we don’t get distracted doing other things.

Recipe FAQS and expert tips

How do I cook halloumi?

There are many recipes that include the use of halloumi. We love to eat it by simply putting it into a hot pan, without the addition of any oil, and lightly cook it on both sides until golden brown. A squeeze of lime at the end before serving is always delicious. Adding a little honey is also a bit decadent and naughty, but really tasty.

Is halloumi healthy?

We are no nutrition experts but will say this. If you are using non-homogenised milk from local farmers that is as fresh as possible, then that’s all there really is to it. Halloumi is made from fresh milk, with no additives other than water and rennet and they are in very small quantities. It will contain some cholesterol and it is rolled in salt. I’m sure it’s probably not good to eat all the time given the fat content but you’d be better asking the Cypriots about this fact.

Where does halloumi come from?

Halloumi hails from Cyprus where it has been made for many centuries. Traditionally it is made from a combination of goat’s milk and sheep’s milk. Most industrially made halloumi is now made from cow’s milk.

What does halloumi taste like?

Halloumi is called squeaky cheese due to its texture. It’s semi-hard and spongey and when cooked, it squeaks between your teeth. It is usually brined to keep it fresh. Because it is rolled in salt and brined, it has a much stronger salt taste than many other cheeses.

What can I use instead of halloumi?

If you can’t make your own, paneer and kefalogravia are good substitutes.

Is halloumi good for fying?

It certainly is and it’s actually one of the best ways to eat halloumi. Its high heat point means it won’t melt when you heat it.

How is halloumi cheese made

It’s made from milk, heating it and creating curds and then continuing to cook down the curds. Follow our recipe below for a simple, food proof way of making halloumi.

Can I cook halloumi ahead of time?

You can but it won’t taste the same. Knowing how to cook halloumi is just as important as knowing how to make it. Halloumi should be cooked just prior to serving it and eaten hot, straight away. The longer it sits, the more rubbery it goes and it really isn’t very nice at all at this stage. There is no comparison to eating freshly cooked halloumi.

What goes into this recipe

ingredients for making halloumi cheese

Recipe ingredient notes

  • For the best chance of success, non-homogenised milk should be used. Unlike many baking recipes where milk can be substituted for low fat, soy, almond, oat etc, this recipe is not one of them.
  • If you don’t have distilled water at home, simply boil some tap water. Just make sure it is completely cooled before using it.
  • Liquid rennet is very easy to use and can be found in many good stores, baking stores or online. Store it in the fridge once you have opened it.
  • We use sea salt flakes but you can use any salt provided it is not iodised.

Why this recipe works

This recipe works because it has very few ingredients, and if you follow the steps correctly, and take the time to do each step well, there is no way of making a bad batch. There are some specific touchpoints where it could go wrong, but if you use the correct ingredients and take it slowly, you’ll have a great batch of halloumi before long.

This recipe also makes a good amount of cheese without being too much to get through quickly. Whilst it will store brilliantly in a vacuum-sealed bag, not everyone has access to such equipment. This amount will store nicely in your fridge for a few weeks if properly packaged.

Unlike commercial halloumi cheese which can be heavily salted, making your own means you can control how much salt you put on the finished product.

Utensils and equipment required

  • Double boiler. If you don’t have a specific double boiler, just place one saucepan inside another. Unlike melting chocolate or making custard where you can use a glass dish over a saucepan, this won’t work for making halloumi. You need heavy-based saucepans for this to work properly.
  • Thermometer
  • Spoon
  • Ladle
  • Sharp knife
  • Muslin
  • Colander
  • Bowl
  • Baking tray and wire rack (or you can use a sushi mat)
  • 2 heavy boards (eg cutting boards)
  • Weights

How to make halloumi

Step 1

Put some water in the bottom of the double boiler and heat. Pour the milk into the top of the double boiler. Stir occasionally whilst bringing the temperature up to 32°C (89.6°F).

Cook’s tip: It’s important to have a thermometer that is accurate. We use a thermometer used by coffee baristas for heating their milk.

halloumi thermometer

Whilst the milk is coming up to temperature, put the 1.0 ml of liquid rennet into 30 ml of distilled water.

Step 2

This step is about coagulating the milk and making curds.

When the milk reaches 32°C add the combined rennet and water into the milk. Start stirring the milk before adding the rennet and then stir it through thoroughly to distribute the rennet. Don’t stir ferociously and only stir for one minute.

Turn the heat off and put the lid on the saucepan. Leave to rest for 40 minutes. Do not stir the milk during this period. Once the 40 minutes is over, the milk should have set into curds. You can put a knife into it gently and raise it up to see if this has worked.

Note: This is a critical point in the process. If the milk has not set slightly at this stage. If your milk has not set perfectly, you will just need to give it some more time. Do not, under any circumstances, add more rennet as it will destroy the curds already made.

Step 3

It’s time to cut the curds. If the curd has set, cut it into 1″ cubes. Using a sharp knife, cut up and down, left to right and then diagonally under the surface of the curd.

Cover and rest for 5 minutes. Stir the curds gently then bring the heat back up to 40°C (104°F). This will take around 20 minutes.

Step 4

During this process, the curds will shrink. At around the 20-minute mark, leave it to rest with the lid on for about 10 minutes. During this time, the curds should sink to the bottom.

Shrinking curds

Step 5

Line a colander with muslin and place it over the top of another bowl that will be used to capture and retain the whey. Empty the curds and whey into the colander.

pouring the curds and whey
Pouring the curds and whey out

Let sit for several minutes to drain. Pull the muslin out of the colander

draining the curds
Draining the curds into muslin

Step 6

Once the liquid whey has drained off the curds, the cheese will start to look more solid, and more of one piece, as opposed to all the small squishy curds.

halloumi just out of muslin
The curds starting to come together once the whey has drained

Place the muslin with curds onto a board, lightly shape and flatten and wrap it up. Place another heavy board on top of the wrapped curd and then place weights on top, ensuring that the cheese underneath is kept flat at all times. For this amount of cheese, use about a 2kg (4.4lb) weight.

Press for 10 minutes and then take the board off and turn the curd over. Repeat weight process and leave for 20 minutes.

flattening the halloumi

Step 7

Remove the muslin and cut the cheese. With this amount of cheese we simply cut it in half or thirds.

Place the cheese on top of a baking tray.

cut halloumi
Cut the halloumi prior to putting into whey

Step 8

Meanwhile, heat the whey back up to 90°C (194°F). Any remaining curd will rise to the surface. If it does, skim it all off and discard.

Step 9

This is a very important step. Even though it sounds a bit crazy to put the halloumi cheese back into the whey, this the the process that preserves the halloumi so that when it is cooked before eating, it doesn’t melt.

Bring the whey up to 97°C (206°F). Lower the halloumi gently into the hot whey. This process makes the halloumi heat-resistant.

halloumi being put into whey
Lowering the halloumi into the heated whey

Turn the heat off once again and leave the halloumi in the whey for 45 minutes, with the lid on. (The head of the whey at the end was approximately 60°C (140°F)

Step 10

Remove from whey and drain once again on wire rack.

Step 11

Mix together salt and mint leaves (chopped fresh or dried) and roll the halloumi in this mix on all sides. Fold in half (on top of itself) and press down.

folded halloumi

Store in brine or vacuum seal and keep in the fridge.

This recipe produced approximately 250g of halloumi. Making a small amount also means that the halloumi is much thinner than you are probably used to seeing. Once it is folded in half however, it forms a good thickness.

how to make halloumi cheese

How do you use halloumi?

The best way to eat halloumi cheese is grilled quickly and eaten immediately. Because the halloumi has already been heat-treated by placing it back in the hot whey, it now has an extremely high heating point. Unlike softer cheeses, it doesn’t melt on the outside, meaning the cooking process makes the inside softy, but the cheese keeps its overall shape.

Simply heat up a fry pan. You can use a little oil or if you have a good no-stick pan, there’s no need to add any oil at all. Grill on each side until it is golden brown. You can cut the cheese into pieces or in much larger sizes.

Serve with a squeeze of lemon or lime. For a little more decadence, drizzle some good quality honey over the top.

Halloumi can also be cut into smaller pieces or cubes, fried and added to a salad. We always like cooking the halloumi cheese a little before eating as it gives it a much better flavour.

Use the smaller pieces in a salad or as an addition to kebabs cooked on the barbeque.

Halloumi is a wonderful addition to breakfast as well, especially on a bacon and egg roll, or as an accompaniment to a burger as well.

cooked halloumi cheese with lime wedges

How to make halloumi

Yield: 5
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes

Making halloumi at home is fun and it's such a proud moment when you realise you've made this beautiful cheese just out of milk! Halloumi cheese originates from Cyprus but is also found in Greece. It's also known as "squeaky cheese" due to the sound it makes between your teeth when it is being eaten.

Ingredients

  • 2 litres non-homogenised milk
  • 1.0 ml liquid rennet
  • 30 ml distilled (non-chlorinated) water
  • Non-iodised salt

Instructions

    Method

  1. Put some water in the bottom of the double boiler and heat. Pour the milk into the top of the double boiler. Stir occasionally whilst bringing the temperature up to 32°C (89.6°F)
  2. Whilst the milk is coming up to temperature, put the liquid rennet into the distilled water.
  3. When the milk reaches 32°C, it is time to add the combined rennet and water into the milk. Before doing so, start stirring the milk, then add the rennet/water. This helps to distribute it evenly. Don't stir ferociously and only stir for one minute.
  4. Turn the heat off and put the lid on the saucepan. Leave to rest for 40 minutes. Do not stir the milk during this period.
  5. Once the 40 minutes is over, the milk should have set into curds. You can put a knife into it gently and raise it up to see if this has worked. It's very obvious at this point to see whether the curds have set or not. The curds should be quite thick and in one large block.
  6. If the curd has set, cut it into 1" cubes. Using a sharp knife, cut up and down, left to right and then diagonally under the surface of the curd.
  7. Cover and rest for 5 minutes.
  8. Stir the curds gently then bring the heat back up to 40°C (104°F). This will take around 20 minutes. Note we actually find that our temperature is usually already around 40 degrees C. If this is the case, don't heat any more.
  9. During this process, the curds will shrink. This means the 1" cubes will separate and become smaller. At around the 20-minute mark, leave it to rest with the lid on for about 20minutes. During this time, the curds should sink to the bottom.
  10. Line a colander with muslin and place it over the top of another bowl that will be used to capture and retain the whey. Empty the curds and whey into the colander. Let sit for several minutes to drain. Pull the muslin out of the colander
  11. Place the muslin with curds onto a board, lightly shape and flatten and wrap it up. Place another heavy board on top of the wrapped curd and then place weights on top, ensuring that the cheese underneath is kept flat at all times. For this amount of cheese, use about a 2kg (4.4lb) weight. We usually put some paper towels (kitchen towels) under the boards to soak up any excess liquid that runs out as the cheese is flattened.
  12. Press for 10 minutes and then take the board off and turn the curd over. Repeat the weight process and leave for 20 minutes.
  13. Remove the muslin and cut the cheese.
  14. Place the cheese on top of a baking tray.
  15. Meanwhile, heat the whey back up to 90°C (194°F). Any remaining curd will rise to the surface. If it does, skim it all off and discard it. We rarely have any leftover curd rise to the surface.
  16. Bring the whey up to 97°C (206°F). Lower the halloumi gently into the hot whey. This process makes the halloumi heat-resistant.
  17. Turn the heat off once again and leave the halloumi in the whey for 45 minutes, with the lid on. (The heat of the whey at the end was approximately 60°C (140°F)
  18. Remove from whey and drain once again on wire rack.
  19. Mix together salt and mint leaves (chopped fresh or dried) and roll the halloumi in this mix on all sides. Fold in half (on top of itself) and press down.
  20. Store in brine or vacuum seal and keep in the fridge.

Notes

If the milk does not set after adding rennet, you will just need to give it some more time. Do not, under any circumstances, add more rennet as it will destroy the curds already made.

We find that after cutting the curd, the temperature is still very close to 40°C. So, we stir until it does reach 40°C and then we turn the heat off. Our heat maintains at this temperature for about 20 minutes as we stir the curds.

We use a timer for every step just so we don't get distracted doing other things.

This recipe produced approximately 250g of halloumi. Making a small amount also means that the halloumi is much thinner than you are probably used to seeing. Once it is folded in half however, it forms a good thickness.

We used vegetarian liquid rennet in this recipe.

Only use non-homogenised milk. Do not use homogenised.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 5 Serving Size: 25g
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 211Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 33mgSodium: 332mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 14g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix.

Did you make this recipe?

We'd love for you to share it and show us how you went. Mention @beerandcroissants or tag #beerandcroissants

easy-halloumi-cheese-recipe

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9 thoughts on “How to make Halloumi cheese”

  1. hi! this recipe looks amazing! however, I live in Japan and can’t get my hands on rennet. Have you tried making this halloumi with anything other than rennet, like lemon juice? thanks 🙂

  2. Hi Jessica, you could try vinegar or lemon juice I suppose but as I have no experience making it with anything other than rennet, I can’t confirm that it will actually work.

  3. thanks for sharing the recipe and the images make it simple and easy to understand. I think I will have to try with lemon, in India.

  4. U probably won’t get this in time as I am about to stir the curd – but is the reheat definitely 40deg and not 32deg??

  5. Can you use it immediately or does it need to sit overnight or a couple of days? Thanks!

  6. Hello! I love halloumi and it seems to be getting more expensive every time I buy it. Can’t wait to try this recipe. I do not have access to raw milk from a farm. Only pasteurized from the store. A
    I hope that whole milk (3.25%mf) will work. Any insight would be amazing.

  7. HI Jennie, I love it too. I would suspect that you would need to add some calcium chloride to the milk first. Being unhomogenised means the proteins having been affected and allowing for coagulation to occur much easier.

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