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How to make halloumi cheese

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This halloumi recipe is perfect for those who love this delicious, decadent cheese that squeaks when you eat it. And while it’s not a quick recipe to make, you’ll celebrate your accomplishment once you have mastered how to make this fresh cheese. It’s easy to make with just three ingredients. It just takes time to bring it all together. Halloumi is perfect for burgers, salads or to eat on its own. Sprinkle with lemon to really get your taste buds singing.

grilled halloumi with limes on a white plate

About this recipe

Making halloumi at home is not as hard as you might think. This is actually a very simple recipe that only requires a few steps and a few ingredients. 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 recipe 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.

While there is nothing better than eating fresh halloumi, we recommend making it the day before you want to use it, especially if making it for the first time.

Note: Homemade halloumi is beautiful, but it will take time. For this recipe, there are several processes where you just need to be patient and 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.

Why this recipe works

It works because it has very few ingredients and the steps are simple. We’ve also made sure that we have fleshed out every single detail in our steps, leaving nothing unexplained. If you follow the steps carefully 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 always use the correct ingredients and take it slowly, you’ll have a great batch of halloumi before long.

This recipe also makes a reasonable amount of cheese, allowing it to be eaten quickly while it is still fresh. While it will store brilliantly in a vacuum-sealed bag, not everyone has access to such equipment. Storing it at the correct temperature, and properly packaged in the fridge – a cheese drawer is even better – it will last for a few weeks.

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.

What goes into this recipe

ingredients for making halloumi cheese, milk, rennet, salt, dropper, scales, pots, potlid

Recipe ingredient notes (full recipe at bottom)

Many recipes allow for substitution of ingredients, but this recipe will work best if you use the ingredients as outlined, with no substitution

  • Milk | For the best chance of success, non-homogenised (unhomogenised) 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.
  • Water | If you don’t have distilled water at home, simply boil some tap water. Just make sure it is completely cooled before using it.
  • Rennet | 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. If you are vegan and don’t want to use animal rennet, then vegetable rennet can be used instead. We use vegetarian rennet but animal rennet can be used instead.
  • Salt | We use sea salt flakes but you can use any salt provided it is not iodised.
  • Mint | We roll our cheese in mint as this is traditional, but you could use any herb you like.

Utensils and equipment required

  • Double boiler. If you don’t have a 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/cheesecloth
  • Colander
  • Bowl
  • Baking tray and wire rack (or you can use a sushi mat)
  • 2 heavy boards (eg cutting boards)
  • Weights

Pressure points

This recipe requires good attention to detail the whole way through but it is especially for these following steps.

  • All heating processes. Don’t overheat the milk, or not bring the whey up to the correct temperature. Keep an eye on your pot and your thermometer whenever you have something on the heat.
  • Adding the rennet. Be sure to add the correct amount and not over stir.

How to make halloumi

Step 1 | Heat the milk

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

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

halloumi thermometer in a pot of milk

Step 2 | Measure the rennet and water

While the milk is coming up to temperature, put the 1.0 ml (0.03 fluid ounce )of liquid rennet into 30 ml (1.01 fluid ounce) of distilled water.

Step 3 | Coagulate the curds

This step is about coagulating the milk and making curds.

When the milk reaches 32°C, start stirring the milk. Then add the combined rennet and water into the milk. Stir it 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.

Cook’s tip: This is a critical point in the process. The milk must have started to 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 4 | Cut the curds

It’s time to cut the curds. If the curd has set, cut it into 2.5cm (1 inch) cubes. Using a sharp knife, cut up and down, left to right and then diagonally under the surface of the curd.

To see how this is done, check out our step-by-step video above

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

Note: 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.

Step 5 | Cook the curds

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.

halloumi curds being raised up on a spoon from the whey in a pot
Shrinking curds

Step 6 | Drain the curds and whey

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 out of the pot into a muslin lined bowl
Pouring the curds and whey out of the pot

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

draining the curds into muslin cloth
Draining the curds into muslin

Step 7 | Form the cheese

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.

cheese just out of muslin forming a ball
The curds start to come together once the whey has drained

Place the muslin with curds onto a board, lightly shape, flatten and wrap it up again in the muslin. 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.

Cook’s tip: We use heaving cutting boards for weights, but you could use bowls or books. They just to be heavy enough to weigh down the cheese and not fall off!

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

flattening the cheese

Step 8 | Remove the cheese from muslin

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 cheese on a cutting board
Cut the halloumi prior to putting it into whey

Step 9 | Re-heating the whey

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.

Step 10 | Re-heating the cheese

This is a very important step. Even though it sounds a bit crazy to put the halloumi back into the whey, this is the process that gives the cheese its heat-resistant properties, 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.

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).

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

Step 11 | Drain the cheese

Remove from whey and drain on a wire rack.

Step 12 | Finish off the cheese

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

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.

When you make this more often, it’s possible to experiment with different amounts of milk and different thicknesses.

folded halloumi covered in salt and mint and ready to cook

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 cooking 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 to ask the Cypriots about this fact.

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 kinds of cheese.

Is halloumi good for frying?

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.

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.

Can it be frozen?

Technically cheese can be frozen. Personally I hate cheese that comes out of the freezer as it always feels watery but if this is your only option, then it is possible. Before using, make sure it is thawed completely.

finished cheese folded with salt and mint

How do you use halloumi?

There are no two ways about it. The best way to eat halloumi cheese is to grill it quickly and eat it immediately. Yes, you can eat plain halloumi, but in our opinion, it doesn’t taste that great. We always like cooking the halloumi cheese a little before eating as it gives it a much better flavour.

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 soft, but the cheese keeps its overall shape.

Simply heat up a frying pan. You can use a little oil or if you have a good non-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. It’s also great on kebabs. Halloumi chips, lightly dusted in polenta is great for a snack.

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.

Packaging and storage

Being a fresh cheese, halloumi has a limited shelf life once made, or if packaged, once opened. We recommend vacuum sealing the cheese if you make a large quantity to ensure its freshness when you are ready to use it.

If you are planning on eating it reasonably soon, make up a brine with salt and water, cover the halloumi, and seal it tightly in a container.

While cheese can often be wrapped in baking/parchment paper or special cheese wraps, we don’t recommend this for halloumi. It needs to have liquid around it or to be completely vacuum sealed for it to stay fresh.

Step By Step Photos Above
Our recipes all have step-by-step photos, tips and FAQs listed above to allow you to make it as perfect as possible the first time.

pieces of grilled halloumi on a white plate with a fork and cut limes

How to make halloumi

Yield: 8-10 pieces
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 20 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.

It's easy to make but it does take time. Carefully follow all instructions.

Ingredients

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

Instructions

    Method

    1. Put a little water in the bottom pot of the double boiler and heat it. Pour the milk into the top of the double boiler and let it sit over the water. Stir occasionally and bringing the temperature up to 32°C (89.6°F).
    2. As the milk is coming up to temperature, put the 1.0 ml (0.03 fluid ounce )of liquid rennet into 30 ml (1.01 fluid ounce) of distilled water.
    3. When the milk reaches 32°C, you can start stirring the milk. Ddd the combined rennet and water into the milk. Stir it thoroughly to distribute the rennet. Do not stir hard and only stir for one minute.
    4. Turn the heat off and put the lid on the saucepan and leave to rest for 40 minutes. Do not stir the milk during this period at all. Once the 40 minutes is over, the milk should have set into curds. You can put a ladle or knife into it gently and raise it up to see if this has worked.
    5. If the curd has set, cut it into 2.5cm (1 inch) cubes. Use a sharp knife, to cut up and down, left to right and then diagonally under the surface of the curd.
    6. Cover and rest for five minutes. Stir the curds gently and bring the heat back up to 40°C (104°F). This will take around 20 minutes.
    7. The curds will start to shrink. At around the 20-minute mark, leave it to rest with the lid on for about 10 minutes. The curds should sink to the bottom.
    8. Line a colander with muslin and place it over the top of another bowl to capture and retain the whey. Empty the curds and whey into the colander.
    9. Let it sit for several minutes to drain then pull the muslin out of the colander.
    10. Once the whey has drained off the curds, the cheese will start to look more solid and will come together almost like a ball, as opposed to all the small squishy curds.
    11. Place the muslin with curds onto a board, lightly shape, then flatten and wrap it up again in the muslin. Put another heavy board on top of the wrapped curd and then place the 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.
    12. Press it for 10 minutes and then take the board off and turn the curd over. Repeat this process and leave for another 20 minutes.
    13. Remove the muslin and cut the cheese. We cut it in half or thirds. Place the cheese on top of a baking tray.
    14. Put the retained whey back in the pot and heat the whey up to 90°C (194°F). Any remaining curd will rise to the surface. If it does, skim it all off and discard it.
    15. This is a very important step. Put the cheese back into the hot whey. Even though it sounds weird to put the halloumi back into the whey, this process gives the cheese its heat-resistant properties so that when it is cooked before eating, it doesn't melt. Lower the halloumi gently into the hot whey. 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).
    1. Remove from whey and drain on a wire rack.
    2. Mix together the salt and mint leaves (fresh or dried) and roll the halloumi in this mix on all sides. Fold in half (on top of itself) and press down.
    3. Store in brine or vacuum seal and keep in the fridge. It will keep fresh for many weeks in brine.
    4. 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, it forms a good thickness.

Notes

  • We use a timer for every step just so we don't get distracted doing other things. It's amazing how quickly the time goes and it's important to time everything well.
  • Use a thermometer that is accurate and use it at all times. We use a thermometer used by coffee baristas for heating their milk.
  • Once you add the rennet, the next step is crucial. This is a critical point in the process. The milk must have started to set slightly at this stage.
  • If the milk does not set after adding rennet, you will just need to give it some more time to coagulate. 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 heaving cutting boards for weights, but you could use bowls or books. They just to be heavy enough to weigh down the cheese and not fall off. It's also good to have something flat to entirely cover the cheese.
  • We used vegetarian liquid rennet in this recipe but it can be substituted for animal rennet.
  • Only use non-homogenised milk. Do not use homogenised milk.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 25g
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 129Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 21mgSodium: 194mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 0gSugar: 13gProtein: 9g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix.

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pieces of halloumi cheese covered in mint and salt

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13 thoughts on “How to make halloumi cheese”

  1. How long do you out back into the heated whey, step 15;doesn’t have a time in it. Thanks ?

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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

  5. 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??

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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 🙂

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