Halloumi cheese has a unique savory flavor and firm texture. It contains calcium and protein which helps keep bones healthy and may help reduce type 2 diabetes risk. It’s best to eat it in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
Halloumi is a semi-hard cheese typically made from the milk of goats, sheep, or cows. It’s known for its tangy taste and firm, chewy texture.
It’s been enjoyed for hundreds of years in Cyprus and has recently surged in popularity. Today, it’s often featured on the menus of Greek restaurants and can be found in the cheese sections of most supermarkets.
Because it has a higher melting point than many other types of cheese, it can be baked, grilled, or fried without losing its shape. As such, it’s typically served cooked, which enhances its signature salty taste and makes it slightly crispy on the outside.
You can serve it on its own or paired with other ingredients such as fresh fruit, tomatoes, toasted sesame seeds, or — my personal favorite — honey.
This article reviews the nutrition, benefits, and downsides of halloumi, as well as some simple ways to add it to your diet.
While halloumi’s nutritional profile can vary slightly based on how you prepare it, each serving provides a good amount of protein and calcium.
A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of halloumi contains the following nutrients (
- Calories: 110
- Carbs: 0 grams
- Protein: 7 grams
- Fat: 9 grams
- Calcium: 25% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Sodium: 15% of the DV
Meanwhile, protein promotes proper growth and development and supports muscle growth, immune function, and weight management (
Keep in mind that the fat and calorie content of each serving can increase if you fry the cheese or cook it in oil.
Halloumi is a good source of important nutrients, including protein and calcium. Its exact content of fat and calories depends on how you prepare it.
Halloumi may be associated with several health benefits.
Rich in protein
Protein is essential for many aspects of your health, including hormone production, immune function, and tissue repair (
Additionally, consuming protein after working out can promote muscle recovery to reduce recovery time and enhance your progress (
Supports bone health
Like other dairy products, halloumi is high in calcium, a micronutrient that’s important for bone health.
Calcium provides your bones with their strength and structure. In fact, approximately 99% of your body’s calcium is stored in your bones and teeth (
For example, one review noted that regularly consuming dairy products may increase bone mineral density in women by up to 1.8% over 2 years. It may even be linked to a lower risk of bone fractures (
May protect against diabetes
Some studies have found that consuming dairy products such as halloumi could protect against type 2 diabetes.
One review of 30 studies linked regular consumption of dairy with reduced belly fat and body weight. The review also noted that dairy improved insulin sensitivity, which can improve the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels (
Another large review had similar findings, associating regular dairy intake with a significantly lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes (
Halloumi is high in protein and calcium, both of which could promote bone health. Studies also show that high fat dairy products may be linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
Also, some people may be more sensitive to the effects of salt. In these individuals, a high intake could lead to issues such as water retention and bloating (
While raw halloumi contains a moderate number of calories, it’s often consumed fried or coated in oil. This can significantly increase the calorie content, potentially contributing to weight gain.
It’s also high in saturated fat, a type of fat that may contribute to increased levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol when consumed in high amounts (
Therefore, it’s important to enjoy halloumi in moderation alongside a balanced diet.
Note that halloumi is not suitable for those following a dairy-free or vegan diet.
Vegetarians should also check the ingredient label carefully, as some varieties are produced using animal-derived rennet. This ingredient is produced in the stomachs of ruminant animals, such as cows, sheep, and goats, and is not vegetarian-friendly.
Halloumi is often high in sodium, saturated fat, and calories. It’s not suitable for those following a vegan or dairy-free diet. Some types are not appropriate for a vegetarian diet, either.
Halloumi can be made from the milk of goats, sheep, or cows.
The process involves heating milk and adding rennet, a substance used to coagulate milk. This naturally separates the curds and whey.
The curds are then drained using a cheesecloth-lined strainer and pressed into a mold.
Once the curds have become firm, they are poached in salted whey and brined in the refrigerator.
Halloumi is made from the milk of goats, sheep, or cows. The production process involves adding rennet to milk to separate the curds and whey, draining the curds, pressing them into a mold, and then poaching and brining them.
Halloumi has a deep, savory flavor, and you can prepare it and enjoy it in many ways.
Frying the cheese in a bit of olive oil can enhance its texture and salty flavor.
You can also grill it for 2–3 minutes per side to give it a nice color and crisp exterior.
Alternatively, try drizzling some oil over the cheese in a sheet pan, sprinkling on some herbs, and baking it for 10–15 minutes at 350°F (175°C) for a flavorful appetizer or accompaniment to your meal.
Halloumi also works well in a variety of other dishes, including skewers, salads, sandwiches, curries, paninis, and pizzas.
Halloumi has a savory, rich flavor and firm texture. It’s a versatile ingredient that can be fried, grilled, or baked and incorporated into a variety of recipes.
If you’re having a hard time finding halloumi at your local supermarket, there are many other types of cheese you can use instead.
For example, queso para freir is a type of Latin American cheese that is often used for frying thanks to its high melting point, firm texture, and mild taste.
Kefalotyri is a similar option from Greece and Cyprus. Because it’s slightly harder than halloumi and has a saltier flavor, you may need to adjust your recipes accordingly before swapping in kefalotyri.
Paneer, also known as Indian cottage cheese, can also be used in place of halloumi in some dishes thanks to its high melting point and mild flavor.
Other possible substitutes for halloumi include:
- queso blanco
- queso panela
Many types of cheese can be used in place of halloumi, including queso para freir, kefalotyri, and paneer.
Unopened halloumi can last up to 1 year in the refrigerator.
After opening it, store it in salt water in an airtight container or wrap it in parchment paper or waxed paper. Keep it in the fridge.
Halloumi can also be stored in an airtight container and frozen for up to 6 months. When you’re ready to use it, defrost it in the fridge overnight before adding it to your recipes.
Halloumi can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. To maximize its quality, wrap it in waxed paper or parchment paper or store it in an airtight container in salt water.
Originally from Cyprus, halloumi cheese is a popular dairy product. Its firm texture and unique savory taste are enjoyed worldwide.
Given that it provides a good amount of protein and calcium in each serving, adding it to your diet may enhance your bone health and protect against type 2 diabetes.
Just remember to enjoy it in moderation so you don’t go overboard with your oil and calorie intake — especially if you choose to fry the cheese in oil.
Halloumi is highly versatile and can be fried, baked, or grilled and incorporated into a wide range of dishes.
Just one thing
Try this today: One of my favorite ways to use halloumi is to grill it and swap it in for meat when making burgers. Top it off with some hummus, salsa, tomatoes, onions, spinach, and a brioche bun and enjoy!