If you are looking for a cheese that is flavorful, super robust and versatile Halloumi might very well be it. This Mediterranean cheese has some really great qualities, that make it ideal in many dishes. One of the main things, apart from amazing flavor is its ability to withstand heat. Basically, it doesn’t melt and is super sturdy. If you have run out, or can’t find any, you may be wondering what is the best halloumi cheese substitute?
10 Substitutes for Halloumi Cheese
Paneer is actually not too dissimilar in texture and qualities from halloumi, making it an ideal halloumi substitute. Paneer originates from India and is made by slowly mixing milk with lemon juice until it separates into curds. Just like halloumi, paneer doesn’t melt when it is exposed to heat. It has a rather mild flavor as it isn’t aged meaning that you can use it without fear of it overpowering a dish.
Ok so we know that this isn’t a cheese, but you might be cooking for guests who are vegan, in which case cheese is definitely off the menu. Tofu is a protein derived from mushrooms. It is very similar in texture to halloumi and can be cooked in much the same way. It is perfect for pan frying. One really neat trick is to toss tofu chunks in some seasoned corn-starch and fry over a high heat. You’ll get a crisp savory crust, which gives way to the silky tofu beneath. Delicious.
Halloumi originates in Cyprus, part of which is Greek. So, it makes sense that for similar taste profiles you could use a cheese from that region. Feta is a lot stronger than Halloumi, so use it sparingly. It is also very salty. It would make the ideal halloumi substitute for things such as salads. It isn’t made in the same way as halloumi so will not stand up to the rigors of a hot pan, but if you are looking for something white and crumbly to compliment a plate, this is a worthy choice.
4. Queso Panela
If you need a halloumi substitute then you might have to travel across an ocean to Mexico to find it. Queso panela is very similar in texture to halloumi, and just like the Cypriot cheese, it will hold its shape well under sustained heat. It is slightly ‘wetter’ than halloumi so you may not get the charred effect to the same level, but from a taste point of view it isn’t too dissimilar. It would be idea for topping burgers or adding to other Mexican dishes in rough chunks.
5. Queso Para Freir
If you haven’t managed to source any halloumi then it may be worth paying a visit to the world foods section of your local food store. You’ll find queso para freir anywhere that sells Central American food. It will keep its shape even when fried and if you are lucky you might even achieve a golden charred crust. Some say it is actually better than halloumi with more flavor and a softer texture. Why not give it a go?
It mind sound a little like a Japanese city, but this is in fact another Greek cheese. It tasted pretty identical to Halloumi which makes it a great substitute. It isn’t quite as ‘squeaky’ as halloumi and due to its higher moisture content won’t turn brown when you are cooking it. However, it is pretty melt proof. So, if you are merely looking for similar flavors and to avoid a soggy mess then this would be a great halloumi substitute.
Halloumi is made from sheep’s milk, as is kefalotyri. Therefore, you can expect the taste to be the same. When using halloumi, you might be looking for something that grills well. If that is the case then this cheese will work just as well. From a taste point of view, it is similar, but be warned, it can be a little saltier than halloumi. The best way to counter this is either to use less of it, or add a splash of lemon juice.
Let’s look at another South American cheese here that makes a really great substitute for halloumi. Provolone is Argentinian in origin and, provided that you are careful, can withstand a fierce grilling (just make sure that you keep a close eye on it). It will continue to melt once you have removed it from the pan or the grill so the best applications for this cheese is on sandwiches, burgers and breads.
9. Queso Blanco
Literally translating as white cheese, this offering is relatively mild in flavor and is pretty heat proof. As halloumi substitutes go it is really great. You can use it pretty much in the same way as you would halloumi, whether that is grilling, frying or using chunks of it to enliven a dish such as a salad or sandwich.
Let’s return to the region and finish off with another Greek cheese. Manouri is really close to halloumi. It tastes the same and looks pretty similar (except that it is round not square). It has a milder flavor than halloumi so is quite versatile as a means of carrying other flavors such as oils and maybe a squeeze of lemon with some black pepper. Halloumi is often served with mint, Manouri will allow the fresh flavor of this fragrant herb to shine through.
When you are looking for the best halloumi substitute, there are generally two things to consider; will it taste the same? And will it stand up to the heat? Provided you can tick one or both of those boxes, you needn’t worry too much about not being able to find exactly that type of cheese. Have you got any other suggestions? We would love to hear about them.