Fresh sliced halloumi
Alternative namesHellim (Turkish)
Region or stateEastern Mediterranean
Main ingredientsgoat's, sheep's milk
Other informationEU: PDO (Cyprus) 2021

Halloumi or haloumi[note 1] is a cheese of Cypriot origin made from a mixture of goat's and sheep's milk, and sometimes also cow's milk.[1][2][3] Its texture is described as squeaky.[4] It has a high melting point and so can easily be fried or grilled, a property that makes it a popular meat substitute. Rennet (mostly vegetarian or microbial) is used to curdle the milk in halloumi production,[5] although no acid-producing bacteria are used in its preparation.[6]

Halloumi is popular throughout the Eastern Mediterranean.[7][8] It became widely available in Turkey after 2000.[9] By 2013, demand in the United Kingdom had surpassed that in every other European country except Cyprus.[10]

In the United States, Halloumi is a registered trademark owned by the government of Cyprus, while in the UK it is owned by the Foundation for the Protection of the Traditional Cheese of Cyprus named Halloumi.[11] It is also protected as a geographical indication in the EU, as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), which means within the EU only products made in certain parts of Cyprus can be called "halloumi".[12][13] PDO protection for Halloumi was delayed largely by disagreements among farmers of cattle, sheep, and goats regarding the inclusion of cows' milk, and (if cows' milk were included) the proportion of it.[14][15]


The English name halloumi is derived from Modern Greek: χαλλούμι [xaˈlumi], khalloúmi, from Cypriot Maronite Arabic xallúm,[16][17] ultimately from Egyptian Arabic: حلوم ḥallūm [ħalˈluːm].[16][17][18]

The Egyptian Arabic word is itself a loanword from Coptic ϩⲁⲗⲱⲙ halōm (Sahidic) and ⲁⲗⲱⲙ alōm (Bohairic), and was used for cheese eaten in medieval Egypt.[19][20][21] The name of the cheese likely goes back to the Demotic word ḥlm "cheese" attested in manuscripts and ostraca from 2nd-century Roman Egypt.[22]

The Cypriot Turkish name hellim derives from this source, as does the name of the different modern Egyptian cheese hâlûmi.[20]


Fried halloumi cheese

A recipe for enhancing ḥalūm ('cheese') by brining is found in the 14th-century Egyptian cookbook كنز الفوائد في تنويع الموائد : Kanz al-Fawāʾid fī Tanwīʿ al-Mawāʾid.[23]

The earliest known surviving descriptions of halloumi in Cyprus were recorded in the mid-16th century by Italian visitors to Cyprus,[24][25] where it is often said to have originated.[7] However, the question of whether the recipe for the quintessential halloumi was born in Cyprus and then travelled to Lebanon and the rest of the Levant, or whether the basic techniques of making cheese that resists melting evolved over time in various parts of the eastern Mediterranean—or both—does not have a definitive answer.[9][26][24]

Traditionally, Cypriot halloumi was made from sheep and/or goat's milk, since there were few cows on the island until they were brought over by the British in the 20th century. But as demand grew, industrial cheese-makers began using more of the cheaper and more plentiful cow's milk.[27][28]

Overview and preparation

Haloumi dish at a five-star luxury hotel

Although it can be consumed raw, halloumi is often used in cooking and can be fried until brown (without melting) due to its higher-than-typical melting point. This makes it an excellent cheese for frying or grilling (as in saganaki) and serving either as is, or with vegetables, or as an ingredient in salads or sandwiches. There are many recipes that use halloumi beyond simple grilling.[29]

Traditional halloumi is a semicircular shape, weighing 220–270 grams (7.8–9.5 oz). The fat content is approximately 25% wet weight, 47% dry weight with about 17% protein. Its firm texture when cooked causes it to squeak on the teeth when being chewed.[30]

Thyme salad garnished with cubes of halloumi cheese

Traditional halloumi is typically made from fresh, unpasteurised sheep and/or goat's milk.[31] However, for its commercial production a mixture of pasteurized sheep, goat and occasionally cow's milk is used (with the cow's milk making up the lowest proportion of the milk used, if used at all).[32][33]

Two main types of halloumi exist: fresh and mature.[34] Fresh halloumi has a semi-hard, elastic texture and a milder, less salty flavor compared to the aged version. As mature halloumi is stored in brine it has a harder, drier texture, as well as a saltier flavor.[33][35] Both versions have a slight minty flavor, due to the addition of spearmint during the production of the cheese.

Sealed, halloumi (both fresh and mature) can last in a refrigerator for as long as a year.[36]


Production of halloumi cheese involves several key steps.[37]

The first step of halloumi production involves the coagulation of the milk in order to make curds. This occurs by stirring rennet into the milk mixture while keeping it at a temperature of 30–34 °C until the milk coagulates (a process which takes approximately 30–45 minutes). Once the curd is formed it is then cut, reheated and stirred in order to increase its firmness. The curds are then added to special molds and pressed until a sufficient amount of whey has been removed.[37]

The next step of production involves the boiling of the pressed curds in hot whey (collected during the pressing of the curds) for at least 30 minutes,[38] during a process known as scalding.[31] This is the most crucial step in the halloumi production as it contributes to the characteristic texture of the cheese. The cooked pieces are then removed from the whey and are salted and garnished with fresh or dried mint (Mentha viridis) leaves. They are then folded and stored in salted whey for 1–3 days before being packed in airtight containers, ready to be sold and consumed.[39]

For the production of mature halloumi, the cheese needs to be kept in the brine whey for at least 40 days.[32]

Nutritional facts

100 grams (3.5 oz) of commercially produced packaged halloumi typically contains:[40]

Fat 26.9 g
Carbohydrate 2.2 g
Protein 21.2 g
Energy 336 kcal
Salt 2.8 g

See also


  1. ^ /həˈlmi/ hə-LOO-mee; Greek: χαλούμι, romanizedchaloúmi; Turkish: hellim; Arabic: حلوم, romanizedḥalūm.


  1. ^ "Cyprus - Cultural life - Daily life and social customs - halloumi cheese". www.britannica.com. Retrieved 16 June 2009. Geography has left Cyprus heir to numerous culinary traditions—particularly those of the Levant, Anatolia, and Greece — but some dishes, such as the island's halloumi cheese…are purely Cypriot.
  2. ^ Ayto, John (1990). The glutton's glossary: a dictionary of food and drink terms. Routledge. p. 133. ISBN 0-415-02647-4. Haloumi, or halumi, is a mild salty Cypriot cheese made from goats', ewes,' or cows' milk.
  3. ^ Dew, Philip; Reuvid, Jonathan, eds. (2005). Doing Business with the Republic of Cyprus. GMB Publishing Ltd. p. 46. ISBN 1-905050-54-2. Cyprus has managed to secure EU recognition of halloumi as a traditional cheese of Cyprus; therefore no other country may export cheese of the same name
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