Halloumi cheese is one of the most prominent components in grilling and frying dishes. It tastes great and can transform a simple dish with its lovely texture.
Today, you can find Halloumi cheese in supermarkets and grocery stores. Thanks to their popularity, they are reasonably priced as well. However, you could want to give your meal some sprucing and get some other substitute available.
What is the best substitute for Halloumi cheese? The best substitute for Halloumi cheese is paneer. This Indian-native cheese has a similar texture and taste to Halloumi cheese, and it is also easy to make. So, you don’t need to go through any arduous preparation processes.
An Overview of Halloumi Cheese
Halloumi is a cheese variant that originates from Cyprus. It is traditionally made from sheep or goat milk, or, in some cases, a combination of the two. Most people use Halloumi as a grilling cheese as it holds its shape when heated and can generally grill well.
Halloumi has a white color with layers. Its texture is quite spongy, although it is a semi-hard and an unripened cheese variant. As for flavor, you get a tangy and salty taste without any rings whatsoever.
While you can eat Halloumi raw, it is also a prominent part of food processing. Thanks to its high melting point, it works wonderfully as a frying or grilling component. Its raw form comes with a rubbery texture and some salty notes in the taste. However, when crisped on the grill, it gets a crispy texture to it, as well as a melted component on the inside. This way, it’s kind of like a marshmallow when you toast it.
Along with its great taste, Halloumi also has several health benefits. It is rich in proteins and calcium, and it is also a strong source of magnesium, zinc, and A and B vitamins.
Why Replace Halloumi Cheese?
- Taste differences: A substitute for Halloumi cheese is ideal if you’re looking to change your palette and get something new.
- Preparation: Halloumi cheese is relatively easy to make. However, you could want to get something even easier if you don’t have so much available time. In that case, a substitute could work for you.
- Non-availability: If the grocery stores or specialty shops around you don’t have Halloumi cheese, you’ll need something else to stand in.
Options for Halloumi Cheese Substitutes
Best Overall Substitute for Halloumi Cheese: Paneer
Paneer is the best substitute for halloumi cheese for several reasons. For one, it is not so dissimilar to the latter when it comes to nutritional qualities and texture. The fact that they taste a tad different also makes paneer a great substitute if you want to switch your palette and get something else.
Paneer comes with a much milder flavor than Halloumi, so you can pretty much use it without fearing that you could overpower the dish you’re looking to spice up.
Originating from India, paneer is made by mixing milk with lemon juice until the two gel and can be separated into curds. Like Halloumi, paneer won’t melt when you heat it.
So, you see. Paneer is very similar to halloumi cheese, and it is pretty easy to make. You can also store it pretty easily, so there’s no reason to fear about storage. There’s no wonder why it is such an ideal substitute for the latter. To make paneer, check out the steps below:
- Get milk and pour it into a large pot. Boil it over some medium heat, but be vigilant to know when the milk has boiled.
- As the milk boils, prep your lemon juice. You can also use vinegar – just mix it with ¼ cups of water, so you can reduce its intensity.
- Pour the lemon juice – or vinegar – into the milk once the latter boils. Stir it all, and you should be able to see milk curdle already.
- Leave the contents of the pot for five to ten minutes to cool off.
- Line a colander with cheesecloth and strain the milk curds through it. Rinse out the curds to take out the vinegar or lemon juice.
- Gather the cheese you’ve gotten into the cloth and squeeze out all excess water.
- Shape the cheese into a disc and let it chill for one to two hours.
- Your paneer is ready for cooking.
Best Substitute for Halloumi Cheese in Vegetarian Meals: Tofu
In truth, tofu isn’t cheese. Still, if you’re cooking for vegetarian guests – or you’re a vegan yourself – cheese might not exactly be the ideal choice for you. In such a situation, tofu works pretty well.
Tofu is a protein gotten from mushrooms. It has a similar texture to Halloumi cheese, and the preparation methods are also quite similar. Tofu works especially great for pan-frying.
To get the best out of your tofu, make sure to put the chunks inside some cornstarch and fry it over high heat. This starch will add that crisp crust to the tofu, providing a nice precursor for the soft tofu underneath.
Best Substitute for Halloumi Cheese in Burgers and Snacks: Queso Panela
Queso panela originates from Mexico, and like tofu, it has a similar texture to Halloumi cheese. Like Halloumi cheese, queso panela holds its own pretty well when it gets exposed to heat.
Note, however, that queso panela has a much wetter texture than Halloumi cheese. So, you might not get that same crisp effect when you grill it. However, they still taste pretty much the same. You’ll find that Queso panela is a great option for topping in burgers and other snacks.
As expected, queso panela also works well when you’re making Mexican dishes generally.
Best Substitute for Halloumi Cheese when Grilling: Kefalotyri
Like Halloumi cheese, kefalotyri is also made from sheep’s milk. So, there’s no doubt that they taste similar.
Kefalotyri is the ideal choice for grilling because it addresses one of Halloumi cheese’s most significant challenges – it might take a while to grill. Since kefalotyri tastes similar to Halloumi cheese and can grill much faster, it could be a better option for grilling if time is of the essence.
Note that kefalotyri has a slightly saltier taste than Halloumi cheese. So, you want to be careful with the quantity of the former that you use when cooking. You could also add some lemon juice to the kefalotyri to counteract its salty taste.