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Grilled Halloumi cheese
Country of origin Cyprus
Source of milk Goat, sheep, sometimes cow
Pasteurised Commercially, but not traditionally
Texture Semi-soft
Aging time Commercially not aged
Traditionally aged[citation needed]
Certification No

Halloumi/həˈlmi/ (Greek: χαλλούμι) or hellim[1] (Turkish) (from Arabic: حلومḥallūm [ħalˈluːm]) is a Cypriot semi-hard, unripened brined cheese made from a mixture of goat's and sheep's milk, and sometimes also cow's milk.[2][3][4][5] It has a high melting point and so can easily be fried or grilled. Halloumi is set with rennet[6] and is unusual in that no acid or acid-producing bacterium is used in its preparation.[7]

Halloumi is popular in the Levant, Greece and Turkey.[8][9] It has recently become very popular in the United Kingdom.[10]

Cypriot halloumi[edit]

Halloumi cheese originated in Cyprus[8] in the Medieval Byzantine period (AD 395 – 1191),[11] and subsequently became popular throughout the Middle East region.

The cheese is white, with a distinctive layered texture, similar to mozzarella and has a salty flavour. It is stored in its natural juices with salt-water and can keep for up to a year if frozen below −18 °C (0 °F) and defrosted to +4 °C (39 °F) before sale. It is often garnished with mint, a practice based in the belief that halloumi keeps better and stays fresher and more flavoursome when wrapped with mint leaves.[citation needed] In accordance with this tradition, many packages of halloumi contain fragments of mint leaves on the surface of the cheese.

Fresh sliced halloumi

The cheese is often used in cooking and can be fried until brown without melting, owing to its higher-than-normal melting point. This makes it an excellent cheese for frying or grilling (e.g., for saganaki) or fried and served with vegetables, or as an ingredient in salads. Cypriots like eating halloumi with watermelon in the warm months, and as halloumi and lountza – a combination of halloumi cheese and either a slice of smoked pork, or a soft lamb sausage.[citation needed]

The resistance to melting comes from the fresh curd being heated before being shaped and placed in brine.[12] Traditional halloumi is a semicircular shape, about the size of a large wallet, weighing 220–270 g. 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.

Traditional halloumi is made from unpasteurised sheep and goat milk. Many people also like halloumi that has been aged; kept in its brine, it is much drier, much stronger and much saltier, making it very different from the milder halloumi generally used in the West.

Halloumi is registered as a protected Cypriot product within the United States (since the 1990s) but not yet in the European Union. The delay in registering the name halloumi with the EU has been largely due to a conflict between dairy producers and sheep and goat farmers as to whether registered halloumi may contain cow’s milk, and how much.[13][14] Most Cypriots agree that, traditionally, halloumi was made from sheep and goat 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 pouring more of the cheaper and more-plentiful cow's milk into their caldrons.[15]

Other countries[edit]

Halloumi is also popular in many parts of the Middle East such as Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Palestine. In most of the Arab states, the cheese is called halloum and it is served with meze. In Israel, it is called by its Greek name. Halloumi in Israel is sometimes fried in olive oil and served for breakfast and served with meze. It is also eaten with fish.


The name "halloumi" is derived from the Egyptian Arabic, itself a loanword from Coptic halum 'cheese', referring to a cheese that was eaten in medieval Egypt.[16][17] In modern Egypt, hâlûmi is similar to Cypriot "halloumi" but is essentially a different cheese,[clarification needed] is eaten either fresh or brined and spiced.

Nutritional facts[edit]

100 g of commercially produced packaged halloumi has a typical composition of:[18]

Fat 26 g
Carbohydrate 1.8 g
Protein 22 g
Energy 322 kcal
Salt 2.1 g

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-15-5448_en.htm
  2. ^ Gibbs, Paul; Morphitou, Ria; Savva, George (2004). "Halloumi: exporting to retain traditional food products". British Food Journal 106 (7): 569–576. doi:10.1108/00070700410545755. 
  3. ^ "Cyprus - Cultural life - Daily life and social customs - halloumi cheese.". www.britannica.com. Retrieved 2009-06-16. 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 
  4. ^ 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 goat's, ewe's, or cow's milk. 
  5. ^ Dew, Philip – Reuvid, Jonathan - Consultant Editors (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 
  6. ^ Lazarou, Stalo. "Χαλλούμι". foodmuseum.cs.ucy.ac.cy (in Greek). Cyprus Food Virtual Museum. Retrieved 30 November 2015. 
  7. ^ Charles O'Connor. Traditional Cheesemaking Manual. International Livestock Centre for Africa. 
  8. ^ a b Robinson, R. K. – Tamime, A. Y. (1991). Feta and Related Cheeses. Woodhead Publishing. p. 144. ISBN 1-85573-278-5. Halloumi is a semi-hard to hard, unripened cheese that, traditionally, is made from either sheep's milk or goat's milk or a mixture of the two. Although the cheese has its origins in Cyprus, it is widely popular throughout the Middle East, and hence many countries have now become involved with its manufacture. In Australia, it is coated with a greek yogurt 
  9. ^ Allen, Gary J. (2007). The herbalist in the kitchen. University of Illinois Press. p. 212. ISBN 0-252-03162-8. Haloumi (sometimes spelled Halloumi) is a brine-cured cheese from Greece and Cyprus containing chopped mint. 
  10. ^ Cooke, Nicholas (22 September 2013). "How halloumi took over the UK". BBC News. Retrieved 2013-09-23. 
  11. ^ Goldstein, Darra – Merkle, Kathrin – Parasecoli, Fabio – Mennell, Stephen - Council of Europe (2005). Culinary cultures of Europe: identity, diversity and dialogue. Council of Europe. p. 121. ISBN 92-871-5744-8. Most culinary innovations in the Cypriot cuisine occurred during the Byzantine era… Experimentation with dairy products resulted in the now-famous halloumi and feta cheese. 
  12. ^ Galarneau, Andrew Z (2008-09-14). "Elements: Halloumi -One ingredient, one dish". The Buffalo News. Retrieved 2008-09-15. 
  13. ^ Application for the name ‘halloumi’ to go to EU in early 2007, Cyprus Mail archive article - Saturday, September 2, 2006 [1]
  14. ^ Saoulli, Alexia (March 3, 2007). "Halloumi bickering threatens EU application". Cyprus Mail. Archived from the original on 2007-08-13. Retrieved 2007-03-04. 
  15. ^ In Cyprus, New Cheese Edict Gets the Goat of Dairy Farmers Wall Street Journal - October 11, 2012
  16. ^ Andriotis et al., Λεξικό της κοινής νεοελληνικής
  17. ^ P. Papademas, "Halloumi Cheese", p. 117ff, in Adnan Tamime, ed., Brined Cheeses in the Society of Dairy Technology series, Blackwell 2006, ISBN 1-4051-2460-1
  18. ^ "Nutritional information on halloumi cheese". Alambra Dairy Products. Retrieved 2008-05-07.