Halloumi or haloumi (/həˈlmi/, Greek: χαλούμι, romanized: haloúmi; Turkish: hellim) is a traditional Cypriot cheese made from a mixture of goat's and sheep's milk, and sometimes also cow's milk.[4][5][6][7] Its texture is described as squeaky.[8] 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,[9] although no acid-producing bacteria are used in its preparation.[10]

Fresh sliced halloumi
Country of originCyprus[1][2][3] Egypt
Source of milkGoat, sheep
PasteurisedCommercially, but not traditionally
CertificationIn some jurisdictions
Related media on Commons

Halloumi is often associated with the island of Cyprus, where it has been produced by a multi-ethnic population for many centuries.[1] It is also popular throughout the Eastern Mediterranean.[11][12] It became widely available in Turkey after 2000.[1] By 2013, demand in the United Kingdom had surpassed that in every other European country except Cyprus.[13]

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.[14] 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".[15] 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.[16][17]


The English name halloumi is derived from Modern Greek: χαλλούμι [xaˈlumi], khalloúmi, from Cypriot Maronite Arabic xallúm,[18][19] ultimately from Egyptian Arabic: حلوم ḥallūm [ħalˈluːm].[18][19][20]

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.[21][22][23] The name of the cheese likely goes back to the Demotic word ḥlm "cheese" attested in manuscripts and ostraca from 2nd-century Roman Egypt.[24]

The Cypriot Turkish name hellim derives from this source, as does the name of the different modern Egyptian cheese hâlûmi.[22]


Fried halloumi cheese

The methods of making halloumi likely originated sometime in the Medieval Byzantine period (AD 3951191).[25] 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.[26]

The earliest known surviving descriptions of Cypriot halloumi were recorded in the mid-16th century by Italian visitors to Cyprus,[3][27] where it is often said to have originated.[11] 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.[1][2][3]

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 using more of the cheaper and more plentiful cow's milk.[28]

Overview and preparation

Haloumi dish at a five-star luxury hotel

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) or fried and served with vegetables, or as an ingredient in salads. 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]

Traditional halloumi is made from unpasteurised sheep and goat milk. Aged halloumi is also popular. Kept in its brine, it is much drier, much stronger and much saltier.[31][32]

Sealed, halloumi can last in a refrigerator for as long as a year.[33]

Nutritional facts

100 grams (3.5 oz) of commercially produced packaged halloumi typically contains:[34]

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

See also

  • Fried cheese  Cheese dish fried in oil
  • Leipäjuusto  Finnish cheese
  • List of cheeses  List of cheeses by place of origin
  • Queijo coalho  Brazilian cheese
  • Saganaki  Greek fried cheese dish


  1. Welz, Gisela (1 September 2015). European Products: Making and Unmaking Heritage in Cyprus. Berghahn Books. pp. 93–110. ISBN 9781782388234 via Google Books.
  2. Garanti, Zanete (April 2016). "Marketing Hellim / Halloumi Cheese: A Comparative Study of Northern and Southern Cyprus" (PDF). Proceedings of the 2016 International Conference "Economic Science for Rural Development" No 43. pp. 134–142. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  3. P. Papademas, "Halloumi Cheese", p. 117ff, in Adnan Tamime, ed., Brined Cheeses. Society of Dairy Technology series, Blackwell. 2006, ISBN 1-4051-2460-1
  4. 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.
  5. "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
  6. 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.
  7. 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{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  8. "Why does halloumi, but not other cheese, "squeak" against your teeth?". New Scientist. Retrieved 15 December 2021.
  9. Lazarou, Stalo. "Χαλλούμι". foodmuseum.cs.ucy.ac.cy (in Greek). Cyprus Food Virtual Museum. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  10. Charles O'Connor. Traditional Cheesemaking Manual. International Livestock Centre for Africa.
  11. 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{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  12. Allen, Gary J. (2007). The herbalist in the kitchen. University of Illinois Press. p. 212. ISBN 978-0-252-03162-5. Haloumi (sometimes spelled Halloumi) is a brine-cured cheese from Cyprus containing chopped mint.
  13. Cooke, Nicholas (22 September 2013). "How halloumi took over the UK". BBC News. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
  14. "Cyprus wins back UK halloumi trademark". Financial Mirror. 3 February 2020. Retrieved 14 February 2020.
  15. Smith, Helena (24 April 2021). "EU special status for halloumi fails to calm divisions in Cyprus". The Guardian.
  16. "Application for the name 'halloumi' to go to EU in early 2007". Cyprus Mail. September 2, 2006. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 5 December 2006.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. Saoulli, Alexia (3 March 2007). "Halloumi bickering threatens EU application". Cyprus Mail. Archived from the original on 13 August 2007. Retrieved 4 March 2007.
  18. Company, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing. "The American Heritage Dictionary entry: halloumi". ahdictionary.com. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  19. Borg, Alexander (2004). A Comparative Glossary of Cypriot Maronite Arabic (Arabic-English): With an Introductory Essay. Brill. pp. 11, 209–210. ISBN 9789004131989 via Google Books.
  20. "halloumi". Oxford English Dictionary (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. 1989.
  21. Andriotis et al., Λεξικό της κοινής νεοελληνικής
  22. Otter, Don (25 October 2016). Donnelly, Catherine; Kehler, Mateo (eds.). The Oxford Companion to Cheese. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-933089-8 via Google Books.
  23. Davidson, Alan (21 August 2014). The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-104072-6 via Google Books.
  24. Johnson, Janet. "Chicago Demotic Dictionary - Ḥ" (PDF). p. 246.
  25. 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.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  26. Nasrallah, Nawal (9 November 2017). Treasure Trove of Benefits and Variety at the Table: A Fourteenth-Century Egyptian Cookbook: English Translation, with an Introduction and Glossary. Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-34991-9 via Google Books.
  27. Patapiou, Nasa (2006). "Leonardo Donà in Cyprus - A future Doge in the Karpass Peninsula (1557)" (PDF). Cyprus Today. Press and Information Office, Ministry of Interior, Nicosia, Cyprus. p. 8. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  28. "In Cyprus, New Cheese Edict Gets the Goat of Dairy Farmers". The Wall Street Journal. October 11, 2012.
  29. "Best halloumi recipes". Olive Magazine. 10 October 2018.
  30. Eskin, Leah (21 March 2016). "The salty, satisfying squeak of fried halloumi". NY Times. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  31. O’Reilly, Séamas (24 November 2019). "Halloumi hell: how will we survive the cheese crisis?". The Guardian.
  32. "Flavor of the Month: Halloumi can be mild and creamy or strong and salty". Food Management. 17 September 2018.
  33. "Halloumi". BBC Good Food. Retrieved 7 February 2022.
  34. "Tesco Halloumi 250G". Teso. Archived from the original on 14 April 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  • Media related to Halloumi at Wikimedia Commons
  • The dictionary definition of halloumi at Wiktionary
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