Homemade Cypriot Halloumi Recipe from Tavola Mediterranea

Homemade Cypriot Halloumi

Halloumi is a firm, white cheese that is popular in Cypriot, Greek and Middle Eastern cooking.  Historically it originated from the island of Cyprus during the medieval Byzantine period and is typically made from goat or sheep’s milk, but can also be made from cow’s milk as well.  Like Greek Feta, Halloumi is kept in its own salted brine and its firmness and high melting-point allows it to be fried or grilled much like Greek saganaki.

I myself enjoy making cheese from scratch, I know I don’t have to make it myself but I try to spend the time whenever I can as the outcome is generally very rewarding.  When I’ve searched for recipes online, however, I found that some recipes and cheese-making processes in the home looked rather clinical and complicated. Thermometers, rubber gloves, rennet tablets…  Too complicated!  I don’t think our foremothers and forefathers made cheese-making that complicated so I don’t intend to either.  Unlike making your own Ricotta or Chèvre, however, this is a firmer cheese that’s going to take a bit more work but it’s worth it! And I assure you that the only thing hard about making this recipe is carrying the bottles of milk up the stairs!

Homemade Cypriot Halloumi


  • 2 litres whole goat, sheep or cow milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 lemons


    Mint Vinaigrette (Optional)

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint
  • 1/4 vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Boil the milk on high while whisking until the milk flares up. Don’t walk away and chat on the phone or you’ll burn the milk. Keep stirring. Once the milk froths turn the element off and squeeze in the juice of 2 lemons. Stir and leave the milk stand for 15 minutes until the milk curdles and whey separates. Line a sieve with cheesecloth and pour the curds into it straining off the whey. Leave the curds stand for one hour. Once most of the whey has drained tie the cheese cloth tight around the curds and give it a light squeeze to get rid of any excess whey. Use a metal clip or tie a strong knot with the edges of the cloth snug around the curds to prepare it for boiling. Cool and keep the whey on the side to use as brine when refrigerating the finished cheese.

Heat a pot of boiling water now with enough volume to cover the cheese, add in 2 tsp of salt and once it boils reduce to low (light rolling boil) and drop the tied cheese into the boiling water. Leave it simmer in the water for one hour turning it over at the half hour mark. Once an hour passes remove and leave it to cool in a sieve. Cut or untie the cheese cloth and place the cheese into a bowl. Let it cool to room temperature then cover and place it in the fridge over night. You’re going to end up with about 400 grams of cheese and after leaving it overnight in the fridge it should be quite firm to the touch in the morning.


Prepare side salad dishes with a handful of leafy greens, some sprigs of rocket and a sprig of mint.  Lay a few pieces of halloumi on each dish with greens.  Blend the ingredients for the mint vinaigrette in a food processor and dress the cheese and greens with 1 tbsp of the vinaigrette each or enjoy it’s natural flavours on its own sans vinaigrette. Store the remaining cheese in the fridge in a covered container in the whey that was drained off during the curdling process. Add a teaspoon of salt to the whey before using it to store the finished cheese.

Kali Orexi!  Good eating to you…


  1. Chris Procopis

    I did everything that you said…. Heated the full fat milk until it came to a froth, took it off the heat, Added the juice of two lemons, and let it sit for 15 minutes. I could see that there was a separation of some kind but I couldn’t see the any curd. So, I let it sit for a further 30 minutes and still no curd, I can only see whey. It has been sitting for over an hour and the thermometer is reading 28 degrees C. Still no curd….. What am I doing wrong..?

    • Chris Procopis

      Can I say that I have a feeling that heating the milk until it froths maybe too high of a temperature.. Other recipes say to heat until it reaches 32 degrees (c) and then add the rennet you think that heating the milk to 32 degrees and not until it froths might be better…?

      • Hi Chris! I posted what works best for me. This is a simple recipe that does not call for rennet either. As soon as the milk flares up (or foams) shut the heat off and add the lemon. It’ll be just fine if you remember to whisk the milk throughout the heating process. 🙂

        If you decide to stick to a certain temperature, do let me know how it works out!

        ~ Farrell

    • Hi Chris,

      The curds will be quite fine but you will see a separation occur, as you did. It’s not going to look like cottage cheese, but much smaller. Did you strain it into the cheesecloth? Let me know if you try it again. Buy an extra lemon next time and try adding that in to create more acid in the mix if it doesn’t separate easily again. Leave it sit a few additional minutes as well.

      ~ Farrell

  2. My family comes from Cyprus but we live in the US. We always have to go to NY and buy the halloumi, which is quite expensive (or fly to Cyprus lol). I cannot wait to try this recipe. Thanks so much for posting…I never thought of making my own halloumi!

    • I am excited for you! Let me know how it turns out. This recipe doesn’t use as much salt as store-bought halloumi so you may need to experiment a bit with the salt content.


      ~ Farrell

  3. Hi Farrell – I was drawn to your halloumi recipe because I identify with the idea that cheese making shouldn’t be complicated, especially if it is going to be approachable to the home cook. One question though. You didn’t mention grilling/pan frying the cheese before serving and that is my favorite way to eat it. Does this version hold up to grilling?

  4. I am greek cypriot, hoveewr, born in London, I lived in Cyprus until the age of 5 where I was fluent in speaking, reading and writing greek. We then moved back to London at the age of 7 where I learned more English etc. My father who was greek passed away when I was 10 years old (I am now 34) and since then I have lost all knowledge of my greek background. I would very much like to speak fluent again as I do regularly go to Cyprus and was rather embarrassed being greek not being able to communicate .I was wondering what dictionary or greek language book would be most close to the greek cypriot language? I would very much appreciate any feedback. Thank you in anticipationAndroula Kyriacou

  5. My grandmother used to make halloumi. One of my favorite things in this world.

  6. Look forward to making this. Didn’t realize it would be so simple and uncomplicated. Many thanks.

    • My pleasure! Remember, the secret to firming it up is the final boiling process and chilling it over night. You can poke it as you boil and feel it getting firmer in the cheese-cloth. Don’t rush this last process. Enjoy and let me know how it turns out for you!

    • First of all let’s clarify that Cypriot is a dilecat of the Greek language and not a language itself.a0If you are interested in learning the language a bit further or improve it, it means you will be based on one grammar and syntax that is common for all, both Greeks from Cyprus and those from mainland Greece.a0You can talk to a tutor with regards to having private Greek lessons or join a class. This way you will have a guidance as to what books to use or lessons will be tailored to your needs. a0If you feel you want to self learn, then I would recommend you do that at the advance stage. There is a Greek bookshop in tufnell parliament road, the only one in London. There are a few exercise books, novels for all levels and course books. The books available will help you with syntax, grammar, expressions and vocabulary. There is no book for Cypriot dilecat apart from a big dictionary, simply because a dilecat is an oral way of talking. The best way to learn the differential cypriot words is from Cypriots or visits to Cyprus.a0

  7. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe , I will try it soon!
    I highly recommend Perast cake for Montenegro section. 🙂

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