The best haloumi recipe I know – Haloumi Fries! Think – French fries, but better. The outsides are crunchier (thanks panko!) and the insides are warm, salty haloumi cheese. Guaranteed crowd pleaser for a party or as a starter. Fry, bake or air-fry!
It started as a salad.
I found myself in a typical situation of having an excess stash of something (haloumi in this case) because it was steeply discounted and I couldn’t resist. Let’s make a gorgeous haloumi salad! I declared enthusiastically, channelling the virtuous side of me.
There were several iterations. And they were all delicious……but then someone had the genius idea to try haloumi fries and all of a sudden, the salads were long forgotten.
So yes, these haloumi fries evolved from salads. You can connect the dots, right? 😂
( I did share a haloumi salad recipe once – it’s here.)
Just briefly, on Haloumi Fries (& haloumi)
Named as such because they look like fries except made with haloumi, Haloumi Fries are not a new thing. They have been on the menu of Mediterranean and plenty of non-Mediterranean restaurants/bars/bistros for years, and there’s loads of recipes on the internet.
Haloumi is a cheese from Cyprus that’s firm, salty and briny. It’s a bit like Greek feta. However, feta crumbles whereas halloumi does not crumble as well, halloumi goes golden brown when pan fried whereas feta does not, and feta semi-melts when heated whereas halloumi does not. Which is why it’s ideal for making fries!
What you need for Haloumi Fries
Here’s what you need to make Haloumi Fries:
Haloumi – or halloumi. A firm briny cheese from Cyrus, feels like Greek feta. Find it vac-packed in the cheese section. Has an excellent long shelf life so I stock up when discounted!
Panko breadcrumbs – A Japanese breadcrumb favoured for the extra-crispy coating it gives crumbed foods. You can buy it at most large grocery stores (Coles, Woolworths) in the Asian foods section but cheaper in Asian stores! Substitute with regular breadcrumbs if you can’t find it.
Spices – For seasoning the flour coating. Adds extra flavour. Not essential…but why skip it?? The Italian herbs is just the generic store bought pre-mix sold in every grocery store. I use it regularly in my recipes, like the One Pot Beef Pasta I shared recently!
Egg and flour – The glue, to make the panko stick to the haloumi.
Oil for shallow frying – Canola, vegetable or any other neutral flavoured oil. Even olive oil (but don’t waste your money using pricier extra virgin olive oil!).
Garlic yogurt sauce
We’re making a quick garlic dipping sauce today using yogurt as the base. The cool tangy creaminess with lovely hit of garlic goes so well with the haloumi fries, so don’t skip it!
Plain yogurt – Not sweetened. Preferable Greek. If you use low-fat, it won’t have the same mouthfeel because it’s not as thick and creamy, but it will work just fine!
Garlic – Finely grated using a microplane or grater so it disappears into the yogurt.
Lemon – Just a touch, for extra freshness. Substitute with vinegar.
Extra virgin olive oil – To add a bit of richness to the sauce. We only use a tiny amount.
Salt – For seasoning. Again, just a tiny amount!
How to make haloumi fries
It’s actually relatively fast because they only take 90 seconds to fry. I can do a batch in 20 minutes from start to finish. I also like that it’s more shallow-fried rather than deep fried. Just – less splatter, less oil to deal with, etc etc. (I’m a selective deep frier. ie I only fry when it’s really worth it!).
Cut the haloumi into sticks around 1.5cm / 0/6″ thick. The length will depend on the shape of your haloumi. I cut mine into 5 slices lengthwise, then each into half which makes uniform fries, and get 20 pieces.
This is me cutting the slice in half to form a fry. 🙂
Garlic dipping sauce – Probably should have put this first because I do it first! Just mix the ingredients together then set aside while you make the haloumi fries. It needs at least 15 minutes to let the flavours infuse and meld.
Crumbing – OK, crumbing time! Flour first….then shake off excess.
Then egg – hold it up to let the excess drip off.
Than the panko. Press to adhere well and make sure there’s no naked patches!
Use bowls large enough to fit the haloumi.
Use the same hand for the flour and egg, the the other hand for the panko. Less finger-mess.
Pro level – crumb two at a time! Use a finger to keep the fries separated as you dredge.
Olympic level – Rather than turning or pinching/sprinkling the breadcrumbs on, TOSS the bowl to coat in breadcrumbs! Optimum mess free! 🙌🏻 You’ll see me demonstrate this in the recipe video below.
Fry the halmoui sticks for just 90 seconds until golden and crisp in oil pre-heated to 180°C/350°F.
Oil temperature testing – If you don’t have a thermometer, test the oil temp using a small cube of white bread. It should take 15 seconds to turn golden and crispy.
Drain the cooked fries on a paper towel lined tray. Then continue cooking.
Because haloumi fries only take 90 seconds to cook, you don’t need to worry about keeping cooked ones warm in the oven.
Once they’re all cooked, serve with the garlic dipping sauce!
Baking and air-fryer options
Whenever I share a deep fried recipe, the most common question is – can I bake this? And hot on it’s heels these days is – can I make this in my air fryer?
So today, we’ve tested it out and happy to report that you can!
The baked option is best made using my panko pre-toasting technique where the breadcrumbs are baked in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes to make them golden and crunchy before using. Otherwise, they will come out pale with brown spots rather than a beautiful even golden brown like when fried. It’s not a big deal – spread on the same tray you’ll be baking the haloumi fries. 🙂 Tried and proven technique that readers love in recipes such as Crunchy Chicken Tenders, Baked Filet-O-Fish and Baked Chicken Cordon Bleu! Crumb the halloumi, then bake on a rack at same temp for 20 minutes or until crunchy.
The air fryer option works a treat! Pre-heat air fryer to 200°C/390°F for 5 minutes. Oil spray fries and spray the basket. Place all haloumi fries in a single layer in a 7 L/qt+ air fryer. Cook for 9 minutes until crispy and golden!
Difference to fried version (honest option) – The baked version is about 80% as good as the fried version. You lose some moisture from inside the haloumi because it takes longer to get the crunchy coating in the oven (even with pre-toasting). The air-fryer version, however, is excellent!
The crumbing on both the air fryer and baked versions split a wee bit simply because they take longer to cook than in the oil which is a super fast 90 seconds.
How to serve haloumi fries
Haloumi fries typically appear on menus as a starter or a small-dish tapas option. It’s a food for nibbling, something completely different from your usual chips ‘n dips. Not that I have anything against chips ‘n dips, being the snack monster that I am (proof – my full dip recipe collection here!).
But, sometimes it’s nice to have something different to the usual that will impress the pants off your family and friends. The combination of the warm, softy, salty halloumi insides and the golden crunchy crumb with the cooling garlicky yogurt dip is every snack monsters’ dream come true. I really hope you try this one day! – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
- 360g / 12oz haloumi cheese blocks , 2 x 180g/6 oz blocks (Note 1)
- 2 cups canola oil (or other natural oil)
- 2 large eggs , whisked
- 1/2 cup plain/all purpose flour
- 1 tbsp Italian herbs (Note 2)
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika (sub ordinary paprika)
- 1 tsp ground white pepper (sub black pepper)
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs – or ordinary breadcrumbs (Note 3)
- 1/4 tsp cooking/kosher salt
Yoghurt garlic dipping sauce:
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yoghurt
- 1 garlic clove , finely grated using a microplane
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice (sub white vinegar)
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 tsp cooking/kosher salt
- Garlic dipping sauce – Mix ingredients in a bowl and set aside for at least 20 minutes to let the flavours develop.
- Cut the haloumi into fries around 1.5cm / 0/6" thick. The length will depend on the shape of your haloumi. I cut mine into 5 slices lengthwise, then each into half which makes uniform fries, and get 20 pieces.
- Dry – Pat halloumi mostly dry using tea towels.
- Prep – Using 3 bowls large enough to toss the halloumi, put the eggs in one bowl, mix Flour Dredge in another and mix Crumbing ingredients in a third.
- Crumb – Dip a haloumi fry in flour, shake off excess. Dip in egg, allow excess to drip off. Coat in breadcrumbs, pressing to adhere, then place on tray. PRO: Do 2 at a time. 🙌🏻 Toss haloumi in breadcrumbs (by tossing the bowl) so you don't have to touch. 🙌🏻
- Heat oil in a medium sauce pan over high heat until it reaches 180°C/350°F (Note 4).
- Fry 5 haloumi sticks at a time for 1 1/2 minutes. Drain on a paper towel lined tray. Repeat with remaining haloumi.
- Air fry and baking – see Note 5.
- Serve hot with yoghurt garlic dipping sauce!
Life of Dozer
Reviewing today’s recipe video with me. (And drooling all over the keyboard in the process – but can we blame him? Absolutely not!)