One of the most delightful haloumi recipes in my repertoire: Haloumi Fries! Imagine them as an upgraded version of French fries. They boast a crispier exterior (courtesy of panko breadcrumbs) while harboring warm, savory haloumi cheese within. Whether you’re entertaining a crowd at a party or starting a meal, these fries are a guaranteed hit. You can choose to fry, bake, or air-fry them to perfection!
It started as a salad.
I found myself in a familiar situation where I had an abundance of something on hand, in this case, haloumi. The reason? Well, it was on a steep discount, and I simply couldn’t resist the temptation. “Let’s create a stunning haloumi salad!” I excitedly proclaimed, tapping into my virtuous culinary side.
I embarked on several iterations of the salad, each one more delicious than the last. However, just when we thought the salads were the pinnacle of our haloumi journey, someone had the brilliant idea to venture into the realm of haloumi fries. Suddenly, those vibrant salads were relegated to the background.
So, yes, these delectable haloumi fries emerged from the salad experiments. Can you see the connection now?
(Oh, and in case you’re curious, I did share a haloumi salad recipe once; it’s available here.)
Just briefly, on Haloumi Fries (& haloumi)
Named for their resemblance to French fries, Haloumi Fries are not a novel creation. They’ve been a fixture on the menus of Mediterranean eateries and numerous non-Mediterranean restaurants, bars, and bistros for quite some time, and there is a wealth of recipes for them available on the internet.
Haloumi, a cheese hailing from Cyprus, possesses a firm, salty, and briny character. It shares similarities with Greek feta, although there are distinct differences. While feta crumbles easily, haloumi maintains its integrity; when pan-fried, haloumi turns a delightful golden brown, while feta does not; and when heated, feta semi-melts, whereas haloumi retains its solid form. These unique qualities make haloumi the perfect choice for crafting these delectable fries!
What you need for Haloumi Fries
Here’s what you’ll need to prepare a batch of Haloumi Fries:
Haloumi – Also known as halloumi, this is a firm, briny cheese hailing from Cyprus that shares some similarities with Greek feta. You can usually find it vacuum-packed in the cheese section of your grocery store. It has a generous shelf life, so it’s worth stocking up when it’s on sale!
Panko breadcrumbs – These Japanese breadcrumbs are favored for their ability to provide an extra-crispy coating to crumbed foods. You can typically purchase them at most large grocery stores like Coles or Woolworths, often located in the Asian foods section. However, they are usually more budget-friendly at Asian specialty stores. If you can’t find panko breadcrumbs, you can substitute regular breadcrumbs.
Spices – These are used to season the flour coating and add an extra layer of flavor. While not absolutely necessary, why skip this opportunity to enhance the taste? The Italian herbs referred to here are the common store-bought pre-mix available in most grocery stores. I frequently use them in my recipes, such as the recent One Pot Beef Pasta I shared!
Egg and flour – These serve as the “glue” that helps the panko breadcrumbs adhere to the haloumi.
Oil for shallow frying – Opt for a neutral-flavored oil like canola, vegetable oil, or any similar option. Even though olive oil can be used, it’s advisable to avoid pricier extra virgin olive oil for this purpose.
GARLIC YOGURT SAUCE
Today, we’ll whip up a swift garlic dipping sauce with yogurt as the foundational element. This delightful combination of cool, tangy creaminess and a bold garlic kick complements the haloumi fries splendidly, so be sure not to skip it!
Here’s what you’ll need:
Plain yogurt – Ensure it’s not sweetened, and Greek yogurt is preferable. While low-fat yogurt will work, it won’t provide the same luxurious mouthfeel since it’s not as thick and creamy.
Garlic – Finely grate it using a microplane or grater to ensure it blends seamlessly into the yogurt.
Lemon – A small amount, to infuse the sauce with extra freshness. If needed, you can substitute it with vinegar.
Extra virgin olive oil – This adds a touch of richness to the sauce, but we only use a small amount.
Salt – To season the sauce, but just a pinch will do!
How to make haloumi fries
The process is actually quite speedy, mainly because these fries only require 90 seconds of frying time. I can easily whip up a batch in just 20 minutes, from start to finish. One of the advantages I appreciate is that they’re shallow-fried rather than deep-fried, resulting in less splattering and a smaller quantity of oil to manage, among other benefits. (I’m quite selective when it comes to deep frying—only for truly worthwhile occasions!)
Start by cutting the haloumi into sticks approximately 1.5cm / 0.6″ thick. The length will vary depending on the shape of your haloumi. I typically slice mine into 5 pieces lengthwise and then halve each piece, creating uniform fries and yielding around 20 pieces.
Now, let’s talk about the garlic dipping sauce. Actually, it probably should have been the first step because I prepare it ahead of time. Simply mix the ingredients together and set it aside while you’re making the haloumi fries. It benefits from at least 15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld and infuse.
Now, onto the crumbing process! Begin with a coating of flour, and then shake off any excess.
Next, dip the haloumi sticks in egg, allowing any excess to drip off.
Finally, coat them generously with panko breadcrumbs, pressing to ensure a secure adhesion and ensuring there are no exposed spots.
Fry the haloumi sticks for precisely 90 seconds until they achieve a golden, crispy perfection in oil that’s been preheated to 180°C/350°F.
To test the oil temperature if you don’t have a thermometer, you can use a small cube of white bread. It should take about 15 seconds to turn golden and crispy.
Once they’re done frying, drain the cooked fries on a tray lined with paper towels. There’s no need to keep the cooked ones warm in the oven since haloumi fries are best enjoyed fresh.
Once all the fries are cooked, serve them with the prepared garlic dipping sauce!
Baking and air-fryer options
Whenever I share a deep-fried recipe, one of the most common questions that arise is, “Can I bake this?” and, these days, closely followed by, “Can I make this in my air fryer?” Well, today, we’ve put it to the test, and I’m delighted to report that you can!
The baked option is best executed using my panko pre-toasting technique. In this method, the breadcrumbs are baked in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, transforming them into a beautiful, even golden brown and ensuring that they stay crunchy. Without this step, the result would be paler with brown spots. It’s a tried-and-true technique that readers adore in recipes like Crunchy Chicken Tenders, Baked Filet-O-Fish, and Baked Chicken Cordon Bleu. After toasting the panko, simply crumb the haloumi and then bake it on a rack at the same temperature for 20 minutes or until it achieves a delightful crunch.
The air fryer option is equally effective! Begin by preheating your air fryer to 200°C/390°F for 5 minutes. Then, give the fries a quick spray with oil and do the same for the air fryer basket. Arrange all the haloumi fries in a single layer in your 7L/quart+ air fryer and cook for 9 minutes until they turn crispy and golden.
Now, let’s talk about the difference between these options and the fried version (keeping it honest). The baked version is about 80% as good as the fried version. The reason is that it takes longer to achieve the crunchy coating in the oven, even with pre-toasting, which can result in some moisture loss from the inside of the haloumi. However, the air fryer version is truly excellent!
In both the air fryer and baked versions, you may notice that the crumbing splits slightly because they require more time to cook compared to the super-fast 90 seconds in hot oil.
How to serve haloumi fries
Haloumi fries are typically featured on menus as an appetizer or a small-plate tapas option. They’re a delightful snack, offering a departure from the ordinary chips and dips. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against chips and dips, given my penchant for snacks (as evidenced by my extensive dip recipe collection, available here!).
However, there are moments when it’s refreshing to offer something unique, something that will truly impress your family and friends. The combination of the warm, soft, salty halloumi interior and the golden, crispy coating paired with the cooling, garlicky yogurt dip is a snack lover’s dream come true. I genuinely hope you give this a try one day!