Halloumi Saganaki

Halloumi cheese is dressed in a light coating of semolina, fried, then drizzled with thyme infused honey and topped with pomegranate seeds and cracks of black pepper. It’s the perfect party appetizer.

Yasmin Khan’s halloumi saganaki in a bowl with figs and pomegranate seeds.
Lori Rice

This is the perfect appetizer in my eyes: sweet, salty, crunchy, and fried.

Rectangles of halloumi are dusted in semolina or cornmeal, sautéed until crisp, drizzled with a warm, thyme-infused honey, and topped with crunchy pomegranate seeds.

This recipe is inspired by a dish I kept returning to at the Loxandra restaurant in Nicosia, Cyprus and is one of the most popular mezze dishes that I make for my friends at home.

Let’s be honest, you can never go wrong with fried cheese. Enjoy!

About “Ripe Figs”

“Ripe Figs: Recipes and Stories from Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus” is the third cookbook written by Yasmin Khan, an author and activist based in London.

Her book focuses on the Eastern Mediterranean where recipes traveled with people from one great journey to the next. She documents the recipes, ingredients, and pathways of people from the Ottoman Empire to today’s refugee population.

She dedicates the book to the migrants.

Overhead view of a bowl of Halloumi saganaki: pan-seared Greek cheese with pomegranates and figs.
Lori Rice

More Recipes by Yasmin Khan

What is Halloumi?

Halloumi cheese is a semi-hard, unripened cheese made in the Republic of Cyprus, a Mediterranean island south of Turkey. In May 2021, it was awarded special recognition by the European Union as a Protected Designation of Origin, which means in order for the cheese to be called Halloumi, it must be made in certain areas of Cyprus.

It's made from goat, sheep or sometimes cow's milk. It is firm and retains its shape when cooked either in a skillet or on a grill.

Swaps and Subs

This recipe calls for pomegranate arils (seeds) which can be difficult to find in the United States outside of fall.

If you can't find fresh pomegranates, look in the freezer section for frozen arils sometimes you can find them there, or in the cooler section of the produce aisle where they are sometimes sold as individual snack servings.

If you've lucked out and found a fresh pomegranate, but aren't sure how to work with it we wrote a Guide to Pomegranates that will help you pick the freshest fruit, store it, and how to use up the extra seeds.

When it comes to opening a pomegranate it can be tricky for first timers. If you're looking for a hands on guide to walk you through cutting open and removing the arils of a pomegranate we have all of that information in our step by step guide on How to Cut and De-Seed a Pomegranate.

Don't worry if you can't find pomegranate in any form. You can simply leave the arils out and the recipe will still taste delicious or you can experiment and try adding in another tart fruit like fresh raspberries. The texture won't be the same, but you will get some juicy tart notes to balance the richness of the halloumi.

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

Halloumi Saganaki

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Servings 4 servings as part of a mezze

Reprinted with permission from “Ripe Figs,” by Yasmin Khan. Copyright © 2021. Published by W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Ingredients

  • 10 1/2 ounces (300g) halloumi cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup (40g) fine semolina or cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme leaves
  • Couple of handfuls of arugula leaves
  • 4 to 5 fresh figs, quartered (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
  • Black pepper

Method

  1. Cut halloumi:

    Cut the halloumi into 8 thick slices.

    Slicing halloumi to make a saganaki recipe
    Lori Rice
  2. Prep dredge station and coat halloumi in semolina:

    Beat the egg in a small bowl and spread the semolina or cornmeal out on a plate. Dip the halloumi slices in the beaten egg, then roll them in the semolina or cornmeal so they have a crust around them.

    Breading halloumi for a saganaki recipe.
    Lori Rice
  3. Fry halloumi:

    Heat the oil in a large nonstick frying pan until it is hot, then fry the halloumi pieces for a few minutes on each side until they are golden brown. Place on some paper towels to soak up any excess oil.

    Pan frying halloumi for a saganaki recipe
    Lori Rice
    Draining halloumi to make Yasmin Khan’s halloumi saganaki.
    Lori Rice
  4. Heat the honey:

    Meanwhile, in a small saucepan set over medium low heat add the honey and thyme. Heat just until warmed through and easy to drizzle.

    Flavored honey to make Yasmin Khan’s halloumi saganaki.
    Lori Rice
  5. Assemble the dish:

    Now assemble the dish. Place the arugula on a serving plate and arrange the halloumi on top, nestling the figs around, if using.

    Drizzle a little of the hot honey over each slice of halloumi. Finish with a smattering of pomegranate seeds and grind some black pepper over the top.

    Yasmin Khan’s halloumi saganaki on a plate with greens and figs.
    Lori Rice