When it comes to vegetarian grilling recipes, there are a couple of rules we follow around here: they must be easy, and they must be full of flavor and texture.
These skewers have it all. They’re super easy to make and burst with flavor from the salty halloumi cheese and the Greek-inspired, herb-packed marinade. And of course, there is a variety of textures between the creamy, gooey, squeaky cheese, and fresh vegetables.
Basically, they’re going to be an easy go-to dinner that everyone will love.
What is Halloumi?
In short, halloumi is a Cypriot, semi-soft cheese, that is unique in that it holds its shape when heated, which makes it perfect for grilling and pan frying!
It’s salty, squeaky, and when cooked has a warm, gooey center and crisp exterior.
Read our post all about halloumi cheese for more details and ideas!
Kebab vs. Skewer
Kebab is a type of cooked meat, usually on a skewer but not always, that originates in the Middle East. Sometimes vegetables are added, and other times it’s served as just the meat. Many cultures have their own version of kebabs.
A skewer is literally the wooden or metal piece that holds meat or vegetables, or in a variety of other culinary uses, like corn dogs.
Because this vegetarian recipe doesn’t use meat (redundant, I know), I’ll be referring to this method as skewers. But since the word kebab has become more of a general term in English (at least in North America) to describe skewered food, you may really use either to describe this recipe.
The Ingredients You’ll Need
The beauty of making grilled kebabs (ok, skewers) is that you can easily customize the veggies depending on what you already have in the fridge or what is bursting out of your garden. The veggies listed here are merely suggestions, but the halloumi is a must.
- Halloumi Cheese: find it packaged at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, or ALDI. You can also head to a local Mediterranean deli. In larger cities, you’ll be able to find it in more common grocery stores, too. Make sure it’s vegetarian if needed!
- Zucchini: a good option for skewers because it’s hearty and holds up to the heat.
- Red Onion: a little pop of brightness; you could also substitute yellow onion or shallot.
- Bell Pepper: I love a good chunk of bell pepper on skewers; use red, yellow, orange, or even green!
- Mushrooms: an excellent addition for added umami; just be sure they’re evenly sized or cut in half so that the skewer can cook properly.
- Tomatoes: cherry or grape tomatoes are perfect because you can skewer them on and they roast up beautifully!
- Greek-Inspired Marinade: this marinade is bursting with fresh herbs and garlic for the ultimate flavor experience. It doesn’t have salt added, because the cheese is so salty already. Either divide it in half and marinade the veggies separately, with salt, or salt the veggies on their own before cooking.
- A mix of Herbs: fresh oregano, mint, and thyme are my go-to’s because they’re obviously delicious and flavorful, but also they’re growing like crazy in my garden. Feel free to mix it up with other herbs like basil, parsley, or rosemary.
- Garlic: there are quite a few garlic cloves in the marinade… I bet you’re not surprised.
- Lemon Juice: fresh lemon juice, please! Pro move, add some fresh lemon zest, too!
- Olive Oil: or another neutral oil.
Is there a substitute for halloumi cheese?
If you really want to make these veggie skewers but can’t find halloumi, you can give paneer a try. It’s an Indian cheese, similar in that it’s a non-melting soft cheese. It is much lower in salt, though, so be sure to add salt to the marinade if using it.
How to Make Halloumi Skewers
When it comes to making skewers, most of the work is in preparation – cutting the veggies, whisking up the marinade, and assembling the skewers. It’s work, but it’s what I like to call easy work.
Prepare the Skewers
If you are using wooden skewers, it’s very important that you let them soak in water for at least 30 minutes before assembly. This ensures that they don’t burn up with placed on the grill.
Otherwise, you can use metal skewers, which don’t require any soaking or preparation.
Prep the Veggies
When making kebabs or skewers, it’s really important to make everything as evenly sized as possible so they cook at the same rate.
This is less important for vegetarian, or meatless skewers because you don’t have to worry about getting the meat cooked through. The goal here is to have a delicious char on our skewers with tender veggies, but that’s it!
Halloumi doesn’t take long to grill, though, so don’t make your veggies too large or they won’t cook through.
How to Skewer Halloumi without it Breaking
The first part is making sure you have diced the block of halloumi into large chunks; around 1 to 1 1/2 inches is ideal. If the cubes are too small, they will break when you skewer them.
Cutting large cubes also gives you more time to allow the veggies to cook through, without overcooking the halloumi.
The exact number of cubes you’ll get from your block of cheese will vary on its size. From the 7-ounce block I purchase at ALDI, I get about 6 large chunks of halloumi out of it.
Before we get to cooking, we’re going to marinade both the veggies and the cheese in the flavorful, herb-packed, Greek-inspired marinade. Whisk all the marinade ingredients together, or simply shake them up in a jar until combined.
As I mentioned, the marinade doesn’t have any salt added to it because the halloumi is already so salty. You can either:
- Marinade both the veggies and cheese together, and salt the veggies before grilling, or;
- Marinade them separately, and add salt to taste for the veggies.
It really comes down to if you prefer to have one or two bowls you’ll have to clean. From a flavor perspective, marinating the veggies with salt is preferred.
The longer the marinade, the better. If you can leave them for an hour, do it! If not, at least aim for 30 minutes of soak-time.
Skewer and Grill
Thread the veggies and halloumi on the skewers, giving a little space between to allow for even cooking, but note that many of the veggies will shrink up once they’re cooked.
Be careful when skewering on the items; don’t put your hand where the skewer will poke through!
Oil the grill grates well to prevent sticking. The veggies and halloumi should already be oiled from the marinade, but if the cheese seems dry, be sure to give it a brush of oil, too, because those cubes do like to stick if they’re not well oiled.
Then, heat over medium-high heat and grill on each side for 2-3 minutes until the halloumi cheese is golden brown and the veggies have grill marks.
Tips for Grilling Skewers
These are sprinkled throughout the post, but worth repeating in bite-sized form:
- Slice large cubes of halloumi and evenly sized, smaller veggie pieces for even cooking.
- Make sure the grill is well-oiled, as well as the halloumi pieces, are oiled.
- Salt the veggies before grilling, if not marinated separately with salt.
- Use a grill pan if you don’t have a grill.
- Make sure you have enough halloumi…it’s going to disappear a lot faster than the veggies!
- Serve immediately! Halloumi can get a rubbery texture if left to cool before enjoying it, so prepare everything you’ll need before beginning to cook, and enjoy them hot off the grill!
How to Serve Halloumi Skewers
That last tip…it’s true. The halloumi is going to steal the show with its crisp exterior, gooey interior, and salty, squeaky deliciousness. So prepare for it to go quickly.
Make it Without a Grill (or grill pan!)
Want to skip the skewers altogether but still want the delicious marinated veggies and cheese? You can easily heat a cast iron skillet, coat it with oil, and cook the veggies and halloumi chunks on their own in the skillet, turning as they become tender and golden brown.
Other Common Questions
Halloumi isn’t the greatest leftover, so try to enjoy it fresh off of the grill. If you do have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. Reheat the halloumi in the microwave for just 30-40 seconds; enough to warm it, but don’t do it too long or it will get rubbery. Heat the veggies as desired.
Yes, prep the veggies and halloumi and toss the in the marinade. Place it in the fridge in an airtight container for up the 24 hours in advance, then skewer and cook.
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!
Get the Recipe Greek-Inspired Halloumi Skewers
- Whisk together the marinade ingredients, or shake in a jar, until completely combined. There is no salt initially, because the halloumi is already very salty.
- Remove the block of halloumi from the package and pat dry with paper towels. Cut the block into about 1-inch large chunks. Prepare the rest of the veggies as needed, cutting the zucchini, onion, and bell pepper into chunks. Keep the veggies on the smaller side, and as evenly sized as possible, for even cooking.
- Toss the halloumi and veggies together with the marinade. If marinading the cheese and veggies separately, add salt to the veggies. Let sit for at least 30 minutes, up to one day in the fridge. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water while the marinade rests.
- To skewer: carefully thread the halloumi and veggies onto the skewer, leaving a little space between each piece. Sprinkle a little salt over the veggies before cooking, if you didn't marinade them on their own.
- Heat the grill (or grill pan) over medium-high heat and brush the grates well with oil, and the halloumi as needed.
- Place the skewers on the hot grill and cook on each side for 2-3 minutes until grill marks appear and the cheese is golden brown on the sides.
- Remove and serve immediately. Excellent garnished with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, fresh herbs, and black pepper. Serve with pita bread and tzatziki or tahini sauce as desired.
- Halloumi: depending on where you purchase the cheese, it comes in a variety of sized blocks. The amount is approximate, so don’t worry if you can’t get exactly 14.
- I use ALDI 7-ounce blocks and usually serve about half of it per person. Adjust as needed for your preferred serving size.