Garlic and Halloumi Pull-Aparts


There is something to be said about pulling off a hunk of cheesy bread that makes you feel just a little bit like a Sneaky Pete, even if you’re the one who made the bread.  And it’s meant to be pulled apart.  And you’ve just instructed other people to do exactly that.  Even so, just the act of reaching, tearing, and gobbling down garlicky cheese filled goodness brings out my inner bandit in the best possible way.  Stolen goods always taste just that much better, don’t they?  Oh, salty villainy.

Are you familiar with halloumi?  I adore halloumi.  It’s a great cheese for grilling or frying in large slabs because it won’t melt and fall apart.  Halloumi is generally stored in a salty brine, like feta, but the texture is more like….a brined mozzarella, if that makes sense.  But without the gooeyness and melty stuff.  So maybe it’s not like mozzarella at all, okay, but its salty and toothsome and utterly delicious.  

Garlic and Halloumi Pull-Aparts

Makes 25-30 cheesy two-bite buns

Bread Dough:

  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1.5 cups warm water
  • 3.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tbsp nigella seeds (optional)
  • scant 1/4 cup olive oil to dip


  • 5 oz halloumi cheese (300 g or 2/3 lb) *
  • 5 oz mozzarella cheese (300 g or 2/3 lb)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley

* If you don’t have halloumi cheese, feel free to substitute it with an equal amount of feta.


In a medium sized bowl combine the yeast, sugar, and olive oil.


Pour the warm (not hot, just warm) water on top, give it a quick swirl around with your fingers to make sure that it’s combined, and then leave the bowl to rest for 5-10 minutes.  During this time, the yeast should start to bloom and froth up.  If your bowl doesn’t look like the one below within 10 minutes then your yeast has not been activated and you might want to start the process again with a fresh batch.


While the yeast bubbles and froths, mix together the flour, salt and nigella seeds (if you’re using them).  


Pour the foamy wet yeast mixture on top of the flour and stir it together using a wooden spoon until the dough sticks and starts to come together.  If it still feels really sticky, you can add a few tablespoons of flour and work it with your hands.


Ease your dough out of the bowl and onto your counter or work surface.  This is not a wet dough so you likely will not need to flour the board at all.  Pat the dough into a ball shape and knead it well for 7-10 minutes until the texture becomes smooth and elastic.


Lightly oil a large mixing bowl.  Turn your dough ball around it several times to make sure that the dough is completely coated in a light sheen of oil.  Cover the bowl with some loose saran wrap or a tea towel, and leave it to rise for an hour or so until it doubles in size.


Shred the mozzarella and halloumi.  If you have never cooked with or eaten halloumi before, here’s a hint:  it doesn’t shred like a cheddar or a mozzarella would.  It likes to crumble more than it shreds, similar to a firm and dry feta.  That’s okay, shred/crumble away.  


Press or the garlic or grate it on a rasp and into the cheeses.


Finely mince the parsley and add this to the cheeses as well.  Use your fingers to work the parsley and garlic through the cheese, making sure that everything is well dispersed and you don’t just have a big hunk of minced garlic swimming around somewhere in the white.


Now then, back to the dough.  Roll the dough out of the bowl and back onto your work surface.  Again, you only need to lightly dust the area with flour if it’s absolutely necessary and your dough is sticking.  Gently knead the dough several times to get rid of any leftover air pockets.

To form the rolls, start by pinching off a small ball of dough (slightly smaller than a golf ball.  I think.  I don’t golf and now I’m questioning that statement.  Maybe more like the size of a small organic apricot?  Oh jeez.  I need to work on that, don’t I?) by squeezing it between your thumb and index finger.


Spread the dough by hand (like a pizza crust) or roll it out into a small circle, about 3.5 inches in diameter.


Dollop a generous tablespoon or so of the cheese mixture onto the center of each one.  It may be easier for some people to do this when the dough is flat on your work surface instead of in your hand.  Really try to stuff them though, because we’ve got a lot of cheese in that bowl just crying out to be had.


Gather up the sides of your dough circle, and pinch the top together to make a little purse.


Flip the parcel over so that the seam side is on the palm of your hand.  With your other hand, press and turn the ball, gently stroking downwards to stretch the skin of the dough into a smoothly skinned taut mass. And I think I need a cigarette after that sentence.  


Holding on to the base (where the seam was), dip the top (flat rounded part) of the dough ball in a little bit of olive oil.


Place the dough balls seam side down in an 11×13 baking pan.  The balls should be close together or touching, but not pressed up really tightly or smushed.  You will likely end up with 25 – 30 balls, depending on how large you form them.  I had 29, which was 5 across and 6 down…minus one ball when I ran out of dough.


When you have run out of either cheese filling or dough (probably the dough), cover the tray with a tea towel and leave it to rise again, for 45 minutes to an hour, in a warm and draught free place.  

While the dough rises, prep your oven.  Put one rack in the bottom third of your oven and the other right at the top.  Set the temperature to 425F and while it heats up put a rimmed baking sheet onto the top rack.

There may be some leftover cheese filling.  If that’s the case, consider yourself lucky!  You can sprinkle it on top of pasta, an omelet, melt it in a sandwich – good god, do I ever love cheese.  Keep at least a half cup reserved though to sprinkle on top of these munchkins as they cook.


Has the dough risen?  Are you sure?  Alright, then they’re ready to go into the oven.  But wait!  Before you open that door!!  Grab a handful of ice cubes from the freezer (6-8 should do it).  Just as you slide the bread onto your lower rack, throw the ice cubes onto your rimmed baking sheet and quickly close the door.  The ice will create a lot of steam, helping the bread to puff and create a nice crusty shell.

Let the bread bake for 25-30 minutes until it is lightly golden brown on top, but not cooked through.  Sprinkle on the remaining half cup of cheese that you put aside……


…and back into the oven for another 5-10 minutes.  The bread will take approximately 35 minutes to cook, and it’s ready to come out when the tops are puffed and golden brown.


Let the bread cool for at least a half hour before you start to pull it apart.  But then, oh yes, the fun begins.  


Little puffy cushions of garlicky cheese filled goodness!  I say go ahead and teef one.  No, actually, take two!


Inside each mini roll is a puffy pocket of cheesy goodness.  DANG, I love cheese.  I would be much more likely to enroll as a Navy Seal if they changed their slogan to, “My life for CHEESE.”


Snacking, munching, stealing and grabbing. And garlic.  And cheese.  That’s what these little nuggets are all about.


  • Tara

    OH MY GOD.

    I think I just drooled on my keyboard. My vow never to make my own bread after the whole-wheat-fiasco of ’98 is being tempted….

    Out of curiousity, what are nigella seeds and where might one have tasted them?

    • Tina

      Sorry Tara, I forgot to tell you about Nigella seeds! Here is a Wikipedia link (I heart Wikipedia…)

      The seeds are black and rather robust for such small beasts. I find the flavor to be slightly sweet, just a tiny bit like fennel/licorice, but I’m not sure how else to describe them. They are also commonly called ‘Black Onion Seeds’ and MISLABELED as ‘Black Cumin Seeds’ (which they are not). If you ever see ‘kalonji’ in an East Asian recipe, this is what they’re looking for. The seeds look a bit like black sesame, but I think they’re chubbier.

      In terms of where you may have tasted them, well, here goes:
      – Have you ever been to the Dominican Republic? I found that both times when I was there they served breakfast and dinner rolls that were infused with nigella seed.

      – East Asian/Indian restaurants, do you like Naan? Of course, everybody likes Naan (that’s a joke which I may at some point elaborate on, my apologies). Naan is often sprinkled with salted ground melon seeds, sesame, or nigella seeds. With nigella it is called Peshawari Naan, although when I never had any when I was in Peshawar, Pakistan…oddly enough.

      – Do you ever go to Middle Eastern grocers? There are a number of brined cheeses (like Lebanese style feta) which have nigella seeds in the cheese or in the brine. The seeds are also sometimes used as a pickling spice.

      I hope that helps!!

  • Astra Libris

    Oh. My. Goodness. You have created the best thing ever!! WOW! Sitting here reading, I can almost taste the flavor explosion, the incredible yumminess… Mmmm… Gorgeous!

  • [eatingclub] vancouver || js

    These look like they’re going to be all eaten by me. Absolutely fantastic!

  • Kristie

    And here I thought there wasn’t actually an answer for “what is the meaning of life?” Holy. Shit.

  • bruleeblog

    Holy cow those look good. Ditto on the drooling on the keyboard for me.

  • Tina

    Tara – I have had more than one disastrous bread making experience!!! Just remember a few key things:
    a) if the yeast has not bloomed, DON’T USE IT!
    b) make sure that the bread is covered and in a warm place…maybe even a warm and moist place, if you have one. It helps.
    c) give it time. Don’t give up before you’ve kneaded it enough that the exture is smooth and elastic like a rubber ball. Then give it MORE time to make sure that it has risen enough before you put it in the oven.
    And then GOOD LUCK!!!! I say, try your hand again…and let me know how it goes!!

    Astra, js, Brulleblog – salty cheese and garlic. You can never go wrong!!!!

    Kristie – and here I was still thinking that it was the number 42. Don’t I feel like a fool.

  • flutterbyblue

    These look DELISH! I love halloumi cheese and I’m sure I’ll love these rolls as well!

  • Peter

    Tina, you’re pure evil! Halloumi’s one of my most favourite cheeses (had some today) and wouldn’t these be a kick during cocktails?

  • Suzie

    I just made them! Perfect measurements. Yummmy!!!

    • Tina

      Suzie, I’m so glad that you made these and enjoyed them!!! Oh, that makes me so happy!!! Thank you!!

  • Carolyn Jung

    Gawd, I could happily eat like six of these at one sitting.

  • Dawn

    It’s supposed to rain this weekend and I think this might be the perfect Saturday project
    to do with the hubby (who looooves all things bread) – plus nothing says Valentines’s Day
    like a long kitchen project…oh wait.

    • Mike

      Ha! I think your biggest problem will actually be keeping him from eating them before they’ve had a chance to cool.

      Plus you could them… heart-shaped… or something? I don’t know, I’m extraordinarily bad at Valentine’s Day.

    • Tina

      Dawn – I thought that it would be a fun project for us to do together as well. Mike, uh, well, slightly less enthusiastic about the making than the eating……

      If you make them, let me know what you think!! Don’t forget to stuff them fairly full, which is hard at first if you aren’t used to making dumplings and whatnot. Mind you, what’s wrong with extra cheese? Nothing, I say. Let us know if you liked!

  • Ivy

    I was in Cyprus last week and brought with me some of the best halloumia made on the island. Shall definitely make these, although I am also not sure about the nigella seeds. They look like something we call paparounosporos, but then that is not the same thing as it is translated a poppy seeds.

    • Tina

      Oh Ivy, I bet that your halloumi is so much better than what we can get here! I would have a heydey raiding your pantry! If you make the buns, let me know what you think!

  • Dawn

    Well we did it! No rain, but we still decided to stay in and make this a Valentine’s Day project – and they turned out great! Plus the “down-time” this recipe includes allowed for some plain ol’ relaxing and catching up on our Tivo’d shows.

    I can’t say there were as uniform looking as the originals, but they were delicious and since we followed every step as it was described (we used our recipe holder to keep all the instructions easily to hand) they turned out great! We were very proud of our little bread babies – so cute and cheesily delicious.

    Thanks for the great idea!

    • Mike

      Fantastic, so glad they turned out for you! And if they’re a little irregular, why, who among us isn’t? If they were all uniform and perfect then they wouldn’t reflect our relationships properly.

      Except for Tina’s and mine, of course, which is so regular and normal that you could set your watch by it.

  • Ivy

    Tina, I decided to make these this morning so I tried to copy your recipe but there was something wrong with your site and couldn’t access. I finally did them without a recipe and although I did them in a different way they still came out delicious. I’ll let you know when I post them.

    • Mike

      We actually blew out our bandwidth limit for the month, Ivy — the curse of success related to this very recipe!

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  • Christa

    You don’t know me and I don’t know you (until now) but I wanted to let you know that you make me want to never leave my kitchen again. I found you through DHAK, and have proceeded to go through most of your posts in an drooling stupor. While I am not a confident chef by any means, your recipes are so easy to follow that even I can feel like a top-rate chef. I love both your taste in foods and your writing. Keep up the good work!

    PS Yay Canada! Where in Ontario are you, if you don’t mind me asking? I grew up in Southern Ontario and am now living in the Okanagan Valley in BC.

    • Tina

      Christa – Thank you so much for visiting our site, and nothing could have made us happier than to hear that you went trolling through the ol’ archives!!! As for being a confident chef, well, not many of us are – myself included!! I just like to putter around and have fun. I just don’t post the flops 😉 Just remember the principle of kitchen magic: if nobody SEES your failures, or if you can re-tool it into something else (bread didn’t rise properly? Nobody will know when you turn it into a strata….) you are still a kitchen wizard. That’s my philosophy, anyways.

      I LOVE the Okanagan! Holy jeepers am I jealous. Right now I’m picturing you strolling to work through apple orchards, plucking ripe jewels for a mid morning snack. As for us, we’re just north east of Toronto in the ‘burbs….not nearly as exciting as orchards and mountains!!

      • Mike

        What! We have highways, bypasses and thoroughfares! Plus a mall. I think clearly we can compete with scenic mountains and rolling meadows.

      • Christa

        Unfortunately the bus ride to work does not allow for much snacking, but I do have a view of no less than seven orchards from my apartment balcony. Blossom season last month was marvelous, and now I’m waiting for the first cherries of the year. And then apricots, and peaches, and pears, and plums, and apples and grapes, oh my! (Sorry if I’m bragging, but I do love it here.)
        A quick question about the recipe though. I am planning a camping trip next week and would love to take these along, but we are leaving early Thursday morning, and my only day off before the trip is Sunday. How long will these keep once they’re baked? (Assuming my boyfriend can keep his garlic-loving paws off of them, of course.) Or could I freeze the dough and bake the night before?

  • sara

    oh lawdy, i can see why this is your most popular post. I can’t wait to try these bad boys.

  • honeydijonay

    I made these tonight and ate half. Damn you guys! LOL I have to admit I was inspired by a recent Toronto Star article using halloumi. I read it and thought, “Choosey-Beggars” had a way better recipe for that cheese (even though I had never heard of until I read it on your blog) and away I went to the kitchen. Fan forever!

  • honeydijonay
    • Mike

      This is as close to a resolution to a life-long fantasy of mine — to in some way, shape or form, physically beat up the Toronto Star — as I will ever get. Thank you!

      • Tina

        Honeydijonay – I’m so pleased that you tried this recipe and enjoyed it! Isn’t halloumi just wonderful?

        Mike – don’t hate on the Star! It’s one of the few papers that I can suffer through. You’d best watch your words or I’ll get a subscription to the Sun, just out of spite….

  • Jenn

    I’m no one to you, but I’m a southern girl, married to a Greek man (raised in Detroit) and I can’t follow a recipe to save my life. I can cook and cook well, even, most of the time. (Well means everything ends up completely edible.) Halloumi is a regular tenant in our fridge and I LOVE bread. And most ANY type of cheese.

    You have a recipe that I am going to follow. To the letter. This is a first. A FIRST in my entire, almost 30 years, life! I just had to share with you that your recipe inspired me to conform and follow a recipe verbatim!

    Thank you for sharing and thank you for sharing such a delightful and slobber-inspiring treat!

  • Umme Kulsum

    Hey Tina,

    Those are really awesome. Everyone at home loved it.

    • Tina

      Umme – I’m so glad that you tried (and really enjoyed!) this recipe!! It is one of our favorites, and it just pleases me to no end that someone across the globe from us set out to give it a shot 🙂

  • Stephanie

    It’s funny, but maybe it’s this sudden cooler weather, I’ve been craving this.

  • Detronyx

    Considering I only eat cheese made from cow’s milk and I don’t care for feta, what substitutions would you suggest for the halloumi? Can I just use the mozzerella and not add another cheese to it?

    • Tina

      Hi Detronyx!
      You could just use the mozzarella, but the flavor would benefit from the addition of another salty cheese. Even if you were to use a bit of salty grated Havarti, or mostly mozzarella with a sprinkle of Parmesan or Asiago, it would definitely help to kick up the flavor.