Spiced Halloumi Tacos with Avocado Crema 

These vegetarian tacos are filled with spiced, pan-fried halloumi cheese and a deliciously tart and creamy Avocado Crema. This is a quick, easy and delicious recipe that is sure to please both vegetarians and carnivores alike.

We eat first with our eyes, and we hope you’re already chowing down on these bright, colorful and deeply flavored halloumi tacos with homemade avocado crema. They’re our perfect antidote for a gloomy nor’easter or any time we just want to be cheered up with a spicy vegetarian dinner. Check out our recipe notes and go make some yourself!

what is halloumi cheese?

You may already be familiar with Halloumi cheese but if you’re not, you’re in for a treat. As a general introduction for novices, halloumi is a Greek (Cypriot) cheese, usually made from a mixture of goat’s and sheep’s milk. It’s not as tart as feta, although it shares some of that delicious saltiness. Its main claim to fame is that because it is a very low-acid cheese, it has a very high melting point. This means it can be sautéed, fried or grilled, and turns a beautiful golden brown. It makes a great substitute for meat. Its firm texture is often referred to as “squeaky”, which is both amusing and accurate.

You should be able to find Halloumi cheese at most larger grocery stores, especially if they have a decent cheese department. I know both Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s carries it.

We’re not vegetarian, but we do cook and enjoy a lot of meatless meals. And it’s great to have a fun, quick and easy dishes at the ready when our vegetarian friends come over for dinner. And who doesn’t like tacos?

the best taco seasoning is homemade

While there’s nothing wrong with store-bought, making our own takes only a few minutes and ensures that the flavor will be really fresh and vibrant. It also means we can customize it to our own taste. Like it spicier? Add more cayenne. Like it smoky? Use more smoked paprika. You get the drift. Click here for our Homemade Taco Seasoning recipe which we use to season our halloumi tacos.

avocado crema

Somewhere between a guacamole and a sour cream sauce, Avocado Crema is a perfect accompaniment for tacos, quesadillas and burritos. It’s thick enough to dollop, though you can thin it down if you want to drizzle it on instead.

The combination of creamy avocado, tart lime juice and fresh, verdant cilantro* is absolutely delicious. Add in Mexican crema (you can also use sour cream or even Greek yogurt), and it’s heavenly.

(*Cilantro haters: you can leave the cilantro out and it will still be good. We promise. Or, of course, you can use a different soft herb like basil or chives.)

Mexican crema is thinner and the flavor is less tangy than American style sour cream. While sour cream is fermented with an acidic starter, Mexican crema is usually made with the milder buttermilk. You can sometimes find a variety of different cremas in store. Our local Key Food has “Central American”, as well as Honduran, Guatemalan, Salvadoran and Mexican.

They’re all pretty similar, though the Central American variety is bit yellower in color and has a slightly richer, nutty flavor. If you find yourself with the choice, you might want to try the Salvadoran crema, which many people say is their favorite.

Note: we made a double batch of Avocado Crema in the photos above. It’s so good, you probably should too.

The Avocado Crema will keep for a day or two in an airtight container in the refrigerator. To keep the sauce from turning brown, save a little lime juice to drizzle over the top, and place plastic wrap directly over the surface of the sauce, with as little air in between as possible. If your sauce does discolor a little, don’t worry, just stir it and the bight green color will still look great.

The right way to warm corn tortillas

If you want to horrify a Mexican person (or a chef), take a corn tortilla straight from the package and start filling it. Without heat, a corn tortilla is a pale, rubbery decidedly un-delicious thing. Of course you can warm them in the oven, or even a microwave, but for the best results, you need to do two things: hydrate and char.

The easiest and most effective way to do this is to quickly dip the tortilla into a bowl of water and immediately place it on a very hot, dry cast iron (or carbon steel) pan. As the moisture evaporates, it steams the tortilla until it’s soft and pliable, while the hot pan will give it some tasty, smoky brown spots. Use tongs to turn them so you can brown both sides.

The last step is to wrap your warm tortillas in a kitchen towel as soon as they’re out of the pan, to ensure they stay soft and warm until you’re ready for them.

Garnishes are more than just visual

Yes, vegetables add nutrition and beautiful color to the halloumi tacos, but they also add texture and complexity. Spicy radishes, crisp red cabbage and tart pickled red onions are our favorites for these tacos. If you like spicy heat, thinly sliced jalapeños would taste fantastic.

season and fry the halloumi

Cooking the halloumi takes only a few minutes, so make sure everything is ready to go before you do this step. Generously sprinkle both sides of the cheese with the taco seasoning. Heat the pan on medium and add a little oil. Add the halloumi slices, leaving a little room between each slice. Cook in two batches if you don’t have room. Cook until they turn gloriously golden brown on the bottom, then flip and cook until the other side is brown. It won’t take more than two to three minutes per side.

HALLOUMI TACOS Assembly time

The assembly is pretty self-explanatory but we’ll help you out anyway: take a warm tortilla, and add a thick swipe of the Avocado Crema. Top with a slice or two of the warm halloumi cheese and any garnishes you like. Serve these halloumi tacos with your favorite hot sauce, chopped cilantro, limes wedges for squeezing and any extra Avocado Crema on the side.

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Spiced Halloumi Tacos with Avocado Crema

These vegetarian tacos are filled with spiced, pan-fried halloumi cheese and a deliciously tart and creamy Avocado Crema. This is a quick, easy and delicious recipe that is sure to please both vegetarians and carnivores alike.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
Course: Entree, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Mexican, Tex Mex
Keyword: Blue Cheese, Gluten Free, Taco, Taco Seasoning
Servings: 8 TACOS
Author: Emily Clifton, Nerds with Knives


For the Avocado Crema :

  • 1 ripe Haas avocado
  • 1/2 packed cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup Mexican crema or sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest from about 1 lime
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice from about 1 lime
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Tacos:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons store-bought or homemade Taco Seasoning
  • 8 small corn tortillas
  • 8 ounces halloumi cheese sliced into 1/4-inch wide slices
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Optional garnishes:

  • Finely sliced radishes
  • Finely shredded red cabbage
  • Pickled red onions
  • Lime wedges


Make the Avocado Crema:

  • Add the avocado flesh, cilantro, sour cream, lime zest, lime juice, salt and pepper to a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Make the Tacos:

  • If making your own, mix the taco seasoning together in a small bowl. Set aside until ready to use.
  • Add a cup or two of water to a wide, shallow bowl. Set a medium skillet over medium-high heat (cast iron or carbon steel are best for this). Dip a tortilla in the water for a few seconds then place it on the hot skillet. Warm both sides until it softens and develops a few toasty golden spots. Stack the warmed tortillas under a clean tea towel to keep them warm.
  • Sprinkle the seasoning over both sides of the halloumi slices. Lower the heat to medium and add the olive oil. Add the halloumi slices, leaving a little room between each slice, cook in 2 batches if necessary. Cook until golden brown on the bottom, then flip and cook until the other side is brown, about 1 to 3 minutes per side. Remove the cheese to a paper towel-lined plate.
  • To assemble the tacos, spread a good spoonful of the Avocado Crema onto a tortilla and place two strips of cheese on top. Top with desired garnishes and serve warm.


Avocado Crema can be made up to a day ahead and stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. 
Tried this recipe?Mention @NerdsWithKnives or tag #nerdswithknives!

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