Feta may be more famous, but kefalotyri is another iconic Greek and Cypriot cheese that deserves plenty of attention.
Like feta, kefalotyri is made from sheep and goat’s milk. However, kefalotyri is a harder cheese that also works when grating. It has a distinct salty, pungent flavor. Kefalotyri pairs well with feta cheese, and Greek recipes often call for both of them, for example, in spanakopita fillings.
However, kefalotyri has not caught on outside of the Mediterranean, and it can be hard to find outside of Greece itself or specialty food stores. Here are a few ingredients that work well as a kefalotyri substitute.
Romano cheeses are a group of hard, salty cheeses. The most well-known Romano cheese is Pecorino, although there are other varieties that are also more affordable because they are not as restricted in their production.
Like kefalotyri, Romano cheeses are hard cheeses suitable for grating and have a pungent, very salty taste. Many Romano cheeses are also made from sheep’s milk.
You can substitute Romano cheese for kefalotyri in any recipe that calls for grating the cheese, such as spanakopita filling. However, Romano cheese is too hard to work as a substitute in other dishes such as saganaki, or fried cheese.
Parmesan is another famous Italian export that can work as a substitute for kefalotyri. Parmesan comes from the Parma region in Italy and is a salty, hard cheese that works best when grated over a dish. It can replace kefalotyri in pasta dishes and fillings. For a touch of Greek flavor, mix it with feta cheese.
Like Romano cheeses, parmesan has a harder texture than kefalotyri, so it only works as a substitute in recipes that call for grating the cheese. It has a milder flavor, so you may miss out on some of the kick of kefalotyri.
Halloumi is another popular Cypriot cheese. Farmers make it from a blend of goat’s and sheep’s milk (although mass-produced halloumi often contains cow’s milk). It is a semi-hard cheese with a mild salty flavor.
Halloumi works best as a kefalotyri substitute when it comes to frying cheese. Its high melting point makes it a popular choice for this method of cheese preparation.
However, halloumi can’t replace kefalotyri in other contexts because it is too soft to grate over pasta or other dishes. It also has a much milder taste, so the flavor profile will be different.
Rounding out the list of famous Greek cheeses is graviera, a beloved cheese common on many Greek islands and in the Aegean region.
Graviera is a hard cheese, like kefalotyri. It is versatile, and you can fry it, grate it, or add it to a pita stuffing. Its versatility makes it a great replacement for kefalotyri in almost any recipe.
However, graviera has a milder flavor than kefalotyri so it will alter the final taste of your dish. It is also harder to find outside of Greece than kefalotyri. If you are looking to replace kefalotyri because you cannot find it at the local supermarket, graviera is probably not your most accessible option.
Nutritional yeast is a popular vegan alternative to many cheeses, particularly grated ones. It is a type of yeast developed specifically to serve as a vegan cheese alternative.
Nutritional yeast has a salty, pungent flavor similar to kefalotyri and other hard, grated cheeses. You can sprinkle it on top of a pasta dish or add it to spinach to replace kefalotyri in spanakopita.
However, nutritional yeast cannot replace kefalotyri on a mezze plate or in saganaki because it is a powder, not a slice of cheese.