Pimento Cheese Recipe: The Ultimate Southern Spread

If you’re looking for a classic Southern dish that’s easy to make and perfect for any occasion, look no further than pimento cheese. This creamy, cheesy spread is a staple in Southern households, and for good reason. With just a few simple ingredients, you can whip up a batch of this delicious dip that’s sure to be a hit at your next party or potluck.

So, what exactly is pimento cheese? At its most basic, it’s a mixture of cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, and diced pimentos. But there’s a lot of room for variation and experimentation, so you can customize the recipe to suit your tastes. Some people add cream cheese for extra creaminess, while others like to add a kick of spice with jalapeños or hot sauce. No matter how you make it, pimento cheese is a versatile and crowd-pleasing dish that’s perfect for entertaining or just snacking at home.

History of Pimento Cheese

Pimento cheese is a traditional Southern dish that has become a staple of the region’s cuisine. It is often referred to as the “pâté of the South” and has been enjoyed by generations of Southerners. The origins of pimento cheese are somewhat unclear, but it is believed to have originated in the early 20th century.

According to Southern Living, after World War II, home cooks started making their own pimento cheese, swapping cream cheese for something called “hoop cheese” and then cheddar and using a good dollop of mayonnaise to bind it all together. From there, it has become a staple of church picnics and school potlucks and even shows up at some of the South’s finest restaurants.

Pimento cheese has become so popular in the South that it is now available in grocery stores throughout the region. However, many Southerners still prefer to make their own, using family recipes that have been passed down for generations.

The basic recipe for pimento cheese consists of grated cheddar cheese, diced pimento peppers, and mayonnaise. However, there are many variations on this recipe, with some cooks adding other ingredients like cream cheese, hot sauce, or bacon.

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in pimento cheese, with chefs and food writers across the country discovering the joys of this classic Southern dish. Whether you prefer it on crackers, in sandwiches, or as a dip, there’s no denying that pimento cheese is a beloved part of Southern cuisine.

Basic Ingredients

If you’re looking to make a delicious batch of pimento cheese, there are a few basic ingredients that you’ll need. Below, we’ll go over the key components of any good pimento cheese recipe.

Cheese Selection

The cheese is the foundation of any pimento cheese recipe. While there are many different types of cheese that can be used, cheddar cheese is the most common. Sharp cheddar cheese is a popular choice because it adds a tangy and slightly spicy flavor to the dish. Some recipes call for extra-sharp cheddar cheese, which adds an even more pronounced cheesy flavor.

When selecting your cheese, you can either purchase pre-shredded cheese or shred it yourself. If you shred it yourself, be sure to use a fine grater to create small, uniform shreds.

Choosing Pimentos

Pimentos are a type of cherry pepper that are typically sold jarred. Look for diced pimentos that are packed in water or brine. Drain the pimentos before adding them to your recipe.

If you can’t find jarred pimentos, you can use roasted red bell peppers instead. Simply roast the peppers until the skin is charred, then remove the skin and seeds before dicing.

Spices and Seasonings

To give your pimento cheese some extra flavor, you can add a variety of spices and seasonings. Some popular options include cayenne pepper, onion powder, and black pepper. Worcestershire sauce is another common ingredient that adds a savory and slightly sweet flavor to the dish.

Mayonnaise is also an essential ingredient in pimento cheese. Duke’s is a popular brand of mayonnaise that is often used in Southern cooking because of its tangy flavor. If you prefer a creamier pimento cheese, you can also add cream cheese to the recipe.

Overall, the key to a good pimento cheese recipe is to use high-quality ingredients and to balance the flavors so that the cheese is both tangy and cheesy.

Preparation Process

Mixing Method

Making pimento cheese is a breeze, and it only takes a few minutes to prepare. You can use a hand mixer, a food processor, or mix everything by hand. The mixing method is up to you, but make sure that all the ingredients are well combined and the texture is smooth.

To start, place the grated cheddar cheese in a large mixing bowl and add the cream cheese, chopped pimentos, mayonnaise, and chili flakes. Use your mixer or food processor to blend the ingredients together until they are well combined and the texture is creamy. If you are doing it by hand, use a spatula or wooden spoon to mix everything together.

Refrigeration and Storage

After you’ve mixed everything together, it’s time to refrigerate your pimento cheese. Transfer the mixture into an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. This will allow the flavors to meld together and the texture to firm up.

You can store your pimento cheese in the refrigerator for up to a week. Make sure to keep it in an airtight container to prevent it from drying out or absorbing any unwanted flavors.

Now that you know the basics of making pimento cheese, you can experiment with different ingredients and flavors to create your own unique recipe. Enjoy your homemade pimento cheese spread on crackers, sandwiches, or as a dip for vegetables.

Serving Suggestions

Pimento cheese is a versatile spread that can be used in many different ways. Here are some ideas for serving pimento cheese:

As a Spread

Pimento cheese is a great spread for crackers, toast, and bagels. It can also be used as a topping for baked potatoes or as a dip for vegetables. Spread it on a slice of bread and add some sliced tomatoes and lettuce for a quick and easy sandwich.

In Sandwiches

Pimento cheese makes a delicious filling for tea sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches, and ham sandwiches. It can also be used as a spread on burgers or as a topping for hot dogs.

In Dips

Pimento cheese can be used as a base for dips like spinach artichoke dip or guacamole. It can also be mixed with cream cheese and pickles for a delicious dip for celery sticks.

Pimento cheese is a smooth and spreadable cheese spread that can be used in many different ways. It is a versatile and flavorful addition to any party or gathering. You can use it as a dip, a spread, or a topping for salads and sandwiches.

Pimento cheese can be made with a variety of ingredients, including bell peppers, jalapeños, and pickles. It can be served cold or warm, and it pairs well with a variety of different foods, including scrambled eggs, macaroni and cheese, and chili.

Overall, pimento cheese is a versatile and delicious spread that can be used in a variety of ways. Whether you are serving it as an appetizer or using it as a topping for your favorite sandwich, pimento cheese is sure to be a hit.

Nutritional Information

If you are looking for a tasty and satisfying snack, pimento cheese is a great option. However, it is important to understand the nutritional information of this beloved Southern dip.

One serving of pimento cheese typically contains around 106 calories, 8.8 grams of fat, and 6.3 grams of protein. It is a good source of calcium, but it can also be high in saturated fat and cholesterol.

When making pimento cheese, it is important to choose your ingredients wisely. Using low-fat or reduced-fat versions of cheese and mayonnaise can help reduce the calorie and fat content. You can also add some vegetables, such as celery or carrots, to increase the nutritional value of your pimento cheese.

It is also important to watch your portion sizes when enjoying pimento cheese. While it can be a delicious addition to sandwiches, crackers, or vegetables, it is easy to overindulge and consume too many calories and fat.

Overall, pimento cheese can be a tasty and satisfying snack when enjoyed in moderation and with mindful ingredient choices.

Common Variations

Pimento cheese is a versatile and customizable spread that can be made in a variety of ways to suit your taste preferences. Here are some common variations to consider when making your own pimento cheese.

Cheese Variations

The type of cheese used in pimento cheese can greatly impact its flavor and texture. While cheddar cheese is the most common, you can experiment with different types of cheese to find your perfect blend. Some popular cheese variations include:

  • Pepper Jack Cheese: Adds a spicy kick to the spread.
  • Cream Cheese: Makes the spread creamier and tangier.
  • Gouda Cheese: Adds a smoky flavor to the spread.
  • Colby Jack Cheese: A milder cheese that pairs well with pimentos.

Spice Variations

Spices can be added to pimento cheese to give it a unique flavor profile. Here are some spice variations to consider:

  • Onion Powder: Adds a subtle onion flavor to the spread.
  • Garlic Powder: Adds a savory flavor to the spread.
  • Celery Salt: Adds a slightly salty and earthy flavor to the spread.
  • Sriracha: Adds a spicy kick to the spread.


Pimento cheese can also be customized with various add-ins to give it a unique texture and flavor. Here are some popular add-ins:

  • White Bread: Adds a soft and fluffy texture to the spread.
  • Homemade Mayo: Gives the spread a fresher and tangier taste.
  • Stand Mixer: Makes mixing the spread easier and more efficient.
  • Party Dip: Adding sour cream and green onions turns pimento cheese into a tasty party dip.

Experiment with different cheese, spice, and add-in combinations to find your perfect pimento cheese recipe.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is pimento cheese spread made of?

Pimento cheese spread is typically made from grated cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, and chopped pimento peppers. Some recipes may also include cream cheese, garlic, onion, or hot sauce to add extra flavor.

What is the shelf life of pimento cheese spread?

The shelf life of pimento cheese spread varies depending on the ingredients used and how it is stored. Generally, homemade pimento cheese can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. However, if it starts to develop an off smell or taste, it should be discarded.

What crackers go with pimento cheese?

Pimento cheese spread can be served with a variety of crackers, such as saltines, Ritz crackers, or wheat thins. It can also be spread on bread or used as a dip for vegetables.

How long can you keep pimento cheese in the refrigerator?

Pimento cheese can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week. It is important to store it in an airtight container to prevent it from drying out or absorbing odors from other foods.

What are some variations on a traditional pimento cheese recipe?

There are many variations on a traditional pimento cheese recipe. Some recipes may include different types of cheese, such as pepper jack or blue cheese. Others may add in ingredients like bacon, jalapenos, or hot sauce to give it a spicy kick.

Are there any vegan or dairy-free options for making pimento cheese?

Yes, there are vegan and dairy-free options for making pimento cheese. Some recipes may use vegan cheese or tofu as a substitute for the cheddar cheese, and vegan mayonnaise can be used in place of traditional mayonnaise. Nutritional yeast can also be added to give it a cheesy flavor.

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