Pimento Cheese

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Southern Pimento Cheese

Pimento cheese is a tangy and creamy cheese spread that’s often referred to as the pâté of the South. It’s wonderful on crackers, crudités, sandwiches, or even burgers.

pimento cheese

I grew up in northern Virginia, which is basically the only part of the state that’s not considered the South, but I’ve always loved Southern food. That’s thanks in part to my longtime childhood babysitter, Mabel Smith, who hailed from South Carolina and introduced me to good Southern cooking. One of Mabel’s specialties was pimento cheese, the tangy and creamy cheese spread that’s often referred to as the pâté of the South.

Made from sharp Cheddar, mayonnaise, cream cheese, and jarred pimentos, pimento cheese is wonderful on crackers, crudités, sandwiches, or even burgers. It makes a fabulous party dip but don’t wait for a special occasion to make it; you’ll love having a jar in the fridge for everyday snacking.

What you’ll Need To Make Pimento Cheese

how to make pimento cheese

Be sure to use a good quality mayonnaise, such as Hellmann’s, Duke’s or Best Foods, and grate the cheese from a fresh block, as pre-shredded bagged cheese has a powdery coating to keep it from clumping together.

How To Make Pimento Cheese

I think it’s easiest to make pimento cheese in a food processor but no worries if you don’t have one; you can easily make it in a mixer or by hand.

how to make pimento cheese

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the cream cheese, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, salt, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Process until smooth and evenly combined. how to make pimento cheese

Remove the blade, scraping any of the mixture back into the bowl. Switch to the grating blade. how to make pimento cheese

Cut the Cheddar cheese into pieces that will fit into the feed tube. With the machine running, add the cheese through the feed tube until it is all grated in.

how to make pimento cheese

Transfer the contents of the food processor to a large mixing bowl and add the diced pimentos. how to make pimento cheese

Stir everything together to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

how to make pimento cheese

Serve with crackers or crudités and enjoy!

how to make pimento cheese

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Pimento Cheese

Pimento cheese is a tangy and creamy cheese spread that’s often referred to as the pâté of the South. It’s wonderful on crackers, crudités, sandwiches, or even burgers.

Servings: About 3-1/2 cups
Total Time: 15 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise, best quality such as Hellmann's or Duke's
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 (8-oz) block sharp Cheddar cheese (a good supermarket brand like Tillamook or Cabot is fine)
  • 1 (4-oz) jar diced pimentos, drained

Instructions

  1. Food processor instructions: In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the cream cheese, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Process until smooth and evenly combined. Remove the blade, scraping any of the mixture back into the bowl. Switch to the grating blade. Cut the Cheddar cheese into pieces that will fit into the feed tube. With the machine running, add the cheese through the feed tube until it is all grated in. Transfer the contents of the food processor to a large mixing bowl. Add the diced pimentos and stir everything together to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. (I usually add about 1/4 teaspoon more salt, but it depends on the saltiness of the cheese.)
  2. Mixer instructions: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or beaters, combine the cream cheese, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 teaspoon salt, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Beat until smooth and evenly combined. Coarsely grate the Cheddar cheese and mix in along with the diced pimentos. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. (It's a good idea to taste the pimento cheese on the crackers you plan to serve it with, as the saltiness can vary.)
  3. Transfer the spread to a serving bowl and serve with crackers and/or crudités. If serving later, cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days; bring to room temperature before serving.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

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Reviews & Comments

  • Great foundation recipe and brilliant technique! I like it chunkier since in the Carolinas this is used as a sandwich filling, just halve the cream cheese to 4oz and keep everything else as is. It’s also better with more zip, so use extra sharp cheddar and either up cayenne to 1/2 tsp or use a few dashes vinegar based hot sauce such as Tabasco or Louisiana brand instead. I would also wait until the end to add the extra salt as you may not even need it. Please don’t use different peppers! Bell peppers are not the same and you should enjoy this Southern classic in its full glory the first time!

    • — Emily H. on June 10, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    So I’ve been intrigued by this recipe for a while. Living up north I’d hear vaguely of pimento cheese but didn’t really know what it was. When I saw your recipe it looked really good so I set out to find these mysterious “pimentos”. No store around me carries them and trying to order them online has proven to be very difficult. When you Google the word “pimento” it says that any pepper is a pimento. We can get jarred roasted red bell peppers here, is that basically the same thing? Where can I order them from up here in Canada? Or can you tell me the names/brands or what type of pepper a “pimento” is, since Google insists this is a generic name for “pepper”? I would love to try this recipe as it looks super yummy! Thanks for your help in advance,

    • — Bry on June 1, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Bry, Sorry you’ve had a hard time finding diced pimentos where you are. They are slightly different than your typical red bell peppers. See here for a more thorough description. I’m not sure what brands you may find in Canada, but if you google jarred diced bell peppers, you should see some options come up. I was curious though, and want to Amazon.ca and didn’t see diced pimentos as an option there so they may in fact be harder to get where you live. Sorry I can’t be more helpful!

      • — Jenn on June 1, 2021
      • Reply
  • Easy recipe that’s been a go to of mine for a while now. Since cream cheese doesn’t agree with me I make it with goat cheese and it is Yum Yum Yummy!

    • — Jules on February 3, 2021
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  • Made this pimento cheese this evening. It was wonderful!!! Great texture and flavor, with a little bit of bite. I added more sharp cheddar to extend the recipe further, but I think this would work by itself or as the base of a cheese ball!! 11/10 per usual.

    • — Sarah Key on January 29, 2021
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  • I love the pimento cheese spread/dip! I read that some people thought it was salty so I left out the added salt and it was perfect!

    • — Nancy on January 29, 2021
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  • My children love pimento cheese! Enter Mom at Christmas with the homemade kind with a tiny bit more cayenne pepper as they all like heat. Huge hit! Empty bowl! Request for more!

    • — Barbara on January 28, 2021
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  • An absolutely delicious version of this southern favorite! It will be my go to recipe for pimento cheese from now on. I used Duke’s mayo and Cabot Sharp Cheddar Cheese and served with Ritz crackers. My husband loved it on his hamburger as suggested. Next time I think I will try making a grilled cheese with it and thinly sliced Virginia ham-yum!!

    • — Krista Tolsdorf on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Delicious! The first time I tried this recipe, I knew it was going to be a “keeper”. My household gobbled it up and I make it at least once a month. I even made it as a Christmas gift for extended family last year (gifted in pretty glass wide mouth pint jars with a ribbon around it) and had more than one person ask me to share the recipe! I goes together quickly and keeps well and I like that it doesn’t have raw onions in it, as some other recipe versions do.

    (The only adjustment I made to the recipe was omitting the salt. The cheddar cheese I use is sharp, aged cheddar and so it already has enough saltiness that I don’t need any added salt.)

    • — Sarah on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Oh my! This is GOOD pimento cheese, and this is from a Southern Girl who KNOWS pimento cheese. I made this exactly by the recipe in a food processor and it was a breeze. It’s wonderful on crackers, in a sandwich, stuffed into celery sticks, or straight out of the bowl. You just can’t go wrong. Just throw away all of your other pimento cheese recipes (well, maybe not your Grandma’s) and use this one. It’s heaven!

    • — Myrna Bein on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Great, classic pimiento cheese recipe!

    • — Lauren on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
    • So good! Easy to make and always a crowd pleaser! My go to appetizer to serve!

      • — Sandy Modene on January 28, 2021
      • Reply
  • This is delicious and a great and simple gift to make for the holidays or the host/hostess.

    • — Mary Heston Cooper on December 24, 2020
    • Reply
  • I’m a Southerner, and I’ve eaten pimento cheese all of my life. This technique and recipe are terrific. The food processor makes it so much easier than making it by hand. Instead of 8 oz of cheese, I use 8 oz of sharp cheddar and 8 oz of mild cheddar. I like the consistency better with a higher ratio of cheese. For pimento, I prefer Trader Joe’s Fire-roasted Red Peppers. I double the amount of cayenne. After all, I am doubling the amount of cheese. This is a favorite with family and friends. I sometimes serve it as a dip with Fritos, or a grilled cheese sandwich, or with crackers or celery. Yummy! Thank you, Jen!

    • — Phyllis on December 8, 2020
    • Reply
  • Made this yesterday and it was a huge hit! I added a few spoonfuls of jarred chopped jalapeños and it gave it the perfect heat.

    • — Natalie on August 22, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hi,
    I made this a month or so ago and enjoyed it tremendously, and came back to the site a couple days ago for recipe to make it again. It seemed to have more cream cheese, but I went ahead and followed the directions. It does seem different. I’m curious to know if this recipe been modified to increase the cream cheese from 4 oz to 8 oz?

    • — Pat on July 27, 2020
    • Reply
    • It’s the same, Pat. Hope you enjoyed!

      • — Jenn on July 27, 2020
      • Reply
  • I have made this many times. My 17 year old daughter requests it often. It’s always delicious and consumed quite quickly! I add a diced fresh jalapeños minus seeds and membranes. Adds a little kick and color. Love your recipes!!❤️

    • — Theresa on July 15, 2020
    • Reply
  • Perfect recipe! My family devoured it, thank you!

    • — Christy on June 18, 2020
    • Reply
  • This would have been good. The Worcestershire sauce ruins it. I love every recipe I’ve tried, except this one. I’ve cooked a minimum of 3 recipes a week since I found your site! This one needs additional tweaking. Thanks

    • — Carmen on March 8, 2020
    • Reply
    • The worcestershire sauce “ruins” it? That must be a personal taste issue for you. Maybe you have a strong sensitivity to the flavor of tamarind. The majority really like it.

      • — Kathy Douthit on November 25, 2020
      • Reply
    • I love Worcestershire sauce, so it works for me, giving it another layer of flavor. Maybe use less.

      • — Lorena Lacayo on November 26, 2020
      • Reply
  • I’m not a mayo fan either. I know you suggested sour cream but said it would be quite tangy. What about Greek yogurt?

    • — Tai Kaminsen on January 31, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Tai, Greek yogurt will work here but I think it’s just as tangy as sour cream.

      • — Jenn on February 1, 2020
      • Reply
  • Was recently in NC and had a hot version of this. Can I heat it? I’used so many of your recipes. They ever disappoint — always 5 star! Can you please answer quickly as I would love to serve this heated for Thanksgiving. Thanks!

    • — Linda on November 23, 2019
    • Reply
    • Sure, Linda, I think you could get away with serving this warm. (And glad you like the recipes!)

      • — Jenn on November 23, 2019
      • Reply
  • Made it for our family gathering. It was a hit of the night! People spread it on crackers, bread even on celery ribs. I’m going to make it again but use spreadable goat cheese instead of Philadelphia.

    • — Ania on August 19, 2019
    • Reply
  • I love this recipe for pimento cheese spread! I altered the recipe and by grating the cheddar in the food processor first – then removed it to a bowl. Then, I added the creamed cheese ingredients and creamed them together with the blade. Then, I put the cheddar back in the food processor and gave it a few pulses. Last, I added the drained pimentos and gave it a few more pulses. I found that grating the cheese in the food processor didn’t make a fine enough grate to mix into the creamed cheese in mixture for a spreadable dip – hence the change. I served it with pretzels and saltine crackers. This makes a lot of dip, but it saves very nicely for a few days, at least.

  • I wanted to try a fan favorite for a super bowl party. Let me just say people who I had just met were telling me how much they liked the Pimento Cheese dip. I made this recipe as instructed. The construction was not challenging and came together quickly. I would definitely recommend for a quick party contribution. I used pita chips for the dip as well. I want to try using this in a grilled cheese sandwich later.

  • We visited friends in South Carolina and discovered pimento cheese for the first time. Could not find it anywhere here in Minnesota so I was delighted to find this recipe. I’ve even tried it with dairy-free cheddar cheese and the flavor is great. Love it!

  • Oh, Wow, I’m a southerner and this recipe is da bomb!! Bacon would be awesome too! If I wanted to add jalapeños, would you use fresh minced or jarred? Thank you!

    • Glad you enjoyed it Jules! You really could go either way here — with the jalepenos — both fresh and jarred will work. 🙂

  • Based on some of the salty feedback, I omitted the salt and did 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce instead. Perfecto!! I’ve always wanted to try making homemade pimento cheese, and this is great!

  • I agree that it was way too salty- good idea to cut back on the salt!

  • After reading this recipe last week, I couldn’t get it out of my mind! I had never even heard of pimento cheese before, having lived all my life in the Northeast. I made it on Saturday. I thought I had everything I needed, but I did not have Worcestershire sauce…so I substituted soy sauce, and rather than use pimentos (which have a little sugar), I used 1/3 cup of roasted red peppers. I LOVE PIMENTO CHEESE now! Thanks so much!

    • I just made it! So delicious! I needed to use my whole block of 10oz white cheese tho.

      • — Courtney on July 25, 2019
      • Reply
  • Delicious! I tried it for the Super Bowl and was fantastic

  • So good! On celery, toast, crackers and I’m sure there are many other ways to enjoy it! I have memories of jarred pimento cheese (ugh) from my childhood but this stuff is nothing like that.

  • The pimento cheese is amazing. Loved it and have shared it twice. Could have eaten the whole recipe but myself.

  • I made this over the weekend using half smoked cheddar and half sharp cheddar and it was delicious. Thank you for sharing your recipes!

  • Made this for our Super Bowl party – huge hit!

  • I will definitely be making this, as my Mom loves pimiento cheese! However, she prefers chopped whole green olives, instead of just the pimientos. They give a little more color and a nice flavor. I’ve been doctoring up some grocery versions, but like the idea of making my own fresh batch, with no additives.

  • Hi there, what happened to the option to convert measurements to the metric system? I always found that extremely helpful und user-friendly. And regarding the ingredients: is pimento the same as “Piment d’Espelette”? Many thanks, Frank

    • Hi Frank, So sorry – I forgot to add the metric measurements. They are there now. I don’t think the pimento is the same as Piment d’Espelette, although they are similar. I believe the former is sweet while the latter has more heat.

  • Could you use yogurt or sour cream in place of the mayo?

    • Hi Zooey, I think you could use sour cream, although the spread will definitely be tangier.

  • Another delicious treat! I was a little short on cheddar. Added 2 ounces of goat cheese. So quick to prepare. Can’t get enough!

  • Just made this recipe for the super bowl tomorrow and it is a little to salty for my liking. The overall flavor is delicious but the salt taste is to much. Next time I’ll omit the salt.
    Thanks for another delicious recipe Jenn!

    • Thank you for the feedback, Sandy. Different cheddars may have more or less salt, so I’ve cut the salt in half and suggested seasoning to taste at the end.

  • Just made your Pimento cheese dip- way too salty

  • Delicious! Will bring it to a party tonight and see if others agree 😊 I did substitute jalapeno pepper jelly for the cayenne.
    Thanks!

  • I have been purchasing a ready made pimento cheese dip for years. I can’t wait to make your version. Homemade is always better and your recipes are consistently the best!

  • They made a very similar pimento cheese on the Today Show today. They served it on a short rib sandwich. Looks great!

    • 🙂 Hope you enjoy if you try it!

  • So when I lived in Dallas, there was a place that served ‘Southern food.’ My favorite dish was a grilled pimento cheese sandwich with fried green tomatoes on it!!! HEAVEN!

  • I grew up in No. VA also, Jenn, and never even heard of pimento cheese until I moved to Richmond! Lucky you that you had a southern babysitter! I’m anxious to try out your version for it but am wondering about the shelf life. They seem to vary wildly among recipes, from a few days to several months. Any idea why? And have you ever tried to freeze it? Thanks!

    • Hi Emilie, I am very grateful for my Southern babysitter — she’s part of the family and actually babysat my kids when they were little, too! Some recipes are made with more perishable ingredients (like bacon, fresh garlic, or fresh peppers) and expire faster. This recipe would probably keep longer than what I’ve indicated, but I always err on the side of caution with these things. I can’t imagine keeping anything like this longer than a few weeks. And, unfortunately, I don’t think it would freeze well, as the mayo might separate. Hope you enjoy it if you try it!

  • When we lived in Norfolk, VA, you could find pimento cheese in the deli section of most supermarkets. It was also a standard hors d’oeuvre along with ham biscuits at cocktail parties. Now we live in a Boston suburb and have to make it ourselves. There are many recipes out there but this is a fine one with just the right amount of accent ingredients. If you really want to indulge, try this in a grilled cheese sandwich or on top of a burger.

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