Pimento Cheese

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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

  • 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.

    • — Marilyn B. on April 30, 2019
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  • 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.

    • — Jen T on April 11, 2019
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  • 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!

    • — Tami on April 11, 2019
    • Reply
  • 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!

    • — Jules on March 3, 2019
    • Reply
    • Glad you enjoyed it Jules! You really could go either way here — with the jalepenos — both fresh and jarred will work. 🙂

      • — Jenn on March 5, 2019
      • Reply
  • 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!

    • — Jules Ell on February 14, 2019
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  • I agree that it was way too salty- good idea to cut back on the salt!

    • — Carol Lamond on February 12, 2019
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  • 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!

    • — Doogus on February 11, 2019
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  • Delicious! I tried it for the Super Bowl and was fantastic

    • — Tere Del Río on February 7, 2019
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  • 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.

    • — Pat Kirby on February 7, 2019
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  • The pimento cheese is amazing. Loved it and have shared it twice. Could have eaten the whole recipe but myself.

    • — Sammye Dunn on February 7, 2019
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  • I made this over the weekend using half smoked cheddar and half sharp cheddar and it was delicious. Thank you for sharing your recipes!

    • — Lindsey T. on February 6, 2019
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  • Made this for our Super Bowl party – huge hit!

    • — Carrie on February 6, 2019
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  • 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.

    • — PaulainVA on February 4, 2019
    • Reply
  • 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

    • — Frank on February 4, 2019
    • Reply
    • 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.

      • — Jenn on February 4, 2019
      • Reply
  • Could you use yogurt or sour cream in place of the mayo?

    • — Zooey on February 2, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Zooey, I think you could use sour cream, although the spread will definitely be tangier.

      • — Jenn on February 3, 2019
      • Reply
  • Another delicious treat! I was a little short on cheddar. Added 2 ounces of goat cheese. So quick to prepare. Can’t get enough!

    • — Shellie H on February 2, 2019
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  • 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!

    • — Sandy on February 2, 2019
    • Reply
    • 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.

      • — Jenn on February 2, 2019
      • Reply
  • Just made your Pimento cheese dip- way too salty

    • — Pam Stola on February 2, 2019
    • Reply
  • Delicious! Will bring it to a party tonight and see if others agree 😊 I did substitute jalapeno pepper jelly for the cayenne.
    Thanks!

    • — Marilyn on February 2, 2019
    • Reply
  • 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!

    • — Kathy M. on February 1, 2019
    • Reply
  • They made a very similar pimento cheese on the Today Show today. They served it on a short rib sandwich. Looks great!

    • — Carol on February 1, 2019
    • Reply
    • 🙂 Hope you enjoy if you try it!

      • — Jenn on February 1, 2019
      • Reply
  • 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!

    • — Cheffy on February 1, 2019
    • Reply
  • 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!

    • — Emilie on January 31, 2019
    • Reply
    • 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!

      • — Jenn on January 31, 2019
      • Reply
  • 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.

    • — K Gaylin on January 31, 2019
    • Reply

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