Pimento cheese is a delicious and versatile Southern staple that has been popular for generations. This creamy, cheesy spread can serve as an easy party dip, a flavorful sandwich filling, or a tasty topping for burgers and more.
Making your own pimento cheese at home allows you to control the ingredients and tweak the flavors to your liking.
We will provide tips for crafting bold, homemade pimento cheese along with serving ideas to make the most of this versatile recipe.
Gather High Quality Ingredients for Superior Pimento Cheese
The key to incredible pimento cheese lies in the ingredients. Be sure to use only the best ingredients available to maximize the flavor of your spread.
Shred the Cheese Yourself
For best results, buy blocks of extra-sharp cheddar and Colby Jack cheese and shred them yourself. The pre-shredded cheeses available at the grocery store contain additives that inhibit melting. Hand-grating or shredding the cheese helps achieve the proper creamy texture in the finished spread.
Use Real Mayonnaise
Quality mayonnaise makes a difference in pimento cheese. Duke's is a prized brand in the South that uses egg yolks instead of whole eggs. Hellmann's mayonnaise is another trusted name in mayo. Avoid low-fat or non-fat varieties.
Select Fresh Pimento Peppers
The pimentos are what give this cheese its name and impart mild, sweet flavor and red flecks of color. Use fresh, jarred pimentos and drain them well. Some cooks prefer roasting their own red peppers for a deeper, smokier flavor.
Consider Adding Cream Cheese
While not traditional, cream cheese can lend a rich, creamy element to homemade pimento cheese. Regular or reduced-fat cream cheese both work.
Boost Flavor with Spices and Add-Ins
The basic pimento cheese recipe benefits from added seasonings and mix-ins to amp up the flavor. Customize your spread to suit your tastes.
Spice It Up
For a spicy kick, add cayenne pepper or a dash of hot sauce like Tabasco. You can also use paprika or smoked paprika for a milder spice blend.
Garlic and Onion Powder
A little garlic and onion powder lends savory depth to pimento cheese without overpowering the other flavors. Add just 1/4 teaspoon of each.
Get Zesty with Worcestershire Sauce
A teaspoon or two of Worcestershire sauce complements the cheesy richness of pimento cheese. The tang pairs perfectly with the creamy texture.
Go Green with Jalapeños
For fresh pepper flavor, add minced jalapeño peppers. Start with just one pepper and add more for extra heat.
Sweeten It Up
A pinch of sugar balances salty, spicy flavors and also enhances the sweetness of the pimentos.
Add Pickle Tang
Stir in a couple of tablespoons of chopped dill pickle or pickle relish for a fun, tangy crunch.
Blend Up Creamy, Spreadable Pimento Cheese
Making pimento cheese is a cinch. There's no cooking required for this easy appetizer recipe.
Combine the Ingredients
Simply place all the ingredients except for the pimentos in a mixing bowl. Use a spoon or electric mixer to blend until thoroughly combined and smooth.
Gently Fold in the Pimentos
Next, gently fold in the diced pimento peppers just until incorporated throughout the cheese mixture. Avoid over-mixing.
Chill the Pimento Cheese
Transfer the finished pimento cheese spread to a container with a tight sealing lid. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving to allow the flavors to meld.
Adjust Seasonings as Needed
Give the chilled pimento cheese a taste test once it's chilled. Feel free to add a touch more Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, salt, or pepper if desired.
Creative Ways to Serve Versatile Pimento Cheese
Pimento cheese isn't just for spreading onto crackers at a party. Consider these fun ways to enjoy this Southern staple:
Pimento Cheese Sandwiches
Slather pimento cheese onto white bread or brioche for classic tea sandwiches. Toast the bread for even more irresistible flavor and crunch.
Top your favorite burger with a generous dollop of pimento cheese for an instant flavor upgrade. The creaminess pairs perfectly with the juicy burger patty.
Pimento Cheese Jalapeño Poppers
For an easy appetizer, stuff cream cheese and pimento cheese into halved, deseeded jalapeño peppers. Bake until melted and bubbly.
Pimento Cheese Deviled Eggs
Stir a spoonful of pimento cheese into egg yolk filling to instantly fancy up simple deviled eggs.
Pimento Cheese Potato Skins
Scoop out baked potato halves and fill them with hot pimento cheese and crispy bacon bits for a perfect game-day snack.
Pimento Cheese Dip
Serve pimento cheese spread in a bowl surrounded by crackers, chips, pretzels, or fresh vegetables for dipping.
Pimento Cheese Omelets
Jazz up your morning omelet by adding a dollop of pimento cheese. Fresh pico de gallo salsa balances the richness nicely.
Pimento Cheese Quesadillas
Jazz up basic quesadillas by using pimento cheese instead of traditional cheese slices. Grill or pan fry for an easy lunch or snack.
Make Ahead and Store Pimento Cheese
Part of pimento cheese's appeal lies in being able to make it ahead. Follow these storage tips:
Refrigerate for up to 1 Week
Place freshly made pimento cheese in an airtight container in the fridge. It will be kept for 5-7 days.
Freeze up to 3 Months
For longer storage, freeze pimento cheese in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before using.
Let Softened Cheese Return to Room Temperature
If chilled pimento cheese is too firm, let it sit out for 30 minutes to soften for easier spreading consistency.
Give It a Quick Stir Before Serving
Stir refrigerated pimento cheese briskly with a spoon before transferring it to a serving bowl. This smooths out any separation.
Add a Bit More Mayo or Cream Cheese if Needed
If stored pimento cheese seems dry, mix in another spoonful or two of mayo or cream cheese to restore a creamy, spreadable texture.
Pimento Cheese Spread
- 1 box 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup shredded mild or white cheddar cheese
- 1 4 oz jar diced pimentos, drained
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper optional
- 1/2 jalapeno pepper seeded and minced (optional)
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese and mayonnaise. Beat with a hand mixer until smooth and creamy.
- Add the shredded cheeses, pimentos, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, and jalapeno (if using). Mix until thoroughly combined.
- Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
- Transfer the pimento cheese to a serving bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving to allow flavors to meld.
- Serve chilled pimento cheese with crackers, chips, vegetables, or as a sandwich spread.
- Store leftover pimento cheese in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
What's the difference between pimento peppers and red bell peppers?
Pimento peppers are heart-shaped, red peppers that are much milder and sweeter than bell peppers. They are the peppers typically used for stuffing green olives. Pimentos add a signature sweetness and red flecks of color to traditional pimento cheese.
Can I use Monterey Jack instead of Cheddar?
Yes, Monterey Jack makes a fine substitute for Cheddar in pimento cheese recipes. For the best flavor, use good quality, extra-sharp Jack cheese and shred it yourself instead of using pre-shredded cheese.
Is pimento cheese unhealthy?
Pimento cheese does contain considerable fat from the cheese and mayonnaise. However, when enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet, this flavorful spread can absolutely have a place on your snack table or sandwich menu. Be mindful of portion sizes.
What kind of mayonnaise is best for pimento cheese?
In the South, Duke's mayonnaise is preferred for achieving the right tangy flavor in pimento cheese. Hellmann's is another top choice. Use the highest quality mayo you can find and avoid low-fat or non-fat varieties.
Can I use roasted red peppers instead of pimentos?
Yes, you can substitute diced roasted red peppers for the pimentos. The flavor will be a little different, but still tasty. Drain the peppers well before adding to the cheese mixture.
Once you master the basic recipe, play around with your own variations. Try different cheese blends, spice mixes, and add-ins to invent a signature pimento cheese recipe.
Just be sure to use quality ingredients and the freshest cheeses, peppers, and seasonings.
With endless ways to tweak and customize this Southern staple, you can keep your friends and family dipping into your homemade pimento cheese for years to come.