Pimento cheese spread is a Southern staple. Maybe you're not from the South and you haven't tried it yet--hold on, because you're in for a real treat!
If you love Southern food, you'll want to check out our fried green tomatoes and our boiled peanuts recipe.
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Why This Recipe Works
- We used the large hole on a box grater to get the extra sharp cheese just right then chilled it and added to the spread as the second last ingredient to achieve the right texture.
- For ease, we used jarred pimentos that were drained, blotted and diced and stirred them in as the last ingredient.
- We used Duke's mayo as it's got some tang and whipped it together with the room temperature cream cheese using a hand mixer.
- We mixed the rest of the ingredients with a spoon to get the texture in between chunky and smooth.
- We recommend making this the night before your event and chilling it to allow the flavors to meld together.
Wondering what you need to make our Southern pimento cheese? It only takes a few ingredients. Let's talk about them.
- Cheese: We used extra sharp cheddar cheese that we grated ourselves. Don't use pre-grated, as it has a cellulose coating that interferes with the texture and taste, plus it doesn't mix together as well. We used cream cheese that comes in a block and cubed it up.
- Pimentos: For ease, we used jarred whole pimentos that were drained and diced, but you will achieve the best flavor from fresh large pimento peppers that you have roasted yourself.
- Mayo: We used Duke's mayo to make the pimento cheese creamy. If you can't find it, add 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice to your mayo.
- Dried Spices: We used paprika, cayenne pepper, white pepper, and salt. You can also use onion powder, garlic powder, and dry ground mustard.
- Seasonings: We used dill pickle brine, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. If you like heat, use jalapeños, pickled jalapenos brine, Dijon mustard, or bit of horseradish.
How to Make
Gather all the ingredients for our Southern pimento cheese. Measure out the mayo, spices, and liquids, and let the cream cheese warm up to room temperature.
- Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the extra sharp cheddar, then put it in the fridge to chill.
- Using a hand mixer, gently mix the cream cheese and the mayo together.
3. Add the hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and spices, then blend it in with the hand mixer.
4. Add a touch of pickle brine and mix it in with the hand mixer.
5. Gently stir in the chilled grated cheddar.
6. Stir in the diced pimentos last.
7. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill. If you can, it's best to make this the night before to allow the flavors to meld.
8. Serve with crackers, celery sticks, or on white bread and enjoy!
It's not a block that you can buy from the grocery store; it's a spread. As you might have guessed, it has cheese in it, plus, a little mayo and pimentos with some spices. It is quick and easy to make at home, so don't be tempted to bring home any brand from the grocery store.
Old timers would put their cheddar through a meat grinder. Nowadays, a box grater is more commonly used. Some cooks prefer grating it coarsely, finely, or a combination of the two--it's up to you. Don't use pre-grated, as it has a special coating that interferes with the texture and won't mix in as well.
It's personal. Some chefs want it to be chunky, so they mix it by hand with a wooden spoon. Others want it really smooth, so they use a food processor. A lot of home chefs use a stand mixer or a hand mixer for ease of use and to get the texture they want; in between chunky and smooth.
Southern pimento cheese is usually served chilled or at room temperature. Spread it on crackers, white bread, bagel chips, pretzels, celery or sweet peppers. You can also use it as a condiment on burgers. Be creative and use it in an omelet or on top of beefsteak tomatoes and fried green tomatoes.
If you want to serve Southern pimento cheese warm, put the dip in a 6-inch cast iron skillet or in a small casserole dish and bake it at 350°F for 20 minutes. Serve it in a bread bowl if you want to be fancy, or keep it in the cast iron skillet if you're more casual. Serve the hot pimento dip with pretzel buns, celery, or crackers.
- Leftovers: If stored in an airtight container, Southern pimento cheese should last one week in the fridge. Any leftovers after that time should be stirred into pasta, deviled eggs, or scones.
- Freeze: If you want to use it as a spread or a dip, it's not advisable to freeze it. The oil from the mayo will separate once it is thawed and the texture will be different--more grainy. It will become spongy and slightly watery. It's best to eat it up within one week's time or use it as an ingredient for grits, pimento biscuits, sausage balls, or tomato pie.
- Want it without cream cheese? It won't be as good, but you can try it with more spices, like onion powder, garlic powder, and dry mustard.
- Want extra punch? Try adding pepperoncini peppers.
- Want it more peppery? Try adding peppadews.
- Want more add-ins? Try freshly squeezed lemon juice, grated onion, vinegar, pickle brine, or crunchy pecans.
- Use softened cream cheese. Let it sit on the counter for 20 minutes.
- Grate the cheese, chill it, then add it in as the second last ingredient.
- Drain the pimentos well, then press the excess moisture out with a paper towel. Add this ingredient last.
- Can't find Duke's mayo? Add 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice to compensate.
- Want a garnish? Try green onion cut on the bias.
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Southern Pimento Cheese
- 4 ounces brick-style cream cheese, softened
- ½ cup mayonnaise, such as Duke's
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco
- ⅛ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon granulated sugar
- pinch of white pepper
- pinch of salt
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, if you aren't using Duke's mayo
- 4 teaspoons dill pickle brine
- 8 ounces extra sharp cheddar, grated and chilled
- 4 ounces canned pimentos, diced and drained
- Put the cream cheese and mayonnaise in a large bowl. Mix together with a hand mixer until softened and thoroughly combined, then add the the spices and blend again.
- Add the pickle brine, grated chilled cheese and pimentos. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
- Place the spread in a serving bowl. Cover it tightly and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes; however, it's best after 2 hours of chilling time.
- To softened the cream cheese, let it sit on the counter for 20 minutes.
- Add the grated and chilled cheese as the second last ingredient.
- Add the pimentos last, after draining them well, and pressing out the excess moisture with a paper towel.
- If you can't find Duke's mayo, add 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice to compensate.
- Want to serve this warm? Place the spread in a 6-inch cast iron skillet and warm it up in a 350°F oven for 20 minutes.
Serving sizes and nutritional information are only an estimate and may vary from your results.
This post was originally published on April 27, 2018 and was updated on August 23, 2019. It was republished on December 30, 2022 with resized images and refreshed content.
This looks like a good recipe. To your suggestions list, I’d add pieces of crumbled bacon and subbing pickle juice for brine from a jar of jalapeño.
Sounds delicious, Joel! Thanks for sharing.
I like the cheese in it. It is so yummy! I like the soft pimentos, too.
Thanks, Alex! I really like pimento cheese, too. 🧀