Southern pimento cheese is the best spread for crackers and bread.  With this recipe, learn how to make pimento cheese for sandwiches, burgers, and deviled eggs.  Cheddar cheese, pimentos, and mayo are the building blocks to this classic.  Be sure to make up a big batch for your next party!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
person holding a cracker spread with pimento cheese
Appetizers, Snacks

Southern Pimento Cheese Spread Recipe

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This post was originally published on April 27, 2018.

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!

plate of crackers spread with pimento cheese

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What is pimento cheese spread?

It’s not a block of cheese that you can buy from the grocery store; it’s a spread.  As you might have guessed, pimento cheese 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.

What kind of cheese do you use for pimento cheese spread?

Most home cooks can agree that it tastes best with cheddar, either sharp or extra sharp.  Cream cheese is also commonly used, as it adds more body, making it creamier and more spreadable.  But if you don’t like cream cheese, it’s easy to leave it out. 

Other cheeses you could use would be extra sharp white cheddar and pepper jack.  If you want the signature color, make sure the dominant cheese is orange.

How do you grate the cheese for pimento cheese spread?

Old timers would put their cheddar through a meat grinder.  Nowadays, a box grater is more commonly used.  Some cooks prefer grating the cheese coarsely, finely, or a combination of the two–it’s up to you. 

Just don’t use the pre-grated cheese from the store, as it has a special coating that interferes with the texture and taste, plus it doesn’t mix together as well.

What kind of peppers should I use to make pimento cheese spread?

The pimentos, of course, are an important ingredient.  You will achieve the best flavor from fresh large pimento peppers that you have roasted yourself. 

But if you want an option that you can use year round, buy the jarred whole pimentos that you dice yourself.  If you’re pressed for time, buy the pimentos that are chopped up.  They come in a little jar.  Minced red bell peppers can also be used, but the taste will be more tangy.

person holding a cracker with pimento cheese

What kind of mayo should I use to make pimento cheese spread?

Use the real stuff, like Duke’s or Hellman’s, not salad dressing.  If you have the time, make your own mayo from our Caesar salad dressing recipe; it’s not hard.  Just remember that commercially made dressing will last longer.

What kind of spices should I use to make pimento cheese spread?

The spices you use to flavor the pimento cheese are personal, so feel free to experiment.  If you want it more spicy, use jalapeños, hot sauce, Dijon mustard, cayenne pepper, or horseradish.  Some other common spices are paprika, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, and dry ground mustard.

What kitchen tools should I use to mix pimento cheese spread?

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.

How do you serve pimento cheese spread?

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.

person dipping a pretzel bun into the pimento cheese dip

Can you serve pimento cheese warm?

  • Yes, you most certainly can!
  • Put the dip in a 6-inch cast iron skillet or in a small casserole dish.
  • Bake 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 cheese dip with pretzel buns, celery, or crackers.

How long does pimento cheese spread last?

If stored in an airtight container, it should last one week in the fridge.  Any leftovers after that time should be stirred into mac and cheese, deviled eggs, or scones.

Can you freeze pimento cheese spread?

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 cheese biscuits, sausage balls, tomato pie, or cheese straws.

How much pimento cheese spread would I need to make 50 sandwiches?

If you are planning on 1/4 cup of spread on each sandwich, you will need 12 1/2 cups of spread.

How to Make Pimento Cheese Spread

Gather all the ingredients.  Measure out the mayo, spices, and liquids, and let the cream cheese warm up to room temperature.

ingredients for pimento cheese spread

Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the extra sharp cheddar, then put in the fridge to chill.

grating cheddar cheese with a box grater

Using a hand mixer, gently mix the cream cheese and the mayo together.

beating cream cheese with a hand held mixer

Add the hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and spices, then blend it in with the hand mixer.

adding spices to cream cheese

Add a touch of pickle brine and mix it in with the hand mixer.

adding pickle brine to cream cheese mixture

Gently stir in the chilled grated cheddar cheese.

adding grated cheddar cheese to cream cheese mixture

Add the diced pimentos last and gently stir them in so they are incorporated.

adding pimentos to cream cheese mixture

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.  If you can, a full two hours would be better to allow the flavors to meld.

bowl of pimento cheese covered with plastic wrap

Pro Tips for Making Pimento Cheese Spread

  • 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.
  • 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 peperoncini peppers.
  • Want it more peppery?  Try adding peppadews.
  • Don’t want to use Duke’s mayo? Add 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice to compensate.
  • Want more enhancements?  Try freshly squeezed lemon juice, grated onion, vinegar, pickle brine, or crunchy pecans.
  • Want a garnish?  Try green onion cut on the bias.

Our Go-To Kitchen Tools for Pimento Cheese Spread

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person holding a cracker spread with pimento cheese

Southern Pimento Cheese Spread Recipe


  • Author: Brooke
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups 1x

Description

Southern pimento cheese is the best spread for crackers and bread.  With this recipe, learn how to make pimento cheese for sandwiches, burgers, and deviled eggs.  Cheddar cheese, pimentos, and mayo are the building blocks to this classic.  Be sure to make up a big batch for your next party!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces brick-style cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise, such as Duke’s
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco
  • 1/8 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 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 cheese, grated and chilled
  • 4 ounces canned pimentos, diced and drained

Instructions

  1. Optional. Preheat the oven to 350 F, if planning on serving the pimento cheese as a warm dip.
  2. Mix. 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.
  3. Blend and taste. Add the pickle brine, grated chilled cheese and pimentos.  Mix well.  Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
  4. Want it warm? Place the pimento cheese in a 6-inch cast iron skillet and warm it up in a 350 F oven for 20 minutes.
  5. Want it cold? Place the pimento cheese in a serving bowl.  Cover it tightly and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes; however, it’s best after 2 hours of chilling time.

Notes

  • The pleasure of a 5-star review for this Southern pimento cheese spread would be greatly appreciated.
  • 👩🏻‍🍳 Want to see our latest recipes?  Subscribe to our email newsletter to get our latest recipes, fun food facts, food puns, and behind the scenes news about our blog.
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Mixed
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: pimento cheese spread, pimento cheese dip, easy pimento cheese recipe

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