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Classic Homemade Southern Pimiento Cheese

Classic Homemade Southern Pimiento Cheese with simple ingredients of cheddar cheese, pimientos, and mayonnaise can be whipped up in just minutes!
5 from 10 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Pimiento cheese sandwich on a white serving plate.

Homemade Southern Pimiento Cheese is a true classic. With simple ingredients of sharp cheddar cheese, pimiento peppers, and mayonnaise it can be whipped up in minutes and used as a sandwich filling or a spread. Once you try my recipe, you may never want store-bought again.

Classic Pimiento Cheese. That delectable combination of cheddar, mayonnaise, and pimientos affectionately called “Paté du Sud,” or southern pâte. Everybody knows pimiento cheese. Right? Wrong.

Pimiento cheese sandwich on a white serving plate.

Not long after BeeBop and I got married and were immediately exiled to the cold northeastern United States by the U. S. Navy, I was shocked, shocked I tell you, to find out that there were actually people in the world who had never even heard of pimiento cheese. I found this unbelievable since pimiento cheese was a staple in every southern household within my acquaintance.

Pimiento cheese sandwiches were as common to our childhood as peanut butter and jelly is to most. It was something that our mothers could make up quickly, spread between two pieces of soft white bread, feed us lunch, and be back to the hundreds of tasks they still had to complete that day. It also made appearances as hors d’oeuvres when stuffed in a rib of celery or spread on a cracker.

A pimiento cheese sandwich on a white serving plate.

It is a remarkably simple recipe that uses very common ingredients that are nearly always on hand. My basic recipe follows.

Once you’ve tried the basic recipe you can do a little embellishing (a tiny dash of garlic powder, a dash of cayenne, or maybe a few chopped green olives) but don’t stray too far. Otherwise, it’s not pimiento cheese anymore, but just some fancy cheese spread. Pimiento cheese is not meant for fanciness.

💗 What You’ll Love About This Recipe


  • Total time, 10 minutes
  • You can’t get more southern than this
  • Versatile – use for sandwiches, snacks, and appetizers

WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING …

“I loved the pimento cheese spread my dad would eat as a snack with crackers when I was a little girl.”
— Shelby

🥘 Ingredient Notes


All ingredients needed for the recipe.
  • Pimientos (make sure they’re well drained; purchase diced pimientos to make your life easier or chop up the sliced or whole ones)
  • Cheddar cheese (I use only sharp cheddar; some cooks use a mixture of cheddar with Monterey Jack and cream cheese but I think those milder cheeses just dilute the flavor and result in a bland tasting end product)
  • Mayonnaise (use an excellent purchased brand or make your own homemade)

You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.

🔪 How to Make Classic Pimiento Cheese


Grate the Cheese

STEP 1. Grate the cheddar cheese.

TIPS: You simply cannot use the pre-shredded cheese for this recipe. It contains anti-caking agents that prevent clumping together and it will not result in the correct texture. You can use your food processor to make quick work of the grating. Personally, I just grate it on a hand grater. It’s way easier to clean up than disassembling the food processor.

Add All Ingredients

Grated cheese, mayo, and pimientos in a bowl.

STEP 2. To the grated cheese, add the diced pimientos along with the mayonnaise, salt, and black pepper to taste.

TIP: I always use Duke’s mayonnaise. It’s made by people who know what mayonnaise is supposed to taste like.

Mix Well

Mixed pimiento cheese in a white bowl.

STEP 3. Using a fork, mix all the ingredients together. Mixing with a fork helps retain the texture of the shredded cheese. Some people use a hand mixer, but that breaks down the cheese too much for my taste.

Enjoy your pimiento cheese in a sandwich, as a spread on crackers, or stuffed in celery. I like it best on marbled rye with a few potato chips and some pickled okra on the side.

Closeup view of pimiento cheese sandwich.

I know lots of people who enjoy it in a grilled cheese or on a burger. Frankly, I don’t like it warmed up at all. It completely changes the texture and taste in my opinion. I think it’s best enjoyed cold or at room temperature.

TIP: Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator. After being chilled, you may find that it has solidified a bit and needs an additional tablespoon or so of mayonnaise stirred in to bring it back to the correct consistency.

Pimiento cheese stuffed celery sticks on a serving plate.

🍽 How to Serve


There are loads of ways to serve pimiento cheese. Make a sandwich by spreading a generous amount between two slices of soft white sandwich bread, good sourdough, some fantastic whole wheat, or my favorite marbled rye. Or serve it at your next party as a spread with crackers, or stuffed into celery sticks. It’s all good. 

Pimiento cheese on crackers on a serving plate.

🍚 Storage


Store your pimiento cheese in a covered container in the refrigerator. It will last for at least a week. It will not freeze well, however, so enjoy it while it’s fresh.

🔀 Substitutions and Variations


As I mentioned above, making too many changes to this recipe results in something that is no longer Pimiento Cheese and has become a fancy cheese spread. There are, however, a few things you could possibly do that wouldn’t mess up the basic recipe too much.

  • For a cheesier flavor, substitute half the sharp cheddar with extra-sharp
  • For a spicy version, add one-fourth to one-half teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Some people enjoy a little grated onion or a 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder mixed in (I don’t, but you might)
  • If you insist on a lighter version, substitute low-fat alternatives for the cheese and mayonnaise
  • If you just don’t like mayonnaise, well then maybe this recipe just isn’t for you :-) 
Pimiento cheese on crackers, on celery, and in a bowl.

Love This Kitchen Wall Art from Etsy!

Kitchen Wall Art -
Kitchen Wall Art – “The Secret Ingredient is Always Love”

from: Etsy

❓ Questions About Pimiento Cheese


Is it “pimiento” or “pimento”?

I’m glad you asked! According to Southern Living and the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the preferred spelling is p-i-m-i-e-n-t-o. Yes, with that extra “i”. Plus my favorite brand, Lindsay, spells it that way right on their jars. That’s proof enough for me.

Is Palmetto Cheese the same as Pimiento Cheese?

“Palmetto Cheese” is a commercial brand of pimiento cheese sold in grocery stores across the south. It’s fairly bland and mild tasting in comparison with homemade.

Where was pimiento cheese first made?

With apologies to my fellow southerners, I have to tell you that pimiento cheese was actually created in New York. Yep. It started out as a combination of cream cheese, mustard, chives, and pimientos. However, it quickly made its way south where we perfected it and claimed it as our own.

🧾 More Recipes You’ll Like


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📖 Recipe

Pimiento cheese sandwich on a white serving plate.

Pimiento Cheese

Classic Homemade Southern Pimiento Cheese with simple ingredients of cheddar cheese, pimientos, and mayonnaise can be whipped up in just minutes!
5 from 10 votes
Print It Rate It Save
Course: Side Dishes
Cuisine: Southern, Vintage
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 285kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese grated
  • 4 ounces diced pimiento well drained
  • 6 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Grate the cheddar cheese.
  • Add the pimientos, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper.
  • Using a fork, mix all ingredients together.

Notes

Don’t use the pre-shredded cheese for this recipe. It contains anti-caking agents that prevent clumping together and it will not result in the correct texture.
Store in a covered container in the refrigerator. It will last for at least a week. It will not freeze, however, so enjoy it while it’s fresh.
This recipe easily multiplies.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1 | Calories: 285kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 63mg | Sodium: 513mg | Potassium: 107mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1336IU | Vitamin C: 24mg | Calcium: 412mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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Pimiento Cheese is a true Southern classic with its sharp cheddar cheese, pimiento peppers, and mayonnaise. Use it as a sandwich filling or a spread. https://www.lanascooking.com/pimiento-cheese/

— This post was originally published on June 2, 2009. It has been updated with new photos and additional information.

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Recipe Rating




65 Comments

  1. This is just how I love it – All of the “fancy” people add cream cheese. I just don’t like it. I love my mama’s South Georgia “menter” cheese on soft white bread – made just like yours.

  2. I was grown before I knew you could buy pimento cheese at the grocery store. Always have some in the fridge. And yes no other mayonnaise but Dukes!

  3. I have to jump in here and add an ingredient that no one else adds. My mom always used her old fashion hand grinder to make pimento cheese. As a kid I was always fascinated to watch her shove the cheese, pimento and sweet pickles into the grinder and see it emerge crushed together. Every time I see a recipe for pimento cheese I read through it and there are no pickles. Mom would even add a little pickle juice at the end plus a bit of sugar not to mention the two or three saltine crackers that disappeared into the grinder in the final step. She added those to clean the blades of the grinder. I make it in the grinder too and always add the crackers. It was such a treat to spread it on that nice soft Wonder Bread.

  4. 5 stars
    SE Georgia girl here. Excellent recipe. I have to admit I read it to see what variations had been made to the Pimiento cheese of my childhood. NONE. Read thru the comments because I knew sure and certain most women posting would have some changes to make or versions that were as delicious. It’s our Southern way. We proudly set a dish down on the buffet line at church. Afterwards during kitchen cleanup compliments abound with requests for the recipe. Then we all start telling how we make the same dish or “have you tried” or “I’ll tell you what will kick it up a notch”. Ain’t we Southern women a trip. Oh. Did you want to know MY contribution? Well, anyway here it is. Crushed pineapple and chopped pecans. Turns everyday PC into wedding shower PC. Now on to baking these Tea Cakes as that’s what I came here for anyway.

  5. 5 stars
    Like the others, My Mother made this for us all the time and you can usually find a mixing bowl of it in my refrigerator. But Mom also modified it a little just by adding a little finely chopped onion. There is a hint of a crunch plus an added flavor.

  6. 5 stars
    Thanks for the stuffed celery reminder—my mother used do that! That’s how my family always made pimento cheese and I do, too, but I discovered a little cream cheese tricks my son into thinking there’s no mayo in it. Sometimes I add a little garlic powder, onion powder, and maybe a dash of Coleman’s mustard powder for a bit of tang (that doesn’t taste like prepared mustard). Even a little diced jalapeño or chipotle have made their way into it. I think the trick to add-ins is to not overpower the cheese and pimento flavor. Oh, and I have also used half sharp cheddar and half smoked Gouda for a smokey flavor. So much you can do with pimento cheese! I love your heritage recipes! (You caused me to destroy my kitchen making fried chicken last week, but it was worth every bit of the clean up!)

    1. I’m so glad you enjoy the recipes, Kim! Some of those old recipes are the very best, I think. Sorry about the kitchen — but I know just what you mean. It can be a little bit messy, can’t it?

  7. Your recipe sounds good, and easy to make. Mine is a little more involved, using a pkg. of orange Sharp Cheddar & an 8 oz. block of Extra Sharp White Vermont Cheddar (grated) & Cream Cheese. Some “Duke’s” Mayo is also added, Pimento (drained well), salt (optional) and pepper, This recipe was ‘apparently’ served in the old Tea Houses in Savannah, GA. Pimento Cheese is delicious any way you serve it, but we especially like it spread on the bun of a Hamburger, or to make a Grilled Cheese Sandwich out of it. Would you believe that I read a recipe (from a Blogger) where she adds Mustard into it?! Then again, she adds Mustard into almost everything you’d mix up with a spoon :-(

    1. Yes indeed, I believe in adding mustard to pimento cheese! Also, I shake in a few drops of Tabasco Pepper Sauce, just to perk it up. If you try this and don’t like it, please send it to me! Liz

  8. Velvetta Pimienta Cheese – Recently came across Myron Mixon’s (Winningest Man in Barbecue) recipe for Velvetta Pimiento Cheese.
    He uses Velvetta, pimiento not drained, sugar & black pepper (although I cut way back on these two ingredients). Not giving up on the old standard, but his is a pleasant change. My family & friends love it. Hope you give it a try.

  9. Pimento cheese! I grew up with this very recipe and always used Duke’s mayonnaise. A small amount of pimento juice and a pinch of sugar mixed together with cheese and a pinch of black pepper then refrigerated overnight and served at room temperature is THE best.
    Duke’s mayonnaise spread on 1 side of 2 slices of bread, with drained, crushed pineapple for the filling, makes the best of sandwiches. Vidalia Onions sliced thinly as another,delicious filler. As long a Duke’s is used, you can put just about anything between 2 pieces of bread and it’s “Gooder than snuff and not half as dusty”.

  10. Lana – was there a recipe that used Velvetta? I personally like cheddar, but I have memories of watching some mother in the neighborhood grate a big, old block of Velvetta.

    1. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of making it with Velveeta, Linda. I just like sharp cheddar in mine.

      1. Velvetta Pimiento Cheese – Check out Myron Mixon’s recipe(winningest man in barbecue). It’s different from the old standard in that he uses Velvetta, does not drain the pimiento, and sugar. I cut back way on the sugar though. Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed. Not giving up on the old time recipe, but it’s always nice to try something different. Hope you will too!

  11. Kevin – grilled pimento cheese sandwiches were one of my mother’s favorites. After she toasted them in a skillet with butter, she’d pry the sandwich open and add a crispy piece of lettuce. Pretty darn good.

  12. Tracey and Musingegret commented on the added cream cheese. I grew up on my mom’s home made pimento cheese that has a little bit of onion in it. We now buy our pimento cheese (I always hated “store bought” before) from Costco. They carry the St. Pawley’s Island brand, original and jalapeno. It is beautifully creamy. I finally figured out that they add cream cheese when I dipped into a carton and found a chunk of cream cheese that hadn’t been fully incorporated.

    1. I’ve had it with some cream cheese added a couple of times, Donna, but I really prefer it with the chunky texture from grated sharp cheddar.

  13. This is even better if you drain and chop a jar of roasted red bell pepper or roast your own! Also really good if you add chopped bread and butter pickles. I never make the same twice and my family always loves it, no matter what!

  14. Try adding a little Ro-tel to your batch…yummy! I make large batches…half sharp cheddar, half mild, cheddar, and usually a can or two of Ro-tel…everyone raves!!

  15. I loved the pimento cheese spread my dad would eat as a snack with crackers when I was a little girl. I am sure this would be even better!

  16. I just recently heard of pimiento cheese had have wanted to try it ever since. Thanks for the reminder and the ideas. I just thought to serve it on crackers, but I would kind of like to try it in a sandwich! :D

    1. Megan – Pimiento cheese is such an ingrained part of me from childhood. It’s just always been there and now that it’s being discovered outside the South, it’s so interesting to see the different reactions to it. Most people really like it!