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Classic Homemade Southern Pimiento Cheese

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5 from 9 votes
Classic Homemade Southern Pimiento Cheese with simple ingredients of cheddar cheese, pimientos, and mayonnaise can be whipped up in just minutes!
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.

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.

How do I store it?

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.

Can I double the recipe?

Yes, of course. This recipe easily multiplies.

Have you tried this recipe? I’d really appreciate you giving it a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in the recipe card or in the comments section.
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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 9 votes
Print It Rate It
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.

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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61 Comments

  1. Never heard of this! But then, I am from Washington. We like our seafood here! But I can hardley wait to try!

    1. Hi Doreen. We love our seafood here in Georgia, too! Pimiento cheese is a staple of southern food. Try it. You might like it!

      1. Thank you so much for your site! Love to cook and I’m from Mobile,Ala ,but moved to Naples Fl and your site helps me not to miss home to much! There is nothin as good as southern food’!

  2. I use about half mayo, half cream cheese. Because it makes it more thick, I may be able to incorporate some of the pimento juice in, too. And I HIGHLY recommend putting pimento cheese on a burger hot off the grill (or out of the skillet) instead of sliced cheese.

  3. I cream together a half-block of cream cheese with the 4 oz of pimientos and juice, add finely diced jalapenos (deseeded) and then the grated sharp cheddar to desired thickness. A dash of hot sauce never hurts either!

  4. Yes, I serve it at room temperature, also, but always chill it overnight before the first serving. It turns out incredibly dense and spreadable. But you’re right, there are as many techniques and recipes for this as there are people. Your article is excellent and the pictures are terrific.

  5. FoodScout – Thanks for the comment. However, I don’t like the way the juice thins out the pimiento cheese. I like mine quite thick and at room temperature. But, to each his own!

    1. I’m with you on the temperature of pimiento cheese. And this recipe you posted is THE classic pimiento cheese recipe, from my Southern childhood in 1950s Atlanta

      Also – a tip which works for me. A couple years back, in a fit of laziness, I made pimiento cheese with pre-grated (shredded) cheese. It tasted different. Next few batches, same thing. I discovered that when Kraft, or whoever, shreds and packages cheese they dust it with some kind of starch so it doesn’t clump together in the package. That is the different taste I found objectionable – slightly flat.

      So, if anyone decided they didn’t like this pimiento cheese recipe, please try it with cheese you grate yourself. It really does make a big difference.

      1. Yes, Branch, you’re absolutely right. The shredded cheese is dusted with cornstarch. It will not work in pimiento cheese. You really need to grate it either by hand (my preference) or in a food processor.

  6. There’s lots of flavor in the pimento juice, so I never drain them, particularly a good brand like Mario. I use 4 ounces of pimentos per pound of cheese. Rule number 1 is to chill the pimento cheese overnight before serving to allow it to firm up and for the flavor to develop. A couple of very good deli restuarants clued me in on using the juice.

  7. Unbelievably simple and delicious. Obviously I’ve had a deprived childhood ‘coz I never had pimento cheese sandwiches … *sob* … will have a word with mom abt that! And will grab a jar of pimentos on my next trip to the grocery store!

  8. My goodness you’ve gotten alot of comments on this! Just wanted to tell you that A & I were checking out the blog and he says: “My two favorite things of NaNa’s cooking are Banana Puddin and Pumpkin Pie.” Interestingly enough, I don’t think I could FORCE him to eat either of those things at home. LOL!

  9. yay! Tennessee girl who has just discovered her love for pimiento cheese…I felt like an outcast growing up, not liking it! I’ve also started putting a little shredded mozzarella in mine, it makes a nice color contrast with the cheddar. also a little bit of dill.

    on another note, THREE CHEERS for pickled okra! we’re growing our own mostly just so we can make homemade jars…and fry it, of course

  10. I am one of those poor people from the North who didn’t know about pimento cheese until I moved to the South. I don’t like the store bought, but do like homemade. I’ve thought about making it, but never had a recipe. Now I can’t wait. Thanks! And I’ve learned about tomato sandwiches too :)

  11. Great Southern sandwich filling! It must be genetic because I never served it to my girls, yet whenever they did have it, they loved it.

  12. i didnt know that making pimento cheese was this easy & can be done at home. i am never going to buy it again.
    i just realised that your earlier posts are not there.. can i ask how come?

  13. Really? We thought that pimento dip was melted? this is really easy? we love the oldies but goodies…keep them coming. best, s

  14. I was also shocked to learn about the mystique of Pimiento Cheese. I make large batches, when I make it because everyone in my family is quite passionate about it. It will be stuffed into celery, dipped, spread, melted, and in general eaten for every meal until it is gone.

    I have never met a homemade Pimiento Cheese I didn’t love!

  15. I love pimento cheese. My aunt in the Phlippines would make some really good batches and I end up eating almost half. It was that good. I wish I had some right now. This has brought back some fond memories.

  16. It reminds me a bit of the crustless tea sandwiches that my mum makes. She grew up in Jamaica and her grandparents grew pimento for a living. She would make pimento cheese by mixing the pimentos with cream cheese. Sometimes she puts a gherkin pickle in the sandwiches as well. Yum!

  17. Please instruct your followers to completely drain the chopped pimento. It’s gross if it’s watery.

    I always add a dash of cayenne. I had a delightful pimento cheese sandwich last night for supper. Toasted fresh sourdough bread from a local bakery, and added sliced ham that I baked for Sunday dinner. It was so satisfying that I fell right asleep on the sofa.

    Now, if you can just inform the masses of the delights of pineapple sandwiches, tomato sandwiches and the like, you will have performed a true community service.

    As always, the pictures are fun.

    Miss P

    1. It would be so wrong if I didn’t share this: when in Dallas, go to the Highland Park Pharmacy, sit at the counter and order the “Palm Springs”. Best ever grilled pimento cheese sandwich…hot crispy bread, cold pimento cheese, pickles on the side.. And get a choc milkshake to share, real ice cream and milk no powder “crap”. Makes me want to drive the 3 hours to Big D!