Afternoon tea/ All Recipes/ Appetizer/ Classic comforts/ Savories

Southern Pimento Cheese

With ample seasonings and just a little kick, creamy Southern pimento cheese is great with everything from crackers or burgers to crab cakes or grits! This cheddar cheese spread also makes a great cold party appetizer dip that doesn’t require the oven.

With ample seasonings and just a little kick, creamy Southern pimento cheese is great with everything from crackers or burgers to crab cakes or grits! This cheddar cheese spread also makes a great cold party appetizer dip that doesn't require the oven.

With ample seasonings and just a little kick, creamy Southern pimento cheese is great with everything from crackers or burgers to crab cakes or grits! This cheddar cheese spread also makes a great cold party appetizer dip that doesn't require the oven.

Let me relay to you a conversation I’ve had more times than I can count. It goes exactly the same way every time.

“Are you from here?” 

“Yup.”

“Have you always lived here?”

“My whole life.” (or, nowadays, I might qualify that by saying I went to Arizona for college and then came back.)

“Where are your parents from?”

“Michigan.” 

“Ohhhhhh.”

We’re in South Carolina, and they just can’t place my neutral accent until we have that conversation.

With ample seasonings and just a little kick, creamy Southern pimento cheese is great with everything from crackers or burgers to crab cakes or grits! This cheddar cheese spread also makes a great cold party appetizer dip that doesn't require the oven.

When my parents were newlyweds, they decided they wanted to move from Michigan to the East coast. They marked a bunch of cities on a map and took a road trip, stopping in each one to get a feel for the city. 

When they got to Charleston, they knew it was the one. And I can’t blame them. 

I’ve been proud to call Charleston my hometown and South Carolina my home. And I think the fact that I very easily could have not been born here, or in the South at all, makes me appreciate and embrace it all the more.

And so the South has had much more of an impact on my culinary taste and repertoire than I’ve even realized until I started this blog. 

I love my sweet tea, fried chicken, grits, and okra. In my book, no other barbecue sauce can compare to South Carolina mustard-based barbecue. The blog has featured three meat and okra gumbo, and pickled okra straight from my garden. 

And today, I give you Southern pimento cheese.

With ample seasonings and just a little kick, creamy Southern pimento cheese is great with everything from crackers or burgers to crab cakes or grits! This cheddar cheese spread also makes a great cold party appetizer dip that doesn't require the oven.

So what exactly is pimento cheese? 

Well, it can be almost anything you want it to be.

It can be a cheese, a spread, a sandwich filling, or a dip.

You can put it on a burger with some bacon. You can mix it into your grits. You can simply spread it on crackers, like I’ve done here. 

You can use it for grilled cheese sandwiches or dainty finger sandwiches. You can put some on top of crab cakes and broil it until it’s all bubbly. 

And you haven’t lived until you’ve had a fried green tomato BLT with pimento cheese.

It’s great to bring to parties because it’s delicious cold and you don’t have to worry about having access to the oven. But if you wanted to serve it warm, it would be excellent too. 

With ample seasonings and just a little kick, creamy Southern pimento cheese is great with everything from crackers or burgers to crab cakes or grits! This cheddar cheese spread also makes a great cold party appetizer dip that doesn't require the oven.

Basically, pimento cheese is shredded cheddar cheese with pimentos (yes, like the little red things in the middle of your green olives), seasonings, and something added to make it into a creamy spread – usually some combination of cream cheese, mayo, and sour cream. 

I’ve had people ask me if you have to extract each pimento from a jar of olives, but fortunately it’s much easier than that. They sell pimentos in the same section of the store as the olives, in little four- or eight-ounce jars.

With ample seasonings and just a little kick, creamy Southern pimento cheese is great with everything from crackers or burgers to crab cakes or grits! This cheddar cheese spread also makes a great cold party appetizer dip that doesn't require the oven.

Some people use roasted red peppers, but pimentos actually begin their lives as sweeter cherry peppers rather than bell peppers, so you’re not getting exactly the same thing.

In fact, if you want to get technical about it, the pimentos you find in green olives do contain actual minced pimento, but are mixed with gelatin to make them easier to slice and stuff.

I’d say if you want to be really authentic or gourmet, you could roast your own sweet cherry peppers, but what exactly makes authentically Southern pimento cheese? Probably using the little jars of ready-sliced stuff.

Anyway, besides your pimentos, I’d use a nice sharp cheddar cheese to get the full effect. 

With ample seasonings and just a little kick, creamy Southern pimento cheese is great with everything from crackers or burgers to crab cakes or grits! This cheddar cheese spread also makes a great cold party appetizer dip that doesn't require the oven.

I find that many recipes have too high a proportion of cream cheese to cheddar cheese for my taste.

In my opinion, a good Southern pimento cheese should taste mostly like the cheddar. The cream cheese and mayo should be just enough to bind the cheddar together and make it creamy, but should not dominate the flavor.

So rather than using a full block of cream cheese for two cups of cheddar, I only use half a block.

With ample seasonings and just a little kick, creamy Southern pimento cheese is great with everything from crackers or burgers to crab cakes or grits! This cheddar cheese spread also makes a great cold party appetizer dip that doesn't require the oven.

I like mine to have ample seasonings and a little kick. Mike’s number one comment across all my recipes is that “it could use a little kick” and suggests adding cayenne pepper to almost everything.

So, this recipe has a little cayenne in it, but feel free to add more to taste. Do taste it first though before adding more. 

This Southern pimento cheese is an easy and delicious way to get a little taste of the South, even if you don’t live here (but it might make you wish you did!).

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With ample seasonings and just a little kick, creamy Southern pimento cheese is great with everything from crackers or burgers to crab cakes or grits! This cheddar cheese spread also makes a great cold party appetizer dip that doesn't require the oven.

Southern Pimento Cheese

Course: Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Southern
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Author: Caroline Lindsey
With ample seasonings and just a little kick, creamy Southern pimento cheese is great with everything from crackers or burgers to crab cakes or grits! This cheddar cheese spread also makes a great cold party appetizer dip that doesn't require the oven.
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Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Recipe Notes

Serve with crackers, mixed into grits, on a grilled cheese sandwich, on a BLT, with fried green tomatoes, over crab cakes, or as a hamburger topping.

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14 Comments

  • Reply
    David
    December 26, 2016 at 12:30 am

    Mark and I had our first pimento cheese when we visited his brother and wife in Gainesville for Christmas almost 10 years ago! Becky’s family was from the Carolinas and her Christmas tradition always included pimento cheese. It was so good – I can see why you’d want it on everything! Thanks for the recipe, Caroline, and I wish you, Mike, and your families a wonderful Christmas season!

  • Reply
    JKS
    January 8, 2017 at 4:04 am

    Looks delightful! But pimento is missing from the list of ingredients, along with the amount. I bookmarked through Foodgawker. Will check back and look forward to making pimento cheese for my Austrian friends!

    • Reply
      Caroline Lindsey
      January 8, 2017 at 8:55 am

      Thanks so much for catching that! I’ve updated the recipe to include the amount of pimento. Can’t believe I missed that! I hope your Austrian friends enjoy it!

      • Reply
        JKS
        January 9, 2017 at 2:22 pm

        Thanks for updating! I now have a nice food project for the weekend. YUM!!! 🙂

        • Reply
          Caroline Lindsey
          January 11, 2017 at 7:10 pm

          Oh good, I’m glad you found the update! Hope you enjoyed the pimento cheese! 🙂

  • Reply
    Alli
    January 8, 2017 at 8:53 am

    What quantity pimentos? They aren’t mentioned in the recipe.

    • Reply
      Caroline Lindsey
      January 8, 2017 at 8:54 am

      Hi Alli! Thanks so much for catching that! I’ve updated the recipe to include the amount of pimento. Can’t believe I missed that!

  • Reply
    Kelly
    January 25, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    Finally made this recipe tonight, and it is amazing! I love the Old Bay seasoning taste; I would have never thought to try that!

    • Reply
      Caroline Lindsey
      January 26, 2017 at 7:32 pm

      I’m so glad you liked it! Pimento cheese is the bomb diggity.

  • Reply
    Barbara
    January 26, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    Love pimento cheese. Was raised in the Midwest and pimento cheese is often served at get togethers! Will try your recipe. I’m sure it is yummy!

    • Reply
      Caroline Lindsey
      January 26, 2017 at 7:33 pm

      I always thought of pimento cheese as a Southern thing, I didn’t know it was popular in the Midwest as well! I hope you enjoy the recipe!

  • Reply
    Kellie Courtney
    January 30, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    I grew up eating pimento cheese, and my mother used to make pimento cheese toast. Spread it on white bread and stick it under the broiler and oh, my goodness! Cheesy heaven!

    • Reply
      Caroline Lindsey
      February 3, 2017 at 5:23 pm

      Man, Kellie, that sounds great! It’s like a grilled pimento cheese… but with a higher cheese-to-bread ratio! Yum!

  • Reply
    Laura @ Our Next Adventure
    March 20, 2017 at 4:39 pm

    I thought I hated pimento cheese until I went to Charleston and had the real deal. So excited to try your version!

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