An easy pimento cheese recipe without cream cheese — just three simple ingredients, plus a blend of spices. This southern pimento cheese is the tastiest sandwich spread you’ll ever make!
I like to joke that I’m an expert on pimento cheese. Not only have I sampled a lot of pimento cheese recipes, but I’ve also written a lot about the creamy sandwich spread as a southern newspaper and magazine writer.
Back in my newspapering days, I was assigned to write three separate articles about this southern delicacy, for three different publications. I made sure to eat a lot of pimento cheese sandwiches, in the name of research. Wink, wink!
So you know that my homemade southern pimento cheese recipe is going to be good — creamy, cheesy and perfectly seasoned.
This post may contain affiliate links. AttaGirlSays.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Read my full disclosure policy here.
You’ll find the full pimento cheese recipe and a how-to video at the end of this post. Keep reading for more tips or use the table of contents below to jump ahead.
- 🧀 What is Pimento Cheese?
- 📙 Pimento Cheese History & Popularity
- 📋 My Pimento Cheese Recipe
- 🧑🏻🍳 Ingredients
- 🥣 How to Make Pimento Cheese
- 💭 Top Tips
- 📖 Variations
- 🥪 How do you eat pimento cheese?
- How long does homemade pimento cheese last?
- Can you freeze pimento cheese?
- Can I use different types of cheeses to make pimento cheese?
This is the stuff you want to slather on soft, white bread or on a carrot stick or celery stick. It’s also good melted in baked pimento cheese jalepeño poppers.
You can also try this gourmet pimento cheese recipe, made with three different cheese, roasted peppers and a surprising sweet ingredient. I love serving it as an appetizer at parties.
🧀 What is Pimento Cheese?
Pimento cheese, also known as the pate of the south, is a sandwich spread made from shredded cheese, mayonnaise, pimento peppers and spices.
The types of cheese varies, depending on the recipe, but American cheese is my preference.
Pimento cheese is generally served as a sandwich spread — no additional sandwich fixings necessary. It is also good on crackers, celery sticks or carrot sticks.
Want to see a brief overview of the recipe before diving history and cooking tips? Watch my web story on how to make pimento cheese.
📙 Pimento Cheese History & Popularity
While pimento cheese is generally considered a classic southern dish, it may have actually been invented in New York when farmers started blending a soft unripened cheese with Spanish pimientos.
The first recipe for pimento cheese was published by Good Housekeeping in 1908. It’s very different than the sandwich spread we enjoy today. It was made with cream cheese, mustard, chives, and minced pimentos, according to Southern Living.
The version of pimento cheese we all know and love was perfected in southern kitchens after World War II.
We southerners are passionate about our pimento cheese sandwich spread. We can wax poetic about cheese. pimentos and mayo sandwiched between two slices of white bread.
Did you know that the pimento cheese is one of the most popular sandwich offerings at the Masters Tournament? When I lived in Augusta, Ga., in the late 1990s, pimento cheese sandwiches sold for $1 at the golf course.
📋 My Pimento Cheese Recipe
My pimento cheese recipe is based on a number of different Southern brands, including Musten & Crutchfield from Kernersville, N.C., and Stan’s Pimento cheese from Burlington, N.C.
I had the chance to visit Stan’s manufacturing plant for a magazine story on the company a few years back. They didn’t share their recipe with me, but I did pick up some pointers that I’ve used in formulating my own easy pimento cheese recipe.
(And I might have looked around their kitchen and noticed which spices they had on their shelves! A good reporter is observant.)
No matter how you spell it — pimento cheese or pimiento cheese — there’s no disputing how good it tastes. It’s no surprise the spread is a southern staple.
You only need three ingredients for true southern pimento cheese — shredded cheese, pimento peppers and mayonnaise. Or more specifically:
- shredded American cheese
- Duke’s Mayonnaise
(You can tell Paula Deen I said cream cheese doesn’t belong in pimento cheese!)
Everything else is just seasoning. My recipe uses:
- onion powder
- black pepper
- hot sauce
When I’m making southern style pimento cheese, I use shredded American cheese. It’s what the experts (Stan’s, Musten & Crutchfield and generations of country home cooks) use.
And your mayonnaise has to be Duke’s. I’m pretty sure it says so in the Bible and the Constitution. You can look it up if you don’t believe me. (OK, you can use another brand of mayonnaise, but I don’t recommend it.)
🥣 How to Make Pimento Cheese
The combination of American cheese and the mayonnaise gives this southern pimento cheese recipe its creamy consistency. There is no need to add cream cheese.
- Mix the shredded American cheese cheese and mayonnaise together by hand until creamy.
- Next, add a little Texas Pete hot sauce (also made in North Carolina), some salt, pepper, onion powder and paprika.
- Stir to combine.
That’s all it takes to make pimento cheese.
Spread pimento cheese thickly onto white bread and enjoy!
It also makes a great dip, burger topping or toasted sandwich filling. It’s perfect atop a ripe homegrown tomato.
💭 Top Tips
When I’m making this pimento cheese, I always buy a block of unsliced American cheese from the grocery store deli. Sliced American cheese just doesn’t shred as well.
(I don’t recommend using Velveeta for this recipe. Save it for your chili cheese dip.)
The deli workers will look at you funny when you ask for for American cheese unsliced, but just tell them you’ve got a hanker for a hunk of cheese. (Only children of the 70s will get that reference.)
Orange or white American cheese will work for this recipe. Or you can do a combination of both, as I did when making the batch pictured above.
I mix the Duke’s mayonnaise into the cheese by hand rather than using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer.
We prefer less mayo in our pimento cheese, but some people like a lot. You can adapt my recipe to suit your mayo preferences.
The more mayo you add, the creamier the pimento cheese. But too much mayo can overwhelm the cheese flavor, in my opinion.
- Add a diced jalapeno to make spicy pimento cheese.
- Crumble a few slices of crispy bacon and add them to the pimento cheese.
- Add 1/4 cup of chopped country ham to the pimento cheese.
🥪 How do you eat pimento cheese?
My favorite way to eat pimento cheese is on soft white bread. Bonus points if that bread is homemade, but regular old Wonder Bread will do just fine, too.
If you think a grilled cheese sandwich is good, wait until you try a grilled pimento cheese sandwich on browned, buttery bread. Just thinking about it is making me hungry for lunch.
Other good ways to serve pimento cheese:
- on crackers
- on vegetable sticks
- as a dip — hot or cold
- as a filling for stuffed mushrooms or peppers
- on a BLT
- as a hamburger topping
I like pimento cheese spread on crackers. Saltines or Club crackers work just fine, but then so do Triscuits and Wheat Thins, too.
Pimento cheese slathered on a celery stick makes a good after-school snack.
You can also melt some pimento cheese on the stove and dip homemade tortilla chips in it. How’s that for fancy?
I also love making baked pimento cheese jalapeno poppers as a party appetizer.
Pimento cheese is a great topping for a hamburger. Be sure you pile it on while the burger and bun are still hot so it’s extra messy. Throw on a few slices of candied bacon for a true southern foodie experience.
Try it on a BLT or on a fried green tomato sandwich. Chef’s kiss!
You can use pimento cheese in place of cheese in lots of recipes. Pimento cheese grits and pimento cheese macaroni and cheese are next-level delicious.
How long does homemade pimento cheese last?
Not long enough.
Oh, you meant from a food safety perspective. Not, “How long before my family devours the deliciousness that is homemade southern pimento cheese?”
Homemade pimento cheese will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Be sure to store it in the fridge in an airtight container. It does contain mayonnaise, so you don’t want to let it set out or it could spoil.
Can you freeze pimento cheese?
You can freeze pimento cheese in a sealed, airtight, freezer-safe container. But the mayonnaise may separate when thawed, so pimento cheese that has been frozen will not have the same texture or consistency.
For that reason, I don’t recommend using previously frozen pimento cheese on sandwiches or crackers. But it’s perfectly fine to us it in recipes where it will be heated, such as pimento cheese grits and pimento cheese mac and cheese. You can also heat it to use as a dip.
Can I use different types of cheeses to make pimento cheese?
Southern cooks have always been inventive in the kitchen. So you can certainly use different types of cheese, other than American, to make homemade pimento cheese.
Popular options include:
- cheddar cheese
- sharp cheddar cheese
- New York style cheddar cheese
Substituting a different type of cheese may affect the texture of your pimento cheese. American cheese makes a very creamy pimento cheese.
Softer cheese are better for making pimento cheese than hard cheeses, like Parmesan. If you do use a harder cheese, make sure to mix it with a different softer cheese.
For parties, I often make a “fancy” version of pimento cheese using cheddar, parmesan and gouda cheese. It’s delicious, but it’s definitely different from this classic southern pimento cheese recipe.
🎥 Printable Recipe Card & Video
- 2 cups shredded American cheese
- ½ cups Duke’s Mayonnaise (you can add more for a creamier texture)
- 2 Tablespoons diced pimento peppers, drained
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 dash Texas Pete hot sauce, or more, to taste
- salt and pepper to taste
In a large bowl, combine shredded American cheese and mayonnaise until well blended and creamy.
Mix in the diced pimentos.
Add spices and mix well.
Mix in Texas Pete hot sauce and salt and pepper to taste.
Serve on white bread or with saltine crackers.
- For best results, use a block of American cheese for this recipe and shred it yourself using a box grater or a food processor
- Best made with Duke’s mayonnaise, but you can substitute your favorite brand
- You can omit the hot sauce, if you like
- You can use another type of cheese, such as cheddar or sharp cheddar cheese
- You can add more mayonnaise for a creamier pimento cheese
Pimento cheese can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks in an airtight container.
- Add a diced jalapeno to make spicy pimento cheese
- Crumble a few slices of crispy bacon and add them to the pimento cheese
- Add 1/4 cup of chopped country ham to the pimento cheese