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 may be the south’s foremost expert on pimento cheese. (Or is it pimiento cheese?) No matter how you spell it — pimento or pimiento — there’s no disputing how good it tastes.
Back in my newspapering days, I was assigned to write three separate articles about this southern delicacy, for three different publications.
For a while, I joked that pimento cheese was my “beat.” There was a period of time when I regularly got calls at work asking if I was “that Kernersville cheese place” after I wrote about Musten & Crutchfield, a local manufacturer of pimento cheese. (Seems people confused my contact info at the end of the newspaper article with the manufacturer’s.)
Did you know that the pimento cheese is one of the most popular sandwich offerings at the Masters Tournament? (I did, because I wrote about it back in 1998. Alas, I didn’t get to go to the Masters this year, so I don’t know if the sandwiches are still $1.)
Let’s make a batch:
Pretty simple, right?
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.
And no wonder. Pimento cheese is good.
Maybe not so good for you. (Everything in moderation!) But it is delicious.
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This week, I’m resurrecting my notes from all those long-ago articles about pimento cheese and sharing two pimento cheese recipes. One is my homemade southern-style easy pimento cheese recipe, strongly influenced by my favorite store brand, Stan’s Pimento Cheese. The other is a fancier version that makes a great party appetizer.
I had the chance to visit Stan’s manufacturing plant in Burlington 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.)
I also learned that my 6th grade boyfriend’s family owns Stan’s Pimento Cheese. If things had worked out differently and our relationship had survived longer than two weeks, I might be pimento cheese royalty now. I think I would look stunning in a pimento-studded crown. But then, I probably wouldn’t be sharing this recipe with you. So things worked out just as they should have, right?
Enough with my silliness, let’s talk ingredients. (The full Stan’s inspired easy pimento cheese recipe is at the end of this post.)
What is pimento cheese made of?
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 real women don’t use cream cheese in their pimento cheese!)
Everything else is just seasoning. My recipe uses:
- onion powder
- 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.
The combination of American cheese and the mayonnaise gives this southern pimento cheese recipe its creamy consistency.
Mix in a little Texas Pete hot sauce (also made in North Carolina), some salt, pepper, onion powder and paprika and you’re going to have a mighty tasty sandwich spread. It also makes a great dip, burger topping or toasted sandwich. It’s perfect atop a ripe homegrown tomato.
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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. 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.
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.
I also like pimento cheese spread on crackers. Saltines or Club crackers work just fine, but then so do Triscuits and Wheat Thins, too. Heck, a spoon will do in a pinch!
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 tortilla chips in it. How’s that for fancy?
I also love making homemade 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.
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.
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.
You can also make a tasty pimento cheese using sharp cheddar cheese or New York style cheddar 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.
You can whip up a batch of this homemade easy pimento cheese recipe in no time. Grab the recipe below and let me know what you think of this southern classic.
Check out my recipe below for Homemade Southern Style Pimento Cheese.
- 2 cups shredded American cheese
- 1/2 cups Duke's Mayonnaise you can add more for a creamier texture
- 2 Tablespoons diced pimento peppers
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 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.
Pin This! Southern Pimento Cheese Recipe
If you think that sounds tasty, be sure to check out this recipe for a fancified version that uses three gourmet cheeses, homemade roasted peppers and some unexpected ingredients.
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