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Best Pimento Cheese Recipe Ever

Pimento cheese on a cracker

Put a little South in your mouth with the best cheese spread ever.

When asked what his death row last meal be, Bon Appétit magazine’s restaurant editor Andrew Knowlton replied “I’m from the South, so to me it would be pimento cheese.”

You can buy it in plastic tubs at the grocery, but get a look at all the stuff in there besides pimento, cheese, and mayo? So learn how to make it yourself. Nothing could be easier. And if you want to amp it up to 11, fire roast the pimento!

Pimento Cheese has many nicknames: PC, Carolina Caviar, Atlanta Paté, and Menta Cheese. In the South, particularly the Carolinas and Georgia, you cannot have a church social, family picnic, card game, wedding, or any social gathering without Pimento Cheese sandwiches. Kids ask for it with the same frequency as they ask for peanut butter up north.

Traditionally it is spread on white bread and that’s all. At the country club events the crusts are removed, it is cut into four triangles, and served on silver platters. At the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, GA, they serve pimento cheese sandwiches wrapped in green wax paper (hold your pinkies out, please). Even in such classy settings, they spell it pimento, not pimiento, the technically correct spelling.

commercial pimento cheese spread

When I was at the University of Florida in the 1960s, our favorite late nite stoner munchie was Ritz Crackers with pimento cheese. On road trips to away games and New Orleans we’d pack a loaf of Wonder Bread and a tub of store bought pimento cheese. Any trip through Atlanta would take us to The Varsity where, when we approached the counter they’d shout “What’ll ya have?” and we’d joyfully shout back “Pimento Cheeseburger!” Occasionally we’d go wild and order their chili cheese dog with pimento cheese, or their decadent grilled cheese sandwich with pimento cheese.

PC’s also really good on rye or whole wheat. Serve it on toast points, sliced French bread, and even garlic bread. Make grilled cheese sandwiches with it all by itself or add lettuce, tomato, and/or fresh basil. Don’t forget the bacon. Use it to stuff cherry tomatoes as a snack, or a whole tomato as an appetizer. Can you see it melting into a baked potato? Stuff celery with it. Dip carrots into it. Add it to grits, chili, omelets, or scrambled eggs. Slather it on top of chili dogs or on burgers for a crazy good cheeseburger. How about a schmear on toasted bagels or on a BLT? I’ve even seen it on pulled pork in a joint in Mississippi, but I’m not ready for that myself.

Whadaya waitin’ for? The game’s about to start.

Classic Carolina Caviar Recipe


Pimento cheese in a tomato
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3.31 from 26 votes
The traditional recipe is simple: Sharp cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, pimentos, salt and pepper. You can adjust the ingredients up and down as you wish. In the dorms they use Velveeta, but that stuff is one electron from being plastic, so I recommend real cheese. You can buy pimento in jars or you can make your own simply by fire roasting your own sweet bell peppers.

Serve with: sweet iced tea.


Course: Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: American, Southern

Makes:

Servings: 8 sandwiches

Takes:

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound sharp cheddar cheese (try getting smoked cheddar)
  • ½ cup mayonnaise Duke's is a Southern favorite
  • 1 fire roasted sweet red bell pepper (about 6 ounces)
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon Morton coarse kosher salt
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
Notes:
About the pimentos. If you are lazy, you can buy pimentos in a jar. A 4 ounce jar of pimento has about 3 ounces of pimentos and one ounce of liquid, and that is equivalent to about 1 medium red pepper after roasting and skinning (I weighed a large bell pepper at 8 ounces raw with stem and seeds, and after grill roasting and skinning I got about 5 ounces). You don't have to be precise about this. If you use jarred pimento, save the liquid in the fridge. It is great mixed in with rice or in a sauce.
About the salt. Remember, kosher salt is half the concentration of table salt so if you use table salt, use half as much. Click here to read more about salt and how it works.
Mix-ins. Many cooks have found ways to personalize their recipe. Common additives are chunks of roasted pecans, grated onions, chopped scallions, Worcestershire, hot sauce or powder, pickle relish, chopped basil, and black pepper. I like to add jalapeños or other hot chiles. Jazz it up if you want!
Metric conversion:

These recipes were created in US Customary measurements and the conversion to metric is being done by calculations. They should be accurate, but it is possible there could be an error. If you find one, please let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page

Method

  • Prep. Take the cream cheese out and let it soften at room temp. Fire roast the red peppers and chop them into 1/4-inch bits. Grate the cheddar on the big holes of a box grater into a bowl.
  • Mix in the mayonnaise, chopped peppers, pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and sugar. Taste and adjust salt, pepper, sugar, mayo. There is plenty of room for personalization. Do you prefer Miracle Whip? Nobody will call the cops on you.
  • Optional. Throw the whole thing into the food processor and whup it up until it is fairly smooth as shown in the stuffed tomato above. There will be some fine granular texture. That's OK.
  • Rest. Although pimento cheese is quick and easy to throw together, it needs a few hours, overnight is best, for the pimento flavor to migrate into everything so every bite has optimal flavor. But don't let it sit around for days. It tends to get watery.
  • Serve. Serve with crackers, as a sandwich, as a burger topping (highly recommended), and so much more.

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Published On: 9/13/2013 Last Modified: 5/12/2021

  • Meathead - Founder and publisher of AmazingRibs.com, Meathead is known as the site's Hedonism Evangelist and BBQ Whisperer. He is also the author of the New York Times Best Seller "Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling", named one of the "100 Best Cookbooks of All Time" by Southern Living.


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