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.
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!” (click here for the recipe). Occasionally we’d go wild and order their chili cheese dog with pimento cheese, or their decadent grilled cheese sandwich with pimento cheese.
My recipe serves it with the grated cheese shards, but I’ve seen it blenderized. 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, mac and cheese, 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.
- 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle powder or more to your taste
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
- 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 (6mm) bits. Grate the cheddar on the big holes of a box grater.
- Mix. In a big bowl, with a fork, mix together the mayonnaise, pepper flakes, salt, black pepper, and sugar. Add the cream cheese and squish it around until it is pretty well incorporated. Add the cheddar and mix until coated. Add the bell pwpper chunks and stir. Taste and add more of anything you want. I like to liven it up with a little dried chipotle. There is plenty of room for personalization. Do you prefer Miracle Whip?
- 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.