Pimento Cheese, A Southern Staple

Pimento Cheese is one of the south’s most cherished staples and is often referred to as the “pâté of the South”. You will see it served at ladies luncheons, picnics, church potlucks, weddings, funerals and even at the Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National.

Pimento Cheese And Crackers, A Southern Snack

If you are not from the southern part of the U.S., you may have never heard of pimento cheese and might wonder why it is so popular. This creamy cheese spread is true southern comfort food made with a blend of sharp cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, roasted sweet pimento peppers and various seasonings. Ask any southerner for their recipe and it will probably be different from the next person you ask. They might make it with just cheddar cheese, mayonnaise and pimento like my mother did or they might add garlic, grated onion, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, jalapeños, pickles or even bacon.

Husk Is One of Charleston’s Most Well Known Restaurants

Husk, a well known restaurant in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, is noted for its farm to table meals. After entering through the front door, there is a huge chalk board that has a list of ingredients used in the days cooking and the farms they came from. When my husband and I visited for lunch one day, one of the signature items on the menu that we had to try was their “House Made Pimento Cheese, Grilled Crostini, Pickle Relish, Crispy Country Ham and Chives. It was different from what I’d had before and we both enjoyed sharing the appetizer to start our lunch. I knew then that one day I would have to try making their version.

Pimento Crostini With Sweet Relish And Bacon On Crostini

Chef Sean Brock, a James Beard Award winner for “Best Chef Southeast”, founding chef and now culinary advisor at Husk shared his very popular pimento cheese recipe in his cookbook called  “Heritage” and it was the inspiration for the pimento cheese recipe I’m sharing here.

Pimento Cheese

  • 7 oz. jar of diced pimento, drained well
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 – 3/4 c. mayonnaise (Duke’s is the brand I used)
  • 1/2 tsp. hot sauce such as Tabasco or to taste
  • 1/8 tsp. ground white pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 8 oz. block extra sharp white cheddar cheese (I used Cabot)
  • 8 oz. block sharp cheddar cheese (I used Cabot)
  • 1/4 c. finely chopped bread-and-butter pickles with some of the brine (I used Mt. Olive Simply Relish, deli style sweet)

Grate the cheese on a box grater or food processor and set aside. Place the cream cheese in a medium bowl and stir until softened. Add the mayonnaise, Tabasco, spices and mix well. Add the grated cheese and relish and mix until well combined. Fold in the diced pimento. Taste and  adjust the seasonings, if necessary. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tips and Notes:

  1. I used jarred diced pimento but if your market has fresh pimento peppers, you can roast, peel, seed and dice them like Chef Brock.
  2. In the past, I used Hellman’s mayonnaise but Chef Brock and most southerners prefer Dukes. I bought it and am now a convert as the taste is more like homemade. Start with 1/2 cup of mayonnaise and if the mixture seems too thick add 1 or 2 Tbsp. more.
  3. Don’t use pre-shredded packaged cheese, it is too dry.
  4. I used two 8 oz. blocks of cheddar, one white extra sharp cheddar and one sharp cheddar but you can use 1 lb. of sharp cheddar if you wish.
  5. Chef Brock’s recipe called for 1/4 cup pickled ramps, chopped, plus 1/2 cup of the brine which I doubt anyone will find. He suggested to substitute finely chopped bread-and-butter pickles and brine. I only used a 1/4 cup of sweet relish that included a little of the brine in the measuring cup.
  6. Chef Brock used a 1/2 tsp. of salt and 1/4 tsp. sugar in his recipe but I didn’t add either to my recipe.
  7. If you want a creamier spread, blend with a hand mixer for a minute or two.
  8. For a more flavorful pimento cheese, prepare it several hours in advance of serving.
  9. When I had the appetizer at Husk, the pimento cheese was spread on grilled crostini and topped with sweet relish, crispy country ham and chives. I have served the pimento cheese in a similar fashion, using either toasted crostini or crackers and topped it with a sprinkle of the sweet pickle relish and crumbled bacon.
  10. The brands I mentioned are just personal preferences (not endorsements) and may not be available in your area. Use the best ingredients that you can find.

****

I grew up eating pimento cheese sandwiches because my mother was trying to stretch a dollar. Now you can find various versions of pimento cheese on menus in some of the best restaurants in the country. You can have it as a starter at Husk in Charleston, in a sandwich at the Masters Golf Tournament or as an ingredient in the mac and cheese served at Churchill Downs. Whether you decide to have pimento cheese in a sandwich, as a snack with crackers or celery sticks or perhaps as a topping on baked potatoes or burgers, I think you will enjoy this recipe…it is true southern comfort food.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

About Karen

I travel the back roads of New England and beyond, sharing great food and interesting places.
This entry was posted in food, Home, lifestyle, recipes and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

124 Responses to Pimento Cheese, A Southern Staple

  1. I grew up as deep in the south as you can get…Alabama…and I hated pimento cheese when I was a child and most especially the commercial Kraft kind, but adore it home or house made now. Our family recipe came from my 4th grade teacher who, in true southern lady fashion, only listed the ingredients and not the proportions. 🙂 This version looks delicious and I do love how many restaurants add a little bacon to their PC…what’s not to love?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, It is so very nice to hear from you and I appreciate your compliment. I think I was lucky in that my mother always made it for us…I can’t tell you how many pimento cheese sandwiches I had growing up. Yes, the bacon and relish topping really add to the overall taste…I can thank Chef Brock for that. 🙂

  2. Darlene says:

    Sounds very yummy and anything with pimento is very popular here in Spain. Must try making it.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Darlene, I don’t know why my reply didn’t go through earlier but I’m happy you like the pimento cheese recipe. You have some great cheeses in Spain that you could also use in place of the cheddar if you can’t find it.

  3. kitchenriffs says:

    LOVE pimento cheese! We make it several times a year — always a treat. I’ve used Duke’s mayo on the past, but not in this dish — gotta try that. Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Hi John, Some of my replies haven’t been going through but thank you for your nice comment. I think you will like using Duke’s mayo in the pimento cheese if you can find it in your area.

  4. Angela says:

    I confess that I never fell in love with this Southern staple, but this is a fun post nonetheless.

  5. Now I’ve got a hankerin’ for some pimento cheese and ham biscuits!

  6. Ron says:

    A true Southern Classic. We always had jalapeños in ours when I was growing up. My favorite way to eat it is on saltines or in a baked potato. I’ll have to give Chef Brock’s version a try. Isn’t Charleston a grand city to visit?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ron, we love Charleston…it is a truly grand city. My mother wasn’t much on spicy things so we didn’t have jalapeños in pimento cheese growing up but I agree it is a tasty addition. Tell me, are you able to get cheddar cheese in Sweden or will you have to substitute another cheese?

  7. Definitely a big southern favorite and usually served at every party. Your recipe looks authentic and delicious. BTW – the chef at Husk, Sean Brock, has an episode about him on Netflix’s Chef’s Table.

  8. Penny at Enjoying The Simple Things says:

    We plan on going to Husk this early summer when we visit Charleston and are really looking forward to it. The recipe sounds wonderful!

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Penny for your compliment. I know you will enjoy eating at Husk when you visit Charleston. I could go back to Husk just to have some of the restaurant’s side vegetable dishes…they were outstanding as was everything that we tried.

  9. Now you’re talking! Since we are near Pawley’s Island, we’ve been enjoying their Pimento Cheese. We can also get it at home in NH. I love it. Recently I had a grilled pimento cheese with bacon sandwich at a local restaurant here. Delicious!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Judy, You and I sound like sisters with your love for pimento cheese. That grilled pimento cheese sandwich with bacon sounds great.

  10. This sounds really tasty!

    • Karen says:

      Tasty it is Kay…I’m glad you like the recipe for pimento cheese. You have so many wonderful cheddars in England, you could make a delicious version.

  11. Alicia says:

    I love pimento cheese! Thanks for sharing a recipe.

  12. I loved Charleston. This dip looks so good too. Thanks for sharing.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne, Charleston is a great city to visit. So much history, beautiful architecture and great restaurants. I’m glad you like the recipe, thank you.

  13. I discovered pimento cheese late in life, but was hooked fast!
    Love your version, and all the explanations about other additions. I’m also a fan of Cabot cheddar, and agree about Duke mayonnaise. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      I’m glad that you are a fan of pimento cheese Ronit and agree with my suggestions about the cheese and mayonnaise. I’m happy that you like my version, thank you.

  14. lifeincharente says:

    That sounds fabulous but my problem would be trying to find Cheddar cheese here!! Have a good week, Diane

    • Karen says:

      Hi Diane, I appreciate your nice compliment. Yes, I can see that finding Cheddar cheese in France might be a challenge. Perhaps one of my readers will have a suggestion. While I don’t know of a French cheese, I’m thinking that you might substitute an aged Gouda.

  15. Looks like a super yummy spread! I would probably end up eating the whole bowl at one go 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Angie, The pimento cheese doesn’t last long in our house. I last little bit I had went on a few crackers for lunch. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  16. cookingontheweekends says:

    My grandmother always used a lot of pimentos in her cooking, and in reading this, I’m just now realizing that was probably because she grew up in the south. I’m pretty sure she made a version of this too. It sounds fabulous! And I hope to get to Husk on day.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Valentina, I think you are right about your grandmother using pimentos since she grew up in the south. I’m glad you like this version of pimento cheese, thank you. Perhaps you will get a chance to eat at Husk one day and try the original.

  17. Mad Dog says:

    In spite of living in Atlanta for several years, going to a revivalist meeting, meeting the Reverend Howard Finster, eating po’boy sandwiches in NOLA and boiled peanuts at the side of the road in Georgia, I have never had pimento cheese! Well I haven’t danced with rattle snakes either! I was aware of pimento cheese, though I just can’t remember tasting it. Too much Patron and quesadillas at that Superbowl party I guess… Thanks to your recipe, I can remedy this – I do love cheese and pimentón, so it stands to reason that I’d like it.

  18. Sunnycovechef says:

    I don’t think I ever had pimento cheese and Charleston is on my bucket list . I have to make it. Thank you for the recipe.

    • Karen says:

      I’m happy to share my recipe Gerlinde. I know you would enjoy Charleston, it is a very charming city. I think spring would be wonderful there with everything in bloom…that is when I would like to return.

  19. Sunnycovechef says:

    I don’t think I bet had pimento cheese. I have to try your recipe. Gerlinde

  20. NativeNM says:

    Pimento cheese brings back memories, we always had pimento cheese in the fridge and my Mom would spread it on crackers or make little finger sandwiches. It always tasted so good! Thanks for sharing, Karen!!

  21. Eha says:

    To be honest had not even heard of pimento cheese until I read your post just now. Glad for the ‘lesson’ ! On my many business trips to the US must have stayed too far north. Like the cheese and pimento but since I have not had mayonnaise in the house for over 30 years can’t quite try the authentic version 🙂 ! . . .

    • Karen says:

      I can certainly understand Eha, unless you are from the southern portion of the U.S a lot of my readers won’t be familiar with pimento cheese.

  22. Karen, thanks for sharing. I love pimiento cheese and it is definitely the pate of the South! Madison’s in Highlands, NC serves it as an appetizer and theirs is also delicious.

    • Karen says:

      I’m always happy to share a recipe with you Pam, thank you. I looked at the beautiful inn as well as Madison’s menu and saw that they serve pimento cheese with spicy buttermilk crackers and a burger with pimento cheese and bacon on their lunch menu. If we are in the area, I would definitely plan on trying to stay there…thanks!

  23. I love pimiento cheese. I popped into my local market this weekend to pick up a few items to serve to unexpected company and surprisingly, they were featuring pimiento cheese spread made on the premises. I happily picked up a container and am still enjoying it. I bet your homemade version is way better.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jean, It is nice to know that you can find pimento cheese on the west coast if you don’t want to make your own. I did what you did, I shared this pimento cheese with friends at a party we were invited to. 🙂

  24. Debra says:

    You’ve reached back into my childhood, Karen, and answered a question! I didn’t realize that pimento cheese was so popular in the south. My grandmother was born and raised in Mississippi and my mother spent good portions of her life in the south in the homes of her aunts and cousins. So although she was born and primarily lived in California, she has a lot of southern attributes, and one of her favorites has always been pimento cheese. It is not something popular in California. Now I know how she was probably influenced, and I am going to make this recipe just to please her and give her a treat. Pate of the south! I have never heard that and I’m smiling!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Debra, It is always interesting to read food stories and how we take the food we love with us, no matter where we end up living. I bet your grandmother would be happy if she got a pimento cheese treat from you. I think it would bring back memories for her as well.

  25. This sounds fantastic, I have never had pimento cheese. I must be too far north. I cannot wait to try it! I will have to scope out that mayo you mentioned.

  26. this sounds very zesty and tasty karen. oh and cheesy of course:) quite delicious in fact I’m sure. cheers sherry

  27. I love the idea of a restaurant listing the ingredients of the day, especially if they are local. We went to a restaurant in Moissac, south west France, where the waitress recited the local organic ingredients that made up each dish; we had never seen that before and we loved it. The Pimento Cheese recipe looks easy to make and a winner for buffet food too.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Fatima, You are right about the pimento cheese being perfect for a buffet. I brought it to a pot luck Mardi Gras party where everyone brought a different dish. 🙂

  28. Pimiento cheese is indeed a Southern staple, and Southern cooks are pretty adamant about the proper way to make it! My favorite way is using extra sharp Cheddar, white Cheddar, Duke’s {not too much, just enough to hold it together} , pimientoes and salt and pepper, I love Charleston, I bet your lunch was fabulous!
    Jenna

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Jenna, So true about pimento cheese in the south. We all have our own idea of how it should be prepared although I don’t think I’ve every turned it down however it was prepared: 😀 I’m glad I can get Duke’s now, it is terrific mayonnaise.

  29. Conor Bofin says:

    Husk looks like a lovely venue. I really like your Pimento Cheese too. Most unusual for somebody from my side of the world.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Conor, Ireland has some wonderful cheddar cheese available. Even thought this might be an unusual dish on your side of the world, I know you could create a good one. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  30. Pam says:

    I love pimento cheese and yours looks great, Karen! It’s definitely the pâté of the South! The only thing I do different is add finely minced onion. My mother made it frequently when we lived in Louisvillle.

  31. Larry says:

    We love pimento cheese and often use the Masters Recipe. We’ve never made it with pickles though.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Larry, I had never had pickle in pimento cheese either before I had it at Husk. I guess it goes to show that you can teach old dogs new tricks. 😀

  32. Gloria Baker says:

    I love pimiento Karen and this looks absolutely delicious , my mom made some red pimiento with chicken and was really yumm!

  33. Michelle says:

    Duke’s, always. Love Husk, in both Charleston and Nashville. And that is a good recipe.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Michelle, I was so happy to see that our market started carrying Duke’s…it is a game changer for me. 🙂 Husks is a terrific restaurant, everything we tried was delicious.

  34. Yummy! Thanks for sharing. I’ve eaten pimento cheese before and really enjoyed it. I’ll give this recipe a go.

  35. I’ve never had or heard of this before. It sounds good,though.

    • Karen says:

      I’m glad you like the sound of the pimento cheese Jeff. Even though it is a southern thing, I think the spread is slowly making its way to the Chicago area. 🙂

  36. This is something I’ve heard of many times, but have never tried or seen in real life! I’d like to try it though because it always sounds so good.

  37. I was late to the party and just discovered pimento cheese probably in the last 5 years. However it is now one of my faves! But I add green chilies!

  38. So different and sounds just lovely…yum!

  39. I’ve been curious about pimento cheese, and now I know! I think the cheese lovers in my family would enjoy this.

  40. David says:

    I love pimiento cheese – and have never made it! Thanks for the recipe, Karen!

    • Karen says:

      I’m happy to have provided you with a recipe for pimento cheese David. Chef Brock’s version inspired me to try something different from what I grew up eating. Thank you. 🙂

  41. My mom used to make Pimento Cheese, and I haven’t had it in ages! She served it on thin slices of rye bread, melding traditions in all-American style. Your recipe sounds fabulous!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Deb, I’m glad that this post brought back memories of your mother’s pimento cheese. Thank you for your nice compliment, I’m happy to know that you like my version.

  42. This is one of the few things I’ve never eaten that has been high on my list to try! This sounds like a lovely version and loaded with delicious goodies.

  43. Very unfortunate that we don’t have this cheese here in Greece! Perhaps one day…

    • Karen says:

      Hi Katerina, Since you don’t have cheddar cheese available in your part of Greece, perhaps you might be able to use a Kasseri cheese…maybe an aged one. Just an idea and perhaps another reader might have a suggestion.

  44. Well, any cheese spread is enjoyable but when it is one like this it goes to the head of the class. Looks wonderful. I haven’t had pimento cheese in years but now that I have a wonderful recipe that may change — and soon!

  45. I’ve never tried pimento cheese but I like the look of your little picnic 🙂
    Amalia
    xo

  46. Eva Taylor says:

    During one of our progressive dinners, themed Masters Golf Tournament, the couple with the appetizers served pimento cheese, I had never had it before. It was delicious. My aunt in Hungary used to use up old bits of cheese mixed with butter and various seasonings, waste not, want not.

    • Karen says:

      Yes Eva, pimento cheese sandwiches are famous at the Masters Golf Tournament. I have a friend that usually does a party for the finals and I’m passing my recipe on to her. I’m sure I would have liked your aunts creation using old bits of cheese. 🙂

  47. Juliana says:

    I love this combination Karen…and never knew that is a staple from the South…and I am loving the idea of making my own spread. Thanks for the recipe. I hope you are having a great weekend!

  48. I’m game–sounds delicious! ( even looked up the difference between pimentos and red bell peppers 🙂

  49. Karen says:

    Good for you to look up the difference between pimento peppers and red bell peppers. I hope you will enjoy the recipe Inger, thank you.

  50. Peter Herpst says:

    Oh my, I’ve missed so many fabulous recipe posts of yours. You’ve been busy in the kitchen!

  51. I grew up in Charleston, and pimento cheese made many appearances in our house. It was usually in dip form for cocktail parties, but it wasn’t out of consideration to make a full-on pimento cheese sammich. So tasty! I miss Charleston, but I love bringing the flavors into my kitchen now. Good memories. This looks like a delicious pimento cheese recipe, Karen!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi David, I’m glad that my pimento cheese recipe brought back memories of your life living in Charleston. What a fantastic city to grow up in.

  52. We have not had this spread in decades and now am craving this on crackers. We have missed so many of your delicious recipes. Catching up.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Bobbi, I do appreciate your catching up…I’ve been doing a lot of that myself lately. Thank you as always for your nice compliment and I’m glad you like the pimento cheese recipe.

  53. karrie says:

    I went to college in Knoxville, Tn and couldn’t get enough jalapeno pimento cheese while I was there! OMG, I would get eat it by the spoonfuls. So addicting! Haven’t made it in such a long time, but now craving it, so will need to make your recipe ASAP. p.s I miss Duke’s mayo…

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karrie, I know what you mean about Duke’s mayo…I never saw it while we were in New Hampshire but I have a big jar in the fridge now. I’m glad that you like my pimento cheese recipe, thank you.

  54. This has just brought my childhood back in one big whoosh! My Texan mother was a huge fan of pimento cheese, a total anomaly in France, but not in my household!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Scarlett, I grew up in Texas and had a lot of pimento cheese growing up. I can certainly understand about pimento cheese being an anomaly in France. I’m glad this post brought back memories of your mother’s pimento cheese. Thank you for your compliment.

  55. roninjax says:

    I enjoy pimento cheese and haven’t eaten it lately. My taste buds are now beginning to ignite so I’ll need to satisfy them soon. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ron, Thank you for stopping by for a visit and your nice compliment. I’m glad you like my pimento cheese recipe…I hope you get a chance to have some soon. By the way, nice to have a reader from Florida, that is where we live.

  56. Carolyn Jung says:

    Pimento cheese is so dangerous — LOL — because once you take a taste you can’t stop. I love it smeared on grilled bread so it gets ever so melty.

  57. acommunaltable says:

    I’ve never had pimiento cheese with bread and butter pickles before. Definitely something that I need to rectify ASAP! Truly wish I had some right now!!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nancy, thank you for stopping by for a visit. When we had the pimento cheese with the pickles at Husk, it was a first for me as well. You know what…I was surprised how much I liked it.

  58. sippitysup says:

    Oh yes. Where I grew up it was correctly called Puh-MEN-ah cheese! GREG

  59. Roz says:

    Oh my gosh, Karen! I so love this post! First of all, growing up in the Midwest I would read “Southern Living: magazine and read about this dish called “pimento cheese’ and NEVER, EVER be able to find such a thing in stores nearby where I lived. Then moving to SC I was able to indulge ( a lot, and probably too much) on this wonderful ‘pate’ of the South’. Even in sliced white processed bread for tailgates at Clemson football games, every bite was a delight! As for Husk’s, oh what a treasure and this recipe must be worth gold! Thanks for sharing and I’ll soon be making it and probably indulging in it far more than my hips need the fat!

    • Karen says:

      I appreciate your lovely compliment Roz, I’m happy to know that you enjoyed my post on pimento cheese. You gave me a chuckle, the cheese spread probably has been known to add to our hips at little but it is oh so good. 😀

  60. A cheese that needs more universal appreciation, I think! Thank you for sharing it with a wider audience!

  61. Karen says:

    Hi Ksenia, Yes…I’ve definitely introduce pimento cheese to readers all around the world. Now the challenge will be for some of them to find the cheddar cheese or a good substitute to recreate the recipe. 🙂

  62. mjskit says:

    WOW! This takes me back. My southern mother made this quite often. Now I’m craving it. Thanks Karen!

    • Karen says:

      Hi MJ, I’m happy that my sharing this pimento cheese brought back memories of when your mother made it for you. Hope you get to make some soon.

  63. Karen says:

    I just made some pimento cheese! Thanks for the story behind it!

  64. Karen says:

    Hi Karen, Thank you for stopping by for a visit and your nice comment. It is nice to know another Karen and that you enjoyed my story about pimento cheese.

  65. ourbalancedbowl says:

    Karen, awesome post! I grew up and still currently live in the South. It took me years to like pimento cheese but now I can’t get enough of it!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s