Creamy and tangy, this classic Southern pimento cheese recipe is perfect for summer picnics, dinner outside with kids, or a quick snack! Hand grated cheese and a tangy dressing are mixed, then chilled before serving.
As a picky eater who often turned down the meat on the plate for more vegetables, pimento cheese sandwiches were a lifesaver. Before the spread was “elevated” into restaurant menus as a gourmet appetizer or primo burger topping, pimento cheese came in a clear tub from the Piggly Wiggly. Though I still love that store-bought classic, these days I prefer to take the helm and make my own.
- Sharp Cheddar Cheese: 1 lb. sharp cheddar
- Monterey Jack or Pepperjack Cheese: this will add some creaminess and potentially spiciness to the dish.
- Pimentos: make sure to drain these well before mixing.
- Mayonnaise: a savory, not sweet, mayonnaise that is either full fat or low fat is best here.
- Plain or Greek Yogurt: this will cut the richness of the mayonnaise without sacrificing creaminess.
- Spicy Mustard: mustard will play up the sharpness of the cheese.
- Salt & pepper to taste
I also like to add 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast to my spread, but this is completely optional. If you are not used to cooking with it or don’t know what it is, leave it out!
Step by Step Instructions
- In a big mixing bowl, grate your cheeses together.
- In a smaller bowl, mix the mayonnaise, yogurt, and mustard together, stirring well to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Taste your dressing to make sure you like it, and adjust as needed before adding your drained pimentos and stirring it together.
- Add your dressing to your big cheese bowl and stir to combine. Adjust your dressing to cheese ratio to make it as creamy as you prefer by adding more mayonnaise or yogurt to your liking.
- Chill the mixture in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Serving Ideas for Southern Pimento Cheese
Pimento cheese makes an excellent appetizer plate or party food. Set out with cut vegetables, crackers, and meats for an excellent starter.
Pimento cheese also makes an excellent grilled cheese on two pieces of sourdough bread.
To make a pimento cheese ball, simply shape it into a ball, chill, and roll in chopped nuts. Besides a sandwich, excellent with summer tomatoes, it makes a tangy grilled cheese, excellent burger topping, unbelievably rich cheese grits, or tailgate-ready jalapeño poppers.
Can I freeze pimento cheese?
Freezing pimento cheese is not a good option. The process of freezing and thawing will affect the consistency of the dressing, making it runny and watery.
What cheeses are best for pimento cheese?
Cheddar, gouda, pepperjack, and edam are great options for pimento cheese. Very soft cheeses like Brie will not be able to hold their shape in the spread. Super pungent cheeses like parmesan or manchego are going to be overpowering in the amount needed for pimento cheese. Fairly firm, middle-range cheeses are best.
What kind of mayonnaise is best for making pimento cheese?
Savory mayonnaise is best here. Sweet salad spreads like Miracle Whip will not meld well with the sharp mustard and cheese and tangy pimentos.
Making Ahead and Storing
You can grate the cheeses and make the dressing, then store them in separate airtight containers in the fridge for up to 3 days. When you are ready to serve, mix the chilled ingredients together.
Prepared pimento cheese can store in the fridge for up 5 days. I do not recommend freezing pimento cheese.
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Southern Pimento Cheese
- 16 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
- 16 ounces Monterey jack or pepperjack cheese
- 4 ounces pimentos, drained
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- ⅓ cup plain or Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon prepared spicy mustard
- salt and pepper to taste
- Grate your cheeses into a large bowl.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, yogurt, and mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Taste your dressing and adjust the seasoning as you prefer.
- Add the thoroughly drained pimentos to the sauce and stir to combine.
- Add the dressing to the cheese, mixing well.
- Chill the mixture in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes before serving.
- When mixing the dressing with your cheeses, be gentle. Try not to break apart your cheese strands.
- Heat is a great addition to this dish! We sometimes add sriracha to the dressing for a spicy kick.
- Make sure you use a good, savory mayonnaise.
- This will store in the fridge for about a week.
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