Pimiento cheese spread is an important and much-loved Southern food, and it's super easy to prepare. Serve it as an appetizer with grilled bread or crackers or use it to fill sandwiches or celery sticks. It makes a fabulous topping for grilled burgers, too!
According to Chattanooga's Public House (they make an incredible pimiento cheese appetizer plate!) pimiento cheese spread can be traced back to the early 20th century.
Pimiento cheese can be made a little chunkier with some chopped dill pickle or pickled jalapeno peppers, or leave it smooth and creamy. I like it with some grated onion or onion powder, but that's optional. I also like the combination of cream cheese and mayonnaise with the cheddar, and a dash of Texas Pete or Frank's Hot Sauce adds some pleasant heat. Some make it with no cream cheese, just the mayonnaise. Every Southern cook has his or her own special family recipe, and no two are the same.
The pimiento is a large sweet red pepper. The peppers are heart-shaped and they're sweeter than a sweet red bell pepper. Paprika is made from pimientos. You'll likely find pimientos in jars in the vegetable aisle of your local supermarket. If you can't find them, roasted red bell peppers can be used in a pinch, or roast your own red bell peppers (see instructions below).
- 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese (shredded *)
- 3 tablespoons (about 2 ounces) cream cheese (softened)
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- Optional: 1 tablespoon onion (grated)
- dash hot sauce (Texas Pete, Frank's, Tabasco, etc.)
- 4 ounces pimientos (drained and chopped)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Shred the cheese and put it in a mixing bowl. Add the cream cheese, mayonnaise, and grated onion, if using, along with the hot sauce. Mix with a wooden spoon or flexible spatula until well combined. Add the drained and chopped pimientos and continue mixing until well blended. Taste and season with salt and pepper, as needed.
Store in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 1 week.
*If at all possible, shred the cheese from a good quality block of cheddar cheese.
Use sharp, extra-sharp, or a combination. I like the yellow cheese, but you may use white cheese as well.
Tips and Variations
- Add a few tablespoons of chopped pickled jalapeno peppers or chopped dill pickle to the cheese mixture.
- Substitute diced roasted red bell peppers for the pimientos.
- Add a dash of garlic powder to the mixture.
How to Roast Fresh Pimiento Peppers or Red Bell Peppers
Preheat the oven to 500 F. Place bell peppers on a baking pan and place in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, turning frequently to char all sides. The skins should be charred and wrinkled. Remove the peppers from the oven and cover the pan tightly with foil. Let stand for about 25 to 35 minutes, or until the peppers are cool enough to handle. Quarter the peppers and remove stem, peels, and seeds. Chop the peppers and use in the recipe or put them in a container, add a few tablespoons of olive oil, and cover the container. Refrigerate the peppers for up to 2 weeks.
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