Homemade Pimento Cheese is classic and simple with just grated Cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, pimentos, and cayenne pepper. It’s easy to make and great as either a dip or for sandwiches! Watch the video at the end of this post to see how I make Pimento Cheese.
Masters Pimento Cheese
It’s Masters Week and that means it’s time for many lucky attendees of the Master’s tournament to experience their first taste of homemade pimento cheese. The legendary sandwiches are served at Augusta National for only $1.50. Since I’ve never tasted these, I can’t vouch for them but apparently they are one of the tournament’s most popular items.
Update 2015: We did attend the Masters Tournament this year and I did have a pimento cheese sandwich. And it was just ho-hum. But still fun!
Homemade Pimento Cheese
Homemade pimento cheese is one of those classic Southern dishes that many of us remember from childhood as something we never gave much thought to. If you were hungry, you were likely to get a pimento cheese sandwich. If you were going to a church dinner, your mama probably took pimento cheese sandwiches.
If you were attending a bridal shower, there was probably a tray of “fancier” pimento cheese sandwiches, cut into dainty squares with the crusts cut off.
And if it was the middle of the night and a glowing light was shining from the kitchen, you might have caught your dad with the refrigerator door open, snacking on pimento cheese on Ritz crackers.
Southern Pimento Cheese or Not?
I did a little research on the history of pimento cheese, and it turns out that this is not a Southern food in origin. According to author and food historian Robert Moss, the term and subsequent recipe variations of pimento cheese actually began with Northern cheese manufacturers seeking to expand the usage of their new popular product, cream cheese.
The state of Georgia does lay claim to pimentos, however, as it became the leading grower and producer of pimentos in the nation in the early 1900s. Regardless of how it came to be, pimento cheese is now identified as a Southern food—but there is little agreement on the actual pimento cheese recipe.
Pimento Cheese Recipe
While my pimento cheese recipe calls for only extra sharp white and extra sharp yellow Cheddar, there are plenty of Southern cooks who use Velveeta, cream cheese, or even Monterey Jack. Some people add grated onions or olives or jalapeno peppers, along with various seasonings like Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, or garlic.
I like to keep it simple and only use Duke’s mayonnaise, cheese, and pimentos with a little cayenne and black pepper mixed in. There are also debates about grating—should you use the smaller holes or the larger holes—or grate it in the food processor?
I will tell you, I think the food processor is just about the greatest thing since sliced bread when it comes to grating cheese, if I’m making macaroni and cheese. But not for pimento cheese.
I like to use the small side of the handheld grater because the more delicate, softer shreds of cheese mix into a creamier consistency for the final dish, but I mix it up and grate about one-third of the cheese using the large grates because I like the way the different sizes blend together.
Tools Needed for Pimento Cheese
My favorite recipes are the ones that don’t need tools at all, or at most, something simple that everyone has in their kitchen, like this box grater. Here are a few fun dishes and other things that I’ve picked out for you to help with this pimento cheese recipe:
Ingredients for the Pimento Cheese Recipe
- Two 8 oz. blocks extra sharp Cheddar cheese (I prefer Cracker Barrel and usually use one white and one yellow)
One 4 oz. jar diced pimentos, drained
1/2 – 3/4 cup mayonnaise (Duke’s – amount depends on how creamy you like it)
1/2 – 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
How to Make Pimento Cheese
To start, take cold Cheddar and grate some on the small side of the handheld grater and some on the large side until you have a bowl full.
Then stir in mayonnaise, pimentos, cayenne pepper, and a little freshly ground black pepper if you want. No salt as the cheese is usually salty enough by itself.
Mix everything together until the pimento cheese is smooth and creamy. And taste. This is the most important part. Start with a smaller amount of mayo than the recipe calls for, as well as a smaller amount of cayenne pepper, then taste as you go. You may not like it as creamy or as spicy as I do, so you may want to stick with a little less.
Homemade pimento cheese is all about personal preference.
This recipe makes enough pimento cheese for a party and to have leftovers for sandwiches. You can keep it in the fridge for several days, although it probably won’t stick around that long.
Here’s a video tutorial for making Homemade Pimento Cheese!
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If you enjoyed this Pimento Cheese recipe, you might also love these appetizer recipes:
Homemade Pimento Cheese
- 2 8 oz. blocks extra sharp Cheddar cheese (I prefer Cracker Barrel and usually use one white and one yellow)
- 1 4 oz. jar diced pimentos, drained
- 1/2 - 3/4 cup mayonnaise (Duke's - amount depends on how creamy you like it)
- 1/2 - 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Grate cheese into large bowl using small side of grater. Drain pimentos and add to cheese. Sprinkle the cayenne (start with 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon and taste after mixing) and black pepper over the cheese. Stir in 1/2 cup of mayonnaise. You may decide to add an additional 1/4-1/2 cup depending on how creamy you like it. Mix well and taste. Add more mayo, cayenne, and a little salt if needed--usually don't need salt as cheese is salty.