Pimento Cheese recipe that's 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!
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.
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When April comes around, many lucky attendees of the Masters Tournament get to experience their first taste of pimento cheese. The legendary sandwiches are served at Augusta National for only $1.50.
We attended the Masters one year, and I thought their sandwiches were just okay, certainly nothing to get excited about. This recipe is much tastier!
What's in pimento cheese?
In its most basic form, pimento cheese is a simple combination of cheese, mayonnaise, and chopped pimentos.
From there, folks like to add other things, like Velveeta cheese, cream cheese, jalapenos, onions, and other seasonings.
Pimento cheese recipe
I like to keep it simple and only use Duke's mayonnaise, sharp Cheddar cheese, and diced 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 use the small grating blade in my food processor, which makes everything so much easier.
But here's my new secret trick for this pimento cheese recipe: you can mix it up using a stand mixer! If you don't have a Kitchen Aid or any kind of stand mixer, get yourself one! You can use it for so much more than just baking recipes!
So now, by using the food processor to grate the cheese and the mixer to stir it all together, you can have it ready in about 6 minutes. It takes longer to clean the blades of the machines than to actually make the pimento cheese!
Pimento cheese ingredients
- Two 8 oz. blocks extra sharp Cheddar cheese — I like Cabot or Cracker Barrel brand
- One 4 oz. jar diced pimentos, drained
- ½ - ¾ cup mayonnaise — Duke's mayonnaise is my preferred brand - amount depends on how creamy you like it
- ½ - 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper — my default is 1 teaspoon, but that's a little spicy for some people
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
How to make pimento cheese
Step 1. Grate cheese.
To start, take cold Cheddar and grate in the food processor. Alternatively, you can grate some on the small side of the handheld grater and some on the large side until you have a bowl full.
Step 2. Mix ingredients.
Place grated cheese, mayonnaise, pimentos, cayenne pepper, and a little freshly ground black pepper in large bowl of a stand mixer. No salt as the cheese is usually salty enough by itself.
Starting on low, mix for a minute just to blend and then turn mixer to medium-high to mix well and incorporate all the ingredients. Should take 2-3 minutes.
Mix everything together until it's smooth and creamy. And taste. This is the most important part.
Alternatively, just put everything in a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon. This method takes a lot of elbow grease!
When I use the stand mixer, I add ¾ cup of mayonnaise and 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper and it makes the perfect recipe for us. But it's important for you to taste the first time you make it so you can determine for yourself how creamy and how spicy you want your pimento cheese.
**Cook's Tip: 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.
This recipe makes enough dip 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.
Tips and questions:
Can you freeze pimento cheese?
No, pimento cheese does not freeze well due to the separation of the oil that is in the mayonnaise and the cheese.
How do you store it?
This is a great make ahead recipe and keeps well in the refrigerator for several days. Just store it in an airtight container and serve at room temperature.
What's a good pre-made brand?
There are plenty of times when I just grab something from the store in a hurry and if that's the case, I always choose Palmetto brand.
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Pimento Cheese Recipe
- 2 8 oz. blocks extra sharp Cheddar cheese, (I prefer Cabot or Cracker Barrel and usually use one white and one yellow)
- 1 4 oz. jar diced pimentos, drained
- ½ - ¾ cup mayonnaise, (Duke's - amount depends on how creamy you like it)
- ½ - 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (optional)
- Grate cheese into large bowl using small side of grater or food processor.
- Drain pimentos and add to cheese.
- Sprinkle the cayenne (start with ¼ or ½ teaspoon and taste after mixing) and black pepper over the cheese.
- Stir in ½ cup of mayonnaise. You may decide to add an additional ¼-1/2 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.
Tips for Making the Best Pimento Cheese:
- Choose high quality cheese like Cracker Barrel brand.
- I only use Duke's Mayonnaise.
- Use a food processor to grate the cheese and a stand mixer to stir together.
- Start with a smaller amount of mayo and cayenne pepper and taste as you go.
- You can make this pimento cheese recipe several days in advance and store in the refrigerator.
- Do not freeze.
- Serve at room temperature.
Update Notes: This post was originally published April 4, 2011, and on August 21, 2020, was updated with one or more of the following: step-by-step photos, video, updated recipe, new tips.
This post is part of my favorite Southern Foods at Home collection.