Southern Pimento Cheese Spread

Pimento Cheese Spread
Southern Pimento Cheese Spread. Diana Rattray
  • Total: 15 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 2 Cups (32 servings)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
51 Calories
5g Fat
1g Carbs
2g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2 Cups (32 servings)
Amount per serving
Calories 51
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5g 6%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Cholesterol 10mg 3%
Sodium 77mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 1g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Protein 2g
Calcium 53mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Pimento 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 (where they make a delicious pimento cheese appetizer plate) pimento cheese spread can be traced back to the early 20th century.

Pimiento cheese can be made a little chunkier with chopped dill pickle, pickled jalapeño peppers, or grated onion, or you can leave it smooth and creamy. 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).

Ingredients

  • 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

Steps to Make It

  1. Shred the cheese and put it in a mixing bowl. If at all possible, shred the cheese from a good quality block of cheddar cheese. Use sharp, extra-sharp, or a combination.

  2. Add the cream cheese, mayonnaise, and grated onion, if using, along with the hot sauce.

  3. 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.

  4. Store in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 1 week.

Variations

  • Add a few tablespoons of chopped pickled jalapeño 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 Pimento 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.