Southern Pimento Cheese Recipe

I love pimento cheese. Sometimes called the “pate of the south” this cheesy southern staple has really come into its own in recent years.

Pimento cheese has been showing up and showing off on burgers, on charcuterie boards, and even on the menus of fancy restaurants.

Southern Pimento cheese recipe. This photo shows a container of southern pimento cheese on celery and on crackers.

I think that it is about time that this often maligned food receives the recognition it has long deserved!

You can even find some pretty good grocery store versions of pimento cheese. Palmetto Cheese is the best of the grocery brands in my opinion.

But as always, homemade is the way to go! This pimento cheese recipe is easy to make, even more delicious than you can imagine, and way more versatile than you might think. Pimento cheese is a southern classic and always a hit!

What Goes Into Pimento Cheese

Ingredients that go in a southern Pimento cheese recipe.

Pimento cheese is basically a mixture of pimentos, cheeses, and mayonnaise.

But it is so much more than the sum of its simple parts.

What is a pimento?

Pimentos aren’t just that red thing that comes inside of an olive! A pimento is a type of small, mild, somewhat sweet red pepper sometimes known as a cherry pepper.

When I say that it is mild I mean it. The cherry pepper is one of the mildest peppers on the Scoville Scale.

Sometimes you can find cherry peppers at the grocery store or your local farmer’s markets. They can be roasted, then peeled and chopped for use in your pimento cheese.

That’s what my favorite southern chef, food guru, and cookbook author Sean Brock suggests that you do.

For most of us? We “ain’t got time for that.”

Mr. Brock also says that whole pimentos like these are much more flavorful than the already diced ones. If you can find whole pimentos you can chop them yourself to use in your pimento cheese.

However, they are hard to find in my local grocery store so often I use the diced ones in a jar.

cheddar cheese shredded on a box grater

What About the Cheese?

It’s ALL about the cheese!

Use a good, sharp cheddar cheese that you grate yourself. I use sharp Tillamook cheddar for this pimento cheese recipe.

I know it is tempting to take a short cut and buy already shredded cheese but don’t do it! Shredded cheddar in a bag has a coating to prevent it from clumping together. This will affect the texture of your pimento cheese.

Just shred a nice cheddar on a box grater and you are ready to go.

By the way, an 8 ounce block of cheese equals about 2 cups shredded cheese.

To Cream Cheese or Not to Cream Cheese?

The biggest issue I have with most pimento cheese recipes is that they use WAY too much cream cheese. The cream cheese can dilute the taste of the cheddar which really should be the star of the recipe.

In fact, some people make delicious southern pimento cheese with no cream cheese at all! However, I do like to add a little softened cream cheese to my pimento cheese recipe for the nice texture and bit of tangy flavor that it adds.

What About the Mayonnaise?

Southerners can do some arguing about the best mayonnaise, y’all.

I like Duke’s and I think it is perfect for a good southern pimento cheese. However, if you don’t have or can’t easily get Duke’s mayonnaise…first of all, bless your heart. Second of all, it’ll be ok. Just use any good mayonnaise.

How to Mix Your Southern Pimento Cheese

How do you like the texture of your pimento cheese? You will see a lot of recipes that use a food processor to mix everything up. Obviously, this is going to make a pimento cheese that is creamy and more like a spread.

Around here we just stir it up. I like my pimento cheese recipe to be a little chunky. I prefer to see the grated cheese and the red and the green of the ingredients.

But it is really a matter of preference!

Ok, here we go!

Southern Pimento cheese recipe. This photo shows a container of southern pimento cheese on celery and on crackers.

Southern Pimento Cheese Recipe

Pimento Cheese is a southern staple. This is an easy and delicious southern Pimento Cheese recipe!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Course Appetizer, Dips, Lunch
Cuisine American, Southern


  • 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4 ounce jar of diced pimentos drained
  • 3 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • I medium jalapeno deseeded and finely diced
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • a few grinds of black pepper


  • Grate a good sharp cheddar cheese on the medium holes of a box grater
    cheddar cheese shredded on a box grater
  • Place cheese into a bowl along with:
  • 4 ounce jar of diced pimentos drained
  • 3 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1 medium deseeded and finely diced jalapeno
    finely diced jalapeno
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • a few grinds of black pepper
  • Stir together
  • Add more mayonnaise as needed for taste and texture
Keyword pimento cheese

Extras You Can Add to This Southern Pimento Cheese Recipe

Even though this Pimento Cheese is pretty much perfect here are some things that you might want to try adding!

  • Sprinkle the top with chopped bacon when serving as a dip
  • This recipe already has jalapeno but if you want it even more spicy sprinkle in a bit of cayenne.
  • Or a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce!
  • Add in some minced green onion. This is one of my favorite additions because it really gives the pimento cheese a nice fresh flavor.
  • Instead of the minced green onion you can add in a little grated sweet onion. Not too much though as it can overpower the other flavors!
  • Some people like to throw in some chopped pickles. Bread and butter pickles are delicious in pimento cheese.

Ways to Use and Serve Southern Pimento Cheese

  • Spread on celery sticks
  • As a dip with crackers
  • As a dip with vegetables
  • As an unexpected addition to a charcuterie board
  • You haven’t lived until you’ve had a pimento grilled cheese sandwich. Make it as you would normally make a grilled cheese sandwich or try this extra special version.
  • On a pimento cheese quesadilla
  • Spread thin on bread and cut into little tea sandwiches
  • Slathered on a grilled burger
  • Use with other cheesy recipes like Mac and Cheese or Cheesy Grits or Sausage Balls

Let me know in the comments your favorite ways to use pimento cheese and your favorite ingredients!

Here is an absurdly delicious pimento cheese sandwich that we make every summer when the green tomatoes start hitting the farmer’s markets.

Pimento cheese sausage balls are a great snack to serve a crowd at brunch.

I hope that you enjoy this southern delight!

Thanks for stopping by.