Pimento cheese spread is the perfect party appetizer. It’s super easy to make, and it can be used in a variety of ways. If you’re expecting guests (or even if they show up without warning), a quick batch of pimento cheese is the perfect food to put out.
I’m not Southern, so I will admit that I’m not exactly an expert on pimento cheese since I didn’t grow up eating it – but I think I probably qualify as an expert on cheese, and I know when something tastes good. So that’s close enough, right?
Being not Southern, that also means that I did not grow up using Duke’s mayo. I’ve always bought Hellman’s (which is also known as Best Foods in some areas). But since this is such a Southern recipe at heart, and I am all about authenticity in cooking, I went for Duke’s!
If you’ve ever talked to a Southerner about their preferred brand of mayo, they will sing the gospel of Duke’s mayo. So, being always on the lookout for the best of the best in ingredients, I tried Duke’s and Hellman’s side by side to see if it really is as good as they say…. and the verdict is that they really taste the same. I know, I know. But put away your pitchforks.
Duke’s has a thicker consistency, and I think it has a higher oil to egg ratio than Hellman’s, buuttt if you gave me a blind taste test I wouldn’t be able to tell which was which – and I’m the type of person who can taste the difference between different brands of milk. So, like, I’m not kidding when I say they taste the same. If you already have Hellman’s, use that. If you want to be authentic, use Duke’s.
As for which brand I prefer? Well, Duke’s is slightly cheaper, so I will probably keep buying that when it’s available!
Anyway, back to the pimento cheese.
This recipe is pretty adaptable. You can use a mix of any types of cheeses, but I would stick with at least half extra sharp cheddar. Here are some ideas:
- Substitute half of the cheddar with pepper jack cheese, gruyere, or Swiss cheese
- Substitute 1/4th of the cheddar with smoked gouda
- Use cayenne pepper instead of paprika for a spicy kick
- Add chopped pickled jalapeños, and substitute red wine vinegar with brine from the jar
- Add chopped sun-dried tomatoes
There are so many ways to use pimento cheese. I like to serve it as a spread with potato chips. Crackers are a bit more classic, but it’s not easy to find a truly good gluten free cracker. Here are some alternative serving ideas:
- Celery sticks
- Tortilla chips
- Toasted baguette slices (For gluten free baguettes, I like Against The Grain brand)
- Pimento cheese sandwich (spread between two slices of white bread, can be served cold or as a grilled cheese)
- Baked potato topping (I can vouch that this is truly amazing with some salt and pepper on a hot baked potato)
- On top of your favorite burger
- Stuffed inside a baked chicken breast
- Baked or warmed in the crockpot and served as a hot dip
If you like to eat pimento cheese some other way, let me know in the comments!
Okay, I’m done rambling. Here’s the recipe.
- 1 8oz block cream cheese, softened
- ½ cup mayonnaise (I used Duke's)
- 16oz extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 4oz jar diced pimentos, drained
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon mustard powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 2-4 dashes hot sauce (I used Frank's)
- Chopped fresh parsley (optional)
- Combine cream cheese and mayonnaise in a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer and beat on medium until smooth.
- Add in all other ingredients and beat until just combined. You can adjust the amount of hot sauce based on your tastes. Garnish with parsley, if desired.
- Serve with potato chips.
I highly recommend that you grate your own cheese for this, because the added starches/cellulose in pre-grated cheese will change the texture of this recipe.