Southern Pimento Cheese Recipe

Southern Living calls it the Pâté of  The South. I just call it yummy. Comfort and food all on one plate, it just doesn’t get any better than this!

Pimento cheese is so ingrained into southern culinary heritage, most of us find it difficult to believe that people from other parts of the country have yet to taste this delicacy.  I was flabergasted to say the least when I discovered friends from the west coast  had never even tasted pimento cheese, let alone slathered it on a burger or a hotdog for the ultimate decadent treat!

Like most Southerners, I grew up with pimento cheese spread. From the the tasteless, pre-processed variety you find in the grocer’s dairy section. (It lacked soul, it lacked flavor it lacked everything that make southern foods comforting and warm. Basically, full of chemicals and not so full of anything good.) to the homemade variety, chunky and rich, flavorful and wholesome.

But, you won’t have to travel south to find this southern staple.  The ingredient list is short and readily available at all grocery outlets and this stuff is a cinch to make. No food processor or mixer necessary.

In my search for the best pimento cheese spread recipe I’ve thumbed through hundreds of cookbooks, with nary a pimento cheese recipe to be found. Little did I know, that recipe was a hand me down! Even today, you can cruise most published recipe books and you won’t find a single vestige of  a down home southern style pimento cheese recipe.  And while 100’s of sites, nay thousands of sites, recount  their favorite recipe, if you look closely you won’t see much difference.

My recipe for pimento cheese (handed down from my ex-mother-in-law) is one of the best I’ve ever tasted, but there are endless variations on the theme. Many include  lots of spices (cayenne and such); mine does not. Cream cheese is also a common ingredient that you won’t find in this recipe. One common combination I do use is blending Monterey Jack with Sharp Cheddar Cheese.

Southern Style Pimento Cheese
Prep time
Total time
Decadent yet simple southern comfort food.
Recipe type: Main Course
  • 3+/- tablespoons real Mayonnaise (I use Duke's)
  • 1 (4-oz.) jar diced pimiento, drained
  • 2 cloves. finely diced garlic (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 (8-oz.) block extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, finely shredded
  • 1 (8-oz.) block sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1(8-oz) block Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  1. Stir together first 3 ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Stir in cheese in small portions until mixed well.
  3. Don't mash or use a mixer, you want to be able to 'see' the shreds.
  4. Add a little more mayo if mixture is too stiff.
  5. Salt and Pepper to taste.
Serve on freshly washed celery ribs, crackers, or between two slices of trimmed white bread for sandwiches. Cut thin slices of French bread, spread pimento cheese on as desired and run under the broiler until bubbly. Once you've gotten your basic recipe down, you can experiment with a myriad of additions like jalapeno's, hot sauce, cayenne pepper and more.


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  1. Dora J Crow

    Hey, I am from Montgomery, Alabama. My family also has a hand-me-down version, one of which I cannot seem to get the Aunt’s to agree on. (my grandmother, along with my mother, and most of the Aunts have passed away who made it all the time) I now only have two Aunts left. They both make it differently. I see you put actual garlic in yours, in lieu of garlic powder. I remember them using garlic powder, or either granulated garlic in theirs. Did you ever try a recipe with it, and was it that much different? I am Pinning this recipe, so I can make it. I am then going to get my cousins (daughters of those said Aunts) to make some so we can compare. I have never had any with any type of other cheese, besides Sharp & extra sharp. (well, unless you count that Yankee that made it with VELVEETA!) Thanks, Dora J Crow

    • Debbie Lawrence

      Garlic Powder is an ‘acceptable’ substitute for most recipes. Just Be sure you’re not using garlic ‘salt’. Personally, I love the taste of fresh garlic. The Monterey Jack adds a little brightness to the flavor. Certainly you ‘could’ make it without.