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My savory peppery Homemade Pimento Cheese is prepared with fresh ingredients — like hand-grated cheddar cheese, mild pimento peppers, white onions, silky cream cheese, and mayonnaise — combined into a cheesy, fluffy, spreadable texture.

You’re not alone if the words “pimento cheese” bring up major nostalgic feelings. It’s a traditional southern dip or spread many of us grew up on.

a bowl mounded full with homemade pimento cheese with crackers on a plate.

As a child, you probably didn’t realize the little flecks of bright red were, in fact, pimento peppers. Most kids are picky eaters, but old-fashioned pimento cheese has always been a family favorite!

This classic southern appetizer is easy and quick, taking only about 10 minutes to prepare!

All you need is a stand mixer, electric mixer, or a food processor (depending on your preference or what you have handy) and a few quality ingredients.

If you enjoy this savory homemade dip, be sure to check out my Cheesy Shrimp Dip, Blue Cheese Bacon Dip, and Roasted Red Pepper and Artichoke Tapenade for more crowd-pleasing yet simple recipes.

ingredients for homemade pimento cheese on a table.

Key ingredients & substitutions for Southern Pimento Cheese

  • Cream cheese — Cream cheese is the base for this cheesy spread. It enhances the flavor of the cheddar cheese and makes the recipe spreadable. Not all pimento cheese dips use cream cheese. Some only use mayonnaise, which is what you can do if you prefer.
  • Sharp cheddar cheese — Sharp cheddar cheese is a given for any pimento cheese recipe. I recommend freshly grating a block of extra sharp cheddar for the most genuine flavor. If you aren’t a fan of sharp cheddar, you can use a milder variation.
  • Mayonnaise — Mayonnaise gives this cheese spread a silkier texture and tangy flavor. If you’re looking to make this spread just like your grandmother used to, the famous southern brand would be Dukes.
  • White onion — I like to use about two spoonfuls of grated white onion for some mild onion flavor. However, this ingredient is a little flexible—you may use green onion or onion powder instead.
  • Pimentos — If you’re unfamiliar with these unique peppers, pimentos are a small and sweet red pepper. I use the jarred option to make this recipe even quicker and easier. However, you may roast fresh pimentos if you’d like! It’s also important to note that pimentos are often called cherry peppers at the store. If you are having a hard time locating them, you can use some roasted red bell peppers as well.  
  • Spices — For making pimento cheese, you can use either a little garlic powder or a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, depending on what you want in your final spread. In fact, you can use a little of both! And finally, add a pinch of freshly ground black pepper.

How to make Pimento Cheese Spread

After completing this simple pimento cheese recipe, you’ll never choose a store-bought spread again! The quality ingredients and authentic flavors of my homemade recipe make for a much tastier and smoother snack. Plus, it merely takes minutes to prepare!

adding a block of cream cheese to the bowl of a stand mixer for homemade pimento cheese.

STEP 1 | Beat the cream cheese

First, ensure your cream cheese has been softened so it mixes well. Then, place the softened cream cheese into the bowl of a stand mixer or electric mixer.

Beat with the paddle attachment until you have a creamier texture. You do not want the whisk attachment as it will change the texture of the cheesy spread.

tip

  • If you’ve forgotten to take the cream cheese out to soften ahead of time, there’s no need to panic! You can easily microwave the cream cheese for just a few seconds to make it easier to mix and spread. Place chopped-up cubes of the cream cheese into a microwave-safe container and warm it up for just 15 to 30 seconds. Problem solved!

shredded sharp cheddar cheese. mayo, onion, and garlic powder added to cheese for homemade pimento cheese.

STEP 2 | Mix in other ingredients 

In the same bowl, toss in your shredded cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, grated white onion, and garlic powder (or cayenne pepper).

Now, give the bowlful a good mix on low or switch to a rubber spatula until they are all well combined.

tips

  • Once you have added the onion and cheese, I recommend not using a food processor because pimento cheese is often best experienced when the fresh ingredients retain their original textures.
  • I also recommend grating the sharp cheddar cheese yourself rather than buying a bag of shredded cheese. Not only does the powder coating pre-shredded cheese mute the flavor, but it also obstructs the creamy texture of this pimento cheese spread recipe.

adding diced pimentos to a bowl of creamed cheese and cheddar cheese.

STEP 3 | Add in the pimentos

Next, drain your diced pimento peppers and add them into the large mixing bowl. Use a rubber spatula to stir until the pimentos are evenly distributed throughout.

Of course, you can use the pre-diced jarred type of pimentos to make this recipe a breeze.

tips

  • As the pimento cheese gradually chills, it will become firmer. Simply adjust the amount of mayonnaise to reach the temperature or creaminess you prefer.
  • You can adjust the recipe to your liking and make it your own. Add in some hot sauce or paprika to turn up the heat. Or, make this recipe unique by adding chopped green olives, pickle relish, or even bacon crumbles.

Step 4 | Serve!

And you’re done! Suddenly, you have a cheesy, peppery, old-fashioned pimento cheese ready in just minutes! For the best flavor and creamy texture, serve immediately.

a bowl mounded full with homemade pimento cheese with crackers on a plate.

Frequently asked questions

Can you store this homemade pimento cheese for later? 

Suppose you have many different delicious dishes to prepare for an exciting party coming up. In this case, mixing your pimento cheese dip ahead of time may save you some hassle.

To do this, store your completed spread in an air-tight container and place it in the refrigerator for up to one whole week.

What is best to dip into southern pimento cheese?

The possibilities are endless! Some of my favorite things to dip into this cheesy goodness include:
* My favorite crispy potato chips
* Some healthy celery
* Thin, crunchy crackers, like Saltines
* Veggie sticks
* Pretzel chips
* Sliced red peppers
* Toasted baguette crackers

Pimento Cheese makes for the perfect dip or spread, but can it be served any other way?

It sure can! Make irresistible pimento grilled cheese sandwiches, top freshly charred burgers with pimento cheese, or dress baked potatoes with the spread. Pimento cheese is perfect for savory, cheesy sliders and even deviled eggs!

I’ve also heard of people tucking it into homemade bread for a yummy twist on a traditional loaf. That is a great twist on a traditional pimento cheese sandwich. Really, you can’t go wrong with this versatile recipe. Get creative and see what you can come up with!

Serving suggestions

Don’t you agree there’s simply nothing better than golden Ritz crackers spread with homemade pimento cheese?

Yet, for a stunning presentation of this southern favorite, sprinkle bacon crumbles and fresh chopped green onions on top! You can also drizzle on your favorite hot sauce, too.

What’s more southern than fried okra and a healthy scoop of old-fashioned pimento cheese? Create the ultimate southern appetizer or snack with my irresistible, mouthwatering Pimento Cheese Okra Bites!

Or, spread some freshly made pimento cheese onto my Red Pepper and Bacon Bruschetta or go old-school and use it as a sandwich spread.

a pimento cheese sandwich cut in half on a plate with olives and potato chips.

Behind the recipe: Homemade Pimento Cheese

You may be shocked to hear that southern pimento cheese was not born in the south at all. Believe it or not, it’s true. 

This is the case with many classic southern dishes. In fact, this is generally how the history of food goes.

A recipe is created in one region and is discovered and adored by another. The other region adopts the recipe and often puts its own twist on it.

Pimento cheese’s origins begin in New York, rather than in any southern U.S. state, where it is most popular today. It was a product of the industrial age when food began to be mass-produced and widely traded worldwide.

Cream cheese was a favorite of many women-led home economics and Domestic Science movements that coincided with the industrial revolution. Soon enough, pimento peppers would find their way into the market, originating in Spanish countries. They, too, were beloved by women of this movement. It was only a matter of time before cream cheese and pimento peppers were combined.

Eventually, the hit recipe was introduced to the south. It became even more sensational and remains a staple at the Master’s Golf Tournament and in southern cuisine today.

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a bowl mounded full with homemade pimento cheese with crackers on a plate.

Homemade Pimento Cheese

My savory peppery Homemade Pimento Cheese is prepared with fresh ingredients — like hand-grated cheddar cheese, mild pimento peppers, white onions, silky cream cheese, and mayonnaise — combined into a cheesy, fluffy, spreadable texture.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Servings 10 servings
Calories 261 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese shredded
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons grated white onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or cayenne pepper
  • 4 ounces diced pimentos drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper optional

Instructions
 

  • Place the softened cream cheese into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment until creamy (or use an electric mixer).
  • Add the shredded cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, onion, and garlic powder to the bowl and mix on low until well combined.
  • Drain the pimentos and add to the mixture. Use a rubber spatula to mix until the pimentos are evenly distributed.
  • Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Notes

  • As the pimento cheese chills, it will become more firm. Adjust the amount of mayonnaise to reach the texture or creaminess you prefer.
  • If you’ve forgotten to take the cream cheese out to soften ahead of time, there’s no need to panic! You can easily microwave the cream cheese for just a few seconds to make it easier to mix and spread. Place chopped-up cubes of the cream cheese into a microwave-safe container and warm it up for just 15 to 30 seconds. Problem solved!
  • Once you have added the onion and cheese, I recommend not using a food processor because pimento cheese is often best experienced when the fresh ingredients retain their original textures.
  • I also recommend grating the sharp cheddar cheese yourself rather than buying a bag of shredded cheese. Not only does the powder coating pre-shredded cheese mute the flavor, but it also obstructs the creamy texture of this pimento cheese spread recipe.

Nutrition

Calories: 261kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 10gFat: 24gSaturated Fat: 12gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 59mgSodium: 331mgPotassium: 84mgFiber: 0.3gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 950IUVitamin C: 12mgCalcium: 264mgIron: 0.3mg
Keyword cheddar cheese, pimento, sandwiches, snack, spread
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was.
sheila thigpen in her kitchen

About Sheila Thigpen

Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Food Writer

Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Creamette, Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.

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