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If you haven’t ever made your own pimento cheese before, it may take a bit of trial and error to achieve the right consistency and texture, but figuring it out is half the fun since you get to eat your mistakes. Once you’ve mastered the following time-tested, classic pimento cheese recipe, you’ll be ready to experiment with four other dishes that include this beloved spreadable Southern cheese relish.
The traditional Southern pimento cheese recipe
Serves 4-6 as a dip or makes enough for 4 sandwiches
- 3 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated and loosely packed
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise, homemade or Duke’s
- 4 ounces of diced pimentos
- 1 tablespoon grated sweet onion
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Salt to taste
Grate the cheddar by hand. Rinse pimentos and pat dry. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. This recipe will yield about 2 cups of fairly chunky pimento cheese. If you prefer a smoother pimento cheese that’s easier to spread, combine the mixture in a food processor instead of mixing by hand.
The many ways to eat pimento cheese
So, how do you eat pimento cheese? More ways than you can count.
The most traditional style is to spread the pimento cheese between two slices of white bread. Other popular options include wedging it into celery ribs, serving it alongside crackers or using it as a gooey topping for burgers.
You can also cook and bake more complicated dishes using pimento cheese as a component. It’s not uncommon to find it pop up in many classic Southern dishes. Here are a handful of recipes that demonstrate the remarkable versatility of pimento cheese:
Hot pimento cheese dip
While the basic recipe for pimento cheese is simple yet satisfying, sometimes you need to take it a little further. That’s where this fully loaded, hot pimento cheese dip recipe comes in. While my go-to pimento cheese variety is made with just a few ingredients and served chilled, this bold dip calls for cream cheese, sour cream, crumbled bacon and sliced green onions. Served hot and bubbly straight out of the oven, this is one of those eternal crowd pleasers that usually lasts only a few minutes at a party.
Pimento cheese grits
We Southerners love our grits. So it only makes sense to combine them with our favorite Southern spread. This pimento cheese grits recipe, masterminded by chef Bobby Flay, doesn’t require you to make the spread ahead of time. Simply dump shredded cheese, cream cheese and pimentos straight into cooked grits — preferably Old School Brand grits — and whisk until melted and combined. If you’re feeling fancy, top the pimento cheese grits with some grilled shrimp for the ultimate breakfast trifecta of Southern cuisine.
Pimento cheese crisps
Makes 36 crisps
This savory baked pimento cheese crisp recipe is a melding of our favorite dip and another Southern classic: the cheese straw. While pimento cheese is traditionally quite mild, these irresistable crackers carry a kick thanks to paprika and a dash of cayenne pepper. The best part about this recipe? You can easily whip up and freeze large batches of the dough, which means you’ll always be ready for an emergency cheese craving.
Pimento mac and cheese
We heard you like comfort food — so we put some comfort food in your comfort food. That’s right, folks: This recipe roundup concluding with a pimento mac and cheese that is equal parts indulgent and easy to prepare. This recipe calls for bacon, but vegetarians can easily leave it out without sacrificing any deliciousness. Don’t be surprised if you never make regular mac and cheese again.