After having consumed approximately half of Vermont’s supply of Cheddar cheese in the name of research, I’ve discovered that this pimento cheese recipe from Rebecca Lang is the best dang pimento cheese I’ve ever had. I also found that doing yourself a favor and making it a day ahead of time only improves the taste. The onion mellows, the pimento perks up, the color blends, and everything becomes, well, ambrosial. And it’s one less thing for you to do the day of when guests are on their way. And you can do waaaaay more than just slather the pimento cheese on crackers. You can also  set it out as part of a crudités platter, stuff it in sandwiches (whether petite tea party bites or gooey grilled cheese sandwiches), or perhaps even scoop it straight from the container at 2:00 a.m. as you lean against the sink. Not that I know anything about that.–David Leite

Mellow Yellow Cheddar Cheese Note

When a Southerner makes pimento cheese, he or she is usually pretty particular about the type of cheese. David isn’t a Southerner but he is plenty particular about his recipes. He instructed us to share with you that he uses white Cheddar, not orange. He prefers the flavor of white. Besides, you still get a lovely orange tint from the pimentos. We haven’t run this by the author of the recipe, Rebecca Lang, although we’re curious to hear what she thinks. Let’s see if she notices…

Crackers topped with pimento cheese.

Pimento Cheese

4.86 / 7 votes
This pimento cheese is a Southern classic made from Cheddar cheese, pimentos, sweet onion, and mayonnaise.
David Leite
CourseHors d’Oeuvres
CuisineSouthern
Servings12 servings
Calories253 kcal
Prep Time10 minutes
Total Time10 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound sharp white Cheddar cheese, (or if you’re a true Southerner, by all means, stick with orange Cheddar)
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • One (4-ounce) jar pimentos, drained well
  • 2 tablespoons grated Vidalia or other sweet onion
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Crackers, toast points, crudités, or anything else you can think to serve with it

Instructions 

  • Grate the cheese in a food processor or on the large holes of a box grater. (Just between us, a food processor is the way to go. Five seconds max. Although you can do it by hand just for old-time's sake to get that Southern nostalgia mood going.)
  • In a bowl or your food processor, mix the grated cheese, mayonnaise, pimentos, grated onion, and a few good grinds pepper until blended. Resist the urge to dig in immediately. Instead, cover it and stash it in the fridge for at least a couple hours and, preferably, 24 hours. (Trust us, the pimento cheese is unspeakably better after it rests. You can refrigerate it for up to 4 days, provided you can resist it that long.)
  • To serve, decant the pimento cheese into your loveliest serving dish. Serve with crackers, toast points, crudités, or anything you fancy.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 0.25 cupCalories: 253 kcalCarbohydrates: 2 gProtein: 9 gFat: 23 gSaturated Fat: 9 gMonounsaturated Fat: 5 gTrans Fat: 0.03 gCholesterol: 44 mgSodium: 338 mgFiber: 0.2 gSugar: 1 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2012 Rebecca Lang. Photos © 2012 David Leite. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This pimento cheese is very addictive! It’s easy to prepare but the 2-hour to overnight waiting period is definitely difficult to endure. Your reward, though, is a pleasingly rich cheese dip that really shows itself off, especially at room temperature.

Using a food processor will save some time but I do recommend grating the cheese first. After that, put everything into the processor and pulse a few times until you get texture and orange color you’re after. I found some of the pimento from the jar were rather large, so if doing this all by hand, be sure to finely chop the pimento so they mix adequately with the cheese, mayo, and onion.




About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.


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184 Comments

  1. I am from Oregon, learned about Pimento Cheese traveling in the South. I always use Tillamook aged white cheddar. Those other cheeses seem oily and bland. I use jarred roasted red peppers instead of pimentos. They integrate into the mix much more and I prefer the flavor. I was convinced to add 8 oz of cream cheese; I like the flavor and consistency. I add a fair amount of Worcestershire Sauce. Think I’ll try some microplaned onion. Like it for tea sandwiches on crust trimmed thin white bread, sandwiches on toast, in celery, and cold right out of the jar. Grating your own cheese is by far superior, but that food processor equals almost instant gratification. Bravo to who ever came up with Pimento Cheese.

    1. Joan, there are as many versions of pimento cheese as there are people who eat it. I was completely immune to its charm–and, frankly, didn’t understand all the fuss until I tried it at the house of Beth Price, our director of recipe testing. I was BLOWN AWAY. (And I’ll confess, I ate an entire quart if it in a week. I know, shame, shame. But it was so freaking good.)

  2. Making your own Pimento Cheese is a must and I can’t wait to try this! I found the tester, David Kraan’s comment “pleasingly rich cheese dip” too funny. It might be a Southern thang but Pimento Cheese is Pimento Cheese or Minna Cheese not some cheese dip. I make mine in clamp lid jars at Christmas & New Year’s to give to folks. I use a combo of Sharp Cheddar, Jalapeno Jack and Cream Cheese as well as a combo of Miracle Whip and Mayo along with roasted red bell pepper. But your recipe is up next!! Thank you Sir!!