This pimento cheese is a Southern classic made from Cheddar cheese, pimentos, sweet onion, and mayonnaise.

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.
CourseHors d’Oeuvres
Servings12 servings
Calories253 kcal
Prep Time10 minutes
Total Time10 minutes


  • 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


  • 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.



Serving: 0.25 cupCalories: 253 kcalCarbohydrates: 2 gProtein: 9 gFat: 23 gSaturated Fat: 9 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 7 gMonounsaturated Fat: 5 gTrans Fat: 0.03 gCholesterol: 44 mgSodium: 338 mgPotassium: 52 mgFiber: 0.2 gSugar: 1 gVitamin A: 638 IUVitamin C: 10 mgCalcium: 269 mgIron: 0.3 mg

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.

Originally published December 30, 2020

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has 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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    1. Hmm, I will. But Beth Price practically made me swear upon a stack of bibles that I would use pimentos. (Honestly, I had such an aversion I had no idea there was a difference. I had to flip through my Food Lover’s Companion to discover there is indeed a huge difference.)

  1. David, you might want to try putting some toasted pecans in your pimento cheese sometime. Also, I like mine with a kick so I add cayenne and sometimes a dash or two of Tabasco. Smoked paprika, dill, and garlic frequently enter the mix as well. My grandfather put chopped green olives in his and I do that on occasion but only when I know my husband won’t be around, as he loathes olives. Happy new year to you and yours!

    1. I love your ideas, Laura. Especially the Tabasco sauce. And smoked paprika. Olives shall never join the party in my pimento cheese bowl. That smacks way too much of pimento loaf for my taste. (What is it with grandfathers and pimento-ed green olives, anyway?)

  2. Of course you stocked up on Duke’s Mayonnaise while you were down south, didn’t you, Sugah?

    1. Cynthia, now you’ve got me sweating more than a hooker in church. No, I didn’t. It was good old Hellman’s. But I shall rectify that in 2014 and buy some jars. Gotta be politically correct when it comes to pimento cheese.