Pimento Cheese

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Pimento cheese! If you are from the South, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about, of course. You likely have your favorite way of making it and may even take issue with our recipe that follows.

If you are not from the South, you might be scratching your head at this point. Pimentos? Those red things in olives, shmooshed together with cheese? Yep. Welcome to “Carolina caviar” or “Southern pâté”, a dip containing cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, pimentos, and cream cheese. Spread between two pieces of white bread for a quick sandwich, or stuff into celery sticks for the southern version of ants on a log. You can even put it on a burger.

According to Robert Moss from Serious Eats, pimento cheese didn’t originate as a southern thing, but first made an appearance in the early 1900s when packaged cream cheese and canned pimentos became popular.

A recipe for it appeared in a 1908 Good Housekeeping article. Somehow along the way, it took root in the south, and now you’ll find them right next to the deviled eggs at any church social, along with celery sticks and Ritz crackers.

Pimento Cheese

Our recipe is rich and creamy with sharp cheddar cheese, jack cheese, cream cheese and mayonnaise. We are seasoning it with Worcestershire sauce, some dry mustard, onion and garlic powder, paprika and of course, plenty of pimentos. We’re also mixing in some chopped celery tops which brighten the dip.

If you have your own favorite pimento cheese recipe, or story to tell about it, please let us know in the comments!

Pimento Cheese Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: About 2 cups


  • 8 ounces (full fat) cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Monterey jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika (smoked paprika if you have it)
  • 1/2 cup diced canned pimentos
  • 3 Tbsp minced light green celery leaves


1 Place the cream cheese into a food processor and pulse until lightly whipped.

2 Add the shredded cheeses, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika, and pulse until well mixed.

3 Add the diced pimento and pulse one or two times only. Remove the mixture from the food processor bowl and place into a mixing bowl. Stir in the minced celery leaves.

4 Place into a serving bowl and serve with crackers and/or celery.

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Pimento Cheese

Showing 4 of 22 Comments

  • Melanie Boettner

    I have learned to love pimento cheese since moving to Memphis ten years ago. I have even developed my own recipe, which is similar. No mustard, celery, or the spices you have, but I do add Black & Red (black and red pepper blend) from Penzy’s. Give it a bit of a kick. I think your additions may add some depth, so I’m gonna give it a try — but keep my Black & Red.

    And truth be told, Dukes is the only way to go!

  • Jim

    Well you finally got me – had to post: All of these suggestion are wonderful. I think the key is the cream cheese for smoothness. Instead of onions, maybe a little green onion and finely minced jalapeños? Cheese choices can be just about anything as long as they are layered (or not) flavors. A little Pecorino, possibly some Fontina and a dash of Parmesan with the sharp cheddar. Bacon could overpower so if you need that then do as the previous poster suggested, eat bacon with this dish. My personal thought is that with the herbs or other additions you must be careful not to obliterate the cheese(s) flavors so go slow on amounts with the add-ons if you head that direction – again, all are wonderful ideas and now i plan to put on several pounds to test them all

  • Sandfan

    Sounds great. A pimiento cheese sandwich, like most things in life, is better with a couple of strips of bacon.

  • cathy edwards

    My husband never heard of pimento cheese growing up! That was a sandwich we always looked forward to in our bagged lunch. My mom mixed cheddar and processed swiss, a little mustard, mayo and a tiny bit of grated onion with a jar of pimento. Great memory!

  • Angela

    I like to add a few finely chopped olives. I also stir a little pimento cheese into my deviled egg mixture. Everybody loves it but nobody can figure out what’s different about it. A few years ago I was at a food and wine tasting in Tuscany and they had something called a vegetable spread which to my surprise tasted just like pimento cheese, an excellent one!

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