Pimento Cheese

Pimento cheese is a versatile, creamy dip that’s popular in the South, and this classic version is easy and full of flavor. Serve with vegetables and crackers, or as a sandwich spread.

Pimento Cheese in a Bowl on Platter with Sliced Vegetables and Crackers

Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

In the American South, pimento cheese is personal. More than just a spreadable dip, this Southern snack food holds within it memories of summers at Grandmother’s house, baby showers in a neighbor’s home, and snacks on the beach, handcrafted by beloved family members. 

It makes total sense that Southerners are fiercely connected to their particular version, often calling their family recipe the “real” pimento cheese. But untie granny’s calico apron strings from the conversation and it’s hard to pinpoint a true beginning for pimento cheese. 

What Is Pimento Cheese?

Southern food historian Robert Moss asserts that pimento cheese was actually invented in the North, using cream cheese and not cheddar as the base. Columbia, South Carolina claims the rights for popularizing the switch to a cheddar cheese base, then taking that goodness and smearing it atop a burger on the flat top grill (something you should consider doing whether you’re in South Carolina or not). 

Regardless of where it came from, pimento cheese is a regional favorite for a reason. The creamy, cheesy cold spread has lots of flavor and can be served as a dip alongside crackers or veggies, used as a sandwich spread, and more.

What Are Pimentos?

Pimentos, also called pimientos, are mild peppers that are frequently sold in jars. The canned peppers are usually red, while fresh varieties can be a rainbow of colors and are sometimes spicy. You will often see them displayed as part of an olive bar. You'll find jars of chopped pimentos in the grocery store near the pickles and olives.

Pimento Cheese in a Bowl on Platter with Sliced Vegetables and Crackers

Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

Variations on the Classic

There are as many variations on pimento cheese as there are Southerners who love it. Some versions include crumbled bacon while others add olives, dried onion, or house seasoning salts. Still more use a combination of cheeses. A few of my favorite variations include:

  • Swap 1/3 of the cheddar cheese for pepper Jack for a bit of a kick
  • Add finely chopped cooked, crumbled bacon
  • Top with a sprinkle of smoked paprika

Some will see these as abominable additions, while others will deny a strict definition and love the creativity. This recipe is the empowerment to do either. 

Tips for Making Classic Pimento Cheese

This particular version is pimento cheese at its simplest, which means that every element is essential. These tips will help you make the best pimento cheese possible.

  • Grate your own cheese: Many commercially grated cheeses are coated with something that keeps the strands from sticking together in the bag, so put in the work and freshly grate cheese for a creamier dip.
  • Adjust the consistency: Speaking of creamy, this version is a little stiff for expert spreading on a burger, atop a cracker, or tucking in mushroom caps before running under the broiler. If you desire a looser dip, then adding up to 1/3 cup of more mayonnaise will do the trick.
  • Use good mayo: The mayonnaise matters in this recipe, so make your own or use one like Duke’s, a no-sugar-added, rich Southern staple. 
Pimento Cheese Sandwich

Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

Get Your Southern-Style Snack On

Pimento Cheese

Prep Time 10 mins
Chill Time 60 mins
Total Time 70 mins
Servings 8 servings
Yield 2 cups


  • 2 (8-ounce) blocks extra sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated

  • 2/3 cup Duke's mayonnaise

  • 2 (4-ounce) jars chopped pimentos, drained

  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (your favorite brand)

  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Combine the ingredients:

    In a medium mixing bowl, use a spatula to gently combine all ingredients. Taste, adding salt and pepper if needed.

    Bowl of Cheddar Cheese, Mayonnaise, and Pimento Peppers for Pimento Cheese Recipe

    Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

    Ingredients Mixed Together in Bowl to Make Pimento Cheese

    Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

  2. Chill and serve:

    Scoop into an airtight container and chill for at least 1 hour to allow flavors to meld before serving. Note: the spread will stiffen further with the cold, but there is no need to re-stir before serving. 

    Pimento cheese will keep, tightly covered in the refrigerator, for up to 5 days. I don’t recommend freezing it.

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    Bowl of Pimento Cheese with Lid Off

    Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

    Pimento Cheese on Crackers with a Bowl in the Background

    Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
366 Calories
33g Fat
3g Carbs
14g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 366
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 33g 42%
Saturated Fat 13g 66%
Cholesterol 64mg 21%
Sodium 537mg 23%
Total Carbohydrate 3g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 14g
Vitamin C 24mg 122%
Calcium 408mg 31%
Iron 1mg 4%
Potassium 107mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.