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Southern Pimento Cheese

Sarah Pyle



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Pimento cheese spread is a classic Southern appetizer served with celery or crackers. Make ahead for an easy, budget-friendly appetizer or spread on bread for a classic cheese sandwich or grilled cheese.

pimiento cheese spread in bowl with celery sticks and crackers with title text

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Southern Pimento Cheese has been a staple in my house my whole life. My dad grew up in Texas and has been putting his own spin on this simple dish for as long as I can remember.

Some will argue that Pimento (or Pimiento, they’re both acceptable and mean the same thing) Cheese should contain cream cheese, but I disagree. The simple, affordable ingredients really do allow for the flavors of each component to come through.

Make sure to also check out our Pea Salad recipe and this tasty Jalapeno Artichoke Dip!


Sharp Cheddar Cheese: It is really important to shred the cheese yourself. Pre-shredded cheese is coated in a powder to prevent it from clumping, and it really affects the flavor. Take the time to shred it either by using a box grater or a food processor. I call for Sharp Cheddar because you want cheese with a lot of flavor, but Extra Sharp is too overpowering.

Diced Pimientos: These will come in a jar and be in the pickle/olive section of your grocery store. If you can’t find diced, you can get a jar of whole or sliced and chop them yourself.

Mayonnaise: Diehard pimento cheese lovers will say that you have to use Duke’s Mayo. If you have access to it, great. If not, Hellman’s or homemade mayo will work perfectly.

Spices: For the spice ingredients, you will need onion powder, dry mustard powder, salt, pepper and optional cayenne pepper. Additionally, you could add a pinch of garlic powder or whatever you have on hand.

Also optional, you can add some minced jalapeno for a spicy kick or minced green olives and one Tablespoon of olive juice for a more briney twist.

block of cheddar cheese, bowl of diced pimentos, measuring cup of mayonnaise, and bowl of spices to make pimento cheese spread


  • Mixing Bowl
  • Box Grater or Food Processor with shredding disk
  • Measuring cup
  • Measuring spoons
  • Spatula/Rubber Scraper

How to Make Southern Pimento Cheese

  1. Shred 8 ounces of cheddar cheese (I recommend Sharp, but use your favorite) using a box grater or food processor.
  2. Combine the shredded cheese, diced pimientos (pimentos), mayonnaise and spices in a bowl.
  3. Mix together until well combined.
  4. You can serve immediately, but I find the flavor is better once it has had 30 minutes to sit or chill.

How to Serve Pimento Cheese

I’ve been known to stand in front of the fridge sneaking bites of Pimento Cheese all the time. No other vessel needed than a spoon. If you’re planning on serving it like a civilized person, try any of these:

  • Serve with saltines or butter crackers
  • Spread on celery sticks or other veggies
  • Make sandwiches using pumpernickel bread slices for a more classy occasion
  • Serve on white bread for a simple, delicious lunch
  • Make grilled cheese sandwiches filled with pimento cheese!
  • Try this Pimento Cheese and Tomato Pie
souther pimento cheese spread on celery stick with wooden spreader

Frequently Asked Questions

What is pimento cheese?

Pimento cheese is a Southern cheese and pimento spread, and is also sometimes referred to as Southern paté. Made from cheddar cheese, diced pimentos, mayonnaise, and spices. Sometimes you’ll also see cream cheese mixed in.

How long can you store pimento cheese?

Pimento cheese will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days. With the dairy and mayonnaise, it is recommended that pimento cheese only be at room temperature for up to 2 hours.

Can you freeze pimento cheese?

While you technically can freeze pimento cheese, it may have a grainy texture once thawed. I recommend making batches that you can eat within a week.

Can you make pimento cheese in advance?

Absolutely, and that’s actually my preferred way to make it. You can make up to 2 days in advance, and you’ll find that the pimento cheese flavor is even better the longer it has to mingle.

More Easy Appetizer Recipes

southern pimento cheese in bowl with celery sticks and saltine crackers

And don’t forget to tag @feastforafraction if you try this recipe!

Southern Pimento Cheese Recipe

square image of prepared pimento cheese in bowl with celery sticks
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5 from 3 votes

Southern Pimento Cheese

Pimento cheese spread is a classic Southern appetizer served with celery or crackers. Make ahead for an easy, budget-friendly appetizer. You can even spread on bread for a tasty sandwich or grilled cheese.
Prep Time10 minutes
Total Time10 minutes
Course: Appetizers
Cuisine: Southern
Keyword: appetizer, budget meal, cheddar cheese, easy appetizers, mayonnaise, pimento cheese, pimientos
Servings: 1 1/2 cups prepared spread
Calories: 160kcal
Author: Sarah Pyle


  • 8 oz block sharp cheddar
  • 4 oz jar diced pimientos drained
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise Duke’s, Hellman’s or Homemade
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp dry mustard powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • pinch of cayenne optional


  • Using a box grater or food processor, shred the sharp cheddar cheese.
  • Transfer shredded cheese to a mixing bowl.
  • Add the drained pimientos, mayonnaise and all spices and mix until well combined.
  • Taste and adjust to your personal taste. If you prefer a creamier spread, add a bit more mayonnaise. Add salt and pepper to your liking.
  • Serve or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. While you can serve immediately, I find the flavor is better once the ingredients have had time to mingle, about 30 minutes.


Tips: You definitely want to start with a block of cheese and shred it yourself. The texture of the cheese will be better. If using a food processor, you can shred the cheese and mix the cheese spread. Once mixed, allow the mixture to chill and flavors to meld for at least 30 minutes to get the best flavor.
Your pimento cheese spread will keep in the fridge for up to 7 days and you can freeze it for up to 3 months. Store leftovers in an airtight container.
Variations: I love to mix things up and try different additions to pimento cheese. My favorite is green olives. Dice up a few olives and pour in 1 Tablespoon of olive juice to your pimento cheese for a deliciously briney twist. You can also add garlic powder to your desired taste. Another tasty variation would be to add minced jalapeno for a spicy version.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 160kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 37mg | Sodium: 343mg | Sugar: 1g

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By on February 25th, 2023

About Sarah Pyle

Hi, I'm Sarah. The voice behind Feast for a Fraction. I've been a penny-pincher all my life, but still have a taste for nice things. I'm here to show you that you can eat (and live) well on a budget. From recipes and DIY tips to ways to make extra money, we'll be in control of our budgets together!

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4 thoughts on “Southern Pimento Cheese”

  1. Experimental variations I have tried include adding diced green olives. I think it’s better if you can leave it in the fridge to blend flavors. Sometimes, it doesn’t last that long.

5 from 3 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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