I grew up eating pimento cheese. My mom–all the moms in the neighborhood went through a phase–even used to make it in their shiny new food processor. I’ve jazzed up this particular pimento cheese recipe to make it a little bit spicy and a little bit smoky. And a whole lot of delicious!

For us, it’s a must-make whenever we go on vacation or are at home and need a little smackerel. Need other beach smackerels? Mac & cheese is always welcome vacation food.

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A cracker with a dollop of pimento cheese on top. There is also a blue bowl with white dots to the back left, partially out of the frame, filled with more pimento cheese.

Watch my pimento cheese recipe web story here.

Beach Snacks!

This Pimento cheese recipe has become a preferred snack whenever we visit The Outer Banks in NC.

It’s easy to make, and it’s easy to make a ton of it.

Plus it doesn’t require any special equipment except for maybe a cheese grater.

Since it requires so little equipment, it’s easy to make almost anywhere you go on vacation, especially if you’re renting a cabin or house that has a reasonably well-stocked kitchen.

Is There One Right Way to Make?

There really isn’t. At its most basic, you can make pimento cheese with shredded cheese, mayo, and diced pimentos, but from there, the sky is the limit.

Even though there really is no one way to make this classic southern spread (or dip), I think this version is pretty excellent.

Regardless, here are some ideas for additions you might enjoy:

What Else Can I Put in My Pimento Cheese?

A square image of a blue, fluted bowl or pimento cheese spread on a small cutting board with a blue napkin underneath. There are some square crackers in the foreground and a small, silver metal spreader is in the dish of pimento cheese.
  • Crumbled bacon (or try swirling in some spicy bacon jam)
  • Prepared horseradish
  • Celery seed (one of my favorite additions)
  • Cream cheese (mixed with some mayonnaise for a super creamy version) Cream cheese also makes it “moldable” as you’ll see in my pimento cheese spread recipe for Halloween.
  • Mustard powder (just a touch for me, but you do you)
  • Spice blends such as Old Bay or Tony Chachere’s
  • Hot sauce (Tabasco, sriracha, etc)
  • Garlic powder, onion powder, etc.
  • Sweet pickle juice or a little bit of sugar
  • Liquid Smoke

Add everything to taste.

The beauty of this traditional Southern specialty is that you can add everything to taste.

Don’t like an ingredient? Leave it out.

Really like an ingredient? Add extra.

How to Make My This Recipe

Here are the ingredients I used to make my pimento cheese–note I rarely make it the same way, but this is a solidly excellent spicy version.

If you like yours less spicy, I’ll offer substitutions.

A white background with full-color images of all the ingredients needed to make pimento cheese, labeled in sans serif font. Title text reads, "Spicy (or Not) Pimento Cheese Ingredients," and the pictured ingredients and accompanying text are extra sharp cheddar, habanero cheddar (or medium/mild cheddar or jack cheese), mayo, diced pimentos, diced pickled jalapenos (or sub more pimentos), juice from pickled jalapenos (or apple cider vinegar), hot honey (or honey or brown sugar), ground chipotle or ancho chile (sub celery seed or Old Bay), and salt.
  • Extra-sharp cheddar: If you don’t love super-sharp cheese, use regular sharp or medium
  • Habanero cheddar: For less spice, use more cheddar, Colby jack, regular Monterrey jack, or pepper jack which is much milder than habanero cheddar
  • Mayonnaise: I love Duke’s. Use your favorite mayo
  • Diced pimentos: Also more correctly spelled “pimiento,” the little glass jars full of small red bits are ubiquitous in the south. If you can’t find them, get a jar of roasted red peppers or fire-roasted red peppers and chop them up
  • Diced pickled jalapenos: If you don’t want yours spicy, substitute with more pimento. Chopped pepperoncini would also make a lovely substitution
  • Juice from pickled jalapeno: For a less spicy option, use apple cider vinegar. You could also use sweet pickle juice
  • Hot honey: You only need a couple of teaspoons to balance the sauce. Sub plain honey, brown sugar, or granulated sugar for a less spicy version
  • Ground chipotle or ancho pepper: Omit entirely for less spice, or take the opportunity to add a different flavor by substituting any mixture of garlic powder, Old Bay, celery seed or seasoned salt that you like
  • salt: If you use a seasoning salt (above), you may not need the salt, so mix everything together and then taste before adding salt if you think it needs it

Procedure

Y’all, this is an easy recipe to make.

Grate your cheese, either with a box grater or using the shredding disc on a food processor.

Dump the cheese into a large bowl.

Add the rest of the ingredients, and stir well to combine.

Refrigerate for a few hours to let the flavors mingle. Stir again before serving.

A collage of two images, side by side. The first shows grated cheese in a large, beige pottery bowl. The second shows the same bowl with cheese with mayonnaise, pimentos, pickled jalapenos, and spices on top before stirring it all together.

What is the Best Mayonnaise for Making Pimento Cheese?

This might be a controversial response to this question, but use your favorite mayonnaise.

If you grew up on Duke’s, use it. Ditto for Hellman’s. Use your favorite.

Personally, I’m on Team Duke’s but I won’t fight you over the type of mayo you use.

Tips and Tricks

There aren’t a ton of tricks to making pimento cheese, but here are a couple to help you get the best results.

Grate the cheese cold, straight from the fridge. Room temperature cheese is too soft and will be hard to grate.

Don’t stress. This is a very forgiving recipe, and I rarely even measure when I make it. At its most basic, pimento cheese is just grated cheese, diced pimento, and mayo, so the rest is really all about your own preferences. Have fun and put your own spin on it!

Can You Make Vegan Pimento Cheese?

Let me preface this by saying that I never have, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t.

If you’re vegan, use shredded vegan cheese and Just Mayo, which is made without eggs.

Serving Suggestions

Let me count the ways you can eat this goodness!

So far with this batch, we’ve enjoyed it alone on crackers and then as a topping for a fried egg on one of my whole wheat English Muffins. Both ways? Excellent!

Breakfast sandwiches with pimento cheese abd fried egg made on English muffins.

Here are some more ideas:

  • Spread on a sandwich
  • Scooped up with Ritz crackers (or spread on Ritz if you’re fancy)
  • Heaped onto a juicy burger or smashed burger
  • Heated up under the broiler as a hot dip
  • Scooped up with tortilla chips
  • Stuffed inside arancini like these Pimento Cheese Stuffed Grits Arancini
  • Mix some with hard-boiled egg yolks to make pimento cheese deviled eggs
  • Spread onto celery sticks. Be fancy and alternate ants on a log with cheesy-stuffed celery sticks!

Questions?

5 golden stars for rating recipes
A blue dish mounded high with orange pimento cheese spread on a brown cutting board with overlapping, round, golden-brown crackers next to it.

Pimento Cheese Recipe

Jennifer Field
This pimento cheese recipe puts a zingy twist on a southern classic. If you’re looking for a pimento cheese recipe with a bit of a kick, you’ve found it here!
4.45 from 9 votes
Tried this recipe?Please give it a star rating!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Chill Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes
Course Appetizers
Cuisine American
Servings 16 servings
Calories 243 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 pound sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese shredded
  • ½ pound pepper jack cheese shredded
  • 1 1/2-2 cups Mayonnaise (preferably Duke’s)
  • ½ cup diced red pimento (jarred is fine)
  • ½ cup diced pickled jalapenos sub more pimentos to make it less spicy
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar or liquid from the jalapeno pepper jar
  • 2 teaspoons hot honey honey, or brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder andcho chile, Old Bay, celery seed, etc
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions
 

  • Grate the cheese, either using a box grater or in a food processor fitted with the shredding disc.
  • Combine the shredded cheese and all the rest of the ingredients and stir well until completely combined.
  • You can eat it immediately, but it is better if you let it sit in the fridge for at least a few hours to let the flavors blend.
  • Enjoy!

Did You Make Any Changes?

Video

Notes

Variations–Add any to taste

  • Crumbled bacon
  • Prepared horseradish
  • Celery seed (one of my favorite additions)
  • Cream cheese (mixed with some mayonnaise for a super creamy version)
  • Mustard powder (just a touch for me, but you do you)
  • Spice blends such as Old Bay or Tony Chachere's
  • Hot sauce (Tabasco, sriracha, etc)
  • Garlic powder, onion powder, etc.
  • Sweet pickle juice or a little bit of sugar
  • Liquid Smoke
There's really no wrong way to make pimento cheese, so make it with the ingredients you enjoy!
Nutritional information is based on 16 servings of about 2 ounces. Know that I can easily eat four times that much without blinking. Use your power wisely!

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 243kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 7gFat: 23gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 35mgSodium: 403mgSugar: 1g
Keyword homemade pimento cheese, pimento cheese recipe, spicy pimento cheese
Did you make this recipe?Please tell us what you loved!

Really easy and straightforward. I think you’ll like it!

Enjoy this spicy pimento cheese recipe, friends.

Thanks for spending some time with me today.

Have a lovely day.

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