If you’re looking for a savory treat for Halloween, look no further than this Halloween pimento cheese spread. Molded into a brain and decorated with pepper jelly “blood,” this is a delicious appetizer featuring two of the south’s culinary claims to fame: pimento cheese and pepper jelly.

In this post, I’ll show you how to fill the mold and, more importantly, how to release it. And I’ll also tell you why I broke one of my pimento cheese spread cardinal rules for this recipe.

If you’re looking for more savory Halloween appetizers, you may enjoy my devilish deviled eggs.
And for ease of browsing, you can find all my Halloween recipes in one place. Thanks for visiting.

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Some Halloween pimento cheese spread on a cracker next to a molded pimento cheese "brain" on a plate.

I made the Halloween pimento cheese spread recipe for a get together a few weekends ago. I didn’t have a brain mold…just a jello type tupperware type mold and didn’t use the food coloring. Served it with a variety of crackers and it was a big hit!!!! Thank you so much for sharing your recipe!! I then used the rest to make some meat loaves. I have to say, I truly think they were the best I have ever made. The rest of the family was wondering what that wonderful secret ingredient was.

Reader Diane

Pimento Cheese Spread, At a Glance

✅Skill Level: Beginner
✅Skills: Shredding Cheese, Molding/Unmolding
✅Type: Appetizer Spread
✅Number of Ingredients: 12
✅Prep Time: 20 minutes
✅Chill Time: at least 4 hours
✅Yield: about 4 cups or 16 servings

Jump Straight to the Recipe

Why I Broke My Pimento Cheese Spread Rule for This Post

In my traditional pimento cheese post, I am ADAMANT that you not use cream cheese in the recipe.

I’m kind of a purist that way.

Basic pimento cheese is shredded cheese and diced pimentos folded together with a seasoned mayonnaise dressing. No cream cheese needed, thank you very much.

For this recipe, though, I break my own rule because I needed the spread to hold together in a brain shape, so I used half softened cream cheese and half mayonnaise, knowing that when the cream cheese was refrigerated, it would help the spread hold together.

It worked like a charm, I must say, and I’m very pleased with the result. Not only does it taste like a good Southern pimento cheese should taste, with a little extra spice, it also holds its shape beautifully.

Why This Recipe Works

Savory pimento cheese and sweet-hot pepper jelly is a flavor match made in Southern heaven.

And using pimento cheese spread for a “brain” and pepper jelly for “blood” means that this appetizer recipe was always meant to be.

I used a few drops of blue food coloring in my mayonnaise mixture so that, when it mixed with the shredded orange cheese, the overall result would read as grayish. And it worked like a charm.

Know that you can leave out the food coloring and still end up with a most delicious end result that you can serve for any occasion. Because gray pimento cheese spread is only acceptable at Halloween!

The spicy elements of chopped pickled jalapenos, smoked hot paprika, and the accompanying pepper jelly enhance the traditional flavors of pimento cheese.

I also use a bit of Old Bay seasoning in it, which I have always loved as an all-purpose seasoning that has a little kick to it.

Sound good? If you decide to make it for yourself, I have a favor to ask:

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How To Make It

If you’re ready to make this, feel free to skip straight to the recipe.

Making pimento cheese is a pretty easy process. Once you make it enough (and I hope you do), you can forgo following a recipe.

Remember, at its most basic, it’s just shredded cheese, diced pimentos, and mayo.

Here’s what you’ll need to make this molded version:

Ingredients and Substitutions

All the ingredients needed to make pimento cheese spread: sharp cheddar, pepper jack, cream cheese, mayonnaise, diced pimentos pickled jalapenos, salt & pepper, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and Old Bay seasoning.
  • sharp cheddar cheese: I like extra sharp cheese here. Use your favorite type of cheddar, from mild to seriously sharp
  • pepper jack cheese: I like using some pepper jack cheese because it’s slightly softer than cheddar and sort of melts into the dressing, helping the mold stay together. If you don’t like spicy, use regular Monterey jack or use 1 full pound of cheddar
  • cream cheese: I use cream cheese for its ability to act as glue to hold the brain together. You can substitute Neufchatel if you’d rather
  • mayonnaise: Duke’s is my preferred brand, but you can use your favorite. I wouldn’t go with something like Miracle Whip, because I think it’s too sweet, and we’re already using sweet-hot pepper jelly as a garnish
  • diced pimentos: If you can’t find diced pimentos where you live, you can buy roasted red peppers and dice them instead
  • diced pickled jalapenos: Another optional spicy ingredient, use your favorite, from mild to extra spicy, or substitute with a total of 6 oz diced pimento
  • salt and pepper: To taste. I use Morton’s kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • hot smoked paprika: For a little heat in the dressing. You can substitute a small amount of cayenne pepper or ground chipotle
  • garlic powder: Adds a nice bit of underlying garlic flavor. You can use garlic powder or granulated garlic, or substitute with onion powder if you have some on hand
  • Old Bay seasoning (not pictured): I love the flavor of Old Bay. It is technically optional, but if you have some, give it a few shakes
  • Blue food coloring (not pictured): Turns the whole dressing a pale blue. When mixed with the orange cheese, the whole brain looks gray-ish. Gross, but effective!

Procedure

A collage of 6 images showing how to make the dressing and then fold in the cheese for the Halloween pimento cheese spread brain.
  • Spray the brain mold with pan spray.
  • Shred your cheese.
  • Make the dressing, mixing in the pimentos, pickled jalapenos, spices and seasonings.
  • Add blue food coloring if you want to.
  • Fold the cheese in until it is uniformly mixed.
  • Spoon the cheese mixture into the mold, packing it down as you go. Smooth the top, press plastic wrap onto the surface, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 3 days.

How to Unmold Your Brain

This is how to make sure your brain appetizer will release from the mold.

  1. Spray the inside of the mold well with pan spray.
  2. Pack the pimento cheese in tightly. The tighter you pack it, the better the chance of it coming out in one piece.
  3. After refrigerating for a minimum of 4 hours (overnight is better), fill a large pot with very hot water and dunk the bottom of the brain mold into the water to the level of the top of the pimento spread. Hold it in the hot water for about 30 seconds.
  4. Place your serving plate over the mold and carefully flip plate and mold over so the plate is on the bottom.
  5. To help release the suction, press in on the mold around the base of the cheese. This will help loosen up the cheese, and the rest should follow!
  6. Give a few firm, up-and-down shakes of the mold and plate.
  7. If the cheese doesn’t release, repeat steps 3-6.

For extra insurance, although I didn’t find it necessary, you can press plastic wrap down into the pan-sprayed mold. The spray will act as glue to hold the plastic in place.

Make sure you have a fair bit of plastic wrap sticking out over the edges. That way, when you pack the cheese into the mold, you can fold over all those edges to cover the spread.

Spray the plastic with pan spray, fold over said edges, and refrigerate at least 4 hours. Again, overnight is better unless you’re really pressed for time.

After dunking the bottom of the mold in hot water, unwrap the edges of the plastic wrap, and place the mold on your serving platter.

You can use the excess plastic wrap to help pull the cheese out of the mold and onto the platter.

Carefully peel off the plastic wrap, and you’re ready to go.

How to Decorate with Pepper Jelly

Using a piping bag to pipe pepper jelly "blood" onto a pimento cheese mold shaped like a brain.
  • Stir your jelly so it loosens up a bit
  • Fit a piping bag or zip-top bag with a #5 decorating tip (or similar round tip)
  • Pipe jelly around the base of the brain, along the center line, and in curlicues to accentuate the folds in the mold.

Tada!

A whole pimento cheese spread "brain" on a dark gray pottery plate with pepper jelly squiggles of "blood" all over it.

Equipment You May Need

You definitely need a brain mold. As an aside, I’d handwash this guy, because I’m not sure if it’s dishwasher-safe.

You’ll need a box grater, a couple of mixing bowls, and a #5 piping tip for piping the pepper jelly.

Tips for Success

Purchase blocks of cheese rather than pre-shredded. Pre-grated cheese has additives in it that keep the shreds from sticking together, and you want the spread to hold its shape.

Pack the spread into the mold a spoonful at a time, pressing down with each addition. This will ensure a good impression of the “brain folds,” and also prevent big air pockets.

Using pan spray is your best bet to help the pimento cheese spread release from the mold. With that, along with a dunk in hot water for 30 seconds or so, your brain should unmold perfectly.

Halloween Pimento Cheese Spread Q & A

How long will it keep?

Your spread will last for up to 7 days as long as you keep it refrigerated.

Is it vegan?

No, it’s not. There are quite a few good vegan cheeses out there, including vegan cream cheese, so you should be able to substitute vegan versions of the cheeses I call for. And don’t forget the mayo! Just Mayo does not contain eggs and is a suitable vegan ingredient.

What if I don’t want to make it look like a brain?

When it’s not Halloween and you want a good pimento cheese spread that will hold its shape, you can mold it in any mold that holds at least 4 cups.

The easiest way to mold it would be in a 4-cup bowl. Consider using a silicone mold for the easiest un-molding experience. If all you have are rigid molds, spray the insides with pan spray, press plastic wrap as smoothly as you can inside the mold making sure the edges extend over the sides of the mold, and then use the wrap as u0022handlesu0022 to help you unmold your pimento cheese after dunking the bottom of your bowl in hot water.

Choose metal over glass since metal will conduct heat from the water much more quickly than glass will.

Serving Suggestions

An overhead shot of a pimento cheese spread molded to look like a brain with pepper jelly squiggles on it and round crackers on a plate.

I almost always serve pimento cheese with crackers (try my homemade Ritz crackers), but don’t discount its charms spread on a breakfast sandwich–including the pepper jelly.

You can also use it to top a burger or even mix some into a meatloaf mixture for a cheesy meatloaf.

And one of my favorite ways to use it if you just want something a bit more substantial than cheese and crackers in my one-pot pimento cheese pasta.

More Cheesy Appetizer Recipes

For one of my all-time favorites, you cannot do better than this red sauce. This is, hands down, the best sauce to pour over a block of cream cheese, period.

If you’re feeling exceptionally retro, you will love my port wine cheese ball recipe. It’s a real winner, especially when rolled in spiced pecans!

Questions?

If you have any questions about this post or recipe, I am happy to help.

Simply leave a comment here and I will get back to you soon. I also invite you to ask question in my Facebook group, Fearless Kitchen Fun.

If your question is more pressing, please feel free to email me. I should be back in touch ASAP, as long as I’m not asleep.

Love This Pimento Cheese (Brain) Spread? Please Rate and Review. Thanks!

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A whole pimento cheese spread "brain" on a dark gray pottery plate with pepper jelly squiggles of "blood" all over it.

Halloween Pimento Cheese Spread Recipe

Jennifer Field
This pimento cheese spread is molded into the shape of a brain. I also added some blue food coloring to the mayonnaise mixture to make the color more brain-like.
Already a little spicy on its own, the pepper jelly "blood" adds a sweet-hot element that is a nice contrast to the savory cheese spread.
A great appetizer for Halloween, this spread will work any time of year. Just omit the food coloring, forgo the brain mold, and enjoy with a bit of pepper jelly (or not).
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Prep Time 20 minutes
Chill Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 20 minutes
Course Appetizers
Cuisine American
Servings 4 cups or about 16 1/4 cup servings
Calories 166 kcal

Ingredients

  • 12 oz sharp cheddar cheese 1 1/2 8-oz blocks, shredded on a box grater or in a food processor
  • ¼ pound pepper jack cheese 4 oz, half an 8-oz block, shredded on a box grater or in a food processor
  • 1 4- oz jar diced pimentos drained
  • 1.25 oz about 1/4 cup pickled jalapenos, chopped
  • ½ cup mayonnaise I use Duke’s
  • ½ block 4 oz cream cheese, softened in the microwave for about 20 seconds)
  • a few drops of blue food coloring optional for Halloween
  • 1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika substitute 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt I use Morton’s
  • several grinds of fresh black pepper

Instructions
 

  • Spray your brain mold (if using) liberally with pan spray. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine the shredded cheese, pimentos, and pickled jalapenos.
  • In another bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise and the softened cream cheese until smooth.
  • Add food coloring (if using), garlic powder, spices, salt, and pepper and whisk until smooth.
  • Pour the dressing over the cheese mixture and fold together well so everything is evenly incorporated.
  • Spoon into the greased mold, pressing down each spoonful with the back of the spoon to make sure it gets into all the crevices and so there are no air pockets.
  • Fill with all the pimento cheese–I had about 1 1/2" "head space" left after filling. That's fine.
  • Smooth the mixture out so it is as level as you can get it. This will help keep it from breaking when you unmold it.
  • Press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the cheese, again smoothing it as much as you can.
  • Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.
  • When it's time to unmold, dip the bottom of the mold into very hot water for 30-60 seconds.
  • Remove the plastic wrap.
  • Break the suction as well as you can by pressing in along the sides of the mold.
  • Place a serving platter on top of the mold and carefully flip the whole thing right-side-up.
  • Give a few hard, vigorous shakes to the whole shebang, and your pimento cheese brain will plop out onto the plate.
  • If it doesn't release after a few shakes, repeat the dipping and pressing again. I promise it will come out in one piece even if you start feeling sweaty and unsure.
  • Stir about 1/2 cup pepper jelly to loosen it up, then pour it into a piping bag fitted with a #5 tip (or similar round tip). Pipe the pepper jelly "blood" in curlicues all over the brain and around the base of the pimento cheese.
  • Serve with crackers, pita, or vegetables.

Did You Make Any Changes?

Notes

Do not substitute pre-shredded cheese for "block cheese" that you shred yourself. Pre-shredded contains addititives to keep it from sticking together, and we want this cheese spread to compress and hold its shape.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 166kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 7gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 310mg
Keyword brain appetizer, Halloween appetizers, Halloween pimento cheese spread, pimento cheese spread
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Thanks for spending some time with me today.

Can’t wait for you to wow your Halloween party guests with the most delicious Halloween pimento cheese brain ever!

Take care, y’all.

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2 Comments

  1. I made the Halloween pimento cheese spread recipe for a get together a few weekends ago. I didn’t have a brain mold…just a jello type tupperware type mold and didn’t use the food coloring. Served it with a variety of crackers and it was a big hit!!!! Thank you so much for sharing your recipe!! I then used the rest to make some meat loaves. I have to say, I truly think they were the best I have ever made. The rest of the family was wondering what that wonderful secret ingredient was.

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