Southern Pimiento Cheese | Nik Snacks ~ Nik Snacks

Bite it and write it. That's what I do.


On 9:00 AM by Nikki @ NikSnacks in , , , ,    No comments

I wrote a thing about pimiento cheese this week and it got me thinking about what goes into GOOD pimiento cheese and it starts out with: 
"There used to be a time when the only debate about pimiento cheese was whether to spell it with an “i” before the “e.”

If you've ever worked in a restaurant in the south with this spread on the menu, you probably call it "pimp cheese". These days people do try to pimp out their cheese spread studded with pimentos. But not me. I KISS IT. Keep it simple, southern lady.

Mayo or May-nah

I don't care what you use. Diehards use Duke's mayo. I use Hellman's. I do not condone the use of Miracle Whip for any purpose except to leave it in the store where you found it. 

The mayo simply binds the cheese shreads together with the pimientos, making the spread creamy and palatable. I like adding cream cheese to my recipe because it gives the recipe more stability. If you're at a picnic, this version is less likely to melt and get weepy. Also, it helps spread on crackers and bread easier.

Classic Southern Pimiento Cheese 

Yield: 1 quart

4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
4 oz cream cheese, softened
¾ cup mayonnaise
2 jars (4 oz each) diced pimentos, drained or 1 cup roasted red peppers, finely diced
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce 

1. In a large mixing bowl, place the cheddar cheese in an even layer. Scatter the cream cheese, mayonnaise, pimientos, smoked paprika and hot pepper sauce over the cheddar cheese. Using a spoon or rubber spatula, mix the pimento cheese lightly until it is smooth and spreadable, without overmixing.

  1. 2. Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator up to one week.

Shred your own cheese. Use a food processor (which I really dont recommend) or a box grater, but I definitely recommend shredding your own cheese instead of using store-bought shredded cheese.

I don't recommend a food processor because most of the time, it OVER-processes the cheese and it becomes a matted, mottled clump of cheddar and not only is the texture off, it throws of the balance of flavor once you mix everything together because you have to OVER-mix it all to make it taste like something.

Can I use packaged pre-shredded cheese?

Of course! You can use whatever kind of shredded cheese you want (but sharp cheddar is best). Pre-shredded cheese does have a light coating of cornstarch to keep it from clumping together, but if you're okay with that...
It also makes the cheese not cream together as well as cheese that is freshly shredded from a block of cheese. But sometimes the spread can be TOO creamy (too much mayo, too much stirring, too much trying) so pre-shredded cheese is 1 less step and a foolproof way to pimiento cheese nirvana.

Pimientos Vs Roasted Red Bell Peppers

Technically, both are mild peppers and few people can tell the difference between the two. Pimientos come pre-diced and in smaller jars than red bells. They're also a little bit sweeter and tangier than their cousins. But once you've covered them in mayo and sharp cheese, nobody knows except you and your grocery receipt. 

Additional seasonings and add-ins.
You can include other spices and seasonings if you prefer. Garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne and hot sauce are common. I've even seen people swear by Worcestershire sauce and dried ground mustard (which normally I add to EVERY dish I make that has cheese, but not this). 

You can add grated onion, fresh garlic or olives, jalapeños (the most popular addition, I think) or bacon to jazz it up (or hide the fact that you're boring in real life) if you like. I won't judge. I think I’ve tasted most variations (I've even had a version with carrots that was an attempt at health) but I always go back to the basics. Honestly, one of the main tenants of pimento cheese is simplicity and ease. It takes less than 10 minutes from start to finish and that includes taking a swig of whiskey from a jelly jar after you've wiped down the counter when you got done.

Chips, dips, crudités, breads, crackers, hamburgers, cheesecakes, finger sandwiches... however you're eating your pimento or pimiento cheese, just remember to enjoy yourself.