Classic Pimento Cheese

Classic Pimento cheese is such a Southern staple and also crazy delicious. It’s creamy, cheesy, and just a bit spicy. And since it’s crazy easy, it’s a perfect addition to any cocktail party, bridal or baby shower, brunch, or just to keep in the fridge for snacking!  This tangy and creamy spread is always a hit. They don’t call it the pâté of the South for nothing.

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Gray plate with classic pimento cheese, celery sticks, carrot sticks, and buttery crackers.

There are as many pimento cheese recipes as there are Southern cooks.  Some are super spicy with cayenne and jalapenos.  Others use only mayonnaise or Greek yogurt and forego the cream cheese.  My Classic Pimento Cheese recipe uses cream cheese for extra flavor and creaminess, spices for depth of flavor and just a touch of hot sauce for a bit of heat.  I love serving it with crackers, celery, and carrot sticks.  If you’ve never had a pimento cheese sandwich on plain white bread, then you are in for a treat!

The Real Story Of Pimento Cheese

Did you know that this Southern staple isn’t actually Southern at all?  It was developed in New York where farmers used their extra milk to make cream cheese.  They mixed pimentos into the bland cheese to give it some flavor.

This spread became popular during WWI because it was a cheap and easy way to feed troops and families alike.  It was quickly adopted by Southerners who added a bit of mayonnaise to the recipe to give it a more creamy texture.

Southern cooks began making it for church potlucks, weddings, showers, tucking it into deviled eggs, or spreading it between slices of white bread – with the crusts cut off of course.

Closeup of a bowl of classic pimento cheese.

Ingredients Needed

Fortunately, you probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry already.  The other items can be found in almost any grocery store.

  • Cream cheese.  You’ll need an entire block at room temperature so it mixes with the other ingredients easily.
  • Mayonnaise.  Use a good quality mayo.  I like Hellmann’s, some swear by Duke’s, so use your favorite brand.
  • Garlic powder, onion powder, white pepper for flavor.  If you don’t have white pepper, use black pepper.
  • Worcestershire sauce – just a bit.  It adds a ton of flavor.
  • Hot sauce for some spice.  Feel free to add more or less to suit your tastes.
  • Shredded cheddar cheese.  I like using extra sharp cheddar cheese, but again, use what you like best.  But whatever cheddar you use, shred it yourself with a box grater or food processor.  The bags of shredded cheese have a powdery coating to keep the cheese from clumping together and it will feel grainy in the recipe.  Not a pleasant mouthfeel.
  • Jarred pimento peppers – you can find these in the pickle section of your grocery, usually by the roasted red peppers.  They come in strips or chopped.  If you can’t find them, you could use jarred roasted red peppers in a pinch and chop them finely.

How Do I Make This Recipe?

This is one of those recipes that almost doesn’t need instructions, but here goes.

  1. Drain the pimento cheese.
  2. Grate the cheddar cheese.
  3. Mix all of the ingredients together with a hand mixer.
  4. Chill and enjoy.

Top view of a gray bowl of classic pimento cheese.

How Do I Serve Classic Pimento Cheese?

  • Crackers are always good with this spread.  As are crostini, melba toasts, etc.
  • Vegetables for dipping or stuffing.  Carrot sticks for dipping or stuff it into a celery stick or baby bell pepper.
  • Top your burgers with a spoon of pimento cheese and let it melt onto the meat.  Are you salivating yet?
  • Use it as a sandwich spread or as a filling for grilled cheese.
  • Mix it into your deviled eggs for an insane treat.

Complete your Southern-style party with a few of these recipes:

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A platter of crackers, fresh vegetables and a bowl of Classic Pimento Cheese Spread. This is a perfect addition to your Kentucky Derby party!

Classic Pimento Cheese


This Classic Pimento Cheese spread is a perfect addition to any Southern-style party menu!  Rich, creamy, and a little spicy, this easy spread is ready in less than 30 minutes and always a hit.



8 ounces cream cheese, cubed, room temperature

½ cup mayonnaise (I like Hellmann’s)

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon onion powder

¼ teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon hot sauce

2 ½ cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese (shredded from a block of cheddar, not pre-shredded)

4 ounces pimento peppers, well-drained and chopped


In a large bowl, add the cream cheese, mayonnaise, garlic powder, onion powder, white pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. 

With a hand mixer combine all of the ingredients until very well mixed.

Use a wooden spoon to fold the pimento peppers and cheddar cheese into the cream cheese mixture.  If you like a creamier spread without the shreds of cheese, mix with the hand mixer.

Scrape the pimento cheese into a covered bowl and chill for at least one hour.

30 minutes before serving, remove the cheese from the refrigerator and allow it to rest (and soften).  

Serve with crackers, vegetables, crostini, or as a filling for sandwiches.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Starter - Appetizer
  • Method: Mix
  • Cuisine: Southern

Keywords: classic pimento cheese, appetizer recipes, Kentucky Derby recipes, party recipes, Southern food, cheese recipes

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