Pimento Cheese Dip

A quick 10-minute pimento cheese dip is a must-make for game-day, holidays, and other get-togethers. It’s a simple mix-and-serve appetizer made with sharp cheddar cheese, cream cheese, peppers, and mayonnaise otherwise know as a combination of flavors that’s hard to resist.

a bowl of pimento cheese with ritz crackers.

I spent most of my life afraid of pimento cheese in the same way I was afraid of that lunch meat speckled with red and green ingredients unfamiliar to me.

I later learned those speckles are diced pimento and olives and that particular lunchtime delicacy was sliced from what is called a pimento loaf. I guess it was the word “pimento” that was the root cause of my fear because I loved bologna growing up, so it wasn’t the idea of meat mush pressed together to make a food product that scared me. It was those red flecks of unknown origin.

So, it wasn’t until five or six years ago that I first tried pimento cheese at a restaurant in North Carolina and it was mostly by accident. I’d ordered a BBQ chicken flatbread pizza and didn’t notice it was topped with pimento cheese. Well, long story short, I loved it. It was rich, creamy, cheesy, and tangy. I couldn’t stop thinking about it long after leaving the restaurant.

From that moment, I looked for it everywhere and, seeing as it was the South, it wasn’t hard to find. Let’s just say I made up for a lot of lost time and indulged every time pimento cheese crossed my path.

What is Pimento Cheese?

Pimento cheese is a cheese spread made with cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, and the aforementioned pimentos. Pimentos are (not scary) sweet cherry peppers. and are the same thing that little green olives are stuffed with.

Mix it all together and you get a rich cheese spread that’s great as a dip, or sandwich filling, or a flatbread pizza topping as was the case when I first tried it. Pimento cheese is a southern thing and not something I was exposed to growing up in Wyoming which is decidedly not southern.

Homemade pimento cheese dip, like a lot of things, has been on my list for a few years now and my only hesitation in making it and sharing it here is, “what if it’s not authentic?”. Southern cuisine is a specific thing and an emotional one – classic southern dishes are classic for a reason. I was worried about messing with it.

But what would life be like if we never took chances? So, I’m taking one here. After experimenting, this is my current favorite way to make pimento cheese dip. Like a lot of things, there are many variations – in my research, I don’t think I found any identical recipes, but, rather, variations on a theme – and my version, adapted from The New York Times, is a quick 10-minute prep time appetizer that tends to disappear fast when you serve it.

ingredients for the recipe.

Ingredients

  • Cheddar cheese: Now’s not the time for pre-shredded cheese. The cheddar is a lead character in this dip, so buy a good quality block and shred it yourself. I used sharp or extra-sharp cheddar cheese and use my food processor to shred it which takes about 30 seconds.
  • Cream cheese: Since I usually add the cream cheese straight from the fridge, I like to cut it into cubes. It makes it much easier to blend it with the other ingredients and you don’t have to wait for it to soften before you make the dip.
  • Mayonnaise: Quality matters here, too. I’m a die-hard Hellman’s fan.
  • Pimento or roasted red pepper: Jarred pimento is not always available at regular grocery stores, so folks often use regular roasted red bell peppers instead, which is what I opted for, too, since I can’t find pimento. You can also use pappadew peppers.
  • Kosher salt
the creamy dip in a bowl with the rest of the shredded cheese.

How to Make Pimento Cheese Dip

  • Place half of the shredded cheese and all of the other ingredients in a food processor fitted with a chopping blade. Process until smooth.
  • Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the rest of the shredded cheese. Stir to combine.
  • Cover and chill the pimento cheese for a few hours before serving. This allows all of the flavors to develop.

You can, of course, blend all of the cheddar cheese with the other ingredients and make a smooth dip, but I love the texture the shredded cheese gives the finished dip.

Recipe Tips

If you want to add some heat it would not be wrong to add some cayenne pepper, hot sauce, or even some finely chopped jalapeno peppers when you blend the cheese with the other ingredients.

Serve it with crackers, veggies like carrot and celery sticks, crostini, crunchy pretzels… anything that goes with cheese!

Not gonna lie, I’ve also used this pimento cheese spread to make the best cheese sandwich with fresh sliced tomatoes and hot and crispy grilled cheese sandwich.

How to Store Pimento Cheese

You can make pimento cheese ahead (up to a few days before is good) and leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, although I find it’s best within a week. Be sure to store it in an airtight container.

Seeing as football season is upon us there’s no better time to make this pimento cheese recipe. Serve it with crackers (I love Ritz) and watch it disappear.

Happy dip-making!

April
overhead photo of the dip.

More Dip Recipes to Try

Bring on all the dips! It’s my favorite part of football season, so here are a few more for you to try…

📣 Do you love this recipe? I would love to know! Leave a comment below the recipe along with your recipe star rating.

Print

Pimento Cheese Dip

pimento cheese spread in a bowl.

Pimento cheese is a classic Southern cheese spread made with simple ingredients that, when combined, is hard to resist. If you can’t find pimento you can substitute roasted red peppers. This recipe is heavy on the cream cheese which makes the dip extra creamy, but you can easily customize the amounts to suit your own tastes.

  • Author: April Anderson
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: approximately 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: No Cook
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

Scale
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 7 ounce jar pimento or roasted red peppers, drained
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Place half of the shredded cheese in a food processor. Add the cream cheese, mayonnaise, peppers, and salt. Process until combined and smooth.
  2. Transfer the mixture  to a bowl, add the rest of the shredded cheese, and stir to combine. Cover the bowl and chill the pimento cheese for at least an hour or so to allow the flavors to develop.

Notes

You can make pimento cheese ahead (up to a few days before is good) and leftovers will keep in the refridgerator for up to two weeks, although I find it’s best to use it up within a week. Be sure to keep in an airtight container.

Recipe adapted from The New York Times

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/8 of recipe
  • Calories: 218
  • Sugar: 1.8g
  • Fat: 19.5g
  • Carbohydrates: 3.4g
  • Fiber: 0.3g
  • Protein: 7.7g

Keywords: pimento cheese, cheese dip recipe, homemade pimento cheese

Do you love this recipe? Don’t forget to leave a comment and your recipe star rating!

The nutrition is an estimate only. It was calculated using Nutrifox, an online nutrition calculator.

Post updated from the archives first published in September 2019.

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6 Comments

  1. I add a tsp of Hablanero or Tobasco Sauce. I also add a heaping T of dehydrated red and green bell peppers. I use a whisk to blend cheese , cream cheese and mayo as to not make it a creamy texture.

  2. I made this for a Southern Bell Birthday luncheon, and everyone loved it. I just added a little Cayenne to it. Thanks for sharing!
    Wish I could post a photo, but not sure how 🙂

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