Southern Staple: Pimiento Cheese

August 9, 2012 | By | Comments (0)

Whether served at a bridal shower or Sunday brunch, melted in a sandwich or fried as an appetizer, pimiento cheese is always a hit. We’ll show you how to master the iconic mix at home and shed some light on it’s rise to fame.

  • Dress it up or down, but be sure to use freshly shredded cheese. Trust us. That pre-shredded stuff just doesn’t cut it. It might seem like a time-saver, but the tiny little cheese pieces are coated in an anticaking agent to keep them from sticking together. This isn’t a problem if you’re making a quesadilla or tacos. But when it comes to making pimiento cheese, the anticaking agent on the pre-shredded stuff prevents you from creating the perfect pimiento cheese texture—and texture is everything.
  • Use both sides of the box grater. For classic Southern style, shred half the cheese using the largest holes on a box grater and the other half with the finest holes. Our favorite is the OXO Box Grater from Crate and Barrel.
  • Easy does it. Add the cheese gradually to the mayo mixture and gently stir while adding to prevent clumps from forming.
  • High-quality ingredients are key. Make sure to use high-quality mayonnaise, such as Hellmann’s or Duke’s. It will make a difference in both flavor and texture.

Spelled pimiento or pimento (both correct), this cheese concoction is as essential to our Southern identity as sweet tea. A cookbook containing one true recipe, let alone the many regional variations such as adding paprika or jalapeño peppers, is almost impossible to find; favorite recipes survive by way of oral tradition. Therefore, the popularity of this unique spread remains largely confined to the states below the Mason-Dixon Line, where it assumes its place as a Southern staple. Food Senior Writer, Donna Florio, says “Pimiento Cheese is possibly the most distinctive Southern dish. You might find barbecue or grits in other places, but if there’s pimiento cheese on the menu, you know there’s a Southerner in the kitchen.”

Pimiento Cheese Sandwich

Photo by Jennifer Davick

Don’t just think of Pimiento Cheese as a party spread! It can liven up much more than crackers and vegetables. Here’s some recipes to get you inspired: 13 Ways with Pimiento Cheese

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