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jalapeno pimento cheese

Jalapeno pimento cheese can be used in a wide variety of ways: as a dip, in sandwiches and on top of burgers, mixed in with loaded French fries or nachos, as a way to enhance deviled eggs, or even in baked goods.

jalapeno pimento cheese spread on crackers

If you didn’t think I could wax poetic about pimento cheese, just watch me.

I feel like my mom was hiding an incredible secret from me my entire life.

You see, she grew up in Texas, and pimento cheese sandwiches were a staple in her house (my grandpa grew up in Texas too, and also grew up eating pimento cheese sandwiches.)

I am not sure how anyone could ever get sick of it, but that is what mom says. That’s the reason she hid the gloriousness, deliciousness and beauty of pimento cheese and I didn’t experience it at all during my own childhood.

Fast forward 20 plus years, and I find myself living in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Queen City of the New South, if you will.

Well do you know what didn’t take long?

For me to fall in love with pimento cheese.

bowl of jalapeno pimento cheese on a blue background with a spoonful of cheese and crackers

I quickly hopped on the bandwagon and it could be disputed, that eight years later, I may be one of the biggest fans.

My dad is from Wisconsin, so as the daughter of a cheese head, it’s basically in my blood to love anything and all things cheese.

I am a big fan of cheese dips of any kind. This seems like the right time to tell you I make a really good Beer Cheese Fondue.

I sometimes eat cheese for dinner, and I put it all together using this How to Make a Cheese Platter guide.

I believe in my heart you can add cheese to anything, or top anything with cheese, like a creamy cheese sauce on top of beer boiled brats.

So it only makes sense that I would really like pimento cheese.

WHAT IS PIMENTO CHEESE

Pimento cheese may be the South’s favorite spread, and for a good reason.

How could anyone not love a delicious, creamy combination of cream cheese, cheddar cheese, pimento peppers and mayo (for a little extra binding and flavor, of course)?

This Southern staple makes appearances everywhere: from picnics to potlucks, it even makes the menu in some fine dining restaurants.

white bowl of pimento cheese with crackers on a blue background

So what is it?

Often referred to as the pate of the South, or Carolina caviar, pimento cheese is a spread or relish and often a staple on Southern tables. The basic ingredients are cheese, mayo and pimento peppers, a Spanish, heart shaped pepper with a mild flavor. 

While there is some debate about its origination, there is no dispute of its popularity across the southern United States. You can find all sorts of varieties on grocery store shelves, and home cooks have varying homemade versions, but in most you’ll find those three main ingredients (like in my version, I love adding pickled jalapenos to make a jalapeno pimento cheese). 

HOW DO YOU MAKE IT FROM SCRATCH

With a stand mixer!

Ok you can also use a hand mixer, or even make it by hand.

You always want to start with cheese that you shred yourself.

I’ll repeat that one more time for the people in the back.

Do NOT use pre-shredded cheese!

Pre-shredded cheese loses some of the flavor and texture that freshly shredded cheese has, and with very few ingredients, you only want the best for your Southern spread.

So you’ll start by shredding your cheese. If you’re using cream cheese (which my recipe calls for because it makes it extra creamy) let that come to room temperature.

You’ll also need jarred pimentos (drained), mayonnaise (I recommend Duke’s but some people prefer Hellman’s!) and a few spices to add flavor (garlic, onion powder, and red pepper flakes.) I love adding in pickle juice or olive brine to give it a little extra salty, briny burst of flavor.

It can be easily elevated with flavorful add ins like pickled jalapenos, bacon, or even different cheese like blue cheese. 

Then you’ll add everything to a mixing bowl and put your stand mixer to work! (Or get a great arm workout by mixing it all together by hand.)

The result is this creamy, dreamy mixture perfect for spreading, dipping, and dunking.

Or eating by the spoonful. I don’t judge.

WHAT DO YOU EAT WITH IT

Jalapeno pimento cheese can be used in a wide variety of ways: as a dip, in sandwiches and on top of burgers, mixed in with loaded French fries or nachos, as a way to enhance deviled eggs, like with these delicious Pimento Cheese Deviled Eggs, and even in baked goods, like muffins and scones.

cheese in a white bowl on a blue background

Here are a few of my favorite ways to serve it:

  • Cold dip with crackers, pita chips and fresh cut veggies like carrots, cucumber, peppers, celery sticks and olives
  • On a simple cheese platter
  • As a sandwich, either cold spread between two slices of bread, or hot, like in a grilled cheese!
  • Melted on top of a burger
  • Mixed in with some mac and cheese
  • Stuffed into baked or fried chicken
  • As the main ingredient in biscuits
  • Stirred into grits
  • Melted on top of French fries
  • Stuffed into roasted jalapeno poppers

HOW DO YOU STORE IT?

Not only is jalapeno pimento cheese so easy to make, it also keeps really well in the fridge. Sometimes I’ll just make us a big batch to snack on throughout the week.

It can be stored in the fridge, covered, for up to five days. When you take it out of the fridge, let it come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving.

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This recipe can be found in my cookbook, Stunning Spreads!

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cheese in a white bowl on a blue background

jalapeno pimento cheese

Yield: 2-3 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Jalapeno pimento cheese can be used in a wide variety of ways: as a dip, in sandwiches and on top of burgers, mixed in with loaded French fries or nachos, as a way to enhance deviled eggs and even in baked goods.

Ingredients

  • 1 (8 ounce) block sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 (8 ounce) block sharp orange cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temperature and cubed
  • 1 (7 ounce) jar pimentos, drained
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½–1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons pickle juice or olive juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup Pickled Jalapeños diced, (optional)

Instructions

1.    Using a box grater, shred both kinds of cheddar cheese (don’t use pre-shredded, bagged cheese for this recipe. Shredding higher quality cheddar by hand is worth it.)

2.    Add all ingredients, except salt and pepper, to the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl.

3.    Beat the mixture together using a stand mixer or handheld mixer on low, or by hand using a large, sturdy wooden spoon or spatula until well combined.

4.    Taste pimento cheese, add a few turns or shakes of salt and black pepper, and mix again to combine.

5.    Serve pimento cheese immediately with crackers or fresh vegetables.



Notes

Pimento cheese can be stored covered in the
refrigerator for five days. After removing from the fridge, let pimento cheese come to room temperature for about thirty minutes to soften before serving.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 160Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 28mgSodium: 362mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 0gSugar: 3gProtein: 3g

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