• 6 cups shredded cheese (I use half mild cheddar, half sharp white cheddar)
  • 1/2 cup diced pimentos
  • 2 tablespoons diced poblano pepper
  • 6 tablespoons mayonaise
  • 4 teaspoons mustard
  • 2 teaspoons sweet or smoked paprika
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste

I don’t know whether to chalk it up to nostalgia or what, but if I have people over to my house and pimento cheese is one of the offerings on the table, it’s the first thing to go. For some reason, not a lot of people make it. But EVERYBODY WANTS TO EAT IT.

My grandmother always had some in her refrigerator  (store-bought), and, even though I loved it, I never really ate it other than when I was at her house. I certainly never thought about actually making it myself.

But then a few months ago I was listening to The Splendid Table in my car, and host Lynn Rosetto Kasper was talking with author Deborah Madison about her pimento cheese recipe. And then I stumbled upon an article in some magazine about pimento cheese. Then another story on some other radio show I can’t remember. All in one week! It’s like the universe wanted me to make pimento cheese, because that’s all I could think about. (Or maybe I was just hungry. Anything’s possible.)

Anyway– project pimento cheese was launched. And, once you do a little research on it, you discover that people have very strong opinions about their pimento cheese.

To wit:

  • “You must use Hellman’s Mayonnaise! ONLY HELLMAN’S WILL DO.”
  • “Cream cheese is the secret!”
  • “Mustard! You have to use mustard!”
  • “You’re crazy if you don’t use smoked spanish peppers.”
  • “NO! Straight-up pimentos! You have to use old-school, diced pimentos in a jar.”

Anyway… the list of do’s and don’ts was long, and many conflicted with each other. So the only answer was to experiment. After trying several different versions and tweaking them this way and that, I settled on a variation of Deborah Madison’s recipe from her book What We Eat When We Eat Alone. Enjoy it with crackers, on bread, or straight out of the jar with a fork. It’s that good.

Note that this recipe makes enough for 4 to 5 eight-oz jars, because I like to give it away as gifts. If you want a smaller portion, just cut the recipe in half. (Though something tells me you’ll wish you’d made more…)

Here’s to old favorites!


*See ingredient list at top of post. (Step-by-step photos at the end of the recipe.)

1. Combine cheeses, mayonnaise, mustard, pimentos, diced poblano pepper, and paprika large bowl. Stir to combine.

2.  Add scallions and fresh ground pepper to taste. (I like a lot!)

3.  Store in air-tight container, or divide among 4-5 eight-oz glass jars.


 The Process in Pictures

Six cups of freshly grated cheese, a mixture of orange mild cheddar and white sharp cheddar.


Fixings added, but not incorporated yet. It doesn't look that appealing now, but just you wait.


The amateur photographer (um, me), is not doing justice to this big bowl of yum.


PImento cheese, ready for its close-up.