Three Cheese Pimiento Cheese
Pimiento cheese (or pimento if we’re spelling phonetically) is a Southern staple that I was lucky enough to know and love as a child. Luckier still, my mom has her own recipe, which helped me develop a taste for only the made-from-scratch, homemade kind. In my adult life I’ve realized the sad truth that pimiento cheese isn’t readily available or regularly eaten outside of the South. Isn’t it funny how living in the same area for your whole childhood can insulate you from the idea of regional eating?
There are debates about “pimiento” vs. “pimento,” about Duke’s mayo vs. other mayo brands, and about the type(s) of cheese to use. I’m not here to try to settle those debates–in fact, my recipe is far from a purist’s version. But I do have one rule: you have to grate your own (full fat) cheese. I won’t bore you with a discourse on pre-shredded and low-fat cheeses, but if you’re going to make this recipe, please grate your own.
I’m not a big fan of mayonnaise, so I’ve opted for plain greek yogurt instead. However, mayo works just fine in this recipe if that’s your thing. I’ve also used crème fraîche or regular plain yogurt in the past with success. You really just need a relatively mild binder that adds a little bit of tang. The three types of cheese aren’t 100% essential either, but I like the depth that each one adds. What I’m trying to say is that you can make this recipe your own, just as I have. Don’t be afraid to experiment a little! This recipe makes approximately 2.5 cups.
4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese
4 oz. aged cheddar cheese
4 oz. pepper jack cheese (colby jack with jalapeños)
3/4 c (6 oz.) plain greek yogurt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
4 oz. jar of diced pimientos, drained
food processor (see notes for alternatives)
1. Shred all 3 cheeses (12 oz. total) using shredding blade in food processor.
2. Replace shredding blade for regular blade in food processor. To cheese, add 1/2 c yogurt and pulse to combine. Add more yogurt, 1-2 Tbsp at a time, until cheese all sticks together and is close to your desired consistency. It shouldn’t be too crumbly looking, and remember that the pimientos will add a little more moisture.
3. Add 1 tsp garlic powder and 1/4 tsp black pepper and pulse to combine. If you want a smoother consistency for your finished produce, process until completely smooth.
4. Add 4 oz. jar of drained pimientos to cheese mixture. Pulse until just combined. If you prefer larger chunks of pimientos, mix them in by hand. For very spreadable cheese, use right away (at room temperature). Otherwise, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate. Pimiento cheese will keep for several days in the fridge.
If you like spicier cheese, use a larger proportion of pepper jack cheese, or try adding a handful of pickled jalapeños (diced) with the pimientos . You can also add a little bit of chipotle powder, and/or a dash of your favorite hot sauce when you’re blending in the other spices.
If I’m making this as a dip to be eaten with crackers or chips, I like to blend it until very smooth and serve it at room temperature. Regular plain yogurt will help give it a thinner, smoother consistency also.
Make pimiento cheese finger sandwiches by adding a thick layer between two pieces of bread, slicing off the crusts, then cutting into small rectangular or triangular pieces.