Pimento Cheese!


Pimento Cheese is a Southern thing, or so I thought. The Fanny Farmer Cookbook from 1952 is filled with interesting recipes like this from the “Boston Cooking School”. Folks in the Fifties seem to worry about flavor though: a finely minced half clove of garlic is a common addition. Mayonnaise is a good addition to everything. So maybe this is just a 50s thing that is still done in the South. Anyway… I can’t walk into Safeway and get this off the shelves like I can at Ingles or Publix. Even there it seems to be somewhat “house made”. Basically this a “cheese salad” in the way you can add mayo to anything and get a “salad”. In this case, it’s a salad spread: it’s amazing on saltines.

Some recipes call for cream cheese as well as cheddar. Some call for white and yellow cheddar. I don’t quite understand these options, but they are out there. To start, I didn’t have any sharp cheese. You need sharp for this: it’s gotta stand up to everything else. I had mild cheddar, so I made do and I upped the cheesy umami by adding nutritional yeast. Good olives are important. Yes I know it says “pimento cheese” but everyone and their granny has their own recipe for this. This is mine.
You need a food processor for this. Mine is kinda tiny so I made it in two half-batches.  You can tinker with the ratios, and again, this is mine… you may like it cheesier or spicier. You can make it wetter by adding more mayo.

  • 12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese cubed into 1/2″ dice.
    Let this sit out about 2-4 hours (covered) to come to room temperature and get nice and soft.
  • 12 ounces pimento-stuffed green olives.
    NB: 12 ounces is the weight after draining off the brine.
    Reserve the brine.
  • 1/4-1/3 Cup Duke’s Mayonnaise
    NB: This DOES NOT CALL FOR MIRACLE WHIP but you may use another brand of mayo if you must.
  • Sriracha to taste – I used about a tablespoon. Your mileage may vary.
  • Salt to taste


  1. Place the drained olives in a food processor.
  2. Place the cheese in there. 
  3. Put the lid on and pulse until the olives and the cheese are shredded up nice but you want some texture. We’re not going for smooth and creamy here.
  4. Place everything in a mixing bowl along with the mayo and sriracha.
  5. Blend with a spoon until everything is covered in the dressing.
  6. Taste and add salt as needed. At this point, I didn’t think it was tangy enough (because I had no sharp cheese) so I add about 2 tbls of the olive brine and stirred it in.
  7. Place in a covered bowl and refrigerate for a couple of hours at least.
  8. This will be much better tomorrow.
Spread it on crackers.
Put in on burgers.
Make quesadillas with it.
Grilled Cheese sandwiches are very good with this.

Author: Huw Raphael

A Dominican Tertiary living in San Francisco, CA. He is almost 59. He feeds the homeless as a parochial almoner and is studying to be a Roman Catholic Deacon. He is learning modern Israeli Hebrew and enjoys cooking, keto, cats, long urban hikes, and SF Beer Week.

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