Sharp & Spicy Pimento Cheese (& Grandmama!)

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Pimento Cheese (pronounced pub-men-uh) is a staple in the Southeastern United States – and also in the Philippines. Clearly, this speaks to the wonderful taste of those folks (love y’all!). It’s one of those things we had often growing up and sometimes you just get a hankering that nothing else will satisfy except a good old pimento cheese sandwich.

There are a couple of ways to make pimento cheese but the main two involve sharp cheddar (like this recipe) and Velveeta (click here for the velveeta version). both are delicous in my book. However, at a photo shoot for Taste of the South last weekend, we had wheat crackers and a big old tub of spicy pimento cheese. It was so heavenly that I decided to come home and whip some up to show folks how to make it, just in case you didn’t know. Because not having a little spicy pimento cheese from time to time would be a crying shame. As if I needed another excuse, I got to go visit my Grandmama this past weekend and she loves pimento cheese so it was the perfect little treat to take to her.

My Grandmother is the cute smiling lady in that photo above. She is my mother’s mother and she and I have a lot of things in common, number one being that she is the only person I know that I can call at 4:00 AM to have a chat and cup of coffee with over the phone. She’ll answer the phone “Hellloooo! I’m just a sitting here having me a little coffee.” I’m pretty sure I’m the only person who calls her at this hour but we enjoy our little conversations from time to time when we have them – and every now and then I send her a tin of coffee as a thank you.

There is something very comforting knowing someone else who gets up as early as I do, and no matter how early I get up, I know my Grandmama has likely beat me to the punch.

Grandmama is a joy to talk to because she is the kind of person who always looks on the bright side and I’ve never once seen her get frazzled. I think that living through the depression and growing up as poor as she did acts as a common sense buffer to life. While the rest of the world is running around shouting that the sky is falling, Grandmama remains even keeled, dependable, and always encouraging.

I want to be like her when I’m gray and I’m sure a lot of others feel the same way. But you know what? You don’t just magically turn sweet, kind, and wise when the clock flips over to 65 (Remember, I had 13 living grandparents when I was born, so I got to see contrast here!). You have to start working towards it now. You have to practice looking for joy, especially when other folks are looking for something to complain about. You have to learn to value loving people over judging them, and be more concerned with what is right than being right. These are just the beginning stepping stones but when you seek out things like this in life, wisdom follows. Many of my grandparents walked this path to end up the kind and wise people they were in their older years and I do my best to follow in their steps. I want to be wrinkled and gray, with an easy smile and twinkling eyes and arms strong as an ox surrounded by folks who want hugs from them. That’s a destination worth reaching, so for me, it’s a path worth taking.

Come to think of it, my grandparents who ended up sweet, kind, wise, and loving, all ate pimento cheese on a regular basis. Now I’m not saying this had anything to do with it but there’s no sense in taking any chances – so let’s get mixin’!

You’ll need: Mayo, sharp cheddar, cayenne pepper, pimentos, and some hot sauce.

Note: I always like to point out for the folks who don’t love mayo that I don’t either, so don’t fret over it in this recipe. You really won’t taste it because the cheddar cheese, sauces, and pimentos really overshadow it. We mainly have it in there to hold it all together.

I also like to point out to the folks who are horrified at the thought of a Southerner not liking mayo that I’m a ninth generation Alabamian, my people having lived here long before it even became a state, and in addition to not liking mayo, I also don’t like seafood. I’ll just share in your horror and admit that I have no idea why they haven’t kicked me out of the South over such atrocities but I realize I’m living on borrowed time :) If anyone would like to step up and offer their state as refuge, I’ll gladly consider it and offer numerous baked goods should I ever become your new neighbor :)

Grate all of your cheese and put it in a large mixing bowl.

Add drained pimentos and mayo.

Stir that up really good.

Add cayenne pepper and hot sauce and stir again until well blended.

Place this in a covered container and refrigerate several hours, or overnight, to allow flavors to marry.

Note: This is an arranged marriage, some might even say forced. I’m okay with that because these ingredients are far too young to know what is best for them so I, as their guardian, have chosen the best possible partners. Of course, this will lead to their eventual demise, but t’will be a noble way to go.

The next day, take all of that pimento cheese along with some zesty dill pickle spears and kettle chips to your Grandmama’s house.

Make a sandwich on some nicely toasted bread and try to take a picture of it without getting any of your nephew’s legos in the shot.

Give up, because your nephew has too many Legos… decide it would look better with Grandmama holding it anyway.

Ahh, that’s better :)

Sharp & Spicy Pimento Cheese

Ingredients

  • 1 pound block Sharp Cheddar Cheese*
  • 1 cup mayo
  • 1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 7 ounce jar pimentos, drained

Instructions

  1. Grate all cheese and place in large mixing bowl with mayo and pimentos. Stir well to mix.
  2. Add hot sauce and cayenne pepper. Stir until well combined.
  3. Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight. Serve on toasted bread, plain bread, or your favorite crackers.
  4. *Can use pre-grated cheese if you prefer
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“You can often change your circumstances by changing your attitude”

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

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Comments

  1. Melissa (Aunt Missy) says

    Sweet Christy Girl, I’m so glad you did this wonderful post on your Grandmama and her pimento cheese recipe. I can only imagine how much it blessed her heart to be honored by her precious granddaughter. God bless you and your family. Love you my sweet friend!

  2. MARY ANN CHAMBERS says

    Hey Christy,
    This is the best!!!! Been making this almost 50 years, but the last few times, I added 8oz of light cream cheese. Not sure that makes it taste any better, but it will last a little longer.

  3. Bridget says

    Seriously you brought tears to my eyes..it’s been years since my Great Grand mom passed but your story of how you’d call her at 4am chat and have some coffee reminds me of my GG Lena and I. I grew up with her she was always around and we took care of her till her last breath..see I would sit up late at night and always fix my GG Lena or Nanna as I like to call her, a midnight snack she loved those Pizza Pockets and Grilled Cheese sandwich that you can fix in that non stick pocket machines. We sit talk stories and eat our sandwiches what a lovely thought to know that others out there sat up with their Nanna’s late and chatted the night away..

    • Martha says

      These comments reminded me of my mother who started putting her homemade pimento cheese sandwiches for Stuckey’s Service Stations…back in the day (started in 1944). She also made a delicious tuna sandwich but everyday, her pimento cheese sandwiches sold out first and fast. Eventually she was having them picked up daily at the Eastman, GA store .and taken to another Stuckey’s in Unadilla GA. Sylvester Stuckey, the originator and owner of the company, ate one of mother’s pimento cheese sandwiches one day while he was visiting our home and said, “Mary, how ‘ bout selling those in the service stations?”…..wa-la… hence the story. My father was the production manager for the original candy plant in Eastman, GA

      For me, Mother would allow me to have a “Coke” with mine and to this day I still think I have to have a Coke when I have a pimento cheese sandwich, I think my father would have liked it with the jalapeño peppers. I don’t ever remember Mother putting anything in her pimento cheese except mayonnaise, a little black pepper and the sharpest cheddar cheese she could find. She also put a little mayonnaise on the bread. I am definitely going to try the hot sauce and the jalapeño when I make pimento cheese again. When we went to my grandmother’s house in Macon, GA, some weekends, my mother would always make pimento cheese sandwiches for “us kids” to have for lunch on
      Saturday.

      Thanks for sharing your story and to all the others who wrote of their special pimento cheese memories.

      • Sunshine 2 says

        Dear Sunshine,
        What a sweet story. Evidently being a phenomenal cook runs in your family. I wish everyone within a hoot-n- holler of this site could taste your vegetable soup and finger-lickin’ cornbread. I treasure the seasoned to perfection skillet you gave me and all the late night raids on your refrigerator. :)

        • Martha says

          Sunshine,

          I remember when I had made macaroni and cheese and as I was passing the bowl to you, it slipped and broke….LOL; we both screamed, “O NO!” I think if there had not been glass in it we would have probably spooned it off the floor…..just kidding. I do miss those days and nights of fun together in the kitchen. There are so many stories…some no one would believe.

  4. Rebecca Sharp says

    We have a running joke in our family Pimento Cheese- our family recipe for Pimento Cheese, put me off of it for years and years until I had some at a function that was made correctly-now I cannot get enough of it. By the way, I am from Alabama, I do not like Mayonnaise, seafood, chicken, or Sweet Tea. My tea has to be unsweet! I am in hiding now– I think they are looking for me :)

    • Carol Farriba says

      I am from Georgia, and I don’t eat the following Southern foods: Cooked cabbage, fried okra, fried squash, or fried okra. Also don’t eat turnips in any shape form or fashion. No wild game for me either. But, I do love pimento cheese.

  5. Christopher says

    Love spicy Pimento Cheese. I have to confess, however, I make mine with Cheeze-Whiz: Sorry. I just made this for my in-laws 2 weeks ago when we visited them in the FL Keys. I made one version that was spicy and topped with thin slices of Vidalia onions. Second version: If you want to kick it up a notch, cut back a bit on the hot sauce; depending on your heat tolerance. Then top it off with a few rings of Texas “The Original Sweet & Hot Jalapenos.” That’s outstanding! You can put the cheese on a cracker of your choice, top it with a jalapeno ring, and it makes a great hors d’oeuvre; or as mom used to call them, “horses doovers.” ;-)

  6. Shirley says

    Christy, I have been making homemade pimento cheese most of my married life (37 yrs) but my husband won’t touch it so I can do whatever I want too. In season I add a little chopped peppers from the garden. I also add a little cream cheese for smoothness. lately I’ve discovered minced garlic and if not that then garlic powder. just kicks it up a little, I get bored easily with the same-o, same o. PS, I live in Meridianville- we’re neighbors !!!

  7. says

    Lovely recipe, great story. Reminds me of my own maternal grandmother whom I miss dearly. She has been gone many years, but hardly a day goes by that she doesn’t come into my kitchen through one of her cherished recipes. I have shared yours to my FB page and thank you for the memories and a delicious recipe!

  8. Sheila says

    Thanks for posting this recipe. There is nothing like homemade Pimento Cheese! My mom always made it and I make it too. It is funny how people just gobble it up and have no idea you can make “Homemade Pimento Cheese”! It tastes a lot better than store-bought and it is better to grate your own cheese. I tried the pre-grated and it wasn’t as good.

  9. Pamela irvine says

    My northern friend said she loved pimento cheese when I mentioned it, but said she hadn’t had it since she was a kid as she never saw the jars at the store anymore (I guess it came in glass jars in Oregon). She was amazed when I told her she could make it at home! Bless her heart :)

  10. kaye says

    I would “LOVE” to see Christy Jordan, and other more conservative, average, NORMAL folks, who actually cook FOOD that is appealing on a PUBLIC COOKING NETWORK… something completely different, from Food network, I’m such a foodie, and am soooo tired of all the glam and gliz that particular network now offers!!! Honestly there is not ONE, not one single “chef,” nor cook personality that I can “remotely,” relate to… I happen to live in a normal neighborhood… not in the Hamptons, and I’m not associated with all the politicians either!!! PLEASE some media outlet, take a clue and get us some normal, conservative “regular COOKS, ” I promise your viewers will LOVE your programing… the others offer OUTRAGEOUS foods that most folks would NEVER consider making for “regular families!!” Christy Jordan is surreal, I’d honestly LOVE to see MANY more real COOKS similar to us REGULAR families who work, and cook for “our FAMILIES!!”

  11. Cene' says

    I love pimento cheese sandwiches and I too, had to have a coke with it and a bowl of tomater soup with my Grandaddy growing up, do not care for tomater soup (do not think I really ever did) but it is what my Grandaddy made, so I ate it. Thank you for the lovely recipe as well as the memories. I also am really curious as to how you could possible have 13 grandparents……I was grateful to just have the 1.

  12. Wendy says

    I’m not from the south, but I seriously love me some pimento cheese! My grandparents (from the Midwest) always had it on hand, and we’d sit and eat it on crackers, bread, or veggies until we just about exploded :)

    Thanks for the recipe. I have everything but the pimentos. Looks like it’s time to go to the store.

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