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Old Fashioned Pimento Cheese Recipe

My old-fashioned pimento cheese recipe is lusciously creamy and tangy with a bold Cheddar cheese flavor. It’s spiked with a touch of citrusy sumac and a mild kick of chipotle to wake up and excite your tastebuds!

Old Fashioned Pimento Cheese Recipe in a square white bowl.
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Pimento cheese will be your new favorite quick and easy summertime appetizer dip and spread. You can make it in minutes with ingredients already in your fridge and pantry.

Whether it’s a backyard barbecue, a movie night with your girlfriends, or summer celebrations like Memorial Day and the 4th of July, this scrumptious old-fashioned pimento cheese recipe will be the center of attention on your snack table.

Slather pimento cheese on crackers or toasted baguette slices. Stuff it in celery or cherry tomatoes. We love it with all types of fresh veggie crudites. My old-fashioned pimento cheese recipe is also a spectacular burger topping, and it will take your hotdogs, next-level.

Just think what delicious pimento cheese could do in my delectable Tuna Melt Open Face Sandwich recipe! Delish! Or use it as the cheesy topping on scrambled eggs or in your favorite casseroles.

Vintage recipes are gaining popularity right now. Being retro is cool, even at the dinner table! Taste my homemade pimento cheese and you’ll understand why!

Pimento Cheese Origins

Old Fashioned Pimento Cheese Recipe in a mason jar.

You may have heard it said that pimento cheese is a Southern dish. So, you’ll be as surprised as I was to discover that it actually originated in New York in the 1870s.

That’s when cream cheese was first developed in the U.S. to offer an alternative to French Neufchatel. It was developed in New York and soon made it’s way to Philadelphia.

Pimentos appeared on the scene in America about that same time. They were a tasty Spanish import and grew in popularity as more and more tasty uses were discovered for them.

In 1908 Good Housekeeping magazine recommended sandwiches made with a spread that blended cream cheese, mustard, chives and pimentos. Pimento cheese had gone mainstream. But it contained NO Cheddar!

Old Fashioned Pimento Cheese Recipe in a square white bowl.

The combination became so popular that cheese manufacturers created their own Pimento Cheese and sold it to the masses.

Let’s Just Make Our Own

The difficulty was that Spanish pimentos were expensive. So, with typical American ingenuity, the South began growing pimento peppers.

Georgia pimentos became commonly available across the country, and pimento cheese took off in popularity until World War II. It just sort of faded away after that and wasn’t often found on grocery store shelves after the war.

And as with every great recipe tradition, home cooks ventured forth and began developing their own recipes, creating their own personal versions of pimento cheese.

Old Fashioned Pimento Cheese Recipe in a mason jar.

These old-fashioned pimento cheese recipes varied according to available and affordable ingredients. That’s when hard cheeses, which cost much less than cream cheese, came into the picture.

Home cooks used mayonnaise to bind the grated hard cheese and pimentos. From what I’ve read, this reawakening of the love for pimento cheese and new recipe variants probably DID start in the South.

As the recipes spread from region to region, they have been altered and varied to include available ingredients and favorite seasonings. As it has been with all great recipes throughout history.

So, the “old-fashioned” pimento cheese recipes we all know and love turn out to be not so old-fashioned after all. They’re actually the new-fangled variations of an earlier version.

The Ingredients

Pimento Cheese ingredients arranged on a countertop: grated Cheddar, cream cheese, mayonnaise, pimentos, Worcestershire sauce, yellow mustard, celery seed, ground sumac and chipotle chili powder.
  • Cheddar Cheese, extra sharp and hand-grated
  • Mayonnaise
  • Cream Cheese
  • Pimentos, chopped and drained
  • Yellow Mustard
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Celery Seed
  • optional, Ground Sumac and Chipotle Chili Powder (You can leave both these out and make a deliciously vintage and classic old-fashioned pimento cheese recipe. But I believe these two tiny ingredients are what make this pimento cheese recipe so special.)

What Are Pimentos?

Chopped Pimento Peppers in a jar.

Pimentos (sometimes spelled pimientos) are a variety of sweet red bell pepper. They are typically sold jarred and already chopped. You’ll find them in the aisle with olives and pickles.

Roasted red peppers and pimentos are very similar and could technically be used interchangeably. However, pimentos are slightly sweeter. Depending on the recipe, that could impact the taste of the final dish.

Use pimentos in salads, sauces, pickles, sausage making and even pasta dishes. And, of course, use them in a good old-fashioned pimento cheese recipe.

Old Fashioned Pimento Cheese Recipe in a mason jar.


What is sumac spice?

Sumac spice is common in Middle Eastern dishes. I have discovered it in the last year and have fallen in love with the tangy almost citrus flavor that it adds to recipes. It brings an acidic pop that is so needed in high fat recipes and is a perfect complement to rich savory flavors. Sumac is the ground berries of a sumac shrub. It is red.

Ground sumac in a white bowl.
Can I leave out the chipotle chili pepper and ground sumac?

Sure. You can omit the chipotle powder if you don’t want even a hint of spiciness in your pimento cheese. And, as mentioned above, you can certainly omit the sumac. Leaving out those two spices will definitely change this recipe’s flavor. You might want to substitute some of your own favorite seasonings to give it a little depth, if you leave these out.

How long does pimento cheese last in the fridge?

Pimento cheese will last one to two weeks, covered in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. Don’t freeze it, however. Oils from the mayonnaise and other fats will separate if frozen and thawed.

Old Fashioned Pimento Cheese Recipe in a square white bowl.

How to Make Pimento Cheese

  1. Grate the extra-sharp Cheddar cheese.
  2. Drain and discard the liquid off the pimentos.
  3. Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Use a wooden spoon to distribute and incorporate all the ingredients evenly.
  4. Serve.

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Old Fashioned Pimento Cheese Recipe in a square white bowl.

Old Fashioned Pimento Cheese Recipe

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5 from 5 reviews

  • Author: Glenda Embree
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 3 cups 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free


My quick & easy Old-fashioned Pimento Cheese Recipe will be the hit of all your summer gatherings.  Creamy, cheesy & luscious, this flavorful dip and spread can be made in minutes and is loved by young and old.  Serve it with crackers, crusty bread or your favorite crudites.  Use it for grilled cheese or to top your favorite burger.  The delicious possibilities are without limit.  Enjoy!


Units Scale
  • 3 cups (12 oz.) extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 jar (4 oz) pimentos, drained and chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground sumac, optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder, optional


  1. Grate the extra-sharp Cheddar cheese.
  2. Drain and discard the liquid off the pimentos.
  3. Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Use a wooden spoon to distribute and incorporate all the ingredients evenly.
  4. Refrigerate until time to serve.  Or serve immediately.  (See Notes.)


Your homemade pimento cheese will be very soft and creamy when first mixed.  It can be served immediately or refrigerated until the time of use.  After refrigeration, the pimento cheese mixture will be thicker and more firm.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Category: Appetizer, Dip, Condiment
  • Method: Cold Prep
  • Cuisine: American
glenda embree

About Glenda

I believe cooking from scratch doesn’t have to be complicated and that YOU can do it. My simple recipes, tutorials, and cooking tips will help you get weeknight dinners on the table with less stress. Forget takeout or the drive-thru. Let me show you how to make homemade easy. Read more...

11 thoughts on “Old Fashioned Pimento Cheese Recipe”

  1. I LOVE pimento cheese! I had no idea that it originated in the North! I didn’t have the patience to make a sandwich so I just scooped up your delicious recipe on Wheat Thins and almost didn’t leave any for the hubs!

  2. A delicious combination of flavors.
    I saw this pop up when you posted it and I was thinking about what to make as a snack for our girls games night tonight, so I thought I’d give it a go….Must be a first! Making something as soon as I see it and not leaving it on pinterest for weeks 😉
    Anyway it is in the fridge waiting for the girls to arrive, but I tried it when I made it and it is quite delicious!

  3. My mother in law used to make this recipe for my husband. Once gone we could not find the recipe anywhere. By reading the ingredients, it feels so familiar. Making it this weekend and cannot wait to see my husband response. Thank you.

  4. This is so cheesy and tangy! Used it as a topping for scrambled eggs and it was a hit! Kids love it! Such a flavorful and satisfying recipe!


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