16 Creative Ways To Use Pimento Cheese

Pimento cheese is a staple spread often referred to as the pâté of the South.  People love it in the North too, and it seems to be popping up on restaurant menus all over the place. 

Chains like Bojangles and Chicken Salad Chick offer pimento cheese not just as a spread for their sandwiches, but also packed by itself to take home. Commercial versions of pimento cheese are readily available too, but to truly appreciate it, try making your own. All it takes at its most basic is cheddar cheese, pimentos, seasonings, and good mayo — but a bacon-infused pimento cheese recipe is an easy upgrade, or learn to elevate pimento cheese like a Southerner with simple tangy additions.  

Once you've purchased a tub or made your own pimento cheese, what do you do with it? For newcomers to pimento cheese, you can start with some tried-and-true basics, but for those who are already connoisseurs of this zesty spread, try some of the more inventive uses you might never have considered. You'll be amazed at the versatility of pimento cheese. 

Make a classic pimento cheese sandwich

The beauty of the pimento cheese sandwich lies in its simplicity. The classic Southern version doesn't need a recipe, as it requires nothing more than white bread, a slathering of your favorite pimento cheese, and some optional salt and pepper. That's it! For Southern tea parties, weddings, and debutante balls, you'll find them cut into little rectangles with the crusts sliced off, and they're also a staple in boxed lunches.

You owe it to yourself to try at least one simple, unadorned sandwich before you make tweaks. Some swear by toasting the bread, and no one will run you out of town if you add a few slices of a juicy tomato, especially when it's in season. While you can always trade the white bread for wheat if you absolutely insist, pimento cheese is such a perfect partner for a soft white bread that you might want to choose an alternative with the same general consistency. If you want to fancy it up, try brioche, Hawaiian rolls, or a flaky croissant. 

Serve as a party dip or spread

Pimento cheese and crackers are a perfect combo when it comes to snacking, and for parties or events, they're a flavorful alternative to the same-old plain cheese cubes. Serve pimento cheese by the bowlful with a spreading knife and a selection of sturdy crackers (like Ritz or Club crackers). Thin crackers may be elegant, but they'll snap right in two when confronted with the thick heartiness of a good pimento cheese. Celery sticks and carrots, tortilla chips, or toasted baguette rounds are nice alternatives. 

If you really want to impress your guests, bake your pimento cheese in a baking dish or cast iron skillet — this works best with homemade pimento cheese that includes cream cheese. Once it's hot and bubbly, serve it quickly. 

Of course, you don't need a party to enjoy pimento cheese. Make yourself a little snack tray for one by spreading dollops on crackers, and add some bread and butter pickles or pickled okra on the side. 

Add pimento cheese to a burger

True cheese lovers wouldn't dream of having a cheese-less burger, but they shouldn't settle for a boring, droopy slice. Make your next cheeseburger a pimento cheeseburger. The savory spread melts just as well on top of a hot-from-the-grill patty as its less exciting dairy counterparts, the heat transforming it into something like a thick sauce (thanks to the mayonnaise component). The pimento adds just the right amount of zing, but you can make it even zingier by using jalapeño-pimento cheese — which is available commercially, but it's also easy to make.

If you're making your own pimento cheese from scratch, you don't have to stick with cheddar. You can make it just as well with most cheeses you like to pair with burgers. Try making it with Swiss or a smoky Gouda. You can go a step further and actually infuse the pimento cheese into the patty. Nothing beats the sensation of biting into burgers stuffed with pimento cheese. If you already know your guests like cheese, let this be a surprise.

Stuff deviled eggs with pimento cheese

Deviled eggs are a must-have at any Southern picnic or buffet table, and it seems you can never make enough of them. They'll disappear even faster if you combine two popular tastes into one with pimento cheese deviled eggs. There are multiple ways to add the goodness of pimento to deviled eggs, and they're all super-simple. First, you can add some already-made pimento cheese to your regular recipe and proceed as usual. You can also skip the step of making pimento cheese separately by incorporating grated cheese, pimentos, and mayo directly into your usual deviled-egg filling mixture as you go.

For serious pimento cheese lovers, you can get really bold by skipping the egg-yolk filling and scooping pimento cheese all by itself into the halved egg whites. Garnish with the traditional paprika, or add toppings that pair well with pimento cheese: a bit of ripe cherry tomato, dill-pickle relish, or bacon. You'll love the way these deviled eggs look, with their vivid orange color.

Stir pimento cheese into a risotto

As good as pimento cheese tastes, you don't usually think of it as a fine-dining dish. In fact, it's more likely to be found on the menu in casual joints than in white-tablecloth establishments. 

It's time that changed! A good place to start with that is to add pimento cheese to risotto, combining two great dishes from different cultures to make a fusion specialty that makes the most of both elements. If you thought risotto was creamy already, prepare yourself for what happens when it meets pimento cheese.

You'll want to use a light touch when you upgrade risotto with pimento cheese. The trick to making risotto is in the gentle stirring. It's okay to add as much pimento cheese as you like, but incorporate it slowly, adding just a little at a time near the end of the cooking process. Now comes the even more fun part: the toppings. You're welcome to enjoy pimento cheese risotto on its own, but it might be hard to resist adding succulent shrimp, chorizo, or fried green tomatoes. 

Grill a pimento cheese sandwich

You might be starting to figure out that anything cheese can do, pimento cheese can do better. It stands to reason, then, that pimento cheese makes a truly stellar grilled cheese sandwich. Grilled pimento cheese sandwiches are best with a recipe that uses a homemade filling, but if you have a tub of the grocery store type in the fridge, there's no reason you can't enjoy it with your lunchtime tomato soup, or to whip up a toasty late-night snack. Creamy pimento cheese provides the perfect textural contrast to the crunchy bread. 

If you have a panini press, try using it to make a pressed pimento cheese sandwich. And since quesadillas are really only one ingredient away from grilled cheese sandwiches — using tortillas instead of bread — make your next quesadilla with creamy pimento cheese as a filling, and serve it while piping hot to delight in the gooey perfection, optionally spiced up with jalapeños or generous lashings of sriracha.

Upgrade your mac and cheese

Lately it seems like there are no limits to what can be done with macaroni and cheese. Recipes and menu selections feature the classic dish mixed and topped with everything from lobster to pulled pork. Once you add flavorful toppings, though, the mac and cheese itself seems to get lost in translation. Making mac and cheese with pimento cheese is a great way to rethink the dish while still letting it stay true to what makes people like it in the first place. 

There are multiple ways to prepare pimento mac and cheese, and each of them result in a tangy, creamy, cheese-laden dish that's pure comfort. You can opt to add a dollop of pre-made pimento cheese into your favorite recipe as a way to give it extra flavor, or simply incorporate cream cheese and pimento peppers into a mac and cheese recipe, since the other components are already there. You can also top your mac and cheese with pimento cheese before baking to give it a bubbly, cheesy crust. 

Spread pimento cheese on crostini

There's something about crostini that brings out the artist in even the most amateur cook. Perhaps it's the fact that there are so many possible toppings and customizable combinations. How to arrange and pair them is up to you. 

When choosing toppings for crostini, consider pimento cheese as one of them. Pimento cheese is as brilliant on toasted bread as it is on crackers, and it brings a homey, Southern vibe to the classic appetizer. 

After grilling or toasting the bread, dollop pimento cheese by the generous spoonful or spread it thinly — it's your choice. You can garnish it with an artful, minimalist touch, or pile on the toppings. Consider color contrasts and complementary flavors as you add ingredients like bacon, jalapeño peppers, extra chopped pimentos, green onions, olives, pickles, cherry tomatoes, or microgreens. Add a bowl of pimento cheese to a crostini bar, set out plenty of toppings, and let guests mix and match. Pimento cheese crostini also makes a savory late-night snack for one, so there's no need to wait for a party.

Use as a filling for celery sticks

Stuffed celery is a party staple with a decidedly retro vibe. One of your childhood lunchbox favorites may have been celery stalks stuffed with cream cheese or peanut butter. You can upgrade celery to better please adult palates by spreading them with pimento cheese for a crunchy-creamy party appetizer that's easy to make.

Even though this version of stuffed celery is more aimed toward adults, plenty of kids will like them too, so make more than you think you'll need. You can make your party prep even easier by skipping the spreading and letting guests fill their own celery, but the completed finger foods look so lovely on a platter that it's worth taking the time.

Celery isn't the only vegetable that makes a super appetizer when filled with pimento cheese. Try filling cherry tomatoes or mini sweet peppers with pimento cheese for even more color on your appetizer tray. Or make broiled mushrooms filled with pimento cheese, offering a surprising change from typical stuffed mushrooms. 

Top a fried chicken sandwich

Fried chicken is undoubtedly one of the best foods to enjoy in the South, and a fried chicken sandwich is possibly even better. You wouldn't think it could be made even more Southern, but a generous topping of pimento cheese is enough to make any fried chicken sandwich lover shout "yee-haw!" This cool, creamy topping is a perfect contrast to hot, crunchy chicken. Try adding the pimento cheese to your chicken as soon as the meat is finished frying, so that the cheese melts a little when it comes into contact with the hot chicken.

If you're a fan of Nashville-style hot chicken sandwiches, try some cooling pimento cheese to help tame the meat's fiery heat. Coleslaw is a popular topping for cooling down hot chicken's mouth-searing properties, but after trying pimento cheese, you might make the switch for good. If grilled chicken sandwiches are more your jam, jazz them up with a slathering of pimento cheese. 

Don't be surprised if you start craving pimento cheese on your chicken, even when it's not a sandwich. Pimento cheese as a dip for chicken tenders, anyone?

Try pimento cheese on a breakfast biscuit

Real fans of pimento cheese don't wait half the day to enjoy their favorite spread. They know that it's just as good at breakfast time. One of the best ways to enjoy pimento cheese in the morning is inside a scratch-made biscuit, still hot from the oven. Butter or jam may be tried-and-true favorites for biscuits, but that may soon change once you've started your day with pimento cheese. These two components alone are worthy of praise, but your breakfast sandwich can be even heartier with the addition of eggs, sausage, or bacon. Make it even more Southern with a fried green tomato. 

Another way to enjoy this combination is to bake the pimento cheese right into the biscuit. Incorporating the spread into the flour mixture makes for a cheesy, peppery biscuit that's a delicious accompaniment to omelettes or a savory breakfast hash. For a breakfast treat you won't forget, try a pimento cheese biscuit with a piece of salty country ham, and perhaps a slice of juicy summer tomato. 

Enhance a BLT

The classic BLT may seem like it needs no enhancements, as the trifecta of bacon, lettuce, and tomato are well-loved just as they are. On the other hand, something as simple as fresh avocado, some pesto mayonnaise, or a slice of good cheese can add new life to this old favorite. 

If you're the kind of person who prefers a BLT with a little extra something-something, look no further than pimento cheese. The smooth taste of the cheese is a perfect flavor contrast to salty bacon, and the creaminess is also a textural contrast to the crunch of the bacon and the toast. 

The addition of pimento cheese makes this such a hearty sandwich that you might want to cut it in half and share with a friend. You can then enjoy your pimento cheese BLT as part of a soup-and-sandwich combo — try pairing it with a corn chowder or shrimp gumbo. You may also cut these sandwiches into quarters for serving as finger food or as part of a picnic. 

Use pimento cheese for the creamiest cheese grits

Creamy grits are the best grits, and they're worth every single minute of cooking low and slow with milk and butter until they reach the perfect texture. The reason so many people like cheese grits is because the addition of cheese makes grits even creamier, while also making them more flavorful. You can maximize both the creaminess and the flavor by choosing pimento cheese for your grits.  

You can use pre-made or homemade pimento cheese, but for best results, add a dollop or two after the grits have cooked fully, then turn off the heat and stir until the cheese is melted and well incorporated into the grits. Pimento cheese grits are good for breakfast as a side dish, or use them as the base of a breakfast bowl, topped with an egg and crumbled bacon. Beyond breakfast, pimento cheese grits make a nifty base for shrimp and grits or pulled pork, or a super side dish for almost any family-style meal.

Make a batch of Southern nachos

Part of the fun of nachos is the creative process of assembling them — although eating them is obviously the best part. Not only can you choose your own personal favorite toppings for this eminently shareable dish, but these days there are so many inventive twists to try that you don't even have to stick with Tex-Mex ingredients as your inspiration. 

A case in point: Southern nachos. To create a plateful of this regional delicacy, start with tortilla chips as usual before piling on Southern proteins like barbecued pulled pork or pinto beans, then add all of your favorite nacho toppings, and finally, instead of shredded cheddar or queso, top the whole thing with pimento cheese. 

Southern nachos topped with pimento cheese are great for parties. Make them on a sheet pan for a small group, or put together a nacho bar, with pimento cheese as an option. You can keep the pimento cheese warm with a slow cooker.

Add pimento cheese to scrambled eggs and omelets

Some people really like their breakfasts cheesy. Perhaps the best way to use cheese at breakfast time is in an egg dish. Nearly every kind of cheese works well with eggs, and pimento cheese is no exception. If you count yourself as a fan of cheese-infused breakfasts, try switching up your usual omelet with pimento cheese. Simply spread a strip of pimento cheese into the omelet before you fold it. You can also add it to scrambled eggs by stirring in a spoonful or two just as the eggs near the end of their cooking time. 

Other breakfast dishes with egg components can benefit from the flavor of pimento cheese. Try spreading some in a breakfast burrito, stuffed with eggs and breakfast meats, before you roll it up. If you're making a baked breakfast casserole, pimento cheese makes a delicious topping, as it melts into a bubbly crust.

Bake pimento cheese into cornbread

A hot pan of well-made cornbread is bliss for most Southerners, but there's no reason it can't have a makeover. Baking cornbread with pimento cheese might upset some purists, but they'll quickly change their mind once they try a slice. 

While you can easily adapt your own cornbread recipe, it's even easier with a mix. All you'll need to do is add about a half cup of pimento cheese (but no more than a cup) to your favorite cornbread mix. Bake in a cast-iron skillet for the best results and the crispiest crust. 

Cornbread with pimento cheese makes a great accompaniment to any family-style entrée, like meatloaf, salmon patties, or fried chicken. It's also good with a simple bowl of pinto beans. Try adding pimento cheese to other cornmeal-based dishes — like hush puppies — for a unique accompaniment to a crab boil or fish fry, or for seafood dinners at home.