Homemade Pimento Cheese

September 6, 2013

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Remember my good friend Kelsey?

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She was one of my best friends when we were both getting our RD at Winthrop. She was my study partner, yoga buddy and the author of Bites + Bowls, a fantastic food site that has gone to blog heaven.

Kelsey (590x472)

She is also the mother of the most adorable dog, Penny.

Penny

Kelsey now lives in Colorado and recently got married! I miss her.

In fact, I miss all of our Charlotte friends! Back when we were young + childless

Charlotte

My very favorite recipe of Kelsey’s was her pimento cheese. She is a master at creation, and I made this recipe over and over. I never wrote it down, and one day I went over to Bites + Bowls for the proportions and found a blank Bluehost page!

Here is my attempt to recreate the long, lost recipe.

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Instead of mayonnaise, Kelsey’s version used Greek yogurt as the binder. It’s a lighter and more refreshing version of the Southern classic. Yet just as cheesy good! If you want to add a bit of mayo as well, all will be well.

Kelsey taught me that hand-grated cheese is so worth the effort. I used to buy bags of pre-shredded cheese because I was willing to pay for the convenience. But what I didn’t realize is how much less flavorful it is. This recipe commands freshly grated cheese. Just do it.

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I started with 8 ounces of two kinds, both sharp cheddars. You can use all of one cheese, but two kinds is extra fun.

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With some arm power, they turned into about 2.5 cups of grated cheese.

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I used to be grossed out by pimento cheese when I was little. I remember platters of sandwiches packed with a strange yellow filling served between crustless slices of Wonder bread. Weird. I think it was the pimentos that had me confused. But one day I realized pimento cheese was actually CHEESE and I have loved it ever since.

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Drain you pimentos well and chop, if necessary.

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Next add your seasonings – salt, pepper, a hint of cayenne, perhaps a little garlic powder if you like.

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Then a splash of lemon juice. Kelsey did it, so I did too.

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Lastly add a quarter cup of thick Greek yogurt and incorporate until it forms a dip.

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You could also add pickled jalapenos or spiced pecans for even more fun!

Serve on toast, as a sandwich, on crackers as a dip or enjoy by the spoonful : )

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Here’s the recipe…

Homemade Pimento Cheese

by Kath Younger

Ingredients (1.5 cups)

  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese (about 2.5 cups grated). Must be fresh – do not use pre-grated cheese!!
  • 4 ounce jar of pimentos
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt
  • 10 grinds pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt

Instructions

Grate your cheese by hand or in a food processor.

Drain pimentos well and chop, if necessary. Add to mixture.

Add seasonings.

Add lemon juice.

Toss to mix through.

Add yogurt and mash until cheese comes together into a dip and serve!

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Enjoy!

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{ 75 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Alex @ Kenzie Life September 6, 2013 at 8:36 am

YES!! Thank you so much for posting this recipe!! My dad’s family is from the south but here in Colorado pimento cheese isn’t really a thing. Any time I’m in Tennessee I always want my aunt to make some for me because it is so good! I love that this recipe uses greek yogurt–makes me feel a little less guilty about eating it!

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2 Anne Weber-Falk September 6, 2013 at 8:37 am

Does this taste super tangy because of the yogurt and lemon juice? I like pimento cheese but I never thought of it as tangy or tart.

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3 KathEats September 6, 2013 at 9:36 am

Not really because greek yogurt is more like sour cream than the more sour yogurt. I like this version a lot

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4 Danielle September 6, 2013 at 8:39 am

This is a dumb question, but does it taste like olives? I thought pimentos were the red in the middle of the olive?

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5 KathEats September 6, 2013 at 9:34 am

Nope just a little peppery!

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6 Sarah September 6, 2013 at 11:45 am

Pimento is pickled pimento pepper- or cherry peppers- those cute little round red peppers. They ARE the same as the little red things inside olives. But like Kath said, they don’t taste like olives. They do taste very similar to roasted red bell pepper.

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7 Cheryl Morgan Maxey September 6, 2013 at 12:14 pm

I sometimes put green olives into my homemade pimento cheese… I was contemplating makings some the other day and wondered if I could use greek yogurt! Now I’m ready to make some knowing it will work perfectly.

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8 Lynn @ the actor's diet September 6, 2013 at 8:44 am

First time I ever heard of pimento cheese was on your blog – I’ve always thought of you (& now Kelsey!) whenever I see it. (Have only eaten it a few times)

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9 Barbara September 6, 2013 at 8:46 am

That looks absolutely delicious!

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10 Alison @ Daily Moves and Grooves September 6, 2013 at 8:51 am

Yum! I always want to try pimento cheese whenever you post pictures of it, so I’m excited that you’ve shared the recipe. Thank you!

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11 elana September 6, 2013 at 8:52 am

Also the pre-shredded bagged kind of cheese usually has chemical additives to keep it separated – not something I think you’d want especially after your real food post.

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12 KathEats September 6, 2013 at 9:05 am

I think it is usually just corn starch

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13 Alexa September 6, 2013 at 9:33 am

It is usually just corn starch. Being gluten free, I watch to make sure it’s not wheat, and most companies just use corn starch. Not a big deal.

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14 Liz September 6, 2013 at 9:02 am

At first I thought were scrambled eggs with tomate. Is that all cheese? Oh my!! Super delicious!

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15 elana September 6, 2013 at 9:12 am

Re the added ingredients – and usually also extra salt, calcium sulfate, sometimes natamycin

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16 Maria September 6, 2013 at 9:14 am

Love this. Many thanks.

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17 Marisa @ Uproot from Oregon September 6, 2013 at 9:14 am

I have never eaten pimento cheese spread, and have only heard about it through your blog! I love cheese so I can only imagine it would be yummy. Oh, how sad to have a favorite recipe in blog heaven..

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18 Lauren @ The Highlands Life September 6, 2013 at 9:20 am

I have actually never had pimento cheese before and I am thinking that needs to change. Soon.

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19 Julie September 6, 2013 at 9:27 am

Every time you mention pimento cheese I am curious to taste it….I can’t find it anywhere (I live in northern Ontario). Now I must try the recipe-in a little while. Unfortunately I just figured out my 2 month old son has a sensitivity to milk. This page is bookmarked for future reference!

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20 mary @ minutes per mile September 6, 2013 at 9:29 am

brilliant! we are totally going to make this. thanks so much for sharing! and yes, hand-grated cheese is 10x better than pre-shredded.

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21 Kavi September 6, 2013 at 9:29 am

Ya know, despite hearing about pimento cheese for years (especially on your blog), I never knew what it actually was until this post! Thanks for the explanation – and recipe!

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22 Molly September 6, 2013 at 10:30 am

Same here, Kavi! Thanks for the pimento cheese knowledge, Kath!

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23 Karen September 6, 2013 at 9:50 am

Gosh, Kath!! Those photos of your carefree Charlotte days and your circle of close friends ( esp. the uterally unique Nate!) bring back so many memories! I feel like I’ve known you forever:) Happy weekend, my friend!

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24 lisa September 6, 2013 at 9:50 am

Did you know that its actually spelled Pimiento cheese?! I discovered this when I was visiting Charleston and ordered every dish with this delicious stuff in it. Those Charlestonians love their Pimiento Cheese!

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25 KathEats September 6, 2013 at 10:31 am

Dear me, I didn’t! The Charlestonians would know. I didn’t even realize the pimiento jar spelled it that way! I think it’s a Southern thing to mash words together so I’m sure I’ll still call it “pim-enta”

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26 isis September 7, 2013 at 9:36 am

I thought the misspelling was the actual name for the recipe, even though pimiento is the right spelling for bell peppers in Spanish.
Maybe Kath, or anyone for that matter really, would be interested in how to make those at home. You can make them with any thin fleshed/not hot kind of red peppers, although bell peppers wor well too. Just put them whole in a pan, cover them with water -they don’t have to be fully covered- a splash of vinegar and a sprinkle of salt, and simmer until the water is reduced. The skin is easy to peel off once they’ve cooled down.
It’s like roasted peppers minus the char.

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27 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats September 6, 2013 at 9:54 am

I never really got on the pimento cheese bandwagon when I lived in South Carolina, although the only places I was offered pimento cheese were the sandwiches in the cafeteria and those weren’t appetizing! Haha I might have to give this a try!

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28 Chelsea @BigBitesLittleBudget September 6, 2013 at 10:38 am

I am a CO girl and have heard of pimento cheese but have never tasted it before. It looks absolutely delightful though and oh, so easy!

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29 cassy September 6, 2013 at 10:50 am

i can’t wait to make this!

i miss Kelsey’s blog.. and Penny pics! So happy she got married to Eric? they were adorable..

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30 KathEats September 6, 2013 at 11:02 am

Yup. They are still living it up!

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31 Maria Tadic September 6, 2013 at 11:25 am

I also used to think pimento cheese was gross. But I tried it recently and its SO good. Especially when homemade. I’ve been wanting to whip up a batch of my own!!

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32 Ashley @ Hudson on the Potomac September 6, 2013 at 11:48 am

I LOVEEE Pimento Cheese!!! Your recipe is pretty similar to the one I make. I use almost all greek yogurt with a tbsp or two of fat free mayo for the flavor. It’s definitely true that grating your own cheese makes a difference! I like adding cayenne and garlic too – some people like sweet pimento, but I’m with you on the spicier side!

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33 kris September 6, 2013 at 11:52 am

I always wondered how to make pimento cheese – It’s nice to see a greek yogurt version!

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34 Tiffany September 6, 2013 at 11:52 am

I don’t eat dairy but I just love your pictures :)

Unrelated to this post but I made oats in a jar today and it was delicious! I have too many nut butter jars open at the moment and need to use up what I have before I open more jars!

By the way, I am amazed to see you post everyday! Is it exhausting? As a long time reader, I honestly wouldn’t mind if you posted every other day or three times a week! I really appreciate you posting everyday because I love your work but I definitely want you to spend as much time with M as you can and I hope you don’t feel pressured to post everyday during the week either. I think its fun to spread out the posts too because it lets reader’s digest what you’ve posted the day before.

Thank you so much for inspiring healthy living! xo

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35 Anna @ Fitness à la Anna September 6, 2013 at 11:54 am

Wow, this could be dangerous! Haha thanks for sharing :)

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36 Tracy September 6, 2013 at 12:05 pm

I miss Kelsey too! I loved her blog :)

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37 Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs September 6, 2013 at 12:44 pm

You know, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten pimento cheese — in fact, I had no idea what it even consisted of… But it looks delicious! Might have to give it a try this weekend!

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38 Anele @ Success Along the Weigh September 6, 2013 at 12:44 pm

I’m SOOOO making this! With football season here, I have more excuses to do fun stuff like this!

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39 Colleen September 6, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Is this your recipe or Kelsey’s recipe? I miss her blog, too! She was very down to earth and funny.

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40 KathEats September 6, 2013 at 12:52 pm

It’s mine based on hers…which might be the same. We dont know because it was deleted!

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41 BethT September 6, 2013 at 12:49 pm

I like to make mine with cheddar and pepper jack….the BEST.

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42 Hope September 6, 2013 at 12:57 pm

I had never heard of pimiento cheese before your blog. I need to make this!!!

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43 E September 6, 2013 at 1:00 pm

I was able to find the original recipe…here it is:

Pimento Cheese bowl:

INGREDIENTS

-6 oz shredded cheese (4 oz aged white vermont cheddar + 2 oz mild young cheddar— both from Trader Joe’s)

-2 T pimentos

-3 spoonfuls of Cabot Light Sour Cream

-Quite a few grinds of Fresh Black Pepper

-A pinch of Red Pepper Flakes

-Juice of 3 Lemon Slices

(I know salt is in the picture here, but I didn’t end up using it…. it was perfectly salty on its own..)

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DIRECTIONS

-Mix all ingredients together!

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44 KathEats September 6, 2013 at 1:03 pm

How ever did you find it? I searched all over for someone who saved it

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45 E September 6, 2013 at 1:07 pm

I’m a librarian—we know how to work our magic! :) It just took a little browsing of her archives via the Wayback Machine.

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46 KathEats September 6, 2013 at 1:54 pm

Fancy ;)

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47 Kelsey September 7, 2013 at 5:05 am

How hilarious is that recipe!! “3 spoonfuls”—- ummmm what size spoon? “Juice of three lemon slices”—-what the heck!!

I’m crazy!!

But how cool that you found the recipe!! So cool!!!!!!!
Thanks!!!!

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48 ciely September 6, 2013 at 6:15 pm

I knew it!
Kelsey used sour cream not yogurt
Yogurt takes the creamy salty lemon cheddar taste on a “sour” detour
Bless you E & Kath for bringing THE pimiento cheese back in my life.
Kelseys’ escapades were hilarious…happy to hear news of her.

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49 Lauren @ Dash of Soul September 6, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Oh my husband is going to LOVE this! He’s new to the South and loves pimento cheese but it can be so unhealthy! Love this greek yogurt version, definitely getting ingredients for it this weekend!

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50 Liz September 6, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Greek yogurt pimento cheese — genious! Can’t wait to try this!

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51 Melissa September 6, 2013 at 2:21 pm

This looks amazing! Maybe sometime you could get her to do a guest post! I miss her blog, glad she is happily married.

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52 Ashlee@HisnHers September 6, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Mmmm I love pimento cheese! I grew up on the mayo kind. Part of growing up in the South i guess!

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53 Linda September 6, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Love this! I want to try adding smoked paprika for seasoning.

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54 Christina @ The Beautiful Balance September 6, 2013 at 2:45 pm

That’s sad to hear that her blog is down, I would’ve loved to read it. Regardless, this recipe looks so tasty and instantly reminds me of my cousin’s BBQs in South Carolina.

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55 Marissa@ohhhsolovely September 6, 2013 at 4:26 pm

i’ve always wanted to try pimento cheese and never have! this looks very good though!

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56 Casey September 6, 2013 at 5:49 pm

I miss Kelsey, B&B and Penny! Her blog was hilarious!

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57 Whitney September 6, 2013 at 6:06 pm

I LOVE pimento cheese! In fact, thanks to your shop, I now particularly enjoy it with fig jam + pecans. Homemade is so much better than the little container at the store. Although that is the song of my southern childhood ;)

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58 Emily S September 9, 2013 at 6:31 pm

WOW, that sounds like a delicious variation!

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59 Debbie @ Deb Runs September 6, 2013 at 8:16 pm

Sounds delicious! I’m pinning it for later! :-)

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60 Amanda - Small Home Big Start September 6, 2013 at 9:34 pm

I’ve always wanted to try pimento cheese, but it isn’t something that you see very often in Canada. Now I want to try and make it myself and see what it’s like. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

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61 Grace September 6, 2013 at 10:32 pm

Oh my gosh, thank you for this recipe. Being from the PNW I didn’t grow up with pimento cheese (just craft coffee and beer). But my husband was born and raised in Atlanta and introduced me to pimiento cheese burgers at the Varsity the first time I visited with him. Now I don’t have to wait for our next trip to have some! He’ll be thrilled too!

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62 Emily @ Life on Food September 7, 2013 at 5:52 am

A Southern classic for sure. Still kind of weirds me out since most use mayo. I will have to see if this version works for me.

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63 Casey September 7, 2013 at 7:12 am

Thanks for the update on Kelsey. I was a big fan of her blog and was worried something had happened to her. There was never a goodbye from her. Love me some pimento cheese!

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64 Emily @SinfulNutrition September 7, 2013 at 7:42 am

Yummy! After living in Alabama for a year, I discovered my love for pimento cheese. Being a vegetarian in the South with friends who are far from that it can be hard to find options at a lot of restaurants so pimento cheese became my saving grace. Now that I’m back in New England, I don’t get the option on menus around here as often so I will be giving it my own try with your recipe. Thanks for sharing!

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65 Amanda September 7, 2013 at 8:37 am

My husband really likes pimento cheese…..but I cant tell him I’m going to use yogurt! I try to fool him into thinking it’s sour cream but he want take the bait:)

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66 Sherry September 7, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Right on! When you commented about a week ago that the pimento cheese you use is a bakery secret I KNEW that you had posted a recipe, a version on Kelsey’s recipe specifically, and scoured not only your archives but the web. Thanks for posting this recipe and the commenter’s recipe above as well!!

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67 Maggie @ Sunnyside Up Smile September 8, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Mhmmm I love cheese! In fact, I probably couldn’t live without it. I have actually never had pimento cheese though. I prefer sharp cheddar right off the block! ;) This looks so tasty and simple though that I’ll have to try it!

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68 Sarah September 8, 2013 at 2:54 pm

This looks so delicious! I love using greek yogurt to lighten up dishes. And sharp cheddar is my favourite!

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69 Donna September 8, 2013 at 4:36 pm

Pimento cheese definitely must be a Southern thing, because I have never heard of anyone who doesn’t know what it is—and I grew up in the South! We put it on everything, including our hamburgers! (try that….with bacon. not exactly low fat, but oh so delicious!)

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70 Kylie @ immaeatthat September 8, 2013 at 9:01 pm

Oh I wanna top a sweet potato with this! I think that’d be just perfect! I wasn’t a big pimento cheese fan when I was little either…glad I got over that:))

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71 Catalin Manea September 9, 2013 at 5:29 pm

That’s interesting I gotta give it a try. I love good food!

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72 Amber September 11, 2013 at 6:15 am

Never heard of Pimento, but anything with cheese will do, its my guilty pleasure. Thanks for the recipe, can’t wait to try it out.

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73 Gail September 14, 2013 at 11:35 am

This is how I was taught to make it but the only things I do different is to add a little touch of sugar and a few good splashes of red wine vinegar.

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74 Amy September 24, 2013 at 10:22 am

Great modification to a classic southern recipe (squeals the girl from Alabama)…I’ve always made it with cheddar cheese, pimentos, and a huge GLOB of mayo. It’s delicious but not exactly healthy. I will definitely try this recipe.

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75 Brenda Hare December 1, 2013 at 6:17 pm

My family eats pimento cheese on a fresh rib of celery. We put them out as appetizers for Christmas!

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