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Pimento Cheese (without cream cheese)

Homemade southern style pimento cheese made in minutes. Easy and irresistible traditional pimento cheese spread made without cream cheese. You’ll want to put it on everything!

Southern style pimento cheese dip with crackers.

Every proper Southerner needs a good pimento cheese recipe. Actually, Southern or not, you need this. This simple version is very cheese-forward and only uses a few simple ingredients. There’s no cooking involved, and it comes together in minutes.

Around here, we can’t get enough of our Carolina caviar. We’re constantly tinkering around to see if we can squeeze it into new recipes! We get a kick outta mashing it up with Southern favorites like my pimento cheese ball.

You can make pimento cheese and bacon crostini, serve it with crackers and veggies, make sandwiches, and eat it by the spoonful… This stuff is good. It is also pretty common to crave it as a snack while pregnant. Don’t overdo it, use veggie sticks as your vessel and you’re good to go!

My grandparents would buy those little store-bought tubs of it. I never liked those versions. They were always so globby and mayonnaisy. 🙁 Poor Granny got transported down here from Brooklyn. Bless her heart. She didn’t know any better. 

Anyway, I started playing around with a recipe while running a snack shop on a golf course. That’s when I realized how good the homemade version can be.

This recipe uses more peppers and less mayo than many recipes. I like to let the cheese and peppers shine. The extra peppers add moisture. They allow you to use less mayo while still getting a creamy spread.

It’s simple and bursting with flavor.

Ingredients for making pimento cheese

Bowls of shredded cheese, roasted red peppers, mayoniasse, and crackers.

Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese. Buy the sharpest cheddar you can find. The bold flavor makes this pimento cheese stand out. It makes a big difference to shred the cheese yourself. Pre-shredded cheddar comes in a uniform size that is too perfect. It also contains additives that keep it from sticking together. Neither of those is good when it comes to making pimento cheese. We want things to stick together and become one here. Use the largest shredding holes on a box grater or a food processor to shred the cheese.

Roasted Red Peppers. I know, I know, this is a pimento cheese recipe. And I’m asking you to use roasted red peppers. I like using a jar of roasted red peppers over those tiny little jars of pimentos. The flavor and texture they provide is superior. Plus, this spread needs more than a measly little 4-ounce jar of pale pieces of pimento.

Mayonnaise binds it together and carries the flavor of the spices.

Paprika, cayenne, salt, and pepper liven up the spread and deepen the flavor. By using only ⅛ teaspoon of cayenne, you are adding a little complexity without any heat. Even the most delicate of palates won’t get burnt. If you want a little more kick, by all means, add more cayenne.

Fun fact, paprika is made from pimento or pimiento peppers. Technically you are still using them here.


Make it spicy by adding a diced fresh jalapeno. 

Equipment needed

Box grater or food processor, mixing bowl, measuring cups, measuring spoons, and a mixing spoon.

How to make pimento cheese without cream cheese

Shred the sharp cheddar in a food processor or with the large shredding holes on a box grater and set it aside.

Add all ingredients except the cheese to a large mixing bowl. Stir until well combined. Add the shredded sharp cheddar and stir until everything is mixed together.

A bowl of pimento cheese with a wooden spoon.

Store it in an airtight container in the fridge. If you make it with freshly opened cheddar, pimento cheese will stay fresh for around 10 days.

How to serve pimento cheese

  • Here in the South, we’ll eat it on just about anything!
  • Make pimento cheese sandwiches!
  • Serve it as a dip or spread it with crackers or homemade crostini and cut-up veggies. Cucumbers, celery, carrots, radishes, and bell pepper strips are all great.
  • Scoop it up with chips.
  • Make pinwheels- spread it on a flour tortilla, roll it up, then cut it into little rounds.
  • Make a party platter of Pimento Cheese & Bacon Crostini.
  • Put it on biscuits.
  • Mix it into your grits.
  • Slather it on hamburgers and hot dogs.
  • Serve it as an appetizer or part of a charcuterie board.
A hand holding a cracker with pimento cheese spread on it.

Do you love pimento cheese like I do? Let’s chat about it in the comments! Or, tag me on Instagram with your pimento cheese creations!


Pimento Cheese (without cream cheese)

A dish of homemade pimento cheese spread with club crackers.

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5 from 1 review

Homemade southern style pimento cheese made in minutes.

  • Author: Mandi
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: about 4 cups 1x
  • Category: Spread
  • Method: Mix
  • Cuisine: Southern


Units Scale
  • 16 oz block extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 12 oz jar roasted red peppers, drained and diced


  1. Shred the sharp cheddar in a food processor or with the large shredding holes on a box grater and set it aside.
  2. Add all ingredients except the cheese to a large mixing bowl.
  3. Stir until well combined.
  4. Add the shredded sharp cheddar and stir until everything is mixed together.


  • If it’s too dry, stir in more mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it reaches your preferred consistency.
  • Make it spicy by adding a diced fresh jalapeno.
  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 10 days.


  • Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
  • Calories: 94
  • Sugar: 0.3 g
  • Sodium: 145.1 mg
  • Fat: 8.6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 0.8 g
  • Protein: 3.4 g
  • Cholesterol: 16.2 mg

Did you make this recipe?

Tag @mandiofthemountains on Instagram – I can’t wait to see what you’ve made!

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