Pimento cheese is the perfect Southern staple for fall. It’s great for tailgating, school events, family gatherings and holiday parties. And I should know, as I literally wrote the book on it: Pimento Cheese the Cookbook: 50 Recipes from Snacks to Main Dishes Inspired by the Classic Southern Favorite.
Everyone should learn to make pimento cheese at home, so below you’ll find a recipe for one of my favorite versions. And while making pimento cheese from scratch isn’t difficult, sometimes we need a quick-fix dinner or entertaining solution, so I have also whipped up a list of some fabulous local pimento cheese offerings — both to take home and on restaurant menus. Make it or buy it, you cannot go wrong with pimento cheese on a fall menu!
Barbecue Pimento Cheese Recipe
With all the recipes I have developed for pimento cheese, maybe I shouldn’t have a favorite, but if I had to pick, this one is probably it. This Memphis iteration of pimento cheese is redolent with the smoky spices we love on our pork. Try it on some hearty crackers — or melted on top of a pulled pork sandwich.
Barbecue Pimento Cheese
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon celery salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
- 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
- 8 ounces naturally smoked cheddar cheese
- 4 green onions white and some green parts, finely diced
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 4-ounce jar diced pimentos, rinsed and drained
- Mix all the spices together until thoroughly blended.
- Grate the cheeses together into a large bowl and toss together to combine. Add the green onions and toss again. I find my clean, dry hands the best tool for this. In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise with 2 tablespoons of the spice mix and stir until completely incorporated. Stir the mayonnaise into the cheese mixture until everything is well blended and all the cheese is coated. Stir in the pimentos until they are evenly distributed throughout the mix.
- Chill the pimento cheese, covered, in the fridge for at least 2 hours to let the flavors meld. This will keep in the fridge for up to a week.
- Makes 1 pound
- There will be some spice blend leftover. Keep it in an airtight container and sprinkle it over hamburgers, steak or, my favorite, popcorn.
Not up for cooking? Not to worry. There are plenty of delicious prepared pimento cheese options found locally that you can take home to enjoy. Here are some of my recommendations:
Tom’s Tiny Kitchen
Tom’s Tiny Kitchen is the pimento cheese taking the city by storm. Tom Flournoy turned his mother’s recipe into a growing business concern and has been selling around town since 2011. The original version is tangy with a nice onion-y hit and the chipotle has a nice kick.
Try it: The original’s onion notes make it a great burger topper; and try the chipotle version melted on corn chips to make nachos.
Buy it: The Curb Market
596 S. Cooper St., Memphis, TN 38104 • (901) 453-6879
Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 6 p.m.
Cooper Street 20/20
Kathy Katz makes a tasty pimento cheese spread, packed with green onions, black pepper and the surprise addition of mozzarella. I’m a big fan of this interesting take with its peppery kick and thick consistency.
Try it: The thicker cream cheese base of this version makes it perfect for spreading on sandwiches or stuffing into a chicken breast.
Buy it: Cooper Street 20/20
800 S. Cooper St., Memphis, TN 38104 • (901) 871-6879
Hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
*Also available at the Memphis Farmers Market
Holiday Deli and Ham
The Holiday Deli and Ham version of pimento cheese is a simple, can’t-be-beat classic. I know people who make a special trip each and every week to buy a tub for their fridge and really aren’t interested in any other kind.
Try it: This classic take is perfect for traditional applications — stuff it into celery sticks or, for a little twist, in endive spears.
Buy it: Any Holiday Ham location
Muddy’s Bake Shop
Sure, you go to Muddy’s for the cupcakes but have you tried the pimento cheese? I have it on good authority that it is Kat Gordon’s mother-in-law’s recipe and it is really quite delicious with a slightly sweet edge and a little kick.
Try it: Stuff halves of little lunchbox peppers — or jalapenos if you’re spicy — with this creamy pimento cheese!
Buy it: Muddy’s Bake Shop
5101 Sanderlin, Suite #114, Memphis, TN 38117 • (901) 683-8844
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
When you stop by Curbside for some Rotel spaghetti or almond chicken, grab a tub of their Party Pimento Spread, as well. It’s nice and creamy and well-seasoned. It also pairs well with the their spicy Firecracker Saltines.
Try It: Spread a little pimento cheese on miniature biscuits with a small slice of county ham or crispy bacon. It makes a very Southern party snack.
Buy it: Curbside Casseroles
5130 Wheelis Drive, Memphis, TN 38117 • (901) 761-0287
Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturdays, 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Here’s to distinctly Southern flavors! Enjoy!
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