Homemade Pimento Cheese

There’s nothing like a cold sandwich on a hot day! My Mom and I got to talking about pimento cheese sandwiches recently. I can remember my mother making pimento cheese spread from scratch when I was a kid. In my memory it’s always better than store-bought pimento cheese. I asked her about the recipe and found that she’d never written it down, and scarcely remembered how she made it. She said she used a medium or mild cheddar because she doesn’t like sharp cheddar (I do like sharp cheese, though I use a milder cheddar for pimiento cheese so it will taste like hers). Of course there were pimentos in it, and she said that she thought she added some cream cheese, to to make it soft and spreadable. But she couldn’t tell me the amounts or proportions of the ingredients. She said she just mixed it up until it looked right.

This was before the days of food processors, so she grated the cheese by hand, that much I do know. I use a food processor for things that require a lot of grating (though I do have a hand grate that’s both fast and comfortable to use). After some experimenting this is what I’ve come up with. I tried making it with varying amounts of cream cheese and that did not, by itself, make it spreadable, but rather just stickier. So, I had to add a bit of mayonnaise. I use a low-fat mayo; goodness knows this has enough fat in it already! 😉

Homemade Pimiento Cheese

Homemade Pimiento Cheese

8 oz cheddar (mild or sharp, your preference)
4 oz cream cheese
5 tsp pimentos
1/2 cup low fat mayonnaise
1/4 tsp (or more) paprika or Hungarian Hot Paprika (optional)

Set out cream cheese to soften before making the pimiento cheese. I use a block of cream cheese rather than spreadable varieties because this is what my mother used. Grate cheddar cheese. (I don’t recommend using pre-grated packages of cheese. The cheese is too dry and has less flavor.) Mix and mash cheeses in a bowl with pimientos and the mayo. Add paprika or Hungarian hot paprika to taste. 1/4 tsp will make it very mildly seasoned, use more if you want it to really have a kick. Mix and blend with a fork or other suitable utensil (or put on food handling gloves and mix with your hands).

This makes a lot of cheese spread. Unless you’re crazy about pimiento cheese sandwiches or are making the spread for a party you might want to make a half-batch. Besides being a classic sandwich filling, this pimiento cheese mixture can be used as a casual appetizer spread on crackers or as a filling for stuffed celery sticks. (If that sounds too dull for your taste — or your friends’ taste — that Hungarian Hot Paprika option will liven things up!)

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