Proper Pimento Cheese

So anywhere in the South you go there are the ubiquitious plastic tubs of pimento cheese. The best-known is Mrs. Grissom’s,  actually made by Grace Grissom (well, not actually – I think she must be in her 80s by now) and for store-bought stuff it’s pretty good. You’ll see pimento cheese sandwiches at every church social, funeral and wedding. They are a requirement.

But my friend, Howard Lewis, a travel agent to the stars in Beverly Hills and fellow barbecue judge, went on a search for proper pimento cheese while in Nashville for a barbecue contest. It got me to thinking about what really good pimento cheese should be. I took him to Martha’s at the Plantation, a high-end lunch place run by the well-regarded chef Martha Stamps. She serves a very high end pimento cheese, made with white Cheddar. It was actually too high end. I was disappointed for Howard.

That led me to the grail of all things Southern food-wise (on the internet, at least), the Southern Foodways Alliance, a great little outfit run out of the University of Mississippi at Oxford. They collect real-deal Southern food stories, recipes, oral historys in an attempt to preserve the only native American cuisine. And here I found the absolute perfect, utterly delicious pimento cheese recipe ever.


Here it is:

Lella’s Pimento Cheese

Grated sharp Cheddar cheese (about 1/2 a food processor full)

1 4-ounce jar pimentos

Dash onion powder

Dash red pepper or Tabasco sauce

Dash Worchestershire sauce

Pinch sugar (less than 1/4 teaspoon)


Pulse together everything but the mayonnaise and then add enough mayo to create a thick smooth mixture.


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2 responses to “Proper Pimento Cheese

  1. jordan

    desperate for pimento cheese in manhatten/im from memphis and married a new yorker/cant find it in any grocery store.why

  2. momsguidetogrilling

    They don’t have pimento cheese in Manhattan for the same reason they don’t have country ham. Nobody knows what to do with it. I lived in Reno, NV., for five years and we had to import country ham, barbecue and make our own pimento cheese. I promise if you make this recipe you’ll never go back to store-bought anyway.

    Here’s an appetizer that will convert any Northerner to right-thinking ways: Make your homemade pimento cheese. Get some banquettes and slice them into thin slices. Spread with pimento cheese and bake at 350 for about 10 minutes.

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