Stuffed potato skins get a Southern makeover when they are stuffed with creamy pimento cheese laced with smoky chilies in Adobo.
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In mid-December, as I sat down to have a good, hardcore planning session for the upcoming year on the blog, I sent out a poll on my personal Facebook page for some feedback. I wanted to hear other’s stories on their favorite Southern comfort food. I got a lot of great feedback, including an idea from a former co-worker:
What’s more southern than taking pimento & cheese and using it to elevate another dish! #morePandC
She’s right! Southerners love some “pimentacheese.” Layer it on thick between two pieces of white bread – the softer the better. If it sticks to your teeth like peanut butter, you’ve arrived.
But how to use it to elevate another dish? I’ve already branched out and used pimento cheese for grilled cheese sandwiches. Mac and cheese has been done. Then I spotted a photo of stuffed potato skins and inspiration hit.
Store Bought or Homemade Pimento Cheese?
This is a trick question, right? Let’s put it this way – it’s like asking if you should use bottled lemon juice or freshly squeezed for making homemade lemonade. I’m sure there are some great packaged pimento cheese brands out there, I just personally have not found one that I like. To me, this is a no brainer. Make your own!
This recipe for Smoky Homemade Pimento Cheese has been a personal favorite of mine for several years. You only need half the recipe for the stuffed potato skins. But if you are serving a crowd and need something yummy to spread on crackers or crudité, feel free to make the full recipe. It won’t go to waste because your guests will love it.
Choosing the Right Potato
You can totally use pimento cheese to stuff a full-sized baked potato. However, I wanted to keep things in finger foods category, making it ideal as an appetizer, snack or for tailgating. Yukon Gold or red potatoes are perfect for this recipe.
I chose red potatoes because I like nice contrasting pop of color from the red skin against the yellow cheese. Red potatoes have a firm, waxy texture which allows them to hold up well during baking and keep their shape when it’s time to hollow them out.
Prepping the Potatoes
Start by preheating the oven to 425 degrees. Cover a cookie sheet (personally, I prefer a cookie sheet with sides, sometimes called a jelly roll pan, so the potatoes don’t accidentally go rolling off the sides while you’re trying to put them in the oven) with aluminum foil and spray it with cooking spray.
Arrange eight red potatoes evenly on the cookie sheet. Brush the outsides with olive oil. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Don’t forget to turn them over and get the bottom!
Bake the potatoes for 30 minutes until you can easily pierce them with a fork. They should still be a little firm. Overbaking the potatoes will make it harder to scoop out the insides later. Set the potatoes aside until they are cool enough to touch.
Gently slice the potatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop out the middle of each potato. I recommend hollowing out the potatoes while they are still soft and warm. Some people like to use a melon baller for this. I like to use just a plain old teaspoon.
We’re not going to be mixing the scooped-out potato with the pimento cheese. No, no, I don’t want anything diluting that cheesy goodness. But that doesn’t mean you have to throw the scooped-out potatoes away. Find another use for them – like this cheesy mashed potato casserole.
Making the Pimento Cheese
While the potatoes are baking, whip together your pimento cheese ingredients. Make sure to set out four ounces of cream cheese (which is half a bar if you’re only making enough to fill the potatoes) about 30 minutes beforehand so it will be good and soft when you’re ready to go.
Before anyone leaves a comment, yes I am aware there are not technically pimentos in this spread. We’ve substituted the pimentos for chipotle peppers in adobo. You can read more about what exactly that is here. Can I still call it pimento cheese if there are no pimentos? Yes, I can if I want to. Trust me, it gives the spread a nice smoky, spicy kick. You won’t miss the pimentos.
There is no special technique when it comes to making the pimento cheese. Combine 1/2 pound of grated smoked cheddar, 1/2 pound of cooked and crumbled bacon, two cups mayonnaise, two chopped chipotle peppers in adobo, and one chopped green onion into a medium mixing bowl the softened cream cheese. Give it a good stir until everything is uniformly combined.
You can make the pimento cheese up to three days in advance and store in the fridge until ready to use. That is, if you think you can muster enough will power not to eat the entire bowl before then. I don’t.
Assembling the Stuffed Potato Skins
Once the potatoes are hollowed out, scoop 1-2 heaping tablespoons of pimento cheese into the center of each one. Doesn’t have to be exact. Just remember the cheese will melt a little, so don’t overstuff.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Top each potato with a little shredded cheddar cheese. Bake for 8-10 minutes until the potatoes are heated through and the cheese is melted. Serve hot garnished with additional sliced green onions.
Prepping Ahead and How to Store Stuffed Potato Skins
Pimento cheese stuffed potato skins can be made up to a day in advance. Go ahead and fill the potatoes with the pimento cheese, but don’t put the shredded cheese on top yet. Wait and do that right before baking. Cover the potatoes loosely with plastic wrap or foil and store in the fridge. Let the potatoes come to room temperature first before putting them in the oven.
Cooked stuffed potato skins can be frozen for up to six months. Let them cool, then I put the entire baking sheet in the freezer. Once the potatoes are hard, wrap them individually in plastic wrap, then store them in a plastic freezer bag. Allow the potatoes to thaw before baking.
Hot pimento cheese stuffed potato skins are great on their own as an appetizer, but the night I made these, The Husband and I served them alongside a nice juicey grilled steak. The options are endless!
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Hot Pimento Cheese Stuffed Potato Skins
For the pimento cheese:
- 1/2 pound smoked cheddar grated
- 1/2 pound bacon cooked, crumbled
- 4 oz. cream cheese softened
- 2 cups mayonnaise
- Approximately 2 chipotle peppers in adobo chopped
- 1 green onion white and green parts chopped
For the potatoes:
- 8 small red potatoes
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- ½ cups shredded medium cheddar cheese
- Additional green onions for garnish, optional
For the pimento cheese:
- Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
For the potatoes:
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray with cooking spray.
- Brush the outside of the potatoes with oil. Season with salt and pepper.
- Bake for 30 minutes until you can easily pierce the potatoes with a fork. Remove from the oven and allow the potatoes to cool until you can handle them.
- Slice the potatoes in half length wise. Gently scoop out the center of each half. Leave about a 1/4-inch border around the skin so the potatoes hold up. Save the inside of the potatoes for another use.
- Gently spoon 1-2 heaping tablespoons of the pimento cheese into the center of each potato.
- Top each with shredded cheddar cheese.
- Return the potatoes to the oven. Bake until heated through and the cheese is melted, about 8-10 minutes.
- Serve hot. Garnish with green onions if desired.