Last updated on May 22nd, 2023
This yummy homemade pimento cheese spread combines smoked cheddar, chipotle peppers, and bacon. It’s not your grandma’s pimento cheese recipe.
If you’re ever visiting the South and offered something called pimentacheese, don’t be alarmed. More than likely, they’re referring to pimento cheese, one of the few dishes I know of that can be served alongside fancy crackers at a wedding reception or smooshed between two slices of white bread with a dill pickle spear on the side after a hard day of working in the yard.
Parlor Market in downtown Jackson single-handedly broke a twenty-something-year aversion to pimento cheese. The first time I tasted pimento cheese as a child, it came from a plastic container. It was neon orange and the consistency of jello salad. I know, that’s like eating Spam and deciding you don’t like beef. But since that fateful day, I made a point to never let pimento cheese touch my plate.
A few months ago, I treated The Husband to a birthday lunch at Parlor Market. So imagine my dismay when The Husband, for his birthday lunch, decides he wants to start with an order of pimento cheese. Looking back now, he was probably thinking if he ordered something I didn’t like he wouldn’t have to share.
Once the appetizer arrived, The Husband dug right in, scooping up a big blob of pimento cheese with a crostini and shoving it into his mouth. He started talking and pointing then. It was hard to understand what he was saying with his mouth full, but I did manage to make out, “You need to try this.”
Long story short, even after our entrees arrived we were still caught up in noshing on the pimento cheese. Then we ordered another basket of crostini because we ran out. There was no neon orange jello salad going on here. It was cheesy deliciousness with a hint of smokiness. Guess what? The kind people at Parlor Market were gracious enough to share the recipe.
What is a Pimento anyway?
Pimentos are actually a variety of chili pepper, cherry peppers to be exact. They are small and red with a mild sweet flavor. You’ll commonly find them stuffed inside green olives or packed in jars with salt water.
But wait, there aren’t any actual pimentos in your pimento cheese Spread
Yes, yes, yes … I am aware there are technically no pimentos in this spread. The pimentos have been subbed for chipotle peppers in adobo. So can I still call it pimento cheese? Well, it’s my blog, so yes I can.
Chipotle peppers are smoked and dried jalapenos usually canned whole with a spicy tomato sauce. You can find them in the international aisle of your grocery store next to the Latin American foods. Chipotle peppers in adobo have a spicy, smoky flavor that add a ton of flavor to this spread. Trust me, you won’t miss the pimentos at all.
The recipe only calls for 1/4 of the can, so you will have leftover chipotle peppers. Don’t throw them away! Save them for Honey Chipotle Chicken Drumsticks!
How to Make Parlor Market’s Pimento Cheese Spread
About 30 minutes before you get started, set out one brick (8 ounces) of cream cheese to come to room temperature. It’s much easier to mix cream cheese when it’s soft. You’ll also need one pound of smoked cheddar cheese. If your grocery store has a specialty cheese section, look there first. This is where I usually find it. If not, use regular cheddar.
One caveat I would like to make is shredding your own cheese vs. buy pre-shredded. If you’re using smoked cheddar, you will probably only be able to find it in brick form and will have to shred it yourself.
If you’re using plain cheddar, be aware that shredded cheese that comes in the bag is treated with potato flour to prevent the shreds from sticking together. I personally feel like the cheese doesn’t incorporate into the spread as well. I want all the ingredients to meld together for a smoother consistency. The only way I can achieve that is through shredding my own cheese. It’s a texture thing and it’s just my preference. But in my opinion, it’s worth the extra five minutes it takes to shred the cheese myself.
Next, you’ll want to incorporate a pound of cooked bacon that has been cooled and chopped. Add the softened cream cheese, four cups of mayo, 3-4 chopped chipotle peppers in adobo and one chopped green onion. Mix everything together until it’s smooth. Store in the fridge until ready to serve. This should keep up to five days.
How to Make the Crostini
You can serve pimento cheese spread on almost anything – bread, crudite, crackers. My favorite way is on homemade crostini. Simply slice a day old baguette into 1/4 inch slices. Brush one side with olive oil, then sprinkle with paprika, Italian seasoning and salt.
Toast the crostini in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes or until the bread starts to turn brown and gets toasty. The bread will continue to crisp as it cools. Store any leftover crostini in an airtight container with a lid or plastic bag. Crostini should be good for a week as along as it is stored on a cool dry place.
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Parlor Market Pimento Cheese Spread
For pimento cheese:
- 1 pound smoked cheddar grated
- 1 pound bacon cooked, crumbled
- 8 oz. cream cheese softened
- 1 quart mayonnaise
- Approximately ¼-can chipotle peppers in adobo chopped
- 1 green onion white and green parts, chopped, optional
- 1 day old baguette sliced
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Paprika Italian seasoning, kosher salt
For pimento cheese:
- Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl and garnish with green onions, if desired.
- Serve on a sandwich or with crostini.
- Makes 4 cups pimento cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Arrange baguette slices in one layer on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil.
- Sprinkle with spices.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until crostini is toasted.
Thank you for this terrific blog. I learned that same letter in the alphabet but never knew anyone else did and I was 44 years old before I discovered that people actually make pimento cheese. I’d never eat that plastic container stuff my brother loved. I must admit that the folks who introduced me to real Pimento cheese are ole miss alum. Maybe it’s a MS thing! Thanks again for sharing.
Thanks for the great post! Also I went to Babalu for the first time about a week ago and had maybe the best salad I’ve ever eaten.
1. I love learning about regional foods.
2. A long time ago, I was vegan, and I was in love with this pimento cashew spread (might sound gross but was ridiculously addictive) and I’m just now realizing that it may have been based on pimento cheese.
Beth, the chipotle peppers are the “pimentos.”
FABULOUS!!!! I will absolutely be trying this. Love me some pimennacheese! 🙂
Sounds extremely delicious, but where are the pimentos??
I grew up hating pimento cheese. Most of the commercial stuff is just mayo with enough cheese to change the color and just enough pimento not to have the USDA on your butt. The first time I tried homemade I was changed. The keys are lots of cheddar (the sharper the better) and a touch of heat. I use Vermont white cheddar and finely diced jalapeno but this recipe looks quite tastarific as well.
Funny I was the same way and my local grocery store was the one to change my mind. They take the deli cheese ends that they cannot slice any further and make pimento cheese with it. However theirs does not have bacon… I will have to try this!
I never even knew what went into pimento cheese before! I just knew it came from a plastic container and was orange. Bacon? Sign me up!
I’ve never had pimento cheese but I’ve heard that homemade is like….SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND times better. I feel like you’ve just proven that right.