This delicious, moderately spicy pimento cheese recipe – aka, the famous Red Truck Bakery pimento cheese – is so easy to make and enjoy! It’s great on sandwiches, crackers, and more…
You should see the looks I get when I tell people the best pimento cheese I’ve ever had is from a bakery in Virginia, just outside Washington, DC. Everyone I say this too in the Deep South gives me this incredulous look as if to say, “What do almost Yankees know about pimento cheese?” Plenty, actually, given how good this particular pimento cheese is. Cheesy, not too heavy on the mayo, with just the right amount of kick. So, so good.
What is pimento cheese?
Let’s start with a brief introduction, in case you – like the Godfather – either have not had, or have not known you’ve had, pimento cheese. Pimento cheese is a spread made of cheese, roasted red peppers (jarred is fine and most common), and mayonnaise. The cheese is typically a sharp cheddar. At it’s most basic, it doesn’t sound very exciting.
But the thing about pimento cheese is that each family, each area, has its own variation, and that’s what makes it so fun. Also, cheese. Some versions are sweeter (which is wrong, in my opinion), others salty, and some are spicy. You can add bacon, herbs, different cheeses, whatever makes you happy.
If you’ve ever had a mystery orange cheese spread in a tea sandwich, you’ve had a version of pimento cheese. This is how the Godfather had pimento cheese without knowing in his early life.
These little orange mystery cheese sandwiches were common on the bocadillo trays the Godfather’s grandfather would get from Cuban bakeries for every special event. Each tray contained sandwiches filled with the pimento, a ham salad, and chicken salad. He also picked up a sheet cake piled with loads and loads of spongy meringue frosting that only he loved. It’s charming in its way. You should have seen the Godfather’s face when I explained that the mystery orange paste was pimento.
I explained after I had him try the Red Truck Bakery pimento my awesome neighbor brought for us to try. Had I explained this before, getting him to sample the new version would have been more of a challenge. He was not a fan of mystery orange paste mini sandwiches, but he LOVES a good pimento cheese with a kick!
What do I do with pimento cheese spread?
Pimento cheese is classically served as a topping for crackers or filling for cold sandwiches. But it makes an amazing grilled cheese, and I really love to toss a tablespoon into my scrambled eggs with some veggies for a breakfast treat! Use it on wraps, as an alternative dip for celery sticks, and I think it’s a must for an Americana inspired cheese board, although you do find versions of pimento cheese in lots of different cultures.
Is this the actual recipe from Red Truck Bakery?
Yes, with one minor modification I made. It’s been over a year since we lived in the area, so some time since we’ve had it. But the recipe is right out of their cookbook, and very close to what I remember. I brought some to a get together recently, even a friend of mine who claims to “hate pimento cheese”, said that this pimento, she liked.
How far in advance can I make this recipe?
About a week. I think the flavors really shine after a few hours in the fridge, and the spread keeps about a week. It never lasts that long!
- 1 6 ounce jar of pimento peppers or roasted red peppers, drained
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup quick pickled onions (see notes)
- 1 teaspoon pickling brine
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
- 8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 4 ounces grated pepper jack cheese
- 2 teaspoon fresh chives (or 1 teaspoon dried)
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
Quick Pickled Onions
- 1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced (about a cup's worth)
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
How to make quick pickled onions:
- Whisk together the vinegar, water, salt, and sugar until the salt and sugar have dissolved.
- Place the onion in a bowl or mason jar, and pour the pickling liquid over the onion until covered.
- Let sit at room temperature 1 hour before using, or refrigerate up to 2 weeks.
Pimento Cheese Instructions:
- Use a food processor to finely chop the pimento peppers. Place in a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl to drain, and set aside.
- Combine the cream cheese, onions, brine, ground pepper, paprika, and red chili flakes in the food processor. Pulse until smooth.
- In a large bowl, mix together the grated cheeses, drained red peppers, cream cheese mixture, mayonnaise, and chives.
- Cover tightly and refrigerate up to a week and a half.
Recipe from the Red Truck Bakery cookbook.
Red Truck Bakery Cookbook: Gold-Standard Recipes from America's Favorite Rural Bakery
Wire Mesh Strainer
Hamilton Beach 70725A 12-Cup Stack & Snap Food Processor and Vegetable Chopper Black
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