Pimento Grilled Cheese

published Apr 5, 2023
Pimento Cheese Grilled Cheese Recipe

An ultra-gooey grilled cheese sandwich stuffed with pimento cheese spread.

Serves4

Makes4 sandwiches

Prep15 minutes

Cook8 minutes to 12 minutes

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pimento grilled cheese being pulled apart
Credit: Photo: Andrew Bui; Food Styling: Nicole Rufus

I’ve called Atlanta home since the mid-1990s, but like other transplants to the South, I didn’t grow up eating grits, greens, or pimento cheese. However, it wasn’t long before I started adding these Southern specialties to my plate. I remember when I took my first bite of pimento cheese; it was served on soft white bread with the crusts cut off — the classic tea sandwich.

Once I fell for pimento cheese, I knew that there was only one way to make it better, and that was by turning it into a grilled cheese. I take that same white sandwich bread, sandwich it with the gooey, cheesy spread, and toast it until golden and crisp. You can beef it up with fresh tomato, crispy bacon, or spicy jalapeños — all of which push it over the top — just be sure to include any extras before toasting the sandwich in the pan.

Credit: Photo: Andrew Bui; Food Styling: Nicole Rufus

What Kind of Cheese Is Pimento Cheese Made Of?

Pimento cheese is both a sandwich spread and a dip. Cheddar is the primary cheese in this spread. I recommend buying the cheese by the block so that you can shred it yourself. Not only will you avoid any unwanted caking agents (which are ever-present in pre-shredded cheese), but you can also adjust the size of your shreds. Use the large holes of the box grater for half of the cheddar and the small holes for the remaining portion. The finely grated cheddar cheese blends seamlessly into the spread upon stirring, while the larger shreds add texture. 

Cream cheese might not be considered a classic addition to pimento cheese, but I love the creamy texture it provides. Cream cheese gives the spread a stiffer consistency that is more suited to griddling. The combination of cheddar cheese and cream cheese will give you the gooiest grilled cheese you’ve ever had. 

What Are Pimentos?

Pimento peppers (or pimientos) are sweet, heart-shaped red peppers. They are very mild, with little to no spice. You’re most likely to find these peppers canned rather than fresh. For this recipe look for small jars of diced — not sliced — pimento peppers, and drain them well.

Pimento Cheese Grilled Cheese Recipe

An ultra-gooey grilled cheese sandwich stuffed with pimento cheese spread.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 8 minutes to 12 minutes

Makes 4 sandwiches

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce

    cream cheese (2 tablespoons)

  • 4 ounces

    extra-sharp yellow cheddar cheese, divided

  • 1/2 cup

    mayonnaise, divided

  • 1/4 cup

    drained diced pimento peppers

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    onion powder

  • 1/8 teaspoon

    cayenne pepper

  • 8 slices

    hearty white sandwich bread

  • Optional toppings: cooked bacon, sliced tomatoes

Instructions

  1. Place 1 ounce cream cheese in a medium bowl and let sit at room temperature until softened, about 30 minutes. Alternatively, place in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave until soft to the touch, about 10 seconds.

  2. Grate 2 ounces of the extra-sharp cheddar cheese on the large holes of a box grater (about 1/2 cup). Grate the remaining 2 ounces cheese on the small holes of a box grater (about 3/4 cup). Add both to the bowl of cream cheese.

  3. Add 1/4 cup of the mayonnaise, 1/4 cup drained diced pimento peppers, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon onion powder, and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Use a flexible spatula to smash and mix until combined.

  4. Heat a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, spread the remaining 1/4 cup mayonnaise evenly over one side of 8 slices white sandwich bread (1/2 tablespoon per slice). Flip 4 of the slices over, then divide the pimento cheese on these slices (about 1/4 cup each) and spread into an even layer. Top with cooked bacon or sliced tomatoes if desired. Top with the remaining bread slices mayonnaise-side up to close the sandwiches.

  5. Add 2 of the sandwiches to the pan and cook until the bottom is golden-brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully flip and cook until the second side is golden-brown and the pimento cheese is warmed through, 2 to 3 minutes more. Transfer to a cutting board and repeat cooking the remaining 2 sandwiches. Cut each sandwich in half.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The pimento cheese can be made up to 10 days ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container.