What Are Pimiento Peppers?

updated Mar 25, 2024
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You’ve probably heard of pimento cheese, that uniquely Southern cheese spread, but what are those mysterious pimiento peppers that go into it? Are they ever used for anything else? Here’s all you need to know about this little sweet pepper.

Quick Overview

So, What Are Pimiento Peppers?

Pimientos are mild, sweet peppers that are are usually found canned or jarred in grocery stores. You can use them in your cooking the same way you would roasted red peppers.

All About Pimiento Peppers

Pimiento peppers (also commonly spelled pimento) are red, heart-shaped peppers that are about 2 to 3 inches wide and 3 to 4 inches long. They are barely spicy, very mild and sweet in flavor, and actually register the lowest on the Scoville scale. While you might not come across fresh pimientos very often, these little peppers can be found in a few products you may use regularly. They’re commonly used as a stuffing for green olives and — once dried — they are a main ingredient in ground paprika.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Rachel Perlmutter

How to Use Pimiento Peppers

Fresh pimiento peppers may not be easy to find in your typical grocery store produce section, but canned or bottled ones are readily available both diced and whole.

You can use pimientos the same way you would roasted red bell peppers. They add a sweet pepper flavor and a pop of color to anything from rice dishes to pasta salad. They’re most popular use however, is probably in a classic pimiento cheese.

Sometimes dubbed “the caviar of the South,” this dip or spread combines cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, and pimientos together at its most basic level, but variations can include cream cheese and hot sauces. This delicious cheese is spread onto celery or crackers or even in a grilled cheese.