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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.
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.
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.