The Southern Staple Everyone Should Know How to Make

Pimento Cheese by America's Test Kitchen

HOMEMADE PIMENTO CHEESE
Spread this on anything for a zippy, tangy, creamy boost.

Why This Recipe Works: The first few attempts were missing something. After a bit more research, we found several versions of this dish that benefit from a small shot of pickle juice because of its vinegary, sour flavor. This recipe needs a lot of stirring before the mixture starts to resemble pimento cheese, but don't give up if it's looking dry; after some vigorous stirring, the cheese and liquid ingredients start to combine and smooth out. But don't overmix and make it too smooth--those small, cheesy lumps are what gives pimento cheese its characteristic texture.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

¾ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
2½ tablespoons pimento chiles
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon pickle juice
1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Combine all ingredients in medium bowl. Using fork, stir vigorously until thoroughly combined. Season with salt and pepper.

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Sharp cheddar cheese is used in essentially every recipe for pimento cheese. We cut its sharpness with Monterey Jack, which is mild and zesty at the same time. It's the perfect contrast with cheddar, whose sharpness can easily overwhelm this spread if not reined in by a more mellow cheese.

Pimento chiles are available at every grocery store. This mild chile pepper is small, round, and sweet.

Pickle juice is the secret ingredient. This dish benefits from a small shot of its vinegary, sour flavor.

It takes a bunch of stirs before the mixture starts to resemble pimento cheese. But don't give up if it's looking dry; after some vigorous stirring, the cheese and liquid ingredients start to combine and smooth out. But don't overmix and make it too smooth--those small, cheesy lumps are what gives pimento cheese its characteristic texture.

Pimento cheese is traditionally paired with crackers (saltines or Ritz crackers) or white bread. It also makes a mean grilled cheese, as a burger topping, or mixed into scrambled eggs.

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