Can you freeze Pimento cheese? Yes, you can; I've tried it, I found that the texture wasn't so good. Read on to learn what happened when I froze Pimiento Cheese.
Those of you who follow my blogs and recipes will be aware that I am bewitched and infatuated with food.
Cheese is, of course, one of my all-time favorites, and when it comes to Pimento Cheese, my enthusiasm knows no bounds.
This spreadable delight is oh so versatile, great for dipping Italian breadsticks into, lavishly adorning a burger, or dolloping into a cheesy macaroni dish.
As for eating it by the spoonful - there's nothing better.
Pimento Cheese has been described as the pâté of the South. It's a gorgeous, gooey mixture of grated cheese, diced red peppers (pimentos), and mayonnaise.
In this article, I will tell you the secret of making your own DIY Pimento Cheese.
How best to store it, and I'll also give you some great tips on what you can serve it with for the scrummiest of snacks.
All you have to do is read on.
What Are Pimentos?
A Pimento is a variety of pepper. They are small and bright red and quite sweet - not at all spicy. Because of these characteristics, they are sometimes called cherry peppers.
If you buy stuffed olives, you've probably come across pimentos before. They are the stuffing.
If you look for them when out shopping, you will find them on the shelves alongside jars of olives and pickles. They are usually sold ready-chopped or cut into strips.
The Origins of Pimento Cheese
Most people think that Pimento Cheese originated in the Southern States of the US - after all, it is most popular today. Therefore, it may surprise you to know that it was created in the North - in New York, as a matter of fact.
The Serious Eats website tells us that back in the 1870s, farmers in New York began making a soft, unripened cheese to evolve into cream cheese.
Spain began exporting canned red peppers, or "pimientos," to the US at a similar time. They caught on fast and, somewhere along the way, lost an "i" in the process and became known simply as pimentos.
In 1908 a Good Housekeeping recipe was published called for cream cheese, diced pimentos, chives, and mustard. It soon became a hit in the South and, as a result, began to be mass-produced.
Over the decades, the recipe evolved, introducing grated cheese into the mix instead of cream cheese.
The exact history is a fascinating one, and you can find out all the nooks and crannies that developed along the way by taking a peek at the "Real History of Pimento Cheese" on the Serious Eats website.
Can you freeze Pimento Cheese?
People freeze many things these days, and I have been asked on many occasions whether you can freeze pimento cheese.
The answer is, yes, you can; however, I would have to clarify that by saying, it's not something I would typically do.
On the occasions that I've tried it, I found that the texture wasn't so good.
So, I persevered, as anyone who knows me would expect, and I can share a few tips with you on the best way to freeze it for a quite decent result.
One of the big reasons we tend to freeze food is that it's cheaper to buy in bulk, and then, of course, you have to put it in the freezer to stop it from going off.
Then, now and again, you might spot one of your favorite foods on promotion, and the price is too good to miss.
That's exactly what happened to me one time and why I tried to freeze my bounty of lovely pimento cheese.
I couldn't possibly let it go to waste, but by the same token, I couldn't eat six tubs of the stuff either. Ergo I tried to freeze it.
Learning from my mistakes
I've made plenty of mistakes over the years with my culinary experiments, and I'm sure I'll make more over the years.
But if I can save you from making those same mistakes, why the heck not?
So, here's what happened when I froze Pimento Cheese. Read on and learn.
Here's what I discovered after freezing Pimento:
Twenty-four hours after putting a tub of Pimento Cheese into my freezer, my curiosity got the better of me, so I took it out to thaw in my refrigerator.
- When I opened the tub, the first thing that hit me was the cheese's dried-out appearance.
- The problem is that the oil in the mayo and the cheese had separated.
- The cheesy pâté itself, although being similar in texture, wasn't as smooth or creamy tasting as it is when fresh. It was a bit watery and had become a little grainy.
- The flavor itself was okay, but its appearance was not particularly appetizing. Rather than eating the defrosted Pimento Cheese, I decided to make some cheese biscuits with it.
It was a smart move. They were delicious.
So, the takeaway from this experiment is that Pimento Cheese can be used quite happily in other recipes (not for sandwich-making) when thawed.
Luckily, I had only frozen one tub of the six I bought, so what did I do? I threw a Pimento Cheese party. Way to go.
If you insist on freezing Pimento cheese
Regardless of what I suggest, some people will go ahead and freeze their Pimento Cheese anyway.
So for those Doubting-Thomases, here a few tips to help lessen the damage.
- Transfer the cheese into some plastic food wrap and tighten the package as much as you can. It will help to retain some of the cheese's texture, but not 100%.
- Place the wrapped cheese into an airtight container or heavy-duty Ziploc bag.
- Seal, label, and date.
- Store for up to three months.
Please be warned that the texture will not be as good as when it was fresh.
That's just the way it is. Whereas once the texture was smooth and creamy, it will become drier and a little grainy after freezing.
Once frozen and defrosted, I recommend using it in a recipe and other ingredients to disguise its texture.
The taste, though not as good as when fresh, should still be okay.
Another possibility is to blend and use it as a dip. If you do, add a little water for smoothness.
Making DIY Pimento cheese spread
Store-bought Pimento Cheese is pretty good, but it can't hold a candle to the homemade DIY version by Betty's Kitchen. I love the stuff so much that I usually make a batch each week.
There's nothing better than homemade Pimento Cheese spread on crackers. It is the snack of snacks.
Of course, now and again, things stack up, and I just run out of time. Then I have to revert back to the store-bought stuff. But hey, it's still perfectly acceptable - right?
Like many great dishes, many home cooks have their own slight takes on the Pimento Cheese recipe.
What is Pimiento cheese made of?
Basically, for me, it's a mixture of cheeses, with red pimentos, and mayo or perhaps salad dressing with the odd pinch of spice thrown in here and there.
The spices you can use include cayenne pepper, garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper.
But on occasion, I have been known to throw in a little chopped green chili or jalapeños, or some chopped pickles or pickled onions just to give it a hint of the South.
I've even added a splash of Worcestershire or hot sauce. They all work in their own way and bring something a little different to the party, as long as the basics of cheese and chopped pimentos are present.
- 2-oz. jar diced pimento (drained)
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup sour cream
- ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (optional)
- green tops of 1 green onion (finely chopped)
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (adjust the amount according to your taste)
- 8-oz. extra-sharp white cheddar cheese (shredded)
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl except for the cheese. Stir to nicely incorporate them.
Stir cheese into the pimiento mixture until well combined. Cover and chill in the fridge for future use. Pimento cheese spread will last in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
The holy trinity of Pimento cheese
The fact that Pimento Cheese is often referred to as either the pâté or caviar of the South just goes to show you how much this dish is revered.
As I mentioned above, most people have their own particular stylized version, and of course, everyone thinks theirs is the best.
In the South, they talk about the Trinity relating to jambalaya, but for me, the Trinity of Pimento Cheese has to be cheddar cheese, diced pimentos, and mayonnaise.
It's wonderful just like that, but even better when you add your own favorite spices for an extra flavor hit.
Serving suggestions for your enjoyment
Whether you make your own homemade DIY version of Pimento Cheese, or whether you simply use shop-bought, you can enjoy it in lots of different ways.
Here are a few serving suggestions you might like to try for yourself.
1 Adding Pimento cheese to sandwiches
In the same way that you might add mayonnaise to a whole range of sandwiches, you should try swapping the mayo for Pimento Cheese spread.
It adds a real lushness to any sandwich, including BLTs, ham and tomato, pulled pork, salmon and avocado, et cetera. It also makes a super side dish with salads in the same way that adding coleslaw does.
It works well with grilled chicken or turkey, spinach and avocado, and even with tofu. It's as versatile as they come.
2 Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwiches
The whole world is in love with grilled cheese and onion sandwiches; it's one of the best snacks ever. But you can take it to a whole new level if the cheese you use is Pimento.
If you add in some bacon and tomato, you get a deluxe grilled Pimento Cheese sandwich that fits the gods.
You don't even have to worry about any other fillings. A grilled Pimento Cheese sandwich works stunningly well on its own.
3 Pimento cheese as a pizza topping
Why not swap out the mozzarella on your pizza for Pimento Cheese? I do it often, and I promise you it is absolutely delicious.
There's a great recipe for a 15-minute Spicy Pimiento Cheese Pizza on the meals website.
It features bacon as one of the toppings, along with Roma tomatoes, but pepperoni sausage also works a treat with it, as does a little sprinkling of hot sauce.
We all love cheeseburgers - well, most of us do anyway, but now it's time to meet the Pimentoburger.
You can slap Pimento Cheese on top of your meat pattie, or you can go the whole hog and concoct something like stuffed burgers with Pimento Cheese and sweet onion marmalade as per the recipe on the Kingsford.com website.
5 Deviling your eggs with cheese Pimento
This is another great recipe idea from our southern cousins. Rather than just going for the boring old egg yolk with mustard filling for your deviled eggs, why not drop in a few dollops of pimento cheese?
It's a real party stopper. Take a look at this recipe here on the Southern Bite.com website. I promise you you have never tasted any better deviled eggs anywhere.
6 Cheesy fries and nachos with Pimento
Cheesy Fries are one of the best sharing platters ever, and if you go down the Jonathon Sawyer route and use a pimento cheese dressing that has a few liberal sprinkling of tequila in it, it's even better.
Chances are, though, that you won't want to share it.
Pimento cheese also makes a great melted topping for nachos.
You can keep it simple or go for a fusion of Tex-Mex and Southern kitchen with this Blackeye Pea Pimento Cheese Nachos recipe from the Camelliabrand.com website.
7 Quesadilla with Pimento Cheese
While we are discussing Tex-Mex, you cannot exclude quesadillas from the conversation.
This recipe with Pimento Cheese plus a liberal sprinkling of paprika and cayenne, as per the Food and Wine website, is simple and fast to make and is a great addition to any party fare or served as a supper dish.
8 Pimento Cheese Grits
Another southern favorite combines two of their all-time favorite ingredients, namely grits and Pimento Cheese.
It only takes five minutes to prepare and five minutes to cook. If you decide to have a go at cooking this recipe, I recommend that you get hold of some good-quality grits.
9 As an Addition to Risotto
Instead of adding Parmesan into your risotto, why not add Pimento Cheese instead? It's not quite as salty as Parmesan, and the red pimentos add great flavor and color too.
10 Mashed potato with Pimento cheese
For a change, instead of adding butter and cream to your mashed potato, why not add Pimento cheese? I promise you it works.
11 Pimento cheese quiche
When I make quiche, I usually use cheddar cheese. However, every now and then, I substitute Pimento Cheese, and it works really well.
12 Fried Pimento cheese bites
While I can't claim the idea for these fried cheese bites to be my own invention, since first trying them in a bar, I now make them at home, and my kids love them.
To stop them from falling apart in the hot oil, it's best to freeze them first and fry them straight from the freezer.
- All you have to do is roll some Pimento Cheese into small balls.
- Coat them in flour, dip them in beaten egg
- Cover them in breadcrumbs. For an extra crunch, use Japanese-style Panko crumbs.
13 Pimento cheese biscuit filling
I mentioned spooning pimento onto Ritz crackers earlier, but spreading onto a warm biscuit is even better.
There's a restaurant chain known as Bojangles. It started as a southern franchise, but it became so popular that the chain is now spread throughout the US, and they make the most delicious warm biscuits.
Take a quick browse through their biscuit menu, and you'll see what we mean.
In amongst all the other delicious biscuit fillings and toppings, you will, of course, spot their Pimento Cheese offering. Whatever you order, you can always add a side of Pimento Cheese.
Whether you use defrosted, frozen Pimento Cheese or fresh straight from the tub, it works well with so many dishes. I told you it was versatile. Eating is believing.
Frequently asked questions
Remember, it's not recommended to freeze Pimento Cheese. If you must freeze it, follow the tip I gave you above. You can keep it for up to three months.
However, it will keep well for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container when stored correctly in your fridge.
According to the Southern Living.com website, the best brands of Pimento Cheese are:
Publix Cheese Spread with Pimentos.
Ruth’s Original Pimento Spread.
Trader Joe’s Pimento Cheese Dip.
Price’s Pimento Cheese Spread.
Palmetto Cheese Spread by Pawleys Island Specialty Foods
If you have read through my article, you will know by now that you can heat Pimento Cheese – in fact, when added to hot dishes like risotto or mashed potato, or served in grilled sandwiches, it is absolutely delicious.
As with tubs of Pimento cheese itself, the best way to store sandwiches that contain this cheese spread is to keep them in an airtight container and store them in the fridge.
Before doing so, between each layer, insert a piece of wax paper and then cover the top layer with a sheet of wax paper and a slightly damp paper kitchen towel.
Interesting sandwich recipes:
- Egg Salad Sandwich
- Popeye Chicken Sandwich Copycat Recipe
- Porchetta Egg Sandwich
- Croque Madame Sandwich
Can you Freeze Pimento Cheese (How to)
- Ziploc bag
- Aluminum foil
- pimento cheese (leftover)
- Transfer the cheese into some plastic food wrap and tighten the package as much as you can. Wrap around with foil to tighten more; it will help to retain some of the cheese’s texture, but not 100%.
- Place the wrapped cheese into another airtight container or heavy-duty Ziploc bag.
- Seal, label, and date. Store for up to three months in the freezer.