We Tasted 6 Pimiento Cheeses, And These Are Our Favorites

There's always an occasion for pimiento cheese, so we found the perfect one for your spread.

pimento cheese taste test
Photo: Dotdash Meredith

It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that Southerners are crazy for pimiento cheese. It is without a doubt a beloved staple that every good Southerner has in their fridge at all times. One taste, and you're hooked. We put it in sandwiches, slather it on crackers, melt it in grilled cheeses, use it to embellish burgers, and find endless creative ways to reinvent this classic spread.

First off, let me say that pre-packaged grocery store pimiento is no match to small-batch, locally-produced, or homemade pimiento cheese. A homemade pimiento spread on crackers is a go-to midday snack and an easy, yet impressive, potluck dish. But we don't always have the time to whip up a batch: Enter the store-bought stuff to settle our never-ending craving.

While everyone has strong (and often varying) opinions when it comes to Southern foods, there are typically a few things we can all see eye to eye on in regards to pimiento cheese. For an original spread (we're not addressing the spicy or bacon-adorned ones), we can agree it should contain shredded cheddar cheese, pimientos (we'll let bell peppers slide), and mayonnaise. It's the ratio of each ingredient and other mix-ins where our preferences might not align.

As an avid pimiento cheese enthusiast, I happily conducted the official Southern Living pimiento cheese taste test. (Should this be deemed a national holiday? I think yes.) We tasted a wide variety of store-bought pimiento cheeses to see which are worthy for your table.

How We Tested

To determine which pimiento cheese brand is the real deal, we conducted a blind taste test of six popular spreads that you can probably find at your local supermarket. I spooned each cheese into individual bowls ahead of time to ensure testers didn't know the brands. Then, with trusty saltine crackers as the vehicle for the cheese spreads, ten Southern Living editors tasted each dip and recorded their comments.

Pimiento Cheese Brands We Tried

  • Price's Rich & Savory Pimento Cheese Spread
  • Publix Cheese Spread, with Pimientos
  • MyThreeSons Gourmet Emmy's Original Pimento Cheese
  • Ballard's Farm Pimento Spread
  • Queen Charlotte's Original Pimento Cheese Royale
  • Callie's Hot Little Biscuit Traditional Pimento Cheese

The Contenders

Publix Cheese Spread, with Pimientos

As the brightest orange of the bunch, the Publix Cheese Spread, with Pimentos has an intense cheese flavor to match its flaming color. The spread has a strong sweetness and is creamier than most of the versions we tried. "I enjoy the hot sauce flavor. It could be used as a good burger topper," noted one taster.

Ballard's Farm Pimento Spread

This pimiento cheese rendition didn't wow our crowd, but it's still a solid contender. Interestingly, this recipe uses American cheese rather than cheddar and salad dressing in place of mayo. It has a bright-colored, almost fluffy appearance and a very mild cheese and pimiento flavor. "It is a simple one," said one editor. "I would use it in a dish or recipe." Multiple testers commented on its consistency, noting it was not as thick and chunky as most pimiento cheese we tried.

Queen Charlotte's Original Pimento Cheese Royale

This brand out of Charlotte, North Carolina, takes a unique approach to the classic spread with a cream cheese base and medley of cheeses, including extra sharp cheddar, pepper jack, and sharp white cheddar. It has more of a mayo tang and less of a pimiento kick. Appearance-wise, it is creamy and light in color with visible cheese shreds and pepper specks.

Our editors had a lot of varying (and a few conflicting) opinions on this one. Some noted they couldn't pin down the flavor–likely from the unexpected pepper jack, red wine vinegar, and cayenne pepper sauce addition–while others enjoyed the extra flavors. "If your family prefers plain, non-spicy foods this one is good," noted one individual. However, another said, "It has too many spices for me. I like my pimento cheese simple!"

Callie's Hot Little Biscuit Traditional Pimento Cheese

As the overall favorite for three editors, this beloved Charleston, South Carolina, brand best known for its biscuits proved they know how to make a good pimento cheese too. Callie's recipe keeps it pretty traditional with a few twists–Monterey jack cheese, hot sauce, and of course, their signature spices for the perfect mix—plus it has Worcestershire sauce, like our recipe.

In appearance, the color is pleasing; and it looks homemade thanks to a thick-shredded cheese and chunky texture. Testers described the flavor as zesty, sharp, peppery but not spicy, and "a nice balance of cheese, pepper, and a hint of sweet but not too sweet." Two editors who gave it high marks said it'd be great on a burger. Another noted that "It's not a standard pimiento cheese, but very good."

Price's Rich & Savory Pimento Cheese Spread

This Texas-based brand was most consistently marked as an overall favorite, but it didn't quite take the top spot. Our testers noted that this family recipe from the 1950s boasts a classic flavor with sharp notes of thick-cut shreds of cheddar, an ideal mayonnaise ratio, and the "perfect level of pepper spice" with a just-right amount of heat.

What sets this pimiento apart? It's branded as "rich and savory" and certainly lives up to the name. Multiple testers observed that this spread has good color and seems fresh and homemade. One editor liked that you could tell it was made with real cheese. Texture-wise, it's characterized by a satisfying consistency—creamy and flavorful, but also a little "chunky as it should be." It was deemed "highly snack-able" by one editor.

But We Loved...

MyThreeSons Gourmet Emmy's Original Pimento Cheese

The winner may come as a surprise to many, but you'll see why it best resembled a homemade version of the South's favorite dip. The family-owned-and-operated Greensboro, North Carolina, brand prides itself on no artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors, which our editors picked up on immediately. They noted that the texture was close to homemade and that they could really taste the cheddar and peppers. Of all the ones we tried, this one had the sharpest cheese and greatest pimiento flavor. This pimiento pepper studded spread is "the best of the bunch—intense, sharp flavor, with a nice bite and a hint of heat," wrote one taster.

Texturally, it is made using smaller bits of cheese, but it's not overly creamy and the consistency is well-mixed. "It's easily serve-able and shockingly light," commented another.

We tasted a lot of pimento cheeses, but we'll be stocking our fridge with MyThreeSons Gourmet!

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