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in the kitchen with: aunt sissy si’s pimento cheese sandwich

by Kristina Gill

Though I regularly deal with the abundance and luxury of food, I am very committed to hunger issues, so I thought I’d make a note that Wednesday the UN declared famine in the southern part of Somalia, affecting over 2.2 million people. To find out more about the drought and how you can help, visit the website of the UN World Food Programme or one of your national non-governmental organizations, like Action Against Hunger. Public support for the 2004 tsunami helped make that emergency response a complete success. It’s possible to do the same for the Horn of Africa!

About six weeks ago, I noticed a flurry of adoration for the Pimento Cheese Sandwich on Twitter. When I called it out as being soooo Southern Living 1978, the folks over at the Washington Post food section and Atlanta-based food blogger Broderick told me I needed to get out more. Get out more? Please! I grew up in Nashville eating Mrs. Grissom’s pimento cheese on Ritz crackers and can still hear the jingle in my head! But admittedly, I haven’t had pimento cheese since the 20th century. Apparently, the world has changed since then, so I was open to trying it again. Susan and William Brinson came to my rescue with the recipe for William’s Aunt Sissy Si’s Pimento Cheese Sandwich. I hope you love it! If you have your own version of pimento cheese spread you’d like to share, please do! This very southern recipe would make a great appetizer spread served with last week’s South Carolina specialties, Lowcountry Lemonade and Shrimp Paste Sandwiches! — Kristina

About William: William is a still life and food photographer. He was raised in a suburb of Maryland, within a few steps of the country and a few more of the city. He has always appreciated the beauty found in nature’s lushness and the modern luxuries of the city. These experiences are what helped define William’s photographic style of natural luxury. Through texture and light, he brings a mood of luxury to even the simplest things. To William, it is not just about the object; it’s about the experience of it. William lives and works out of his loft in the NoMad district in New York City with his wife, Susan, and boxer dog, Nero. For a personal peek, take a look at House of Brinson or William and Susan’s sneak peek on Design*Sponge. William’s previous recipe for Acorn Squash with Apple Chestnut Stuffing can be found here.

Full recipe after the jump . . .

Aunt Sissy Si’s Pimento Cheese Sandwich


  • 4 oz jar diced pimentos
  • 8 oz brick of medium cheddar
  • equal parts mayo and salad dressing (to taste and for good consistency)
  • dash of salt
  • secret ingredient . . . about 1/4 teaspoon of horseradish, more or less, to taste
  • fluffy white bread


Mix everything together. It is better the next day and will keep for several days in the fridge.

*Note to non-Southerners/Americans: Salad dressing is similar to mayonnaise, but more economical. If you can’t find anything in your supermarket labeled “salad dressing” (not something you put on salads), you should probably just use all mayonnaise.

A big thanks for making the food look as good as it tastes, Rebecca!!


Why William Loves This Recipe
This recipe for “Pimento Cheese Sandwich” reminds me of being a kid at our family reunion in Emerald Isle, North Carolina. Every year we would pile in the van and take the long haul from Maryland to North Carolina. “Are we there yet?” was our battle cry, and the response was always the same, “Five more minutes.” I knew every year I had a few things to look forward to: the beach, my cousins and pimento cheese sandwiches! For some reason, no one at home knew what these sandwiches were, so I knew I had to fill up at our family reunion.

I know this recipe has traveled down the family, but I attribute my memory to Aunt Shirley, a.k.a. Sissy Si. Probably because she got stuck making them for me each year. My Aunt Sissy Si is the quintessential southern lady who prides herself on her homestyle cookin’ and feeding a big crowd. She knows how to command a crowd and was given the nickname “sergeant” as a result. Aunt Sissy Si has advised me that it is really called “Pimento AND Cheese,” but I guess I always missed that part. Thank you, Aunt Sissy Si. You’re the best!

Suggested For You


  • 2 8-oz blocks of cheddar cheese (one extra sharp, one medium)
    1 8-oz block of pepper jack
    1 4-oz jar of pimentos (sometimes I use one 4-oz and one 2-0z)
    pinch of sugar
    several grinds of the pepper mill
    several shakes of the garlic powder container (NOT garlic salt)
    Just enough Duke’s Mayo to moisten

    As far as the mayo/salad dressing goes – salad dressing is *much* sweeter than mayo. I like a little sweetness to the pimento cheese but not alot – hence the pinch of sugar with the mayo instead of using salad dressing.

  • strange question, but i’m looking for tshirts, stickers, totes that declare pimento cheese love. know of any?

  • It seems I never have pimentos when I get the craving for pimento cheese. I chop up pimento-stuffed green olives instead and mix with grated extra sharp cheddar and mayo. Oh, and I add a big pinch of white pepper.

  • How interesting to see a Pimento and Cheese recipe that’s different from the one we use in Texas. Ours has 3 ingredients – Grated American cheese, diced pimentos, and Miracle Whip. And yes, it has great memories attached to it.

  • From Nashville, I can totally still sing the Mrs. Grissom jingle too! And now, it will probably be in my head for the next seven weeks or so…

  • Great memories of pimento cheese sandwiches and we almost always had them toasted. Gooey, but great. My mom didn’t believe in cooking on Sundays, it being a day of rest, so if we had to take potluck to the church, it was always pimento cheese sandwiches.

  • my first Pinterest meal! I added some cream cheese, season salt, and a few dashes of hot sauce and YUM YUM! Thanks so much!

  • Mom’s Southern (Arkansas) Pimento Cheese

    1 jar pimento
    8 oz grated cheese
    Miracle Whip to moisten (today I use Hellmann’s)

    Mix it all together and eat on White Bread YUMMMMMMM

  • I was never a fan of pimento cheese until last year when I added some minced chipotle and adobe to a bowl full. Nearly ate the whole thing. Almost as good with chipotle powder; add either to taste.

  • It’s a lot of trouble but if you make your own (fresh) sweet red pepper coulis and use that instead of bottled pimento, you will probably faint dead away. A splash of vinegar and pinch of sugar are necessary if you are using bottled pimentos. I am southern as they come and I don’t hold with anything but Hellman’s Mayo.

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