Pimento Mac and Cheese
If you love pimento cheese, this Pimento Mac and Cheese is for you! This easy skillet macaroni has a decadent cheesy sauce and comes together quickly.
I’m bringing you an oldie but a goodie today. Kind of like my orange ginger chicken, this is a recipe I’ve been making my family for many years, and I’m not even sure of the “origins” of it.
I think one time I just had a half of a jar of pimentos in the fridge left over after making pimento cheese dip that I wanted to use up, to be honest.
Like my taco mac and cheese, it’s a super creamy stovetop mac and cheese. It has the sharp cheesy flavor of Monterey Jack and white cheddar, and is seasoned with “ranch” herbs like dill and chives.
And then a generous spoonful of pimentos are added for extra flavor. I hope you love this Pimento Mac and Cheese recipe as much as my family does! It’s one of my favorite side dishes for ribs.
Is this like the pimento cheese mac and cheese at Hattie B’s or Disneyland?
After doing some research, it looks like pimento mac and cheese is sold at Hattie B’s Hot Chicken, which is a chain based in Nashville.
And I did actually eat there when I was in Nashville a few years back, but I don’t think we got the mac and cheese! My favorite dish there was actually the banana pudding, of all things.
It looks like there also might be pimento mac and cheese available somewhere at Disneyland, but I’ve never been there, so if anybody can fill me in on that, please leave a comment below.
In any case, my recipe isn’t trying to duplicate either of the aforementioned dishes (I’ve been making it long before I went to Nashville). It’s just something I made up and enjoyed, and kept making over and over again.
What is a pimento?
You might be most familiar with pimentos as those little red things inside green olives!
A pimento is actually a cherry pepper, which is a variety of chili pepper. The flavor of pimentos is generally sweet and more aromatic than a red bell pepper.
Some varieties of pimento are hot, but the ones sold in jars at grocery stores are usually quite mild.
What you’ll need for this pimento mac and cheese recipe:
- pasta – I love medium shells for stovetop mac and cheese (kind of reminds of Panera mac, which I love!), but you can use just about any short shape of pasta you like. Elbows, penne (my noodle of choice for Cajun salmon pasta) and cavatappi are some other good choices.
- butter – this is 1/2 of the roux that will thicken the cheese sauce for this pimento macaroni and cheese. Roux is the thickener of choice for homemade gravy and bacon gravy recipe, too!
- flour – the other 1/2 of the roux!
- whole milk – I always have whole milk in my fridge since I have a toddler, but honestly, it’s just the best way to make pimento mac and cheese (and caramel coffee), too. You can use a lower fat milk, but the result won’t be as decadent and creamy.
- heavy whipping cream – um, speaking of decadent and creamy.
- salt and pepper – I wouldn’t dream of making mac and cheese without salt and pepper!
- ground mustard – I add a little spoonful of ground dried mustard to most mac and cheese recipes. It adds extra seasoning and a little kick. I love it in my buttermilk chicken marinade and buttermilk chicken tenders, too.
- cheese – I discuss this in the section below!
- pimentos – you’ll need 1/4 cup of pimentos, and make sure you drain the extra liquid off of them.
- dill – I use dried dill here to add a little bit of “ranch” flavor, which I feel works well with the creaminess of the mac, and with the pimentos. If you have fresh dill on hand (maybe you made my shrimp deviled eggs or Greek chicken meatballs?), just use twice as much.
- chives – again, this is another “ranch” herb, which adds some oniony notes to the pimento cheese mac and cheese. You’ll stir some into the dish and use more for garnish at the end. Chives are also so great in a potato cake.
What type of cheese for pimento macaroni and cheese?
After many rounds of testing, I’ve settled on the combination of equal parts Monterey Jack and sharp white Cheddar cheese for this pimento mac and cheese recipe. But if you wanted to use all one or the other, that would be fine, too.
You can also use classic (yellow) Cheddar cheese. It really doesn’t matter, it will just give the finished dish a more yellow color vs. the white you see here. I used white Cheddar because I had some left over after making a football charcuterie board.
You can also experiment with cheeses like Colby, Colby Jack and even American cheese. There’s really no wrong way to make mac and cheese with pimento, as long as the cheese melts!
The only cheese I don’t recommend here is mozzarella. I tested this pimento cheese mac and cheese with a mozzarella/Monterey Jack combo once, and it turned out a little bland.
What should I serve with this?
Most often, I serve this pimento cheese mac and cheese with a simple salad with a bright, acidic vinaigrette, to balance the richness of the mac and cheese. I love mixed greens or butter lettuce tossed with citrus salad dressing.
If it’s summer and good tomatoes are in season, I’ll serve a beet tomato salad.
If you’d like to serve a protein alongside this pimento mac and cheese, my honey mustard pork chops would be a good pairing, with the mustard flavors echoing the dried ground mustard in the mac and cheese.
If you’d like to add some more protein and fiber to your meal, but keep it meatless, my black bean meatballs are a great choice.
Can I freeze this?
Definitely. I freeze mac and cheese quite a bit. Just like with my lentil ragu, the texture isn’t QUITE as good once it’s frozen and reheated, but it’s still OK, in my opinion.
I like to freeze this pimento mac and cheese in a disposable pan or some other type of container where I can freeze it in the container, and then just transfer it directly to the oven to reheat it in the same container.
I reheat it at 350 degrees F until it’s bubbly around the edges. You can either bake it from frozen, or thaw it overnight before baking. It will take a little less time to bake if you thaw it first.
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- 12 ounces medium shell pasta
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 cups whole milk
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
- 4 ounces sharp white Cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1/4 cup pimientos, drained
- 1/4 teaspoon dried dill
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, plus additional for garnish
- Bring large pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta according to package instructions for al dente. Drain well.
- Meanwhile, melt butter in large pot over medium heat. Add flour and cook 1 minute, whisking constantly. While whisking, add milk and then cream in steady stream. Add salt, ground mustard and black pepper and cook 2 to 3 minutes or until thickened, whisking constantly.
- Reduce heat to low and add Monterey Jack, Cheddar, pimientos and dill. Cook 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese is melted, stirring constantly.
- Add chives and cooked pasta and stir until well combined. Garnish with additional chives and serve immediately.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 666Total Fat: 47gSaturated Fat: 28gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 136mgSodium: 725mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 2gSugar: 7gProtein: 24g
This website provides estimated nutrition information as a courtesy only. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.