It's vegan pimento cheese, y'all! I'm completely enamored with this cheese spread and hope you love it, too. Made with the usual vegan cheese ingredients PLUS a surprise secret ingredient standing in for shredded cheddar. This vegan pimento cheese is so delicious, easy to prepare, and perfect for snacking, dipping, spreading and taking to parties. Bonus! It's also oil-free and gluten-free with a nut-free option.
I seriously can't wait for you to try this vegan pimento cheese! I. Am. Hooked.
I've eaten it daily for over a week and can't wait to make another batch. I'm tempted to call it an "instant" cheese except that it does taste best after a minimum of 3 to 4 hours in the fridge.
And overnight it gets even better! But you certainly can eat it right away if you want.
In addition to being easy to make, it's surprisingly innocent nutrition-wise. Considering what's in traditional pimento cheese, this might as well be a bowl full of kale!
The Secret Ingredient
I won't keep you waiting.... it's rice! I specifically tested this recipe with a medium-grain, sticky and starchy white rice called Calrose. Depending on where you live you may also see it labelled as Japonica rice.
If you can't find Calrose rice you can substitute jasmine, arborio, basmati, or even sushi rice.
The rice is actually our textural replacement for shredded cheddar cheese, so we want it to be the perfect balance of soft yet chewy. We also want it to absorb some of the blended cheese mixture, and the softer, white rices do that really well.
August 2020 UPDATE: I've now also tested the recipe with brown rice, and it worked better than expected! The difference was barely noticeable. So if you prefer to use brown rice, by all means, go for it.
A local vegan restaurant inspired this idea to use soft, starchy rice as a replacement for the cheddar typically found in pimento cheese.
Bean Vegan Cuisine is known for their epic pimento cheese, and I once heard a friend say that she suspected they use rice in their recipe. But beyond that brief mention I really don't know anything about their recipe (and believe me I've scoured the internet for clues).
For several years now I've intended to experiment with the rice idea in an attempt to replicate their pimento cheese. But you know how it goes... so many ideas, so little time.
Recently while planning content for the blog I started pondering Super Bowl recipes, and that's when I knew it was time!
Round one of recipe testing was pretty good but needed more flavor. After round two I knew we had a winner. But since this pimento cheese is easy to make, easy to eat, yet surprisingly difficult to photograph, I still ended up making it two or three more times over the course of a few days.
We weren't sad at all about having a bounty of pimento cheese in the fridge, believe me.
This is a summary to show you what's in this pimento cheese and how easy it is to prepare! Be sure to scroll down for the full recipe.
Just ten ingredients plus water and salt are all you need to make this creamy and rich vegan pimento cheese.
- cooked rice
- raw cashews or sunflower seeds
- pimentos in a jar - usually found near the olives; sub roasted red peppers only if you can't get pimentos; they're firmer in texture.
- nutritional yeast
- lemon juice
- rice vinegar
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- sea salt
- hot sauce - I like Crystal brand
How to Make Vegan Pimento Cheese
A high-speed blender makes prep really easy, but if you don't have one you can still create smooth and creamy cheese. It will just take a bit of planning ahead.
Tip: if NOT using a high-speed blender, soak the raw cashews in hot water for about 2 hours (or raw sunflower seeds for 30 min). Then drain and pat dry before proceeding with the rest of the recipe. Use a food processor if you have one, and if not, use a standard blender.
- Combine everything except the pimentos and cooked rice in a blender. Gradually increase to high speed, and blend for about 30 seconds or until mostly smooth.
- Add half of the pimentos to the blender. Blend until completely smooth.
- Pour the cheese mixture into a bowl, using a silicone spatula to scrape as much as possible from the blender. Stir the rice and remaining pimentos into the cheese.
- Press a piece of plastic wrap down onto the cheese. Cover and refrigerate for several hours to allow the rice to absorb the cheese flavors and for all of the flavors to mingle.
Straight out of the blender the cheese mixture will seem thin, but don't worry! Two important things will happen once you add the rice and refrigerate the pimento cheese:
- Starch from the rice will thicken the pimento cheese and add to the overall creaminess.
- Refrigeration also helps it firm up.
Voila! Perfectly spreadable vegan pimento cheese!
Whether you spread vegan pimento cheese on bread or scoop it up with celery sticks as an afternoon snack, you really can't go wrong.
Here are a few more delicious ways to enjoy vegan pimento cheese:
- scooped on top of a big green salad
- as a dip for crackers and veggies on a vegan snack board
- stuffed in mushrooms
- on top of baked potatoes or as a dip for potato wedges
- stirred into a bowl of grains
You Might Like
- Vegan Pimento Macaroni Salad (perfect for potlucks!)
- Vegan Feta
- 5-Minute Vegan Ricotta
- Best Vegan Cheese for Pizza
- Easy Oil-Free Queso
- No-Cook Cashew Cheese Sauce
- Quesadillas With Easy Cashew Cheese
- The BEST Vegan Mac & Cheese
I hope you love this Vegan Pimento Cheese, too! If you try it it would make my day to hear from you.
Comment below and give it a star rating to let everyone know how it turned out. And tag your tasty food photos on instagram with @myquietkitchen!
Vegan Pimento Cheese
- 1 cup cooked rice such as jasmine, basmati, or Arborio (see Notes section) - When measuring the rice, spoon it into a measuring cup, don't pack it completely full. You can always add more rice later, but you can't take it away. More rice = drier/firmer pimento cheese.
- 1 cup raw cashews (for nut-free sub ⅔ cup raw sunflower seeds) - If not using a high-speed blender see instructions below.
- ⅓ cup water
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 2 teaspoon hot sauce (I like Crystal brand; sub other red hot sauce if desired)
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne, optional
- ⅓ cup chopped pimentos (4 oz. jar), drained and gently squeezed to remove some of the liquid - If your pimentos are in strips be sure to chop them.
OPTIONAL smoky version:
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon liquid smoke
- NOTE:It's important to measure accurately, especially with acidic ingredients. Small variations can throw off the salt/acid balance.Don't have a high-speed blender? Place raw cashews in a bowl, and cover with hot water. Let soak for about two hours (or soak seeds for 30 minutes). Then, drain very well, and proceed with steps below using a food processor if you have one, and if not, a standard blender.
- Combine the cashews, water, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, rice vinegar, garlic powder, onion powder, hot sauce, salt, and cayenne in a blender (this is everything except the rice and pimentos). Gradually increase to high speed, and blend for about 30 seconds or until mostly smooth. Add half of the pimentos, and blend until velvety smooth.
- Pour the cheese mixture into a bowl. Use a spoon or silicone spatula to remove as much of the cheese as possible from the blender. Stir in the rice and remaining pimentos. Lightly press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of the cheese to protect from air. For the best flavor, refrigerate for several hours before serving. This allows the rice to absorb the cheese sauce and for all of the flavors to mingle. It tastes even better the next day.
- The pimento cheese will firm up as it chills. Serve cool.
Estimated Nutrition (per serving)
Nutrition information is an estimate and will vary depending on the exact amounts and specific products and ingredients used. We calculate this information using the online calculator cronometer.com.
This had such a great flavor, just like "real" pimento cheese. I love the rice idea for the cheese texture. A perfectly satisfying sandwich!
Made this last night for a get together today and it was soooo good! I tried using shredded extra firm tofu instead of the rice and it turned out really nice. My decidedly non-vegan boyfriend actually preferred this over the regular pimento cheese he had purchased for himself at Kroger!
Hi 🙂 can I leave the nutritional yeast out - it gives me migraines- and it still be good?
Absolutely! Most of the cheesy flavor in this recipe comes from the lemon, vinegar, salt, garlic, and pimentos.
This is my very favorite Pimento cheese recipe. The only change I make is the hot sauce. I use Sriracha and only about half. Trust me when I say, save yourself the time and double this recipe!
This was fantastic! It's the perfect texture, but not as rich as regular pimento cheese -- which I appreciate! It was filling without that left over feeling of having eaten something heavy. I will definitely make it again.
Haven't had pimiento cheese in years but used to crave every once in a while. Stumbled across this recipe and wouldn't have thought about using rice as a stand in but thought to try. Glad I did- this is absolutely delicious! I added a bit of liquid smoke and know what I'll be eating for lunch the next day or two... thank you! 🙂
Made your vegan pimiento cheese today, and it was amazing!! I used brown basmati rice and Tabasco sauce - couldn't believe the taste and texture! Thanks so very much for this awesome, wfpb, no-oil recipe! 🙂
This is amazing! Like others I'm looking forward to trying it other ways. Thanks!
Is there something I can sub for the pimentos? Have looked everywhere and I can't get them where I live in Australia
The best sub is roasted red peppers in a jar - but make sure they don't contain sugar. They should be in a vinegar-based brine. Hopefully that helps!
I like roasted red peppers better than pimentos. Or you can roast your own red bell peppers. Hopefully, you can get those.
This is one of my favorite vegan recipes. My wife loves regular pimento cheese, and she couldn’t believe this recipe was vegan. We use brown rice. It’s awesome! Can’t wait to try the other recipes.
Looks soooo yummy I cant do ANY Nuts or Seeds sadly not sure what I can use instead?
Fat is pretty important for the overall flavor of cheese, but you can definitely experiment! A combo of white beans and cooked potato could be nice. You might also want to start with lesser amounts of salt and other seasonings and taste as you go.
This is the bomb! My non vegan son remarked…wow it tastes like pimento cheese mom! LOL…Since its must me…I eat the whole thing …its lovely as a dip or as a sandwich. Can’t wait to try it in the pasta salad recipe.
Fantastic! So glad you love it, Susie. Thank you!
Is it possible to use unsweetened sunbutter instead of cashews or raw sunflower seeds, please?
You can always give it a try, but since sunbutter is roasted it has a much stronger flavor than raw sunflower seeds. So I worry it might impact the overall flavor quite a bit.