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 is spectacular, Lori, and there are so many ways to use it! My favorite so far is to eat it with a spoon. My non-vegan husband tried it and was blown away. I added a smidge of lactic acid powder--a magical vegan ingredients that replicates the taste of cultured dairy. I saw suggestions about adding miso and I'm going to try that too. You hit a home run with this; thank you for sharing it.
Another winner! Easy to whip up and tastes like what I remember pimento cheese being. Thank you!! I added a tablespoon of miso and it turned out great.
I made this yesterday and let it sit overnight and had it for lunch today. It is so delicious! I had it on whole grain rye bread with lentil sprouts and tofu mayo. Oh my goodness, I'm so excited that I get to eat this for lunch for the next few days. Thanks so much for your delicious recipes!
Another winner! OMG…so glad to have a healthy version of pimento cheese. The only downside is trying not to eat it all at once! I used brown rice, as that was already in the fridge. Thank you for sharing.
This sounds yummy! Thank you for also posting 'estimated' nutritional info. It says 180 calories per serving. How much is considered a serving?
There are 5 servings in the recipe. It makes about 1 3/4 cups of pimento cheese spread. So a serving will be somewhere around 1/3 cup, give or take.
I hope you enjoy it!
I just found your site this last week and am going to get a few things to try these amazing sounding receipes.
Do you have a YouTube channel ? I'd love to follow you
I absolutely love this. I’ve been WFPB for over a year. I’ve made many vegan cheeses but prior to this, only found one that I really like.
I never dreamed of vegan pimento cheese! And no oil! This is one of the best things I’ve made. Thank you 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
This cheese is So good! I was licking my fingers to get every bite. I can't wait to have it for dinner tonight. Thank you.
Thank you for the feedback, Leslie. So happy you love it!
How well do you think this recipe would freeze? I made it and love it!
Yay, so glad you love it, Jennifer! All of the components are freezer-friendly so it should be fine.
I found an article about this. They add Miso in theirs.
Oh very cool! And it turns out, I actually know the author of that article. Thanks for sharing, Sylvie. Maybe I'll try it with a little miso next time.
This is my go to every time use up the weeks left over rice. Hubby and I can barely make it last the weekend! Thank you!
You're so welcome, Jackie. And I can totally relate. 😀
This is delicious! I had a pimento cheese sandwich last night for the first time in YEARS! I'm definitely going to make this again, but next time I'll cut the vinegar and lemon juice in half - it was a bit too tangy for my taste. But still so yummy! Thanks so much for this recipe. I might try it with sunflower seeds next.
Carol F Davis
One of the best vegan cheese recipes I have made. It reminded me of a cheese spread I used to eat as a kid, that came in a Swanky Swig glass. OK, I'm dating myself, lol!
Lovely!!! I've tried quite a few vegan cheese recipes but this is the first one that I like! It actually tastes like cheese (unlike the others) and is wonderful in a sandwich! Thank you so much!!! <3
I tried this recipe and found it to taste like hot sauce only. I don't care for spicy stuff, so I skipped the cayenne. I didn't think that little bit of hot sauce would over power the flavor so badly. I appreciate the work you put into creating vegan options for non vegan foods,but this was a miss for me. I've made other recipes of yours and they were great.
Hi Jana, that's a bummer! I bet we could make a few tweaks to the recipe so that it would suit your tastes better, make it less pimento-y and more plain cheesy.
You're right that the hot sauce shouldn't come through strongly, but what *does* come through is the flavor of pimentos. Since pimentos are essentially hot sauce minus the heat (primary flavors are peppers + vinegar), maybe that's what is coming across as hot sauce for you? You could reduce the amount of pimentos used and omit the hot sauce if you feel like giving it another try.
Glad you've liked other recipes!
Thanks for the reply. I will try the tweaks you suggested and let you know how it goes.
100/100 surpasses any expectations I had. Omg wow. Lovely !! I added a little less rice in mine but I may end up adding more.
Yes!! So glad you loved it, Morgan. Thanks for coming back to share!
Where are my pimento cheese lovers!!! ✋oh my gosh, oh my gosh. I finally got around to making version. I used basmati rice because that's all I buy and I added another 1/2 jar of pimentos because..why not ?? It is totally pimento all the way through..texture, taste and all. The rice is a great texture addition. If you're dairy free and love pimento cheese, please go try this version. You will not be disappointed!! ❤️❤️ Thank you for creating this one Lori.
Woohoo! You sound as excited about it as I am, Estee. 😀 Thanks so much for the awesome feedback! So glad you love it.
just made this with arborio rice and it is absolutely amazing! thank you so much for sharing.
Hooray! So glad you loved it. Thanks for sharing, Kate. ?
Allergic to cashews - substitution ideas, please?
Sure thing! If it's only cashews you're allergic to, and not all nuts, almonds would be good substitute. For a seed version, I would go with raw sunflower seeds. Pumpkin seeds would taste great too but might create an odd color. 🙂
Hope that helps, Jennie.
My first thought of taste was HOLY CRAP! LOL I had a plethora of sunflower seeds so I used those and my hot sauce is a super hot Korean Style so I only put half.
This is AHMAzing!!!
Wonderful flavor! I do find the texture of the rice in a "cheese" dip to be a little strange. Is there a reason the cooked rice couldn't be blended in the first step with everything else? I'm thinking that might make it a creamier rather than chunkier texture which would be more to my taste.
Glad you liked the flavor! Traditional pimento cheese isn’t smooth, so that’s the reason for the rice. But absolutely, if you don’t like the texture you could blend the rice, or even partially chop/pulse it in a food processor. Another option would be to increase the cashews and leave the rice out altogether if you prefer a smooth dip.
This came out awesome! What a brilliant idea to use the risotto-type rice. Works perfectly! This is def getting added to the rotation, thank you! PS. Next time I’ll add a little more salt and heat but that’s just my preference.
Wonderful! So glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for the feedback, Sitara! 😀