In the midst of Tuesday’s poignant “Celebration of the Life of Rosalynn Smith Carter,” Jason Carter shared a heartwarming anecdote revealing the former first lady’s practical down-to-earth charm and her unexpected snack for grandchildren flying to a grandparent adventure.

Picture this: a Delta jet transformed into a makeshift kitchen with a loaf of bread and a Tupperware container filled with pimento cheese. A grandmother’s love spreads across the cabin as sandwiches were crafted for her grandchildren and a handful of fortunate passengers. Inspired by this touching moment, we invite you to recreate this magic for your own household with the WINning  Pimento Cheese recipe it has been a WIN List tradition to share for Master’s Weekend.

Melita's WINning Pimento Cheese Recipe

Rosalynn Carter, a symbol of grace and warmth, showcased her unique brand of hospitality at 30,000 feet. Her impromptu sandwich-making session on that Delta jet exemplified the idea that genuine gestures of care can happen anywhere, even amidst the clouds. This connection to a beloved former first lady adds a historic dash of Southern sentiment to your next batch of pimento cheese.

The WINning Pimento Cheese Recipe:

Recipe by Melita Easters

1 pound coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese

1 pound finely grated mild cheddar

If you buy pre-grated bags, buy one bag of the fine grate and another more coarse.

1 7-oz jar finely chopped pimentos

Reserve 3 TBSP liquid, rinse and drain the remainder of pimentos

1 cup Duke’s mayonnaise

5 cloves pureed garlic – or – 3 TBSP garlic blend in a supermarket tube

1 ½ TBSP Harissa

2 TSP Worcestershire sauce

1 TSP dry mustard – or – 1 TBSP rough mustard such as Grey Poupon

1 TSP smoked Spanish paprika

As needed:

More mayonnaise and room temperature butter for spreading if making sandwiches.

In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, the 3 TBSP of liquid reserved from pimentos jar, and all other ingredients EXCEPT for cheese and pimentos. Whisk well. Add cheese and well-drained pimentos and mix using a large spatula. If necessary, add more mayonnaise for proper consistency.

Best when stored for at least 12 hours in an airtight container in the refrigerator to allow flavors to mingle. Bring pimento cheese to room temperature prior to making sandwiches or serving as a spread/dip.

When making sandwiches, some spread a thin layer of unsalted butter and then a thin layer of mayonnaise on each slice of bread before spreading the pimento cheese. I do not follow this practice. However, if making tea sandwiches several hours or even a day ahead, the thin layer of butter prevents soggy sandwiches. When preparing sandwiches ahead, separate layers with wax paper and store in zip-lock bags or air-tight containers in the refrigerator.


As for most recipes, variations of the “WINning Pimento Cheese” recipe abound:


Eliminate the pepper, paprika and Worcestershire sauce


While Velveeta and cream cheese have a place in the Southern food lexicon, they do not belong in pimento cheese. There are those who disagree and they have a right to their opinion of course.

When using pre-grated cheese from the store, you should get a mix of fine and coarse grated cheese. For variety, the four-cheese Mexican blend of cheese works wonderfully well.


For a smokier flavor, substitute a grated smoked hard cheese such as those sold at Trader Joe’s. Also, reduce or eliminate, depending upon taste, the paprika and the Worcestershire sauce. To make it more “hot,” add more pepper blend or Tabasco, but remember a little goes a long way when it comes to Tabasco.

How to Serve


You can make “WINning Pimento Cheese” sandwiches with white bread or any other bread of choice. Experiment with local artisan bakery bread, with Jalapeno cheese or sundried tomato varieties being particularly good. For a tea party or special occasion presentation, use white bread and remove crusts before cutting into rectangles or triangles – two for hearty occasions such as a child’s party and four for high tea.

Serve grilled pimento cheese sandwiches with tomato soup or a salad. If using a panini press, spray the bread with Pam to rack up fewer calories than dipping bread in melted butter. Slices of ham or bacon, thinly sliced Vidalia onions or slices of heirloom tomatoes are favorite additions to pimento cheese sandwiches.

For a real laidback Southern touch, make a “WINning Pimento Cheese” sandwich with fried spam or bologna in a cast iron skillet.


Pimento cheese pairs well with crackers, thinly sliced bread rounds, or toasted bread rounds like those sold at Fresh Market. Thinly sliced pretzel bread is a special treat.

Toast pimento cheese on bread rounds until bubbly and serve hot as an appetizer or with soup.

Shape the pimento cheese into a ball and roll it in pecans for a spin on the classic “cheese ball.” You can also shape it into a ring, with the center hole used for either tomato, tomato pepper relish, or bacon jam. A similar version of the recipe has been frequently published as “Rosalyn Carter’s Plains Cheese Ring.”

As you embark on creating this delectable pimento cheese, envision the charm and warmth that filled the cabin of that Delta jet. The WINning recipe not only promises a burst of flavor but also a connection to a heartwarming moment in history. Share the joy by recreating Rosalynn Carter’s in-flight tradition with your loved ones, and perhaps, create a tradition of your own. Bon appétit!