Jul 16, 2019

Pimento Cheese Fried Chicken Sandwich

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
There’s a reason it’s referred to as “the caviar of the South”! Pimento cheese isn’t actually a type of cheese, it’s a cheese spread made of a combination of pimento peppers, Cheddar cheese, mayonnaise and cream cheese.

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I’m still fairly new to the whole pimento cheese thing. It’s definitely more of a Southern staple and I am a Jersey girl, however, it doesn’t take long to fall in love with the creamy, spread. After trying pimento cheese on top of a crispy piece of chicken and light and airy brioche bread you will be addicted too.

I had to refrain from eating the pimento cheese with my hands as I was making it. The combination makes for the perfect topping on this fried chicken sandwich. I pair it with thinly sliced heirloom tomato, tender butter lettuce and a brioche bun.

Pimento Cheese Fried Chicken Sandwich

What is pimento cheese?

There’s a reason it’s referred to as “the caviar of the South”! Pimento cheese isn’t actually a type of cheese – it’s a cheese spread. It’s made with a combination of pimento peppers, I also stir in some green onion for a bit more flavor. Cheddar cheese, mayonnaise and cream cheese. I gently fold the cheese into the mixture. As a result, it is still chunky and the cheese is visible rather than puréed. The pimento cheese can be made up to two days in advance. Store, covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.

What’s in pimento cheese?

  • pimento peppers
  • cheddar cheese
  • mayonnaise
  • cream cheese

pimento cheddar cheese ingredient shot

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

  • Pimento peppers – The key ingredient in making pimento cheese spread is pimento peppers. The small, red, heart shape peppers are very mild and sweet in flavor. They can typically be found jarred or canned in most grocery stores. While commonly used in pimento cheese recipes or cheese balls, they are also used to stuff olives.
  • Seasonings – The flour used to dredge the chicken is seasoned with salt, pepper, cayenne and paprika. This combination adds just a bit of spice.
  • Buttermilk – The typical American buttermilk is low-fat. It also has a rich, tangy flavor and a texture more similar to sour cream or yogurt than cream or milk. This makes it ideal for brining or dipping chicken thighs for tender, golden brown fried chicken. 
  • Chicken – I use boneless, skinless chicken thighs in this recipe. Chicken thighs are both a cheaper cut as well as extremely flavorful. When they are fried the remain incredibly tender. If swapping in chicken breasts I would recommend slicing them thinner so they cook more quickly and don’t dry out.

Pimento Cheese Fried Chicken Sandwich recipe from Cooking with Cocktail Rings

How to Make This Pimento Cheese Fried Chicken Sandwich

  1. Heat the oil for the chicken. Fill a large cast iron pan with vegetable oil so it reaches 2-inches up the pan. Heat the oil to 350°F.
  2. Make the dredge. First, in a medium shallow bowl, combine the flour, salt, paprika, pepper and cayenne. Second, whisk the buttermilk, egg and hot sauce together in a medium bowl. Working one piece at a time, dip chicken in the buttermilk mixture then dredge in the flour.
  3. Fry the chicken. Shake off any excess flour and fry in the oil, flipping once, until the chicken is golden brown on all sides and cooked through. Remove the chicken and allow to drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
  4. Make the pimento cheese. In a medium mixing bowl stir together the cream cheese, mayonnaise and Worcestershire until completely combined. Fold in the cheese, pimentos and green onion until evenly distributed.
  5. Assemble sandwiches and serve. Spread 2 tablespoons of the pimento cheese mixture on the bottom half of each of the buns and top with a piece of the fried chicken, bacon, tomato and lettuce. Close the sandwich and repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Troubleshooting Fried Chicken

  • The chicken is too dark on the outside but raw inside. Your oil is too hot! Check the temperature of your oil with a thermometer. If you don’t have a thermometer then add the end of a wooden stick into the oil. If small bubbles form around the wood then the oil is ready to fry. However, if it is bubbling hard then the oil is too hot. The crust of the chicken will fry too fast and the inside won’t cook through. This can also happen if you cook the chicken directly from the fridge. The meat is too cold still and won’t cook evenly. 
  • The chicken is oily and takes forever to cook. Your oil is too cold. Take breaks in between batches so the oil can come back to the desired frying temperature. Every time food is added to hot oil the temperature decreases drastically. Allowing time for it to heat back up again results in an even fry among batches. This could also happen if you are overcrowding the pan when you cook.

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this recipe, give these a try:

Pimento Cheese Fried Chicken Sandwich

Print Pin
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Serves 2 sandwiches

Ingredients:

For the fried chicken:

  • Vegetable oil, as needed, for frying
  • cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco hot sauce
  • 4 large boneless skinless chicken thighs, about 1 pound

For the pimento cheese:

  • ¼ cup cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 3 tablespoons chopped jarred pimento peppers
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced green onion

For serving:

  • 4 brioche buns, split in half, toasted
  • 1 heirloom tomato, thinly sliced
  • 4 butter lettuce leaves
  • 8 strips cooked bacon, halved

Instructions:

For the fried chicken:

  • Fill a large cast iron pan with vegetable oil so it reaches 2-inches up the pan. Heat the oil to 350°F.
  • In a medium shallow bowl, combine the flour, salt, paprika, pepper and cayenne. Whisk the buttermilk, egg and hot sauce together in a medium bowl. One piece at a time, dip chicken in the buttermilk mixture then dredge in the flour.
  • Shake off any excess flour and fry in the oil, flipping once, until the chicken is golden brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Remove the chicken and allow to drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

For the pimento cheese:

  • In a medium mixing bowl stir together the cream cheese, mayonnaise and Worcestershire until completely combined. Fold in the cheese, pimentos and green onion until evenly distributed.

For serving:

  • Spread 2 tablespoons of the pimento cheese mixture on the bottom half of each of the buns and top with a piece of the fried chicken, bacon, tomato and lettuce. Close the sandwich and repeat with the remaining ingredients.

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