The Nostalgic Cheese Bobby Flay Likes To Add To His Memorial Day Burgers

Nothing beats that first juicy, beefy bite of a homemade all-American cheeseburger fresh from the grill. The cheese is, of course, a key component, adding a glorious gooey consistency as well as rich flavor. And while slices of the usual American cheese or white cheddar do the job admirably, Bobby Flay has a top tip if you want to spice things up at a Memorial Day barbecue: Try adding pimento cheese to your burger.

It's no surprise that the chef and TV presenter loves an injection of heat in his meat dishes. Gochujang paste is the spicy ingredient Bobby Flay uses to glaze steak, for example, and he's also a fan of poblano green chiles as a burger topping. But good old pimento cheese is a great way to get a bit of a kick, as well as some contrasting creaminess, into the cheese itself.

While it's available as a store-bought spread in a tub, it's very simple to make your own version of the Southern favorite. Pimento cheese is made of regular ingredients you probably already have in your fridge and pantry. This means you can also customize the familiar nostalgic taste with add-ins to suit the type of burgers you're cooking as well as your personal taste — whether you want to level up the fiery flavor or incorporate a touch more tanginess.

Bobby Flay tops burgers with flavorful pimento cheese

Bobby Flay makes a vibrantly colored pimento cheese by mixing a base of grated sharp cheddar with flavorful ingredients such as chopped roasted red pepper, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper. Stirring through some cool creamy mayonnaise  — from a homemade recipe or store-bought — adds extra richness and tones down the spice a touch, as well as helping to bind it all together.

If you want to make it even creamier, try adding cream cheese in addition to the cheddar and mayo, and be sure to finely dice the peppers (ideally the sweet, mild pimento variety) for a traditional texture. To make pimento cheese spicier, try adding hot sauce, jalapeños, or diced hot green chiles. Or to increase the sharper notes, add chopped pickles as well as their juice. Minced garlic or onion will ramp up the savory flavors further.

As with any cheese on a burger, it's vital that it's properly melted for the most delicious results, and pimento is no exception. When he's cooking them in a skillet, Bobby Flay perfectly melts the cheese on his burgers by using water to create steam. But if you're barbecuing burgers on the grill, you can use the lid to cover the cheese-topped patties for 30 seconds to help it become gorgeously oozy.

Pimento cheese can be used in a variety of ways

Once you've made a batch of tasty pimento cheese, there are so many ways to use it beyond topping nostalgic Memorial Day burgers, spread on crackers, or as a sandwich filling like in a pimento cheese Master's sandwich. The dip is incredibly versatile, and it will keep in a covered airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week, ready to use in all sorts of everyday recipes.

It's perfect for appetizers, such as crostini topped with pimento cheese and pieces of salty, crispy bacon. Mash it into the egg yolks for a tasty take on deviled eggs, or use it to stuff jalapeño poppers wrapped in prosciutto ham or bacon. It works just as well in sides, too. Try it folded into a dish of creamy grits, another way Bobby Flay enjoys it. Or stir it through fluffy mashed potatoes, or in vegetable dishes such as creamed spinach, for a boost of flavor and texture. For a vibrantly hued barbecue side with a little crunch, mix it into a potato salad or pasta salad.

To incorporate pimento cheese into a main course, try spreading the rich dip under the skin of a chicken before it's roasted for a boost of warm, creamy flavors and appetizing color. Or use it stirred into bechamel sauce as the base for a tangy, spicy, yet creamy mac and cheese.