Cheddar–Chile Spread

James Beard

Author and Educator

James Beard’s first bona fide job in the food business was in 1937 as part-owner of Hors d’Oeuvre, Inc., a catering shop that supplied delicious and sophisticated cocktail party food for the wildly popular New York cocktail party scene. By his count, there were at least 250 cocktail parties every afternoon on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, mostly serving “dried-up bits of ham and smoked salmon” and “ghastly potato-chip dip.” This tangy spread was one of Beard's favorite cocktail foods.


  • 1 pound grated sharp Cheddar cheese, at room temperature
  • One 4-ounce can chopped green chiles
  • One 2-ounce jar pimiento, chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons brandy, sherry, or bourbon
  • 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


In the bowl of a food processor or stand mixer, pulse or mix all ingredients (except the cream or milk) until it has a good spreading texture. For a creamier consistency, add cream or milk, a few teaspoons at a time, until it has the right consistency.

Serve the spread in a crock. Alternatively, form cheese it into a large ball and roll in chopped toasted nuts or chopped parsley or chives. Serve with crackers or sliced French bread and crudité.


Adapted from James Beard's original recipe. Recipe photo and food styling by Judy Kim.


3 cups