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.


  • 2 cups sharp Cheddar cheese at room temperature, grated
  • 2 canned peeled green chilies, chopped
  • 1/2 canned pimiento, chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons brandy, sherry, or bourbon
  • 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce (or to taste)
  • Salt to taste
  • Cream or whole milk (optional)


Mix all ingredients (except the cream or milk) in the bowl of an electric mixer or food processor, or mash with a fork, until it has a good spreading texture. If it is still too stiff, add cream or milk, a few teaspoons at a time, until it has the right consistency.

Serve the spread in a crock, or form it into a large ball or log and roll in chopped toasted nuts or chopped parsley or chives. Serve with crackers, Melba toast, or sliced French bread and provide a knife to spread it with.


3 cups