Food & Drink

Pimento Cheese’s Kentucky Cousin

Try this simple recipe for Benedictine spread, a Louisville favorite

Photo: Margaret Houston

In a state best known to the rest of the country for its bourbon and fried chicken, Louisville’s Benedictine spread is an under-the-radar local favorite.

Made from cream cheese, cucumber, and onion—and colored, traditionally, with a dash or two of green food coloring—Benedictine was the invention of Jennie C. Benedict, a popular caterer and restaurateur in Louisville around the turn of the twentieth century. She developed it as a filling for one-ingredient tea sandwiches, but it has since evolved into an all-purpose dip that tops chips and crackers and comes spread on sandwiches with extras like mayonnaise, bacon, lettuce, and alfalfa sprouts.

Though you will see plenty of Benedictine at Derby-season get-togethers, when the flavors of Louisville get their moment in the national spotlight, its pastel-green color and creamy, vegetal flavor make it perfectly suited to an Easter-weekend lunch.

Emma Lou’s Café, a combination sandwich shop and vintage boutique in Louisville’s Highlands neighborhood, serves a popular Benedictine sandwich. To recreate it, follow this simple recipe from proprietor Emily Williams and layer the spread with generous amounts of lettuce and bacon.


    • 1 1/2 cucumbers

    • 1/2 small white onion

    • 1 1/2 tsp. salt

    • 1/2 tsp. white pepper

    • 24 oz. (3 cups) cream cheese, softened to room temperature


  1. Peel and slice the cucumbers lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and discard. Cut into large pieces.

  2. In a food processor, puree the cucumber and onion together. Squeeze out excess liquid with a cheesecloth or by pressing the mixture through a fine sieve with a spatula.

  3. Combine cucumber and onion with other ingredients, either by hand or using the paddle attachment on an electric mixer. Keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.