Cooking Techniques · Recipe Collections · The Vintage Kitchen

Sue Makes Pimiento Cheese Sandwiches

An illustration from the Twenties that shows two young girls, one blonde and one with short dark hair, standing by a table in front of a window. Between them sits a pile of cheese sandwiches, and they are wrapping them with a napkin.
In this illustration from When Sue Began to Cook, Sue and Ruth Ann wrap their sandwiches to keep them from drying out.

For some reason, Pimiento Cheese Sandwiches were a picnic staple for families from the 1920s through the 1960s. I’ve seen many recipes for these sandwiches, but none that only used cream cheese and roasted red peppers (pimientos). that is, until now. Today Sue makes Pimiento Cheese Sandwiches along with her friend Ruth Ann. Sue and Ruth Ann are cooking their way to kitchen prowess in When Sue Began to Cook.

When Sue Began to Cook was a Twenties cookbook for kids by Louise Bennett Weaver. This is Lesson 33 in Sue’s year of 52 cooking lessons. If you’re just joining us, click the linked book title above to visit the first lesson and start at the beginning of the story (and recipes).

Sandwiches were easy and popular fare in the Twenties. Grab some white bread (or nut bread for tea sandwiches.) Spread the bread with anything handy plus a little butter and you have a feasible sandwich. Chopped nuts, celery, onion, cheese, and even little bits of roasted red peppers made their way into the Twenties sandwich.

This recipe calls for Creamy Salad Dressing, which Sue learned to make in Lesson 26. Click the link to see that recipe.

Sue and Ruth Ann make a dozen sandwiches, each of them working with twelve slices of bread. Although the recipe below calls for softened butter, Sue and Ruth Ann use butter right out of the icebox. Here’s how she explains it…

Sue’s Notes from Pimiento Cheese Sandwiches

After the cheese mixture was ready, we each cut twelve slices of bread very thin, and arranged it in pairs that matched so they could be fitted together. We softened the butter by mashing it down with a spoon. Then we spread one piece of bread of each pair with butter and the other slice with our cheese mixture. We used a silver knife for the spreading. Mother said that was best.

As soon as all the bread had been spread, we pressed the sides together to make sandwiches. Then we piled three big sandwiches on top of each other and cut them all across in half with a sharp knife to make smaller three-cornered sandwiches. Then we cut the other three in half. Then we each had twelve sandwiches. [Actually, they each had twelve half sandwiches, cut diagonally.]

When all the sandwiches were made, Mother gave us each an old clean napkin and had us dip it in cold water and then wring it out as dry as we could. Then she had us wrap up our sandwiches with it and put them away till we were ready to use them. [This is to keep the sandwiches from drying out in an age before plastics.]

Picnic time!

“We’re going on a picnic in the car tonight,” Mother said. “Yes, you too, Ruth Ann. I’ve already asked your grandmother and she says you may.”

“Goody!” I said, that being my favorite expression. “Are you going to let us get the lunch ready now? Oh, Mother, let us do it all!”

“Not all, just the sandwich part,” said Mother, laughing as she always does when I act very enthusiastic. “I want to have th whole lesson on sandwiches. Just one kind. You see, not many people know how to make very good sandwiches, and I want you girls to learn a few simple rules about sandwich making and never forget them.”

Here are some of the rules:

  • 1. Always use bread that is at least a day old, but don’t cut it until you are ready to use it.
  • 2. Cut the bread as thin as you can, but be sure the slices are very even.
  • 3. Always soften the butter by creaming it, but don’t ever melt it on the stove.
  • 4. Wrap your sandwiches in a damp (not wet) cloth till you are ready to use them.

Pimiento Cheese Sandwiches

A recipe from When Sue Began to Cook, by Louise Bennett Weaver
Course: Luncheon, Picnic
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Bettina, Ruth Ann, Sue, Twenties recipes


  • 12 Slices white bread, cut thin
  • cup butter, soft
  • ½ cup cream cheese
  • 2 Tbsp pimientos, cut fine
  • 2 Tbsp Creamy Salad Dressing
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp paprika


  • First we put our cream cheese in a bowl and creamed it by pressing it with a spoon till it was very soft and creamy. We cut the pimientos very fine with the kitchen scissors, and put them in with the cheese. Then we added the salad dressing, salt and paprika, and stirred it all together until it was well mixed.
  • After the cheese mixture was ready we cut 12 slices of bread very thin, and arranged it in pairs that matched so they could be fitted together. Then we spread one piece of bread of each pair with butter and the other slice with the cheese mixture.
  • As soon as all the bread had been spread, we pressed the slices together to make sandwiches. Then we cut them in half to make 3-cornered sandwiches. (You are cutting the sandwich in half diagonally.)
Recipe Collections · The Vintage Kitchen

Sunday Sandwiches

Twenties recipes are known for their common, everyday ingredients. Most cooks created meals by the season. Unless it was canned from the home garden or available on a grocer’s shelf, all foods appeared within their season of freshness. You would not see asparagus, for instance, outside of spring meals. Even given all that, these Sunday sandwiches appeared a bit odd.

I found them within the pages of The American Needlewoman, an inexpensive magazine (some reports say subscriptions were 25¢ per year). These sandwiches are touted for Sunday evenings, after-theatre snacks, and hurried lunches. I’ll leave you to decide.

These recipes aren’t long enough to warrant their own recipe cards. They are ingredients assembled from the refrigerator and leftovers, placed on bread to form sandwiches.

An odd note

One strange thing about these sandwiches is that they seemed to be topped with a layer of mayonnaise or a slice of cheese. Normally we would put those things inside the sandwich itself. No notes describe whether these were supposed to be eaten by hand, or with utensils.

Creamed Egg Sandwich

You will need:

  • large baking powder biscuits, one per serving
  • butter
  • hard boiled eggs, one per serving, made earlier and chilled
  • white sauce (2 Tb butter, 2 Tb flour combined with 1 cup milk and 1/4 tsp salt to make a sauce)
  • bacon, cooked, probably in 1/2 or 1/3 slices

Split large baking powder biscuits. Brown the cut sides in butter. Spread one side with fresh butter.

Make your white sauce, “well seasoned.” In addition to the 1/4 tsp salt you might add the same amount of pepper. Slice the hard boiled eggs into the white sauce and warm them in the sauce. (If they are cold they will retain their shape better than if freshly boiled.)

Cover the bottom biscuit half with the warm creamed eggs. Set the top on, and cover generously with more of the sauce. Place two thin slices of bacon on top for added flavor.

Rye Sandwich

You will need:

  • rye bread, sliced thin
  • butter
  • cooked ham
  • onion slices
  • cooked bacon slices, 2-3 per sandwich
  • firm ripe tomato
  • mayonnaise
  • whole small dill pickle

Each sandwich requires 3 slices of thin rye. Spread all three sliced with butter.

Mince the ham and onion together. Spread that on the first slice.

Place enough slices of cooked bacon to cover the bread on the second slice. Two to three half slices should do it. Top the bacon with two slices of tomato, and spread mayonnaise over the tomato.

Top with the third slice of bread, butter side down. Slice almost all the way through the small dill, and lay it on top the sandwich as garnish, with the slices fanning out across the top of the bread.

Club Extraordinary

You will need:

  • three slices of toast per sandwich
  • sliced chicken
  • cooked bacon slices
  • sliced tomato
  • melted cheese, cheddar, American, or colby
  • canned lobster, 1 small can
  • mayonnaise

Spread a slice of toast with melted cheese.

Lay one slice of chicken, 2 slices bacon, and a tomato slice or two on the first slice. Cover with mayonnaise and another piece of toast.

On this second toast, spread with melted cheese again, and top with chopped canned lobster. Spread with a layer of mayonnaise, and top with the remaining slice of toast.

Combination Sandwich

You will need:

  • rye, wheat, and white bread slices, one of each per sandwich
  • chopped pickle, dill
  • cold sliced pork
  • minced ham
  • cheese slices, either cheddar, colby or American
  • butter

Take one slice of each kind of bread. Butter one side of all.

Spread one slice with chopped pickle, one with sliced pork, and one with minced ham. Put them together (presumably with the pickle and one of the meats facing. Or not.)

Top the sandwich with a slice of cheese.

Olive Sandwich

You will need:

  • two slices bread per sandwich
  • cold lamb
  • cold pork
  • olives
  • mayonnaise
  • butter

Make a filling by chopping together the lamb, pork, and olives. You might use 1 cup lamb, 1 cup pork, 1/2 cup olives, or a similar combination. Blend the chopped ingredients with mayonnaise until it holds together.

Spread the white bread with butter on one side. Top the bottom piece generally with the mixture.

Set the top slice on the sandwich, butter side down. Spread a layer of mayonnaise on top of the bread.

Final notes

See? These Sunday sandwiches are… unusual. They would be great for an off-beat picnic luncheon, with sandwiches safely packed in a cooler. These contain a lot of eggs and mayo. If you have the ingredients on hand, or can easily get ahold of them, they also might make an interesting after-holiday supper. After the turkey or ham is devoured and we’re all a wee bit hungry, bring out these sandwiches for a complete change of pace. Who knows? One of them might become a family favorite.

If you’re looking for something a bit more standard, but still unusual, this Tea Sandwiches article might be the thing.