Kentucky Derby Recipes


The Kentucky Derby is all about tradition, and traditional foods are no exception. Here are some classic Kentucky Derby recipes to help you celebrate just like they do in Louisville!

Main Dishes

Hot Browns

The Hot Brown was created at the Brown Hotel in Louisville in the early 1900’s by Chef Fred Schmidt. It is still served year-round in many restaurants in Kentucky. There are a number of different versions today of this open faced sandwich. Here is one yummy hot brown recipe:

For each Hot Brown

3 oz Turkey breast; roasted and sliced

1 slice toasted white bread

2 slices tomato

2 slices bacon, cooked and drained


2 oz butter

3 oz flour

3/4 cup cream

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup Swiss cheese, grated

Salt and white pepper to taste

Heat butter and add flour. Whisk and slowly cook for 5 minutes. Whisk in cream and milk and heat. Whisk in cheese until melted. Season. Simmer for 30 minutes. Sauce should be very thick.

Quarter toast and place in an oven safe dish. Top with turkey and tomatoes. Cover well with sauce. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Garnish with bacon.


The traditional Kentucky Derby recipes for burgoo called for wild game and a variety of vegetables to be cooked in an iron kettle over an open flame. Today the Derby burgoo recipe is loaded with lamb and pork. Here is a recipe we like, but feel free to make any substitutions that suit your tastebuds!

1 lb. of mixed, cooked meats (beef, lamb, pork, chicken and/or game)

1/2 gallon chicken stock

1/2 gallon beef stock

1 oz. Worcestershire sauce

1 cup tomatoes, diced

1 large onion, diced

1 stalk of celery, diced

1 small green bell pepper, diced

1 large potato, diced

2 large carrots, diced

1/4 cup green peas

1/2 cup okra

1/4 cup lima beans

1/2 cup yellow corn

2 tsp. garlic, minced

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for two hours, skimming off the top as needed.


Benedictine was named for its place of creation, Benedict’s Restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky. This green tinted cucumber spread is often served on white bread for finger sandwiches, or as a dip for vegetables. It is one of the most beloved of Kentucky Derby recipes.


• 1 large cucumber

• 8 ounces cream cheese, softened

• 2 tablespoons grated onion

• 1/4 tsp salt

• 1 tablespoon mayonnaise

• A dash of green food coloring (optional)


Pare, grate, and drain cucumber. Combine with remaining ingredients in food processor.

Serve as is or as a sandwich or canape spread. Thin with sour cream to make a dip for vegetables.


Derby Pie

The recipe for Derby Pie originated over a half century ago as the specialty pastry of the Melrose Inn, at Prospect, Kentucky. It is also known as Thoroughbred Pie, but whatever the name, it sure is yummy!

Ingredients for Pie Crust:

• 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

• 1 tsp. sugar

• 1 cup butter, cut up

• 1/4 cup ice water, more or less

Ingredients for Filling:

• 1/2 cup butter, unsalted, melted

• 2 eggs

• 1 cup sugar

• 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

• 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

• 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

• 2 T. Kentucky Bourbon

Directions for Crust:

• Mix all except water in food processor until crumbly.

• Slowly add ice water until mixture just holds together.

• Wrap in a flat circle in plastic wrap and chill overnight.

• Form into pie pan.

Directions for Filling:

• Beat eggs with cooled butter.

• Add flour and sugar.

• Beat until mixed well.

• Gently fold in pecans, chocolate & bourbon.

• Add mixture to pie shell.

• Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until set.

• Serve with fresh whipped cream.

Bourbon Balls

Bourbon and Kentucky Derby recipes seem to go hand in hand, and when put into these sweet treats, this traditional Kentucky liquor makes everything just that much tastier. (Did we mention that these are no-cook cooking? Even better!)


1 stick butter

1 lb. box powdered sugar

1 cup chopped pecans

4 Tbsp. bourbon

4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate

4 oz. bittersweet chocolate

May require more chocolate for dipping. Suggest you have some semi-sweet chocolate chips on hand.

One day ahead: Cream the butter and sugar. Add the chopped pecans, mixing well. Add the Bourbon. Shape into balls using about 1 tsp. of the mixture for each ball. (You may need to let the batter sit in the fridge for an hour or two before you can easily roll it into balls.) Refrigerate overnight.

Next day: Melt semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolate in a large microwave safe bowl until smooth. Dip the chilled balls in the chocolate and place on waxed paper in the refrigerator to harden.


Mint Juleps

A list of Kentucky Derby recipes wouldn’t be complete without a mint julep recipe. This one is adapted from Southern Living.


1/2 cup sugar

1 cup water (prefer distilled or bottled)

use only the leaves from 8 fresh mint sprigs finely chopped (no stems)

1 quart bourbon (prefer Jim Beam)

fresh mint sprigs for garnish

Combine water, sugar, chopped mint leaves and bourbon in a glass container, stir until sugar dissolves. Cover and let stand 4 -6 hours.

Strain mixture into a large pitcher, discarding chopped mint. To serve, fill glasses with cracked ice; add bourbon mixture, and garnish with mint sprigs. If you can get tradtional silver julep cups, these make an outstanding presentation, but this drink is equally delicious in any festive glass!

The Royal Stretch

Looking for another option on Derby day? Try this refreshing cocktail idea:


• 1 1/2 oz. Crown Royal

• 3 oz. sparkling water or club soda

• Splash of cherry juice or grenadine

Serve over ice in a collins glass with mint leaf garnish.

Try including some of these Kentucky Derby recipes for a race day party sure to be a winner!

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