Break Out the Pewter and Stir Up Some Juleps: The Derby Is Here!

caramelchocolatewalnut thumbprint cookies
34 Best Classic Kentucky Derby Day RecipesBrian Woodcock

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Spring is when everyone in the country becomes a fan of horse racing. Every year since 1946, the (arguably) greatest horse race is held the first Saturday of May.

This year (2024), it'll be on May 4. And it's a perfect time to dress up, invite all your favorite people over, make a whole bunch of classic Kentucky Derby Recipes, and celebrate before, during, and after the race! That means mint juleps, of course, but there's a whole lot more to Derby food than just the drink. From pimento cheese to pecan pie, fried chicken to pimento deviled eggs, there's a whole lot you can do with Derby food! Pick a few favorite recipes below, and enjoy yourself!

Making mint juleps at home? You might want to pick up a good pebble-ice maker! Here are our 6 favorites to choose from. They're useful for so much more than just Juleps.

Read More About Kenty Derby Parties:

Classic Mint Julep

Don't be fooled by the fancy glass—the signature drink of the Kentucky Derby is very good, but it's definitely not difficult to make.

Get the recipe for Classic Mint Juleps.

classic mint julep
Kerri Schreiber

Benedictine Spread

Invented by Louisville caterer and tea room-owner Jennie Carter Benedict, this cream cheese-cucumber dip is a century-old Kentucky classic.

Get the recipe for Benedictine Spread.

benedictine spread
Brian Woodcock

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork with Cabbage Slaw

Barbecue is the star of any Southern party, and the Derby is no exception! To make it extra easy, let your slow cooker turn that pork shoulder into meltingly tender sandwich filling, then sauce it accordingly.

Get the recipe for Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork.

slow cooker bbq pulled pork with cabbage slaw
Ian Palmer

Pecan-Brownie Pie

The Derby is a good time for all things pecan. This brownie pie is over-the-top delicious!

Get the recipe for Pecan-Brownie Pie.

thanksgiving potluck ideas pecan brownie pie
Hector M. Sanchez

Salty Peanut Banana Pudding

You can't go wrong with banana pudding, made with Nilla wafers. We like to toss in a heap of salty peanuts to make the whole thing even tastier.

Get the recipe for Salty Peanut Banana Pudding.

salty peanut banana pudding
Brian Woodcock - Hearst Owned

Buttermilk Biscuits

Classic biscuits are the all-purpose tool of any Southern party. They're great by themselves, but also pair with just about anything. Serve 'em warm and they're sure to go quickly.

Get the recipe for Buttermilk Biscuits.

buttermilk biscuits
Christopher Testani

Oysters Rockefeller

A prime party food that's always welcome, oysters Rockefeller are surprisingly easy to make at home! Serve them on the salt bed they were cooked in, for an elegant, but unfussy hors d'oeuvre.

Get the recipe for Oysters Rockefeller.

a table with oysters rockefeller
Becky Luigart-Stayner

Caramel-Chocolate-Walnut Thumbprint Cookies

This cookie-sized take on a Kentucky pie features homemade caramel, melted chocolate, and toasted walnuts.

Get the recipe for Thumbprint Cookies.

caramelchocolatewalnut thumbprint cookies
Brian Woodcock

Pimento-Cheese Tea Sandwiches

This classic "caviar of the South" party food is welcome at any party!

Get the recipe for Pimento-Cheese Tea Sandwiches.

pimentocheese tea sandwiches
Ellen Silverman

Bourbon-Pecan Pie

This take on the famous Derby pie swaps out walnuts for the sweeter pecans.

Get the recipe for Bourbon-Pecan Pie.

bourbon pecan pie
Brian Woodcock

Jalapeño-Spiked Bourbon Julep

Looking to spice things up? Chef Edward Lee of Louisville has just the thing: a jalapeño-spiked simple syrup that takes the julep to a whole different level!

Get the recipe for Jalapeño-Spiked Bourbon Julep.

jalapeño spiked bourbon julep
Grant Cornett

Classic Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Of course, you won't last long on nothing but juleps and pie. This classic buttermilk fried chicken is ideal party food, whether you're eating it piping hot, or cold, picnic-style.

Get the recipe for Buttermilk Fried Chicken.

classic buttermilk fried chicken
Brian Woodcock

Bourbon Derby Punch

Want to make all your cocktails at once? Get a punch bowl and stir up this Derby cocktail. Guests can help themselves, and you can spend less time with a shaker and more time mingling.

Get the recipe for Bourbon Derby Punch.

bourbon derby punch
Brian Woodcock

Pimento Cheese Deviled Eggs

The classic "caviar of the South" makes a perfect filling for deviled eggs.

Get the recipe for Pimento Cheese Deviled Eggs.

pimiento cheese deviled eggs
Becky Luigart-Stayner

Ham Biscuit Sandwiches with Apricot Mustard

Classic country ham biscuits are Southern food with a long history at the Derby.

Get the recipe for Ham Biscuit Sandwiches with Apricot Mustard.

ham biscuit sandwiches with apricot mustard
Brian Woodcock

BBQ Pulled Pork and Biscuits

Who can say no to BBQ? Slather these pulled pork sliders in your favorite sauce.

Get the recipe for BBQ Pulled Pork and Biscuits.

bbq pulled pork and biscuits
Anson Smart

Biscuit Sandwiches with Sweet Heat Hot Chicken

Inspired by Nashville's famous hot chicken sandwiches, this spicy version is never out of place at a party.

Get the recipe for Biscuit Sandwiches with Sweet Heat Hot Chicken.

biscuit sandwiches with sweet heat hot chicken
Brian Woodcock

Louisville Hot Brown

First served at the Brown Hotel, in Louisville, Kentucky, in the 1930s, this classic open-faced sandwich is a must-have.

Get the recipe for Louisville Hot Brown.

louisville hot brown
bhofack2 - Getty Images

Jalapeño-Green Chile Spoonbread

An iconic Kentucky food, spoonbread is never out of place at an event.

Get the recipe for Spoonbread.

jalapeño green chile spoonbread
Johnny Miller

Shrimp Bisque with Bourbon

Come Derby-time, the best way to celebrate is with plenty of good Kentucky bourbon. This elegant soup uses it to flavorful effect.

Get the recipe for Shrimp Bisque with Bourbon.

shrimp bisque with bourbon
Steven Randazzo

Hibiscus-Mint Lemonade

Want to skip the alcohol but still sip an elegant drink? This springy mint lemonade is the ultimate julep alternative!

Get the recipe for Hibiscus-Mint Lemonade.

hibiscus mint lemonade
Brian Woodcock

Cheese Grits and Corn Pudding

Cheese grits are a Southern classic. Try making them in individual portions for the perfect party-time snack.

Get the recipe for Cheese Grits and Corn Pudding.

cheese grits and corn pudding
Anna Williams

Kentucky Derby Pie Milkshake

Your guests will love this decadent milkshake, made with chocolate ice cream, butter pecan ice cream, and bourbon. Don't forget to top it with pecan pieces and whipped cream!

Get the recipe for Kentucky Derby Pie Milkshake at Camille Styles.

kentucky derby pie milkshake
Courtesy of Camille Styles

Mini Chocolate Pecan Cakes with Vanilla Bourbon Smash Ice Cream

These mini cakes combine butterscotch, pecan praline, and chocolate. Serve in a mini Mason jar topped with ice cream for bonus points!

Get the recipe for Mini Chocolate Pecan Cakes at Half Baked Harvest.

mini chocolate pecan cakes with vanilla bourbon smash ice cream
Courtesy of Half Baked Harvest

Kentucky Derby Pie Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Chocolate-pecan pie gets the bar treatment for an easy-to-serve party dessert.

Get the recipe for Kentucky Derby Pie Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars at Half Baked Harvest.

kentucky derby pie chocolate chip cookie bars
Courtesy of Half Baked Harvest

Mint Julep Cake

Bake the classic flavors of a mint julep into a cake for a deliciously festive twist.

Get the recipe for Mint Julep Cake at One Perfect Bite.

mint julep cake
Courtesy One Perfect Bite

Benedictine Tea Sandwiches

Make the classic Louisville spread slightly more gourmet by making bite-size tea sandwiches.

Get the recipe for Benedictine Tea Sandwiches at Gourmandistan.

benedictine tea sandwiches
Courtesy of Gourmandistan

These bite-sized, peachy treats are even more adorable with mini bow ties.

Get the recipe for Bourbon Peach Pie Pops at Hostess with the Mostess.

bourbon peach pie pops
Courtesy of Hostess with the Mostess

Brown Sugar and Brown Butter Pecans

Toss pecans with butter and brown sugar, then toast them and sprinkle with sea salt for a tasty bar snack.

Get the recipe for Brown Sugar and Brown Butter Pecans at Taste Savor Share.

brown sugar and brown butter pecans
Courtesy of Taste Savor Share.

Bourbon Meatballs

These mini meatballs are slathered in a bourbon sauce for extra punch.

Get the recipe for Bourbon Meatballs at The View From Great Island.

bourbon meatballs
Courtesy of The View From Great Island

Derby Cupcakes

Capture the flavors of Derby Pie in cupcake form by adding chopped pecans, chocolate chips, and crumbled pie crust on top.

Get the recipe for Derby Cupcakes at Polka Dot Chair.

derby cupcakes
Courtesy of Polka Dot Chair

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