Kentucky Derby Chocolate Walnut Pie

The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports Deserves Its Own Pie

Kentucky Derby Chocolate Walnut Pie

The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 45 mins
Total: 55 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Yield: 1 pie
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
769 Calories
52g Fat
74g Carbs
11g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 769
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 52g 66%
Saturated Fat 18g 90%
Cholesterol 77mg 26%
Sodium 309mg 13%
Total Carbohydrate 74g 27%
Dietary Fiber 5g 18%
Total Sugars 42g
Protein 11g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 58mg 4%
Iron 3mg 19%
Potassium 306mg 7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This bourbon-laced chocolate walnut pie is very similar to the original Kentucky Derby Pie. The original recipe does not include bourbon, but is a decadent walnut and chocolate studded sticky-sweet pie. This recipe gets an extra kick from Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey. And, thanks to the prepared pie crust, it comes together quickly.

Why Is It Called Kentucky Derby Pie?

The Kentucky Derby is the most legendary of all American thoroughbred horse races. It takes place every year at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky on the first Saturday in May. The Run for the Roses is the longest-running sporting event in the United States, dating to 1875, and immediately brings to mind traditions that have become indelibly linked to it: knockout hats, mint juleps, betting, the song "My Old Kentucky Home," and a a blanket of roses for the winning horse. Perhaps one of the most beloved traditions is its bourbon chocolate walnut pie.

George Kern made up the recipe for the Kentucky Derby pie when he was the manager of the Melrose Inn in Prospect, Kentucky, with the help of his parents, and it quickly became its specialty. The name "Derby Pie" has been trademarked by the Kern family, which is extremely vigilant about unauthorized use. Their recipe is a secret, but this one is similar to the Melrose Inn's famous version, which has been a tradition at the race since the mid-1950s.

Recipe Tips

  • For the filling make sure your butter is cool before you combine it with other ingredients—otherwise it may curdle the eggs and melt the chocolate.
  • If you prefer, you can make your own pie crust, just know that it will add time to the preparation of the pie.
  • For a crisper crust, blind bake the crust first before adding the filling.
  • When the pie is done, the edges will be set but the interior filling will still be just a little bit jiggly.

Recipe Variations

  • For a pecan pie version, swap out the walnuts with 1 cup of coarsely chopped pecans.
  • Bake the pie in a ready-made graham cracker crust instead of a pastry crust.

What Is The Difference Between Derby Pie and Pecan Pie?

Another iconic Southern dessert, pecan pie, is made with a buttery sweet filling that is loaded with pecans. Kentucky Derbie pie differs in that it uses walnuts and also includes chocolate chips.

"The Kentucky Derby Chocolate Walnut Pie was very easy to make, and baked to perfection in 45 minutes. I used a homemade crust. I also partially baked the crust to make sure the bottom wasn't soggy, and finished cooking along with the filling. The pie was great." —Diana Rattray

Kentucky Derby chocolate walnut pie slice on a white plate
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled

  • 2 tablespoons Kentucky bourbon

  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

  • 1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 pinch salt

  • 1 ready-made pie crust (for a 9-inch pie)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. Heat the oven to 350 F.

    Ingredients to make Kentucky Derby pie

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Combine the flour and sugar in a mixing bowl.

    A bowl of flour and sugar

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Add the eggs and melted and cooled butter, and mix to combine.

    A bowl of combined eggs, melted butter, flour, and sugar

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Stir in the bourbon, walnuts, chocolate chips, vanilla, and salt.

    Bourbon, walnuts, chocolate chips, vanilla, and salt added to the flour mixture

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Pour the mixture into the unbaked pie crust.

    Kentucky Derby pie batter poured into an unbaked pie shell

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the filling is set. Set the pie on a wire rack and let cool completely before slicing. Serve and enjoy.

    A baked Kentucky Derby pie on a cooling rack

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

How To Serve Derby Pie

  • Serve the pie as is if you are a purist about tradition. Or, top with a big spoonful of whipped cream or whipped cream glammed up with chocolate chips and walnuts for garnish if you like more embellishment with your dessert. You can also add a tablespoon of bourbon to your sweetened whipped cream.
  • Vanilla ice cream on top is also a good choice for any kind of pie, and the contrasting textures and flavors of chocolate walnut pie and smooth ice cream are especially delicious.
  • For a Kentucky Derby Day celebration, serve the pie along with refreshing mint juleps.

How to Store and Freeze Kentucky Derby Chocolate Walnut Pie

  • This pie will keep well, covered, at room temperature for 4 to 5 days.
  • To freeze the pie, wrap the whole pie or individual slices well in plastic wrap and foil and date. Freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw the pie in the refrigerator, at room temperature, in the microwave, or in a 350 F oven until heated through, 10 to 15 minutes.