Kentucky Derby Chocolate Walnut Pie

Kentucky Derby chocolate walnut pie slice on a plate

The Spruce Eats

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 45 mins
Total: 55 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Yield: 1 pie
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
677 Calories
42g Fat
72g Carbs
8g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 677
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 42g 54%
Saturated Fat 17g 85%
Cholesterol 77mg 26%
Sodium 309mg 13%
Total Carbohydrate 72g 26%
Dietary Fiber 4g 15%
Total Sugars 42g
Protein 8g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 43mg 3%
Iron 3mg 16%
Potassium 240mg 5%
*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.)

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 for the women, a reference to the era in which it originated; mint juleps; betting; the song "My Old Kentucky Home;" a blanket of roses for the winning horse (which gave the race its alternate name), and celebrities. Perhaps one of the most beloved traditions is its bourbon chocolate walnut pie.

George Kern made up the recipe for the pie when he was the manager of the Melrose Inn in Prospect, Kentucky, with the help of his parents, and it 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.

Bourbon chocolate walnut pie is similar to another iconic Southern dessert, pecan pie, but with walnuts, chocolate, and an extra kick from Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey. It's also not too dissimilar from chocolate pecan pie. Serve it while you're watching what's known as "the most exciting two minutes in sports."

As for the pie? This gets close, and although that doesn't count in horse races, it more than suffices for this version of the esteemed sweet Kentucky pie. It comes together quickly, thanks to the prepared pie crust. Make sure your butter is cool before you combine it with other ingredients—otherwise it may curdle the eggs and melt the chocolate.

"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 gathered for Kentucky derby chocolate walnut pie

    The Spruce Eats

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

    Flour and sugar whisked together in a mixing bowl

    The Spruce Eats

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

    Eggs and melted butter whisked together in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats

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

    Bourbon, walnuts, chocolate chips, vanilla, and salt added to egg and butter in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats

  5. Pour the mixture into the unbaked pie crust.

    Unbaked Kentucky Derby chocolate walnut pie batter in a pie crust

    The Spruce Eats

  6. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the filling is set.

    Baked Kentucky Derby chocolate walnut pie

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  7. Set the pie on a wire rack and let cool before slicing. Serve and enjoy.

    Fully baked Kentucky Derby chocolate walnut pie with two slices removed

    The Spruce Eats


  • Serve in all its bare glory 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.
  • Add a tablespoon of bourbon to your sweetened whipped cream.
  • Vanilla ice cream on top is always 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.
  • 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.
  • For a Kentucky Derby Day celebration, serve the pie along with refreshing mint juleps.

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.

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. 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.