More than just a legendary horse race, the Kentucky Derby, traditionally held on the first Saturday in May, has been the opening event for Kentucky's spring season for well over a hundred years. During the 10 days preceding the Derby, there are hot-air balloon races, steamboat races down the Ohio River, picnics, and parades—all wonderful reasons for parties and gatherings. Whether you're playing host to friends and family, or contributing to a potluck event, celebrate Derby Day with our collection of the best Kentucky Derby food recipes that make the most of the region's traditional flavors and ingredients.
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Classic Bourbon Mint Julep Cocktail
It wouldn't be much of a Derby celebration without frosty, cold mint juleps with Kentucky bourbon and fresh mint leaves. Simple syrup adds a shot of sweetness to this traditional springtime refreshment.
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Benedictine Dip or Spread
Kentucky benedictine spread was made popular over a century ago at Louisville's Benedict's restaurant and is still pleasing crowds. This simple cucumber, cream cheese, and onion dip can be used for canapés, dipping raw veggies, or as a sandwich spread.
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Buttermilk Fried Chicken
Crisp, tender fried chicken is the crown jewel of Southern cuisine. This essential, updated recipe uses a buttermilk marinade for moist and juicy chicken that cooks up evenly. The buttermilk imparts a tangy flavor that your family and friends will swoon over.
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The Hot Brown
Delicious open-faced turkey melt sandwiches with crispy bacon and fresh tomato slices, smothered in a spicy, Creole-flavored cheddar cheese sauce are a time-honored Kentucky tradition. Serve with fries or wilted greens on the side.Continue to 5 of 17 below.
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Classic Southern Fried Green Tomatoes
Southern fried green tomatoes are crispy on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside, making them a favorite party appetizer. Bright-tasting green tomatoes are fried to perfection in a spicy cornmeal coating. Breadcrumbs can be used instead of cornmeal.
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Southern Buttermilk Biscuits
Southern buttermilk biscuits are an excellent addition to your gathering. Make them in less than 25 minutes (or make ahead, freeze, and bake when needed) and serve with plenty of butter for spreading. They're a perfect side for saucy main dishes, too.
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Baked Ham With Sweet Bourbon-Mustard Glaze
You couldn't call it a Southern spread without a baked ham. This sweet and savory recipe flavors fully cooked ham with a fantastic glaze your guests will rave about, made with Kentucky bourbon, honey, molasses, orange juice, and Dijon mustard.
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Crock Pot Beer Cheese Dip
Kick off your Derby Day party with this warm, cheesy, slightly spicy beer dip. It makes a fantastic, traditional dipping sauce for french fries, breadsticks, tortilla chips, and even cocktail shrimp. You must use processed cheese loaf, rather than real deal cheddar cheese, to get the flavor and texture right.Continue to 9 of 17 below.
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Baked Cheese Grits
Cheese grits are a favorite side dish in Kentucky, as they are throughout the South. This classic recipe for baked cheese grits is as classic as they come. Top with lashings of Tabasco and a fat pad of butter.
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Southern Deviled Eggs
Southern deviled eggs are a popular finger food at buffets everywhere. This yummy recipe sneaks sweet pickle relish into eggs, along with mayonnaise, mustard, and optional Tabasco, for tangy, zippy flavor. Dress them up for serving with a sprinkle of paprika or some chopped pimiento.
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Creamy Bourbon Chicken With Mushrooms
Bourbon-basted chicken in a lush, creamy bourbon and mushroom sauce is about as down-home delicious as you can get. It tastes and looks impressive, and it's ready to enjoy in only 30 minutes. Serve it in bowls ladled over hot cooked rice, or with thick bread slices for sopping up the delicious sauce.
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Beaumont Inn Corn Pudding
Serve this Kentucky classic side dish with your Derby Day ham. It's a sweet and creamy corn casserole made with fresh or frozen corn, milk, eggs, and a few other pantry ingredients. Use a shallow casserole dish for this recipe to prevent overcooking.Continue to 13 of 17 below.
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Burgoo is a traditional, long-simmered Kentucky stew with a variety of meats and vegetables. Beef and chicken mingle in the pot, along with potatoes, onions, cabbage, tomatoes, carrots, corn, okra, butter beans, and bell pepper.
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Kentucky Derby Chocolate Walnut Pie
This insanely delicious recipe for bourbon chocolate walnut pie is closely inspired by the famous derby pie invented at the Melrose Inn in Prospect, Kentucky. It's been a grand tradition at the race for nearly 70 years.
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Kentucky Bread Pudding With Bourbon Sauce
This wonderful vanilla- and cinnamon-scented bread pudding has a luscious, warm bourbon sauce on top and is a favorite dessert at Kentucky's historic Beaumont Inn. It makes a winning contribution to any potluck or buffet party.
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Kentucky Butter Bundt Cake
This rich Kentucky butter cake is incredibly delicious. The butter soaks into the cake, forming an amazingly moist and buttery layer. It really doesn't need icing, but you can sift some powdered sugar over the top after you unmold it for a nice presentation.Continue to 17 of 17 below.
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The Woodford Reserve Belmont Jewel Cocktail
Enjoy this smooth cocktail that is an official beverage of the Belmont Stakes, the third leg of horse racing's Triple Crown. Spicy, full-bodied Woodford Reserve Bourbon Whiskey is blended with lemonade and pomegranate juice for a fruity, refreshing flavor.