18 Delicious Kentucky Derby Food Ideas

Creamy Bourbon Chicken With Mushrooms

Diana Rattray

 

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 ten 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.

  • 01 of 18

    Kentucky Mint Julep

    Mint Julep in Derby Glasses
    Diana Rattray

    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.

  • 02 of 18

    Benedictine Dip or Spread

    Benedictine
    Getty Images

    Kentucky benedictine spread was made popular over a century ago at 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.

  • 03 of 18

    The Hot Brown

    Kentucky Hot Brown
    Diana Rattray

    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.

  • 04 of 18

    Buttermilk Fried Chicken

    Buttermilk Fried Chicken

    The Spruce

     

    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, and has a tangy flavor your family and friends will swoon over.

    Continue to 5 of 18 below.
  • 05 of 18

    Fried Green Tomatoes with Bacon Dipping Sauce

    Fried Green Tomatoes with Bacon Dipping Sauce

    StephanieFrey/Getty Images

    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. The included bacon dipping sauce is pure heaven.

  • 06 of 18

    Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

    Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

    Diana Rattray

     

    Southern buttermilk biscuits make an excellent addition to your gathering. Make them in only 20 minutes, and serve with plenty of butter for spreading, or as a side for saucy main dishes.

  • 07 of 18

    Baked Ham with Sweet Bourbon-Mustard Glaze

    Baked Ham with Sweet Bourbon-Mustard Glaze

    Photolibrary/Georgia Glynn Smith/Getty Images

    You wouldn'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.

  • 08 of 18

    Crockpot Beer Cheese Dip

    Crockpot Beer Cheese Dip

    James Baigrie/Photodisc/Getty Images

    Kick off your Derby Day party with this warm, cheesy, slightly spicy beer dip that makes a fantastic, traditional dipping sauce for French fries, bread sticks, tortilla chips, and even cocktail shrimps. You must use processed cheese loaf, rather than real deal cheddar cheese, to get the flavor and texture right.

    Continue to 9 of 18 below.
  • 09 of 18

    Garlic Cheese Grits

    Garlic Cheese Grits
    Diana Rattray

    Cheese grits are a favorite side dish in Kentucky, as they are throughout the South. This classic recipe for baked cheese grits includes a little garlic powder, for an extra kick of flavor.

  • 10 of 18

    Southern Deviled Eggs

    Southern Deviled Eggs

    Diana Rattray

    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 a some chopped pimiento.

  • 11 of 18

    Creamy Bourbon Chicken With Mushrooms

    Creamy Bourbon Chicken With Mushrooms

    Diana Rattray

     

    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 cooks in only 30 minutes. Serve it in bowls ladled over hot cooked rice, or with thick bread slices for sopping up the delicious sauce.

  • 12 of 18

    Beaumont Inn Corn Pudding

    Beaumont Inn Corn Pudding

    Victoria Pearson/Photolibrary/Getty Images

     

    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 18 below.
  • 13 of 18

    Kentucky Burgoo

    Kentucky Burgoo

    Maryellen Baker/Getty Images

    Burgoo is an old time, 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.

  • 14 of 18

    Kentucky Derby Chocolate Walnut Pie

    Kentucky Derby Chocolate Walnut Pie

    The Spruce

    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, and a grand tradition at the race since the mid-1950s.

  • 15 of 18

    Kentucky Bread Pudding With Bourbon Sauce

    Kentucky Bread Pudding With Bourbon Sauce

    Diana Rattray

    This wonderful vanilla and cinnamon-scented bread pudding with a luscious, warm bourbon sauce on top is a favorite dessert at Kentucky's historic Beaumont Inn, and makes a winning contribution to any potluck or buffet party.

  • 16 of 18

    Easy Chocolate Bourbon Truffles

    Easy Bourbon Truffles
    Diana Rattray

    You won't believe how easy it is to make these decadent chocolate truffles with a fabulously boozy flavor from Kentucky bourbon. Whip up the candy mixture quickly on your stove top, and chill for a few hours in the fridge until set.

    Continue to 17 of 18 below.
  • 17 of 18

    3-Layer Kentucky Jam Cake

    Kentucky Jam Cake
    Diana Rattray

    This moist, fruity, delicious 3-layer jam cake is a local favorite in Kentucky. Seedless blackberry jam is mixed right into the cake batter, along with spices, nuts, and dried fruits. It's traditionally covered in cooked caramel frosting, but a rich cream cheese icing would be yummy, too.

  • 18 of 18

    The Woodford Reserve Belmont Jewel Cocktail

    The Woodford Reserve Belmont Jewel Cocktail

    The Spruce

     

    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.