15 Recipes to Celebrate the Kentucky Derby

Join in the excitement of the Kentucky Derby and serve an array of Southern dishes everyone will love.

Three recipes for the Kentucky Derby set side by side.

I don’t need many reasons to sip a mint julep, but if I did, the Kentucky Derby would be it. The Run of the Horses is the perfect time to gather a few friends and family in the backyard and enjoy an evening of fancy hats and lightning fast thoroughbreds. 

Celebrate the Kentucky Derby with classic cocktails, bourbon-based mains and classic Southern desserts to make the most of the occasion.

  • Kentucky Hot Brown

    Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwich
    Vivian Jao

    Grab a fork and dig in to this classic open-faced sandwich consisting of sliced turkey, bacon, and tomatoes and topped with a decadent cheese sauce. This recipe makes two servings and is easy to double or triple.

  • Mint Julep

    Two Mint Julep Cocktails

    Sam Schick

    The iconic drink of the Kentucky Derby, a Mint Julep is a refreshing mix of bourbon, sugar, and fresh mint.

  • Old Fashioned Cocktail

    Old fashioned cocktail made with bourbon or rye whiskey
    Alison Bickel

    If you’re a bourbon fan, then few drinks taste better than an Old Fashioned. Fill a rocks glass with ice and add Kentucky bourbon, simple syrup, bitters, and top with a cherry or orange rind.

  • Kentucky Burgoo

    A bowl of Kentucky burgoo
    Elise Bauer

    This beloved stew is Kentucky in a bowl. At one time made with various meats, it's now primarily beef and chicken in a rich broth spiked with a hearty dose of Worcestershire sauce. And don't forget the lima beans!

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  • Long Island Iced Tea

    Long Island Iced Tea
    Elise Bauer

    If you’re looking for a pitcher cocktail Long Island Iced Tea should do the trick! This drink packs a punch, serves a crowd, and is super easy to make. If you want to lighten the alcohol you can cut it with a non-alcoholic lemonade.

  • Pimento Cheese

    Pimento Cheese in a Bowl on Platter with Sliced Vegetables and Crackers

    Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

    Stuffed in celery sticks or served with crackers, either way your guests will love this Southern classic. Sharp cheddar cheese, cream cheese, mayo, and of course, pimentos, make the base of this party favorite. It can be made ahead of time and will keep in the refrigerator for a week. It’s also really good on a burger!

  • Slow Cooker Bourbon Short Ribs with Cheesy Grits

    Braised Short Ribs in the Slow Cooker
    Nick Evans

    The slow cooker makes easy work of this delicious recipe. The beef short ribs are seared before cooking for 6-8 hours and then served on top of creamy grits.

  • Classic Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

    Southern Biscuits with White Lily Flour - hands holding a plate of biscuits
    Alison Bickle

    Biscuits are a hit any time of day, why not serve them for the Derby! Use White Lily flour for the best results. Serve with a slice of ham or butter and jam.

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  • Spicy Fried Chicken

    How to Make Spicy Fried Chicken
    Aaron Hutcherson

    Everyone loves fried chicken! Marinate the chicken in buttermilk and spices overnight. Bread and pan fry in batches and keep in a low oven until time to serve. If you’d like a less traditional recipe, try Air Fryer Fried Chicken.

  • Mint Julep Ice Cream

    Mint Julep Ice Cream
    Elise Bauer

    Cap off the night with an ice cream as refreshing as the cocktail. Ice cream is the perfect make-ahead dessert. The day before, put the bowl of your ice cream maker in the freezer and then make the mint base. Refrigerate overnight and then process the next day. For a firmer ice cream, freeze for a couple hours before serving.

  • Pecan Pie Bars

    Easy Pecan Pie Bars
    Cindy Rahe

    Keep dessert simple by making the hand-held version of this classic Southern dessert. The recipe uses the food processor to both mix the shortbread crust and make the filling. Less dishes to clean is always a good idea.

  • Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

    A slice of bourbon-flavored chocolate pecan pie on a plate.
    Sally Vargas

    Pecan pie is satisfying, but its sweetness can be one-note. Add pecans, chocolate, and a splash of bourbon? Now we're talking.

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  • Kentucky Mule

    Moscow Mule Cocktail with mint sprigs and lime wedges.
    Sam Schick

    What's a Kentucky Mule? Why, nothing more than a Moscow Mule with bourbon swapped out for the vodka. This one is for those of you wanting a change of pace from Mint Juleps.

  • Radish Salad with Mint and Pistachios

    Radish Salad with Mint
    Elise Bauer

    This isn’t technically Southern or focused on bourbon but a few vegetables are usually a good idea. Plus, this salad will use up any extra mint leftover from the Mint Juleps. The radishes can marinate for a couple hours beforehand but hold off on putting the salad completely together until it’s time to serve.

  • Bourbon Maple Glazed Chicken Wings

    Bourbon Maple Glazed Chicken Wings
    Elise Bauer

    Chicken wings are the perfect party food. I love how easy they are to make and the minimal clean up required is an added plus. The bourbon glaze is made on the stovetop and then the baked wings are tossed to coat. For less messy eating, serve the glaze on the side for guests that want to keep their hands relatively clean.