8 Kentucky Derby-Inspired Recipes to Make on Race Day

It’s the fastest 2 minutes in sports and almost always lives up to the hype. The Kentucky Derby is a beloved tradition, held every year on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs.

The race may only last a couple minutes, but the festivities extend far beyond that. And just because you might not be making the trip to Louisville doesn’t mean you can’t still celebrate — you can host your own Derby-themed party! Aside from requiring your guests to wear wide-brimmed hats and bow ties, you’ll need to have plenty of fabulous fare at your party.

From a classic Mint Julep to Kentucky Burgoo, these eight recipes will ensure your get-together goes off without a hitch.

1. Mint Julep

A mint julep is the classic Kentucky Derby cocktail. | iStock.com

No Derby party should be without this simple and refreshing drink! Martha Stewart notes that Mint Juleps are one of the oldest American cocktails, originating in Virginia but popularized in Kentucky. Start by stirring sugar and water in a glass until the sugar dissolves, add mint, and muddle gently. Don’t worry if you don’t have a muddler — a wooden spoon works just as well. Fill the cup with crushed ice, add bourbon, and stir until the outside of the cup is frosted. Garnish with mint sprigs just before serving.

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 8 fresh mint leaves, plus sprigs for garnish
  • 1 cup crushed ice
  • 2⅔ ounces (⅓ cup) bourbon

Directions: Stir together sugar and water in a mint julep cup (or 8-ounce glass) until sugar dissolves. Add mint and muddle gently, using a muddler or a wooden spoon. Fill with crushed ice and add bourbon. Stir until outside of cup is frosted. Garnish with mint sprigs.

2. Yogurt Biscuits With Honey Butter

Biscuits are a good meal pairing. | iStock.com

Pure Wow lightens up biscuits without sacrificing any flavor. The heavy butter is eliminated and replaced with Greek yogurt, and the biscuits are subtly sweet due to honey butter, which is brushed on right before baking. Wonderfully soft on the inside and perfectly crisp on the outside, your Derby guests will quickly devour these beautifully baked biscuits. The recipe yields 6 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1¼ cups Greek yogurt
  • ⅓ cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ¼ cup honey

Directions: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt to combine. In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt with the buttermilk to combine.

Make a well in the center of the flour and add the yogurt mixture to it. Using a wooden spoon, mix to combine. The dough will be shaggy but fully moistened. Scoop the dough into 12 even balls and place them side by side, touching each other, in four rows of three.

In a small bowl, whisk the butter with the honey to combine. Brush half the mixture over the biscuits and reserve the rest. Bake the biscuits until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the biscuits from the oven and brush with the remaining honey butter. The biscuits are best served warm, but can be made up to a day ahead.

3. Benedictine Cheese Sandwiches

The sandwiches look as good as they taste. | iStock.com

Adapted from the cookbook Roadfood Sandwiches: Recipes and Lore from Our Favorite Shops Coast to Coast, PopSugar’s recipe creates teatime sandwiches that are filled with Benedictine cheese, a rich cucumber-and-scallion spread. Plus, green food coloring gives your sandwiches a pastel hue, ensuring they look as good as they taste.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cucumber, peeled, seeded, grated, and drained of moisture
  • 1 bunch scallions, white parts plus 2 inches of green parts, finely chopped
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 to 2 drops green food coloring
  • 8 slices white bread, crusts removed
  • 3 red leaf lettuce leaves

Directions: Peel the cucumber, slice it in half lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds with a spoon. Using a microplane grater, grate the cucumber into a colander and drain the moisture off. Transfer cucumber to a bowl. Finely chop the scallions and add them to bowl with the cucumber. In the bowl, combine the cream cheese, mayonnaise, and food coloring and mix thoroughly.

To make each sandwich, spread a thin but significant layer of the cheese spread onto each slice, spreading just almost to the edges of the bread. Place a single layer of lettuce atop one of the slices, then press the two pieces of bread together so that the lettuce is between the two layers of cheese. Cut diagonally into four triangles and serve.

4. Derby Cheese Hat

Hats are the quintessential Derby attire. | iStock.com

In Southern Living’s recipe, brie is topped with spreadable cheese and garnished with ribbon and a herb bouquet, creating a hat-shaped appetizer that is unbelievably easy to pull together. Your Derby guests will delight in this simple and delicious cheese dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (13.2-ounce, 5¼-inch) Brie round
  • 1 (5.2-ounce, 2¾-inch) round buttery garlic-and-herb spreadable cheese
  • Garnish: ribbon; herb bouquet of fresh lavender, fresh thyme sprigs, and fresh mint sprigs
Directions: Place Brie round on a serving platter. Top with spreadable cheese. Garnish with ribbon and herb bouquet.

5. Bacon Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs are a popular snack. | iStock.com

Bon Appétit’s recipe for Deviled Eggs will quickly become your favorite. Not only are they garnished with bacon, but bacon fat is also mixed into the egg yolks, ensuring the appetizer is rich and flavorful. It yields 24 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 12 large eggs
  • 3 slices bacon
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter (if needed)
  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 heaping tablespoon chopped scallions, plus more scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions: Place eggs in a large saucepan; add water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, cover, and remove from heat. Let sit for 10 minutes. Drain. Transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water and let cool completely, about 10 minutes; peel. Halve lengthwise and remove yolks. Coarsely chop bacon. Cook in a medium skillet over medium heat until browned and crisp. Transfer bacon to paper towels.

Strain drippings through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl. Add melted butter if needed to measure 2 tablespoons. Finely mash reserved yolks, bacon fat, mayonnaise, mustard, and chopped scallions in a medium bowl; season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Transfer to a large resealable freezer bag, then cut ½-inch off 1 corner. Pipe into whites; garnish with thinly sliced scallions and reserved bacon.

6. Easy Kentucky Burgoo

Classic burgoo is a favorite. | iStock.com

A Kentucky Derby favorite, burgoo is made even easier thanks to Mr. Food Test Kitchen’s recipe. Combine chicken, beef broth, and pepper in a soup pot, bringing to a boil. Reduce heat to low, let simmer for 1 hour, and add vegetable gumbo mix and tomato paste. Increase the heat to medium-high, returning to a boil for 25 to 30 minutes. If you can’t find gumbo mix, substitute with 3 cups frozen okra, 3 cups frozen corn, a small green bell pepper, and a small onion. It yields 6 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (3-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 pound beef top round, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 6 cups beef broth
  • ¼ teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 (16-ounce) packages frozen vegetable gumbo mix, thawed
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste

Directions: In a soup pot, combine chicken, beef broth, and pepper; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover loosely, and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add vegetable gumbo mix and tomato paste. Increase heat to medium-high and return to a boil. Let boil 25 to 30 minutes, or until thick, stirring occasionally.

7. Braised Brisket With Bourbon-Peach Glaze

You have to bring the bourbon. | Thinkstock

Beef is first seared on the stove top and then slowly cooked in the oven, creating tender meat that will melt in your mouth. A rub consisting of salt, pepper, paprika, and cinnamon adds piquant flavors, while a bourbon-peach glaze sweetens the dish. Delish’s recipe yields 12 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 whole flat brisket
  • 3 tablespoons grape seed oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 6 clove garlic
  • 2 large carrots
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 3 plum tomatoes
  • 2 bottle stout
  • 1½ cups bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup light-brown sugar
  • 8 cups beef stock
  • 1 handful thyme sprigs
  • 1 jar peach jam or preserves

Directions: In a small bowl, mix together salt, pepper, paprika, and cinnamon. Set aside. Cut brisket in half, top to bottom, against the grain. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and rub all over with reserved spice mixture. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, in a large shallow pot or Dutch oven over high heat, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Add onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon. Set aside.

Add remaining oil to pot and heat until nearly smoking. Add brisket, fat sides down, and cook, untouched, until nicely browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Using tongs, flip brisket. Return reserved onion mixture to pot, and add carrots, celery, tomatoes, stout, 1½ cups bourbon, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, stock, and thyme leaves. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Cover pot with a double layer of foil and transfer to oven. Cook about 4½ hours, until brisket is very tender but still holds its shape. Transfer brisket to a platter and tent with foil.

Strain braising liquid and discard the solids. Transfer ½ cup of the liquid to a small bowl and set aside; return the rest to the pot. Over high heat, cook liquid in pot for 15 minutes more to reduce it. Meanwhile, in a blender, combine peach jam, remaining bourbon, and reserved ½ cup braising liquid. Purée until smooth; season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Once brisket has cooled a bit, use a sharp paring knife to score the fat side of each half by making ¼-inch-deep slits in a crosshatch pattern. Preheat the broiler. Once the braising liquid has reduced, return the brisket to the pot, fat sides up. The meat should be submerged in the liquid, but the fat should be exposed; remove excess liquid as needed. Glaze the brisket with 3 to 4 tablespoons of the reserved peach mixture. Broil 4 to 5 minutes, until glaze is brown but not burned.

8. Heide’s Kentucky Derby Dessert

Pecans are a staple in Southern desserts. | Thinkstock

Often referred to as Derby pie, the indulgent dessert combines pecans with bourbon and chocolate. Pecans are first toasted and then folded into the pie’s filling, which consists of eggs, brown sugar, corn syrup, flour, butter, sugar, bourbon, vanilla, and chocolate chips. Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust, bake, and serve AllRecipes’ dessert while it’s still warm and gooey.

Ingredients:

  • 1¼ cups chopped pecans
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup light corn syrup
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup butter, melted and cooled
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 (9-inch) unbaked deep dish pie crust

Directions: Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread pecans over a cookie sheet. Bake pecans in preheated oven until toasted, about 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Check pecans after 30 minutes. Allow pecans to cool completely. Increase oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Whisk eggs, brown sugar, light corn syrup, flour, butter, white sugar, bourbon, and vanilla extract together in a bowl until smooth. Fold pecan pieces and chocolate chips into the egg mixture until combined; pour into prepared pie crust. Bake in preheated oven until pie is set, 50 to 60 minutes. Serve warm or chilled.