Our Best Kentucky Derby-Inspired Recipes to Enjoy on the Day of the Big Race
A true celebration of Southern culture, the Kentucky Derby is fondly dubbed the best two minutes in sports history. Whether you're hosting your own Kentucky Derby-themed party or plan to attend the actual event but want to celebrate before the big race, we have a number of recipes guaranteed to get you in the Southern spirit.
Of course, no Kentucky Derby party is complete without a variation of a Mint Julep. Adding a hint of lemon to our Lemon-Mint Julep updates the classic beverage into something a bit more refreshing. If you're a fan of the drink but not of bourbon, not to worry. Our Gin Julep, pictured here, is a lip-smacking bourbon-free alternative. Gin was an equally popular base back in the 19th century and is still just as delicious in this iconic cocktail, especially if you choose a barrel-aged version. Have everything, and everyone, coming up roses when you add Rose-Petal Gin Fizz to the cocktail menu.
After you get your drink fix, it's time to focus on some finger food. Guests will cheer for bowls of our crispy Fried Black-Eyed Peas and a bread basket filled with crunchy and savory Puff-Pastry Cheese Straws. For the meat lovers, our Pimiento-Cheese Burgers are a must-make. They're dripping in mayo, cheddar, and pimientos and are an undeniably decadent addition to your party menu. We couldn't forget the Southern staple that is biscuits. Our Mustard-Herb Buttermilk Biscuits with Ham include parsley, thyme, and chives, but we also like to add a touch of Dijon mustard for a welcome kick. The real showstopper, however, is our Apple Rose Tart. You'll need to use a mandolin to create thin apple slices used to form a circle of roses, but the payoff is well worth the effort. Some grated ginger mixed with apricot jam give this sweet treat a burst of flavor.
Ready to start planning? Choose one or all of these delicious creations to add to your Kentucky Derby menu for a flawless party.
Bourbon Mint Tea
Rose-Petal Gin Fizz
Keep your Kentucky Derby fare light and springy with a rose-petal gin fizz. Beware, its sweetness covers its potency—this drink is made with gin, rose-petal syrup, sparkling water, and rose petals.
This robust Southern standby is a hands-down favorite. Our latest and greatest version adds horseradish to the usual mixture of mayonnaise, shredded cheddar, and chopped pimiento for an extra kick.
Fried Black-Eyed Peas
A Southern spread wouldn't be complete without black-eyed peas. Here, they're fried until golden and crisp and flavored with a sweet-and-savory blend of brown sugar and smoked paprika.
Puff-Pastry Cheese Straws
It's no wonder that these crispy, savory treats are a Southern party favorite. Whip up our go-to Parmesan and cayenne combo or try one of our delectable variations: sesame and poppy seeds, tomato paste and fresh rosemary, or pecorino Romano and black pepper. Just be sure to make plenty—they're bound to disappear quickly from the table.
Mustard-Herb Buttermilk Biscuits with Ham
Three types of fresh herbs—parsley, thyme, and chives—and a touch of Dijon perk up our test kitchens tried-and-true buttermilk biscuits. Serve with more mustard and sliced ham for a satisfying Derby bite.
Fire up the grill for your Kentucky Derby party and gild your burgers with the Southern trifecta of mayo, cheddar, and pimientos.
Chocolate Pecan Pie
Whole pecans are nestled in a dark-chocolate filling and surrounded by a buttery crust in this next-level take on the beloved Southern dessert.
Apple Rose Tart
A true culinary work of art, this apple rose tart features mandolin-sliced Granny Smith and Pink Lady apples atop grated ginger mixed with apricot jam for a spicy-sweet Kentucky Derby delight.
Run for the Roses Pie
"Run for the Roses" is a nickname for the Kentucky Derby and refers to the blanket of roses draped over the winning horse. It's also the name of this unique take on traditional Derby pie, which combines a buttery crust with a boozy (from bourbon!) pecan-and-chocolate filling.
Bourbon-and-Brown-Sugar Cake with Berries
A classic Kentucky drink, bourbon makes for a delicious accompaniment in this sweet treat. It's paired with brown sugar and berry cake sprinkled with coarse sugar for a surprising crunchy top.
Rose Water Cream Sandwiches
Rose water adds a delicate floral bouquet to meltaway sandwich cookies, each topped with a candied violet or rose petal. This recipe makes about two and a half dozen—perfect for Kentucky Derby celebrations.