Kentucky Derby Party Recipes

Virginia: Ham Biscuit Sandwich
Photo: Photo: Jennifer Davick

Celebrate the South's great race with some of our favorite Bluegrass-inspired recipes.Decided to host a Kentucky Derby party, but aren't sure what to serve? Rest assured, we've got your derby celebration covered with these Kentucky Derby party recipes. From cocktails to appetizers to desserts, you're set with Kentucky Derby party recipes. Your friends will think that you took a weekend trip to Louisville to study up on the local Kentucky Derby recipes. Shhh…Your secret is safe with us. We do ask that you wear your best hat while you prepare your Kentucky Derby party recipes. You would win the Triple Crown for Kentucky Derby party prep if you did this with a mint julep in hand.

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Triple Crown-Worthy Kentucky Derby Recipes

Virginia: Ham Biscuit Sandwich
Photo: Jennifer Davick

Recipe: Fluffy Cream Cheese Biscuits

Kentucky Derby is celebrated the first Saturday in May with visitors from around the world gathering at the racetrack, and all over Louisville. Gather friends and family to watch the race at home in great Southern tradition. You can mix-and-match these Kentucky Derby Recipes to host a Bluegrass-themed party.

Fluffy Cream Cheese Biscuits with Figgy Port Chutney, Blue Cheese Butter, and Ginger Ale-Brown Sugar Smoked Ham make up this delectable Derby sandwich.
Three leavening ingredients—yeast, baking powder, and baking soda—ensure light biscuits every time.

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The SL Mint Julep and The Blush Lily

The Blush Lily
Photo: Hector Sanchez

Recipe: The SL Mint Julep

Recipe: The Blush Lily

On race day, Churchill Downs serves up 120,000 mint juleps and 40,000 of the lesser-known Oaks Lily cocktails. Sterling julep cups are classic, but these cocktails are so pretty—why not show them off in highball glasses?

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Chilled Sweet Pea Soup with Mint and Cream

Jalapeño Cheese Straws
Photo: Hector Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Recipe: Chilled Sweet Pea Soup with Mint and Cream

We love this bright, minty soup because it adds a pop of spring color to the buffet. Make it up to 48 hours ahead of time.

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Moonshine-Cherry Blush

Moonshine-Cherry Blush
Photo: Brown Cannon III

Recipe: Moonshine-Cherry Blush
Base Recipe: Basil-Lemon Moonshine

Basil-Lemon Moonshine is great by itself on the rocks, but our Moonshine-Cherry Blush recipe will certainly be difficult to pass up.

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Derby Truffles

Derby Truffles
Photo: Jennifer Davick

Recipe: Derby Truffles

These make-ahead gems are easy enough for casual get-togethers and fancy enough for special occasions.

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Mint Julep Sweet Tea

Mint Julep Sweet Tea
Jennifer Davick

Recipe: Mint Julep Sweet Tea

This iced cocktail features the best of two classic Southern drinks: the mint julep and sweet tea. For best results, sip in a rocking chair on a front porch somewhere.

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Chocolate-Bourbon-Butterscotch Icebox Cake

Chocolate-Bourbon-Butterscotch Icebox Cake
Photo: Hector Sanchez; Food Styling: Erin Merhar; Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas

Recipe: Chocolate-Bourbon-Butterscotch Icebox Cake

Elegant, showstopper desserts don't come much easier than this. Each slice resembles fine pastry.

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Spring-on-a-Plate Salads

Spring-on-a-Plate Salads
Photo: Jennifer Davick

Recipe: Spring-on-a-Plate Salads

Look for tender, fresh baby greens and microgreens at your local farmers' market; they should be abundant this time of year. Soaking vegetables in ice water crisps them up.

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Sweet Tea Julep Pops

Watermelon Margarita Pops
Becky Luigart-Stayner

Recipe: Sweet Tea Julep Pops

These pops combine two Southern favorites, sweet tea and mint juleps, so they're bound to be a crowd-pleaser.

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Honey Custard with Berries

Honey Custard with Berries
Photo: Hector Sanchez

Recipe: Honey Custard with Berries

This refreshing treat will be a great dessert for any party. If you don't have white balsamic vinegar, substitute Champagne vinegar or apple cider vinegar.

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Pork Tenderloin Sliders

Pork Tenderloin Sliders
Hector Sanchez

Recipe: Pork Tenderloin Sliders

One carefree way to serve these cuties is to slice the tenderloins on a large cutting board, set out fresh rolls and homemade condiments, and let guests build their own sandwiches.

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Chocolate-Bourbon Pecan Pie

Chocolate-Bourbon Pecan Pie
Hector Sanchez

Recipe: Chocolate-Bourbon Pecan Pie

The new appreciation for whiskey goes beyond drinking and finds its way into sauces, braises, and especially desserts. Now bourbon and pecan pie fit togther like peanut butter and jelly or Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

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Jalapeño Cheese Straws

Jalapeño Cheese Straws
Photo: Hector Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Recipe: Jalapeño Cheese Straws

We know: You've got a cheese straw recipe you can make with your eyes closed. But give this subtly spicy recipe (that impressed our Test Kitchen staff!) a try.

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Pecan Bourbon Balls

Bourbon Balls
Iain Bagwell

Recipe: Pecan Bourbon Balls

Who spiked the cookies? Hardly a Christmas can pass in the South without these traditional ball-shaped, bourbon-flavored pecan cookies ending up on a dessert bar or in a gift box.

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Derby Julep

Derby Julep
Photo: Jennifer Davick

Recipe: Derby Julep

Its namesake may be the fastest two minutes in sports, but that doesn't mean this cocktail should be short-lived. Consider our derby julep a cocktail hour mainstay all year long.

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Country Ham and Biscuits

Country Ham and Biscuits
Photo: Beth Dreiling Hontzas

Recipe: Country Ham and Biscuits
Recipe: Blackberry Mustard
Recipe: Lemon-Herb Butter

For a Derby Day classic, bake frozen tea biscuits and fill with thin slices of country ham. Have guests dress biscuits with flavored butter and mustard blends.

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Mint Julep Gelées

Mint Julep Gelées Recipe
Photo: Jennifer Davick

Recipe: Mint Julep Gelées

To make these less strong, increase cold water to 2¼ cups and reduce bourbon to ¾ cup.

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Kentucky Hot Browns

Kentucky Hot Browns
Becky Luigart-Stayner

Recipe: Kentucky Hot Browns

In need of a little comfort? Tuck into the classic knife-and-fork sandwich smothered in Mornay sauce for a decadent Southern dish.

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Watercress Canapés

Watercress Canapés
Photo: Jennifer Davick

Recipe: Watercress Canapés
Recipe Twist: Goat Cheese Canapés and Bacon-and-Olive Canapés

Create color with cucumbers, yellow squash, candy-cane beets, salmon caviar, zucchini, herbs, radishes, sprouts, and other fresh finds.

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Classic Mint Julep

Classic Mint Julep

Recipe: Classic Mint Julep

The classic version is served in silver julep cups. These are filled to the rim with a refreshing concoction of the finest bourbon, simple syrup, fresh mint, and crushed ice. See our tips and techniques for stirring up a mint julep.

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Derby Cheese Hat

Derby Cheese Hat
Photo: Beth Dreiling Hontzas

Recipe: Derby Cheese Hat

No derby celebration is complete without the proper hat; this one is edible. Use rounds of garlic-and-herb spreadable cheese and Brie as a base, and create your own design with ribbon and herbs. Serve with assorted crackers and precut veggies.

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Bourbon Balls

Bourbon Balls

Recipe: Bourbon Balls

For a Kentuckian, bourbon balls are a must-have party food. Make with the freshest ingredients, and in our opinion, the better the bourbon, the tastier the filling.

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Dark Chocolate-Bourbon Torte

Dark Chocolate-Bourbon Torte
Photo: Beth Dreiling Hontzas

Recipe: Dark Chocolate-Bourbon Torte

Nobody can resist a dessert as luscious as this―even if it is lightened. Just sprinkle this guilt-free dessert with powdered sugar and cocoa for an easy, elegant look.

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Lightened Hot Browns

Lightened Hot Browns Recipe

Recipe: Lightened Hot Browns

Grab a knife and fork, and dig in. There's no guilt behind these hot browns—they're lightened and full of flavor. Typically, this open-faced Kentucky classic is made with a heavy cheese sauce, but we found a way to deliver the same richness without all the saturated fat.

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Next-Day Pickled Shrimp

Corn-Avocado Salad
Photo: Brown Cannon III

Recipe: Next-Day Pickled Shrimp

This make-ahead recipe requires minimal effort with delicious results.

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Berry Pies

Berry Pies
Photo: Brown Cannon III

Recipe: Berry Pies

Keep tops whole, if desired; cut 3 slits in each for steam to escape.

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Bourbon-Marinated Pork Tenderloin

Bourbon-Marinated Pork Tenderloin

Recipe: Bourbon-Marinated Pork Tenderloin

Go Bluegrass on the grill with this Bourbon-Marinated Pork Tenderloin recipe. The bourbon mixed with soy sauce and spices adds flavor and tenderizes the meat.

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Baby Hot Browns

Baby Hot Browns

Recipe: Baby Hot Browns

Get your party started with mini open-faced turkey sandwiches. Pile turkey, bacon, and cheese high on pumpernickel for a guaranteed party hit.

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Beef Tenderloin Crostini

Beef Tenderloin Crostini
Photo: Brown Cannon III

Recipe: Beef Tenderloin Crostini

This melt-in-your-mouth appetizer will be the standout of your party thanks to the ensemble of perfectly seasoned layers and, of course, the grilled tenderloin. Prep the Herbed Cornbread Crostini base up to a month ahead and freeze.

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