Famous Kentucky Recipes to Inspire Your Best Derby Day Spread

Kentucky Bourbon Pie
Photo: Antonis Achilleos

Though its nickname is the Bluegrass State, Kentucky is most famous for its horse racing and its bourbon. Fittingly, some of the most famous Kentucky recipes revolve around the two. Of course, it's not a Derby Day party without a batch of mint juleps served in shiny silver cups. If you're not a fan of the classic, we have a few fun twists you just might love. Created around a century ago at The Brown Hotel in Louisville, the open-faced Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwich is a staple recipe of the state. Since we love a recipe mashup, we couldn't help but rethink the traditional recipe, so our Test Kitchen developed fun recipes like Inside-Out Hot Brown Bites and even a Kentucky Hot Brown Casserole. During chilly months, the famous Kentucky dish you'll see on every dinner table is burgoo. This comfy stew just might replace your usual slow-cooker soup of choice. Whether you're looking for a signature house cocktail, a cozy supper, or a party appetizer, you're sure to find a famous recipe from Kentucky to fit the bill. Time to shine those silver julep cups, y'all!

01 of 19

Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwiches

Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwiches
Southern Living

Recipe: Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwiches

Created in the 1920s at The Brown Hotel in Louisville, this open-faced sandwich is full of our favorite things (read: bacon, turkey, cheese, bread…).

02 of 19

Benedictine Spread

benedictine spread dip
Photographer: Antonis Achilleos, Prop Stylist:Christine Keely Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer

Recipe: Benedictine Spread

Jennie Carter Benedict, a famous Kentucky restauranteur, created this recipe. It's often spread between two slices of white bread to make tea sandwiches, but in this fresh take, we paired it with fresh veggies that make for a pretty spring tablescape.

03 of 19

Harry Young's Burgoo

Harry Young’s Burgoo
Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: Harry Young's Burgoo

According to Kentuckians, "If it walked, crawled, or flew, it goes in burgoo." This comforting stew calls for a variety of meats and colorful vegetables, but whatever you have on hand will work just fine. This particular recipe for the Kentucky staple came to us back in 1987, and it's stood the test of time.

04 of 19

Kentucky Bourbon Pie

Kentucky Bourbon Pie
Antonis Achilleos

Recipe: Kentucky Bourbon Pie

Modeled after George Kern's famous Derby Pie recipe, this isn't your Mama's pecan pie. Bourbon, chocolate, and pecans meet in this layered delight that has only five-star reviews to its name.

05 of 19

Mint Julep

Mint Julep
Southern Living

Recipe: Mint Julep

It's not the Derby without it! Kentucky's famous liquor of choice is the star of the show in this quintessential cocktail. The ingredient list is simple, but don't even think about skipping the crushed ice and the classic silver julep cup. Both are requirements, y'all!

06 of 19

Kentucky Beer Cheese

kentucky beer cheese
Photographer: Antonis Achilleos, Prop Stylist:Christine Keely Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer

Recipe: Kentucky Beer Cheese

Benedictine spread isn't the only famous dip from Kentucky. Developed by Kentucky Chef Joe Allman in the 1930s, this regional dish has spread (no pun intended) across the country. Similar to another Southern favorite, pimiento cheese, this dip is delicious with dippers like pretzel sticks, cucumbers, and celery.

07 of 19

Bourbon Balls

Bourbon Balls
Jennifer Davick; Styling: Buffy Hargett

Recipe: Bourbon Balls

If you still need something sweet for your Derby Day party but aren't in the mood to fuss with piecrust for a chocolate-bourbon-pecan pie, we've got you covered. These no-bake treats pay homage to the state's famed spirit, are oh-so-easy to put together, and they make great favors for guests.

08 of 19

Kentucky Oaks Lily Drink

Kentucky Derby Oaks Lily Cocktail
Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

Recipe: Kentucky Oaks Lily Drink

The mint julep might get all the attention as the signature cocktail of horse racing, but don't worry: There's another famous sipper for the non-bourbon drinkers out there (we know, it's shocking). The Oaks Lily cocktail is the staple drink of the Kentucky Oaks, the race that takes place the day before the Derby.

09 of 19

Kentucky Hot Brown Casserole

Kentucky Hot Brown Casserole
Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Torie Cox; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke

Recipe: Kentucky Hot Brown Casserole

We have a thing about turning our favorite Southern recipes into big-batch casseroles, and this twist on the Kentucky Hot Brown is no exception.

10 of 19

Kentucky Benedictine Sandwiches

Kentucky Benedictine Sandwiches
Southern Living

Recipe: Kentucky Benedictine Sandwiches

It's not a Southern luncheon without a silver tray full of tea sandwiches, is it? Test Kitchen Pro Ivy Odom developed this version of the classic Kentucky Benedictine Spread.

11 of 19

Black-Eyed Susan Slushies

Black-Eyed Susan Slushies
Victor Protasio; Food Stying: Rishon Hanners; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

Recipe: Black-Eyed Susan Slushies

Test Kitchen pro and Hey Y'all host Ivy Odom is changing it up with her Kentucky cocktail of choice. "Instead of the usual mint juleps, I like to make fruity Black-Eyed Susan Slushies," says Odom. "The mix of pineapple and citrus juices and ginger ale is more synonymous with the Preakness Stakes than the Derby, but it's a classic drink that tastes great with or without bourbon. My mocktail version is served frozen and gussied up with garnishes as flashy as those sensational hats."

12 of 19

Kentucky Slow-Cooker Burgoo

Kentucky Slow-Cooker Burgoo
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

Recipe: Kentucky Slow-Cooker Burgoo

Since Gustave Jaubert, employed by Frankfort's Buffalo Trace Distillery, made this cozy, one-pot stew popular in the late 1800s, Kentuckians have found plenty of ways to make it over. Our latest version comes together with the help of your trusty slow cooker, so you can sit back and relax while dinner makes itself.

13 of 19

Chocolate-Bourbon Pecan Pie

Chocolate-Bourbon Pecan Pie
Hector Sanchez

Recipe: Chocolate-Bourbon Pecan Pie

Because it starts with refrigerated piecrust (our little secret), this Derby Pie-inspired dessert takes barely any effort on your part. Just be sure to set aside time for it to cool completely before diving in. A spoonful of homemade whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top wouldn't hurt, of course.

14 of 19

Inside-Out Hot Brown Bites

Inside-Out Hot Brown Bites
Hector Sanchez

Recipe: Inside-Out Hot Brown Bites

If you're looking for a crowd-pleasing appetizer for your Derby day menu, these cheesy Hot Brown bites start with a Parmesan crust.

15 of 19

Mint Julep Slush

Mint Julep Slush
Caitlin Bensel

Recipe: Mint Julep Slush

By the first Saturday in May, it's already hotter than hot in many parts of the South, so cool off your favorite Derby Day drink with this slushy version. The secret to keeping your cocktail from melting too quickly? Freeze the glasses 15 minutes before you plan to serve.

16 of 19

Kentucky Derby Cheese Hat

Kentucky Derby Cheese Hat
Southern Living

Recipe: Kentucky Derby Cheese Hat

OK, this might not be a "famous" Kentucky recipe, but it's too cute not to share. This Kentucky Derby Cheese Hat is the most adorable appetizer you can serve your guests. Plus, it genuinely couldn't get easier.

17 of 19

Kentucky Horsefeather

Kentucky Horsefeather Cocktail
Getty Images/bhofack2

Recipe: Kentucky Horsefeather

It's practically required that Kentucky cocktails contain bourbon, and this fizzy concoction is no exception. Similar to a Moscow Mule, this drink contains ginger beer but includes a few dashes of bitters for a signature twist.

18 of 19

Hot Brown Party Rolls

Hot Brown Party Rolls
Victor Protasio; Food Stying: Rishon Hanners; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

Recipe: Hot Brown Party Rolls

Southerners have a love affair with Hawaiian sweet rolls, and our sideboards at holidays and potlucks are proof. This is our latest iteration on the classic Kentucky Hot Brown, and it just might be our best yet.

19 of 19

Transparent Pie

Transparent Pie with Whipped Creme Fraiche and Sugared Cranberries
Photo: Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: Transparent Pie

Similar to a chess pie, this Transparent Pie is a lost recipe to many Kentuckians. Magee's Bakery in Maysville served it up for decades, and rumor has it that Kentucky native George Clooney even brought his wife Amal home to sample some of it a few years ago. We twirled our version of this confection up with Sugared Cranberries and Whipped Crème Fraîche for a little color and texture.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles