Kentucky Derby Pie

by Julie Cohn
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The first Saturday in May every year one of the greatest horse races, the Kentucky Derby, takes place at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.  Called the “Run for the Roses” because of the rose garland places on the winning horse at the end of the race, the Kentucky Derby is the first race of the season for the Triple Crown.  Being more of a foodie than a horse racing enthusiast (I do enjoy seeing the hats though), I prefer to celebrate the day with some of the great food and drinks from Kentucky, such as mint juleps, hot brown sandwiches, and this Kentucky Derby Pie.

If truth be told, the first time I tried Kentucky Derby Pie, it was not in Kentucky, nor was it on Kentucky Derby weekend.  It was while working as a waitress/bartender in an Italian-Greek restaurant in upstate New York.  An odd choice to have on the menu of an Italian-Greek restaurant for sure, but the pastry chef was from Kentucky, so he made Kentucky Derby Pie and it became one of the most popular recipes on the menu.

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What is Kentucky Derby Pie, you ask?  My version is a cross between a Mounds candy bar, pecan pie, and a chocolate chip cookie, with a healthy dose of Kentucky bourbon mixed in.  Some say it is similar to a chess pie, but my version has a layer very similar to the pecan pie.  It’s a deliciously decadent dessert (say that fast three times) to share with family and friends on Kentucky Derby Day or whenever you want a sweet treat at the end of a meal.  (Hint, Thanksgiving!)

Kentucky Derby Pie, or “Derby” Pie, was created in 1950 at the Melrose Inn in Prospect, Kentucky.  The original Derby Pie recipe is a trademark secret but over the years many have tried to crack it or create their own version.  I’ve never been to the Melrose Inn, have never tried the original pie, just the one we used to sell at that restaurant in New York, so I do not know how similar this recipe is to the original, but it doesn’t matter.  I worked for years to perfect this recipe to taste like the one in New York because it was so good.  It’s a whole lot of pecan, chocolate, coconut, and bourbon goodness all baked together in one little delicious pie, so it does not matter how close it is to the original.

Apparently, CNN liked my recipe so much, they featured it on their website in 2012.  Thank you CNN Headline News!

  • 1/2 c. Butter
  • 1/2 c. White sugar
  • 1/2 c. Brown sugar
  • 4 Large eggs
  • 3/4 c. Light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c. bourbon whiskey
  • 1/4 c. Finely flaked coconut
  • 3/4 c. Semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 c. chopped Pecans (or Almonds)
  • 1 Deep dish pie crust (either homemade or prepared–do not bake)

Spread the pecans on a cookie sheet and toast in a 350-degree oven for about 5 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool.  Melt the butter and place in a large bowl.

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Add sugars, egg, corn syrup, vanilla, and bourbon.  Mix everything with an electric beater until blended.  Add coconut and chocolate chips, and blend.   Pour the mixture into the pie crust.  The mixture will be somewhat soupy, but that is normal- it will solidify in the oven.  Sprinkle the toasted almonds over the top.

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Bake in a 350-degree oven for approximately 55-60 minutes or until set.  Be careful the top does not burn. Remove from the oven.  If you wish to serve hot, allow it to cool for about 15 minutes before serving (with a dollop of ice cream or whipped cream, of course).  If you want to serve it cold (yummy), place in the refrigerator for about 3 hours before serving.

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(Note:  Coconut is apparently not part of the traditional Kentucky Derby recipe.  You can leave it out if you wish, but we think it is delicious in it.)

This recipe was originally featured on A Cork, Fork, & Passport (then A Little Bite of Life) in May 2010.  The recipe was slightly tweaked and photos updated in 2019.  Looking for another pie recipe?  Be sure to check out my Mile High Chocolate Cream Pie or my Bourbon Sweet Potato Pie!  




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Erin 12/14/2020 at 7:44 pm


This sounds amazing. Could I use a graham cracker crust for this?

Julie Cohn 12/14/2020 at 10:07 pm

Yes, I think a graham cracker crust would work quite well!


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