As with any major sporting event, food is a vital aspect of the Kentucky Derby. With 147 years of history and centuries of Southern traditions, there is no shortage of decadent and unique Bluegrass foods and desserts to whip up for the perfect at-home Kentucky Derby viewing party.
The 2021 Kentucky Derby will air on May 1 from 12 to 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and from 2:30 to 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC. Coverage is also available to stream live on NBCSports.com and on the NBC Sports app. Post time for the 2021 Kentucky Derby is set for approximately 6:57 p.m. ET.
Related: How to watch the 2021 Kentucky Derby
The Kentucky hot brown is a product of the historic Brown Hotel in downtown Louisville. In the 1920s, Chef Fred Schmidt was looking for a late-night delicacy for partying night owls and found it in this open-faced turkey sandwich topped with bacon and Mornay sauce.
- Keep it traditional with the Brown Hotel’s original recipe, straight from the birthplace of the hot brown itself.
- Make it unique by spinning this classic, yet messy, sandwich into smaller sliders for a neater party food.
Fried chicken is perhaps the most widespread, globally known export out of the Bluegrass, thanks to Colonel Sanders and his roadside restaurant in Corbin, Ky.
- Keep it traditional with a classic and simple fried chicken like racing owner and celebrity chef Bobby Flay’s recipe. Throw in some waffles and syrup for some added Southern flare.
- Make it unique with a more flavorful, yet still themed, spin on fried chicken like Food Network’s bourbon brined fried chicken.
Journey deep into Kentucky cuisine with Burgoo, a meat and vegetable stew that was traditionally made with whatever items were available, like rabbit, squirrel and possum.
- Keep it traditional yet accessible with the Kentucky Derby’s official burgoo recipe that uses store-bought meats, including steak, pork and turkey.
- Make it unique by dressing it up with a variety of breads to dip in your stew.
Get your Kentucky Derby party started early with a hearty serving of biscuits and gravy, a mainstay in Southern cuisine.
- Keep it traditional with a buttery, six-ingredient biscuit and a classic sausage gravy. Bump up the flavor by using hot sausage instead of mild.
- Make it unique by going for a casserole-style bake that combines biscuits and gravy with cheese and eggs. What more could you want?
You can’t have a Derby party without a Derby pie, a chocolate and nut (pecans or walnuts—dealer’s choice) pie that originated in the 1950s at the Melrose Inn in Prospect, Ky.
- Keep it traditional with my personal, ridiculously simple Derby pie recipe, which uses pecans:
- 9″ unbaked pie shell (homemade or store-bought)
- 1/4 cup of butter (melted and cooled)
- 1 cup of granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup of flour
- 2 eggs (beaten)
- 1 tsp of vanilla
- 1 cup of chocolate chips
- 1 cup of chopped pecans
- 2 tbsp of bourbon
- Combine all ingredients, pour into unbaked pie shell and bake at 350 for 35 minutes or until a knife comes out of the pie with only chocolate sticking to it.
- Make it unique by adding a tablespoon of honey to your batter before you bake it, which adds to both the texture and taste. You can also leave the bourbon out (though the alcohol cooks out) for a younger crowd. Then it basically becomes a giant cookie pie.
If you really have a sweet tooth, satisfy it with rich bourbon balls, a chocolate-coated bourbon and nut delicacy that was invented by Ruth Booe of Rebecca Ruth Chocolates in 1938.
- Keep it traditional with a straightforward recipe like this one, which requires soaking the pecans in bourbon overnight.
- Make it unique by mixing up your mix-ins and using a bourbon liqueur instead, adding sea salt or dipping the bourbon balls in different types of chocolate.
Transparent pie is a custard-ey pie that originated in Maysville, which sits on the Kentucky-Ohio border. This simple yet sweet dessert dates back to the 1800s and is entirely made out of everyday kitchen staples.
- Keep it traditional with a recipe straight from Kentucky Tourism.
- Make it unique by separating the pie batter into smaller, individual-sized tartlets to share (or not).
Watch the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 1 from 12 to 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and from 2:30 to 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC. Full coverage is also available on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.