Home Desserts Kentucky Derby Pie (Authentic Recipe)

Kentucky Derby Pie (Authentic Recipe)

You don’t have to be into horseracing to fall in love with the Kentucky Derby pie

A cross between gooey pecan pie and a chocolate chip cookie, this decadent dessert is irresistible.

Nutty Kentucky Derby Pie Slice with Icing on Top
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What is Kentucky Derby Pie?

Kentucky Derby pie is a southern dessert. It was invented by George Kern and his parents, Leaudra and Walter, in the mid-1950s. 

It features a traditional pastry crust with a decadent chocolate and walnut filling. No wonder it became an instant hit!

Oddly enough, this pie has nothing to do with the famous annual horse race. 

Rather, the Kern family couldn’t decide on what to call it. So they drew names out of a hat!

Kentucky Derby Pie

Kentucky Derby Pie Recipe

While the recipe for the original Derby pie is a well-kept secret, it’s not really that difficult to replicate.

This copycat recipe uses a store-bought pastry crust. It has a super easy filling made of corn syrup, sugar, butter, eggs, and bourbon.

Chocolate chips and chopped pecans will then be folded into the filling to make it even more irresistible.

Once it bakes, the filling transforms into a dense and gooey, caramel-like substance that’s truly phenomenal.

Kentucky Derby Pie Ingredients

What You’ll Need to Make Kentucky Derby Pie

You can make this pie with less than 10 ingredients. Here’s what you need:

  • Pastry Pie Crust – If your fear of making crust from scratch is the only thing stopping you from making a pie, then just use store-bought crust!  
  • Light Corn Syrup – Apart from sweetening the filling, corn syrup also gives it that ooey-gooey consistency.
  • Granulated Sugar – Use white granulated sugar for best results.
  • Eggs – they bind the ingredients of the filling, helping it set. 
  • Chocolate Chips –  The filling is already sweet, so go for semi-sweet or dark chocolate.
  • Pecans – The original recipe calls for walnuts, but I like my derby pie to be a mash-up between a pecan pie and a chocolate chip cookie. Do whatever makes you happy!
  • Melted Butter – When mixed with corn syrup, the butter yields a deep, caramel-like filling. If you like a touch of saltiness to contrast the sweet filling, use salted butter.
  • Bourbon – Just a splash will bring out the sweet and rich flavors of the filling. It doesn’t have to be an expensive brand! As long as you like its taste when you drink it straight, it should be fine.
  • Vanilla Extract – To make the flavors pop even more.

How to Make Kentucky Derby Pie

The phrase “easy as pie” couldn’t be more appropriate for this recipe!

1. Prepare the oven and the pie crust. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Firmly press store-bought pastry crust into a pie plate.

2. Make the filling. Beat together corn syrup, sugar, and eggs with an electric mixer. Using a spatula, gently mix in the chocolate chips, pecans, melted butter, bourbon, and vanilla.

3. Bake the pie. Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Let the pie cool completely before slicing. Otherwise, it’ll be too runny, as it hasn’t fully set.

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4. Slice, serve, and enjoy. Enjoy it as-is if you’re a Derby pie purist. But it’s heavenly with vanilla ice cream and more chocolate chips and nuts, too.

Kentucky Derby Pie Slice

Tips and Tricks

Here are some tips and tricks to ensure your pie turns out perfect:

  • Avoid an overcooked crust. If the pie’s edges are over-browning too quickly, slightly cover the pie plate with aluminum foil.
  • Catch overspill with a sheet pan. There’s a chance the filling will overflow while baking. Avoid a messy mishap by putting the pie pan on a bigger rimmed baking sheet.
  • Serve hot or cold. Kentucky Derby pie tastes great whether it’s served warm or chilled. To reheat refrigerated pie, just microwave it.
  • Check for signs of doneness. You’ll know it’s done when the edges of the pie have set. The filling will also still be a little wobbly in the middle.
  • Let the pie cool completely. It needs to be cool before slicing. Otherwise, you’ll get a runny pie.


Are you thinking about customizing the ingredients? Then try one of these variations:

  • Try other sweeteners. I use light corn syrup and brown sugar to achieve that sweet ooey-gooey pie filling. But you can also use maple syrup, molasses, and honey.
  • Mix up the nuts. I use pecans, but the original Derby pie calls for walnuts. Use one or the other, or both! You can also try other nuts like cashews and almonds.
  • Use a graham cracker crust. It’s perfect if you prefer your crust crumbly and buttery rather than crisp and flaky.

How to Serve Kentucky Derby Pie

Traditional derby pie is served on its own. It’s already like a warm chocolate chip cookie with a gooey filling, so there’s really no need to add to it.

But, if you want to add more oomph to it, you can’t go wrong with vanilla ice cream.

The contrast between warm pie and cold ice cream is absolutely divine.

You can also make it extra by sprinkling chocolate chips on top. You can’t go wrong with more chocolate!

And, for a classic Derby Day celebration, be sure to pair your pie with a cold mint julep.

Gooey and Layered Kentucky Derby Pie

How to Store Kentucky Derby Pie

Don’t let one slice go to waste! Store your leftover pie properly so you can enjoy every last crumb.

To Store: Cover the pie with plastic wrap and store it at room temperature for up to 5 days. In the fridge, it’ll keep well for up to 1 week.

To Freeze: Double wrap either the whole pie or individual slices with plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Place the slices in freezer-safe bags and freeze for up to 3 months.

To Reheat: Thaw the pie in the fridge overnight. Then let it come to room temperature before serving. You can also reheat it at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 15 minutes, or until warmed through.

Can You Make This Pie Ahead of Time?

Definitely. Make it up to 3 days in advance and store it at room temperature, there’s no need to refrigerate it.

Just be sure to cover it well with either plastic wrap or aluminum foil. If you have a pie keeper, great!

More Pie Recipes You’ll Love

Shoney’s Strawberry Pie

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Millionaire Pie

Dream Whip Pie

No-Bake Peanut Butter Pie

Kentucky Derby Pie (Authentic Recipe)



Prep time


Cooking time





You don’t need a horse race to make this Kentucky Derby pie! This sweet treat is part pecan pie, part chocolate chip cookie, and full of perfection!


  • 1 (9-inch) pastry pie crust

  • 1 cup light corn syrup

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 4 eggs

  • 1 1/4 cups chocolate chips

  • 1 cup chopped pecans

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

  • 2 tablespoons bourbon, optional

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Press the pastry pie crust firmly into a 9-inch pie plate.
  • In a large bowl, beat the corn syrup, sugar, and eggs with an electric mixer at medium speed until well combined.
  • Gently mix in the chocolate chips, pecans, melted butter, bourbon (if using), and vanilla.
  • Pour the pie filling into the prepared crust. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the filling has set. Cool it completely on a wire rack before slicing. Serve it warm or chilled with ice cream or whipped cream. Enjoy!
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author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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