You don’t have to be into horseracing to fall in love with the Kentucky Derby pie!
A cross between a gooey pecan pie and a luscious chocolate chip cookie, this pie is what dessert dreams are made of.
With a nutty and chocolatey filling and a buttery and flaky crust, this pie is absolutely divine.
A splash of bourbon and vanilla amps up its flavors even more.
Despite being such a decadent dessert, this Kentucky Derby pie recipe is surprisingly easy to make.
That said, don’t feel like you need to wait for the first Saturday of May to enjoy a slice!
What is Kentucky Derby Pie?
Kentucky Derby pie is a southern dessert invented by George Kern and his parents, Leaudra and Walter, in the mid-1950s.
It’s made with a traditional pastry crust and a decadent chocolate and walnut filling. No wonder it became an instant hit!
In case you’re wondering, no, the pie has nothing to do with the annual horse race at all.
The members of the Kern family couldn’t agree on what to call the pie.
So they just wrote down their suggestions on paper and put them in a hat.
Whichever one will be pulled from the hat would be the name of the dessert. The rest is history.
Fun fact: the dessert had gotten so popular that the Kerns decided to trademark the name, “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.
What You’ll Need to Make Kentucky Derby Pie
- Pastry Pie Crust – If your fear of making crust from scratch is the only thing stopping you from making a pie, then just use storebought 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.
Take a store-bought pastry crust and firmly press it into a pie plate.
I love how this recipe tastes great even without using homemade crust!
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.
It’s important to switch from an electric mixer to a spatula during this step to avoid crushing the mixins.
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.
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.
Tips and Tricks
- If the pie’s edges are over-browning too quickly, slightly cover the pie plate with aluminum foil.
- 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. The sheet will catch overspill if any.
- Kentucky Derby pie tastes great whether it’s served warm or chilled. If the pie’s already been refrigerated, just pop it in the microwave for several seconds to heat it up.
- You’ll know it’s done when the edges of the pie have set, but the filling is still a little wobbly in the middle.
- Let the pie cool completely before slicing. Otherwise, you’ll get a runny pie.
- I use both light corn syrup and brown sugar to achieve that sweet and ooey-gooey pie filling. You can use other sweeteners, too, like maple syrup, molasses, honey, and brown sugar.
- My recipe uses pecans, but the original Derby pie calls for walnuts. Use whatever your heart tells you to. Or why not mix them both? You can also try other nuts like cashews and almonds.
- Use a graham cracker crust instead of a pastry 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.
How to Store Kentucky Derby Pie
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 a week.
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.
Thaw the pie in the fridge overnight, and 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!
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