Traditional Kentucky Derby Party Food Ideas to Celebrate the Big Race



Last Updated: Mar 16, 2022

The Kentucky Derby has been celebrated since 1946. This beloved annual event is full of tradition, making it fun to celebrate regardless of whether or not you’re an avid racing fan.

If you’re planning your first Derby Day celebration, you may find yourself asking, “What do you serve at a Kentucky Derby party?” The good news is, when it comes to Kentucky derby food and drinks, there are many options to choose from. Before you start planning your Derby Day buffet, take a look at these ideas.

Traditional Kentucky Derby foods

When you say the words “Kentucky Derby,” certain images come to mind. This includes classic foods like hot browns, fried chicken, and bourbon pecan pie. Here’s a look at some of the traditional foods you may want to add to your Kentucky Derby party menu. 

1. Hot browns

Homemade Baked Kentucky Hot Brown with Bacon Chicken and Cream Sauce

A Kentucky hot brown might be the most recognized Derby food. This delicious hot sandwich is made with turkey, bacon, cheese, and egg and topped with thick slices of ripe tomato. 

2. Pimento cheese

Pimento cheese is a classic Southern dish commonly served at the Kentucky Derby. It’s a tasty combination of cheddar, cream cheese, and mayo with pimentos, jalapenos, and spices. It makes a great dip and can also be used as a sandwich spread. 

3. Kentucky Benedictine dip/spread

Dubbed the South’s version of tzatziki sauce, Benedictine dip is made with a combination of cucumber, mayo, cream cheese, onions, and spices. Add a bit of sour cream to create a dip, or use it as-is for a tasty sandwich spread. 

4. Kentucky beer cheese

Creamy, spicy beer cheese dip is a Kentucky specialty and a popular item for Derby Day buffets. Serve it with veggies, crackers, or hot pretzel bites

5. Deviled eggs

Deviled eggs are popular at just about any party, and they’re also a retro Derby Day staple. Add some horseradish or hot sauce to give them an extra kick. 

6. Fried chicken

Fried chicken is a classic Southern dish that is always welcome at Derby parties. Serve it plain or make an easy gravy from the pan drippings. 

7. Golden flaky biscuits

Homemade Flakey Buttermilk Biscuits Ready to Eat

Golden flaky biscuits are delicious when served as a side item for your Derby menu. You can also use them to make ham sliders, which is another popular Derby food. 

8. Chocolate bourbon pecan pie

A delicious classic Southern dish, chocolate bourbon pecan pie is the perfect way to satisfy your sweet tooth on Derby Day. 

Easy Kentucky Derby party menu ideas

Want to expand your menu even further? Try some of these delicious and easy Kentucky Derby party menu ideas. 

1. Pulled pork sliders

Sweet and savory pulled pork sliders are the perfect addition to your party menu. You can cook the meat all day in the slow cooker, and your home will smell amazing by the time your guests arrive. 

2. Bourbon meatballs

Bourbon is a key ingredient in many Derby foods. You can whip up these quick and easy bourbon meatballs in just a few minutes. 

3. Southern cheese grits

Cheese grits are a classic Southern food that will go perfectly with the rest of your Derby Day menu. This recipe is extra hearty thanks to the addition of andouille sausage, bell pepper, and tomato. 

4. Maple bourbon bacon-wrapped shrimp

Another bourbon-based food, this bacon-wrapped shrimp recipe is sure to be a hit! It combines crispy, caramelized bacon, juicy shrimp, and a sweet and savory maple bourbon sauce. 

5. Buttermilk hush puppies

homemade hush puppies, southern food, deep fried cornbread balls

There are few things more Southern than hush puppies. Not only is this classic dish sure to be a hit, but you can whip it up in as little as 15 minutes. 

6. Watermelon, cucumber, and feta salad

Fresh watermelon salads are one of the lighter sides traditionally served on Derby Day. This delicious and refreshing dish blends watermelon with feta cheese, onion, and mint to create a delicious flavor combination. 

7. Kentucky hot brown dip

This melty, cheesy dip is a party-friendly version of the traditional hot brown sandwich. It’s loaded with turkey, bacon, tomatoes, and plenty of cheese. Serve it with a sliced baguette or toasted crostini. 

8. Bourbon balls

Dense, sweet, and packed with enough bourbon to make them a decidedly adult treat, these bourbon balls promise to be a hit at every Derby party. 

9. Maple bourbon roasted pecans

Sweet and decadent maple bourbon roasted pecans are always a party favorite. You’ll be surprised by how fast they go, so plan to make more than you think you need.

Traditional Kentucky Derby drinks

It’s hard to enjoy a Derby party without including at least a few classic Derby drinks. Here are a few of the most popular recipes to choose from. 

1. Classic mint julep

A classic mint julep is the most iconic Kentucky Derby cocktail. It combines bourbon, simple syrup, and mint for a sweet, smoky, and herbal flavored drink. Serve it in a metal cup to create a perfectly chilled cocktail. 

2. Bourbon derby punch

If you prefer a drink with a bit of a sweeter flavor, this punch might be perfect for your party. It blends bourbon, orange juice, lemonade, and cherry juice to create a fruity cocktail that’s not too strong and super easy to drink. 

3. Kentucky lemonade

Cold summer beverage, mint julep cocktail drink, grey stone background copy space

Another classic Derby cocktail, Kentucky lemonade is a delicious combination of bourbon, ginger ale, simple syrup, and mint. It’s a light and refreshing cocktail that won’t overshadow all the incredible food on your Derby Day buffet. 

Make this year’s Derby party one to remember!

These amazing Kentucky Derby party food ideas guarantee that you’ll have everything you need to throw a party your guests won’t soon forget. As you plan your menu, keep in mind that you can get everything you need without ever going to the store. Just head over to, create your shopping list, then let an expert shopper handle your grocery delivery for you.



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