Kentucky Derby Chocolate Bourbon Walnut Pie

Ahh, the Kentucky Derby. The gorgeous horses. The big, elaborate hats. The mint juleps. It’s an American (albeit a bit southern) tradition. Me? I of course will go straight to dessert. I have heard stories about the legendary Derby Pie, made famous by the Melrose Inn in Prospect, Kentucky, and decided that any recipe with nuts, chocolate and bourbon needed to be taste-tested immediately. The pie is a bit of a twist on traditional pecan pie – it uses walnuts instead of pecans and throws in chocolate and bourbon for good measure. The filling is very similar to that of a pecan pie, but with the addition of chocolate and the kick of bourbon? Woo-ey! It makes for one killer pie.

I’ve never done much for the Kentucky Derby in the past – no parties, no betting, etc. – but I always love watching those pretty horses! And I love eating pie, of course 😉

Do you have any Kentucky Derby traditions? Have you ever gone?

One year ago: Snickery Squares
Two years ago: Coffee and Espresso Cheesecake

Chocolate Bourbon Walnut Pie

Yield: One 9-inch pie

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 50 to 60 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes


Recipe for single 9-inch pie crust
½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
¾ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup light corn syrup
4 eggs
¼ cup bourbon
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1¼ cups walnuts, given a very coarse chop
¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips


1. Prepare the pie crust as directed in your recipe; blind bake according to the recipe's instructions; set aside.

2. Adjust the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed with a whisk attachment (or in a large bowl with a whisk and a lot of elbow grease), whip together the butter, sugars, corn syrup, eggs, bourbon and vanilla extract until frothy. Fold in the walnuts and chocolate chips with a rubber spatula.

4. Pour into the prepared pie crust (you may have more filling than will fit into your pie pan - just fill it up as far as you can). Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until set. Cool completely at room temperature (at least 4 hours) before slicing into the pie. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

(Recipe adapted from Providence Food Examiner)


45 Responses to “Kentucky Derby Chocolate Bourbon Walnut Pie”

  1. Gwenevere on May 6, 2011 at 3:27 am

    This looks like it has a delightful Crunch! My friend lives in Kentucky and she said the schools are closed. A 2 minute race and schools are closed. Funny the things we do in the name of tradition.


    • Lib on May 6th, 2011 at 1:54 pm

      The Derby is run on Saturday. There is a festival the week prior. Maybe they wrap Spring Break around it. I remember when I was a kid they used to have one school day off so we could go the the County Fair.


    • Steph in Lex on October 21st, 2012 at 11:18 am

      Schools in the Louisville area are closed for Oaks Day, which is the day before Derby Day. As far as I know, other schools across the state are not closed–at least, I know that the schools in Lexington are in session on Oaks Day.


  2. Pudding Pie Lane on May 6, 2011 at 4:39 am

    I’ve not heard of Derby Pie before, but I have made chocolate pecan pie. Yours with the bourbon looks delicious! Perfect for a summers day on the races 😉

    I don’t know about Kentucky Derby but we do have a Derby somewhere in England (not sure where!) but yep, you see the big hats, and tailored jackets, everything. Even so, I’m sure they’re quite similar 🙂


  3. Hezzi-D on May 6, 2011 at 6:25 am

    Never heard of this but it’ll be perfect to take to a Derby party! It sounds really rich, and super sweet, but really good. How can you really go wrong with chocolate, bourbon, and walnuts?


  4. Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) on May 6, 2011 at 6:41 am

    Bourbon and pie. Say no more…I am soooo in!!!


  5. Blog is the New Black on May 6, 2011 at 8:09 am

    I want to host a party for it! 😉


  6. Happy When Not Hungry on May 6, 2011 at 8:18 am

    This pie looks fabulous and perfect for Kentucky Derby!! Yum!


  7. Maria on May 6, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Perfect pie for this weekend!


  8. Ruth on May 6, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Oh my, oh my, this looks delicious – never heard of it before! Thanks for the tip!


  9. jen @ the baked life on May 6, 2011 at 10:51 am

    I didn’t even know the Kentucky Derby was this weekend. This looks like an anytime dessert!


  10. The Blue-Eyed Bakers on May 6, 2011 at 11:05 am

    We of course are huge derby fans. Any excuse to put bourbon in your dessert is a winner in our book…!


  11. Jenny Flake on May 6, 2011 at 11:27 am

    Totally drooling!!


  12. Paula on May 6, 2011 at 11:37 am

    I’d run like a racehorse to get a slice of this pie. Looks amazing!


  13. Jen of My Tiny Oven on May 6, 2011 at 11:45 am

    This pie makes me wish I wasn’t allergic to walnuts!! Looks delightful!


  14. NanaBread on May 6, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Ooooooo, baby! You had me at bourbon! {wink}


  15. RSA Now on May 6, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    Ooh wow that looks fantastic! Never heard of a Kentucky Derby pie before but I can’t wait to try it


  16. PaulB on May 6, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    Thanks from Louisville for the props for Kentucky Derby Pie!

    I’m disappointed that you haven’t managed to wander downriver for the party; we usually get started down here 2 weeks before Derby (3 weeks this year because of Easter weekend) and party ’till the horses come home. If you’re interested, check out for all the goings on. Y’all come on down.

    And, if you want to kick things up just a notch, 3 words… Derby Pie milkshakes. To. Die. For.


  17. hobby baker on May 6, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    Yumage! I think this appeals to me better than pecan pie. And since I love pecan pie in bar form, I think I may just try that with this lovely rendition.


  18. leslie on May 6, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    I feel a bit tipsy looking at that cake!!! lol…Nothing wrong with that!


  19. Tracy on May 8, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Wow! I have never heard of this pie before but it sounds amazing!


  20. Donna Diegel on May 9, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Thanks for the link back to my original recipe!

    Donna Diegel/Providence Food/Spatulas & Corkscrews


  21. PatW on May 9, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    Be careful how you juxtapose the words “Derby” and “Pie” in writing. Kern’s Bakery in Louisville owns a copyright on the name “Derby Pie” and they protect it zealously.

    I had a slice of their Derby Pie once, and was not that impressed!


  22. Donna Diegel on May 9, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    @Pat W – You’re right. This recipe however, was mine and original and something I had been making for my own bakery for over 20 years. In the end though, I had to fix my article and title on my recipe over a year and a half ago to make sure I wasn’t stepping on their toes because they had those words registered together.


  23. Juanita on May 10, 2011 at 6:14 am

    Looks decadent!


  24. Tiffany on May 10, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Such a great idea to use walnuts instead of pecans! (Although I do really like both!)


  25. Olivia on May 11, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Walnuts, chocolate and bourbon?? We had to feature this on our Facebook page!


  26. BombLogic on May 11, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    Is it strictly necessary to use 2 different variety of sugar?
    I’ll try it for the next saturday cause i have a sort of competition with my mother and your recipes sound unbeatable


    • Michelle on May 11th, 2011 at 8:06 pm

      I’ve always used both white and light brown sugar when making pecan pie (and this is a variation of pecan pie) – the brown sugar helps to give the filling a thicker, caramelized texture.


  27. The Chocolate Priestess on May 12, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    Looks good. If I wanted even more chocolate what would I have to cut or add?


    • Michelle on May 16th, 2011 at 1:14 pm

      If you just want to add more chocolate chips I think you would be fine upping the amount another 1/2 cup or so. More than that, and I would probably do less walnuts to make up for it.


  28. RisaG on May 14, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    I have never gone to the Kentucky Derby BUT my hubby and I watch it every year (except this year – we weren’t around and we forgot to record it). A few years ago, we were in Louisville so I decided to try Derby Pie. They served it at Old Spaghetti Factory. It was really good. When I got home, I tried to find a recipe for it online and came up blank but a friend on a cookbook group gave me a similar recipe (the original has never been printed anywhere – it is a big secret). I had to make it without pecans as my son is allergic and I used pumpkin seeds instead. It was really good, even without the pecans. I know it wasn’t authentic but it was still really good.

    Your pie looks great too.


  29. harvey justine on June 1, 2011 at 9:19 am

    Wow.! thank you for this wonderful pecan pie recipe. I found it creative and innovative. I love pecans because they have a lot of nutritional values and most of all it tastes good. I really appreciated your recipe, it looks incredibly great specially that it is combined with walnuts and pecans. Thank you. 🙂


  30. Nyss on June 12, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    This looks phenomenal! What does it mean to blind bake the crust?


    • Michelle on June 12th, 2011 at 8:39 pm

      Hi Nyss, To blind bake means to bake the crust unfilled partially before filling and baking the rest of the way. If you follow the link for the crust in the recipe it walks you through it.


      • Allie on November 24th, 2015 at 1:06 am

        It doesn’t though. There’s a very detailed description of how to make the pie dough and then in the recipe, this:

        “Follow the directions above for assembling the pie crust either with a food processor or by hand. Be sure to refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour (up to 2 days) prior to rolling out.

        Proceed with the pie recipe you are using.”

        That’s it. Nothing about blind baking.


  31. Kim Grey on May 2, 2013 at 4:58 am

    This pie sounds soooo good! The combination of walnuts and chocolate –and of course the bourbon, sounds like it would make quite a decadent dessert. I would love to try this recipe.


  32. Mike on September 30, 2013 at 8:53 pm

    Has anyone actually made this recipe? How did you like it?


  33. Barb on October 1, 2013 at 10:35 am

    Can I make this pie ahead of time and freeze it?


    • Michelle on October 3rd, 2013 at 2:47 pm

      Hi Barb, I have not tried to freeze this pie, so I can’t say for sure. If you try it, please let me know how it works!


  34. Julie on November 19, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    If I didn’t want to use the walnuts, do you think I could sub chocolate chips for walnuts?



    • Michelle on November 20th, 2013 at 9:00 pm

      Hi Julie, I think there are way too many walnuts in this recipe to simply substitute chocolate chips. It’s very much like a pecan pie.


  35. thehungrymum on December 6, 2013 at 12:23 am

    How fab does this pie look?! Reckon a slice would be mighty nice right now…


  36. Jamie on July 25, 2014 at 3:13 am

    Thank you for this most awesome recipe! This is the best, by far, of all the derby festival pies I’ve tried. I’m going to a potluck and would like to turn this into a bar for easier serving, and to stretch the recipe. Any suggestions on the best adjustments to bake this up bar style? (Oh and the best tweak to this recipe is to brown the butter before incorporating it. It makes it amazing!)


    • Michelle on July 25th, 2014 at 1:09 pm

      Hi Jamie, I would press the pie crust into a baking dish, however I’m not sure what size would yield the best results – 8 or 9-inch square, or a 9×13. Might take some trial and error! Enjoy!


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