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Kentucky Derby Pie Recipe – How to Make it in 11 Simple Steps

A slice of Kentucky Derby Pie with whipped cream topping.

The name “derby pie” is actually protected by a trademark. The Kern family filed a copyright for the name and have been known to try to sue others who attempt to use the hyphenated title that they trademarked. Other inns, restaurants, and bakeries have received “cease and desist” letters from the Kern family when others try to market a “derby-pie.”

This is probably why pies similar to this are generally titled “Kentucky Derby Pie.” If you’re touring Kentucky and do not see a derby pie on a restaurant menu, simply peruse the item descriptions. If you come across a slice of pie with pecans, chocolate chips, and bourbon, you will be enjoying the equivalent of a derby pie. 

Kentucky Derby Pie Recipe

April Freeman
While the name of this pie might bring to mind a famous annual horse race, this recipe actually has nothing to do with the Kentucky Derby. Created in the 1950s, a recipe similar to the one below was created by the Kern family matriarch at the Melrose Inn in the town of Prospect, Kentucky. Their recipe featured walnuts and a few tablespoons of Kentucky bourbon. They called the dessert “derby-pie” choosing the name when various family members tossed name suggestions into a hat. 
Prep Time 25 mins
Baking Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr 10 mins
Cuisine American
Servings 8 Slices


  • 9 Inch Pie Pan
  • Medium-Sized Bowl
  • Spoon
  • Wire whisk
  • Pastry blender
  • Rolling Pin


Filling Ingredients

  • 2 pcs Large Eggs
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • ½ cup Flour
  • 1 cup Chocolate Chips
  • 1 cup Pecan Halves
  • 1 stick Melted Butter
  • 1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

Pie Crust Ingredients

  • 1 cup Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • ¼ cup Vegetable Shortening
  • ¼ cup Ice Water


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and adjust your baking racks in the oven to the center of the oven. Spray a nine-inch pie pan with cooking spray.
  • In a medium-sized mixing bowl, melt the butter by putting it into the microwave for about 30 seconds. If there are lumps left in the butter, stir it with a spoon until the lumps dissolve. Let the melted butter sit out at room temperature for about 5 minutes to cool to room temperature.
  • Add the sugar to the butter and stir it well with a spoon. Add the eggs and mix well, beating the eggs. Add the flour and the pecan halves along with the vanilla. Set this mixture aside for now. Move on to making the pie crust to make sure that the mixture is quite cool. The chocolate chips do not need to melt as you stir the filling mixture together.
  • Now, move on to making the pie crust. In another medium-sized bowl, stir together the 1 cup flour and the salt. Add the vegetable shortening and use a pastry blender to cut the shortening into the flour mixture. Continue mixing and cutting the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs and the shortening is evenly distributed in the flour mixture.
    The dry ingredients are mixed in a bowl.
  • Add about half of the water, drizzling the water over the surface of the flour. Use a fork to toss the mixture together until it is fully absorbed by the flour. Add additional water a little at a time, tossing the mixture until it begins to ball up in the bowl and pull away from the sides of the bowl. When the mixture starts to stick together, you can use your hands to press the mixture into a ball. Work gently, since rough handling will lead to a tough pie crust. 
  • Press the dough into a disc and transfer it to a lightly floured surface.
    The dough is pressed into a disc on a floured surface with a rolling pin.
  • Use a rolling pin to roll the pie crust into 12 inch circle. Fold the crust into quarters and transfer it to a nine-inch pie pan. Unfold the pie crust and use your fingers to make a rim around the edge of the pie pan. 
  • Return to the pie filling mixture and stir in the chocolate chips.
  • Spread the pie filling into the pie crust lined pan in an even layer. 
    The pie filling and crust are assembled and ready to be baked.
  • Bake the pie in the center of the preheated oven for about 40 to 45 minutes or until the filling is lightly browned.
    A freshly baked Kentucky Derby Pie fresh from the oven.
  • Remove from the oven and let the pie cool to room temperature before slicing it into wedges and serving it. Top pie slices with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. This pie can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days, covered with aluminum foil. 
    A slice of Kentucky Derby Pie on a plate.


This pie is something like a chocolate chip cookie inside a pastry crust. It is delicious and crunchy with a rich sweetness that is perfectly offset by whipped cream or ice cream. 
Our pie filling recipe is not intended to fill a large, deep dish pie pan. For this recipe, you need a standard, nine inch pie pan. You probably shouldn’t double it to fill a deep dish pan either. When you create a deeper pie, you have to bake it longer to allow the pie to set up. This extended baking time will scorch your chocolate chips. Stick to the standard recipe to have the best results in this recipe. 
We call for pecans in our recipe, but if you do not have them on hand, you can substitute another kind of nuts if you desire. Walnuts are sublime in this recipe, and coarsely chopped almonds are tasty too. 
Keyword Dessert, Dinner Recipe, Kentucky Derby Pie

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