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Food & Recipes

Easy Homemade Kentucky Derby Pie Recipe Makes the Perfect Gooey Chocolate + Walnut Treat

There's no horsing around when it comes to this scrumptious homemade pie!

If you’re tuning into the Kentucky Derby, one tradition you shouldn’t skip is enjoying a chocolate walnut pie. Since the 1950s, this dessert has been a regional favorite and goes by several different names (more on that later). But for now, think of it as an upgraded version of pecan pie that’s filled rich walnuts, decadent chocolate and bourbon for extra sweetness. Plus, a store-bought crust will do the trick for whipping up this pie in less time. Keep reading to learn more about this dessert’s unique history and how to make the best Kentucky Dewberry pie at home!

What ingredients are used to make Kentucky Derby pie?

This pie starts with a filling consisting of chocolate chips, walnuts, sugar, eggs, bourbon and other ingredients. Once combined, this mixture is poured into a prepared pie crust and baked. The fully baked and cooled pie is then sliced before serving.

This pie’s fascinating (and delicious) history

In 1954, Leaudra, Walter and George Kern invented this treat at the Melrose Inn in Prospect, Kentucky. The blend of ingredients produced a sweet and nutty dessert with a name that the family picked out of a hat: Derby Pie. Fast forward to today, their family business called Kern’s Kitchen makes almost 130,000 pies each year to sell in stores and online. In addition to the original recipe remaining a secret, the pie’s name is also closely guarded due to trademarking.

To get around this, Lia Garcia, co-founder at Louisville Food Tours, explains that establishments in Kentucky use various names for their version of the pie. “You might walk into a local bakery and order a Chocolate Horse Racing Pie (wink-wink), Churchill Downs Pie, That Thing in May Pie, etc,” she says. Regardless of what you call it, this pie is essentially the same across the board. It’s sold at the horse racing event alongside the likes of the mint julep. And preparing it at home is simple and a yummy way to end any gathering but especially a Kentucky Derby watch party!

Chef’s easy tip for a gooey Kentucky Derby pie

You may be familiar with the tried-and-true tricks of baking pie, from blind baking for a flaky crust to allowing it to fully cool. All of these tips apply when making this treat, and you’ll want to add another to the list: baking it until the filling is fairly solid. “The pie should be set but slightly wobbly in the center when it’s done,”Jessica Randhawa, owner and head chef at The Forked Spoon, says. “It will continue to set as it cools.” Overbaking the filling makes it prone to cracking and developing a tough texture. So, after baking for the minimum time in the recipe, gently shake the pie plate to test if it’s ready to remove from the oven.

How to make Kentucky Derby Chocolate Walnut Pie

Randhawa’s recipe for Kentucky Derby Chocolate Walnut Pie recipe is worth trying as it bakes to gooey and flaky perfection in about 45 minutes. Bourbon is traditional to this pie, and the alcohol evaporates during baking, leaving behind its sweetness. That said, you can omit it from the filling if desired. (This No Bake Coconut Cream Pie is another wow-worthy dessert option.)

Chocolate Walnut Pie

A homemade chocolate and walnut pie being served for the Kentucky Derby


  • 1 9-inch pie shell (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbs. bourbon


  • Yield: 8 servings
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. To blind bake crust: Line pie shell with parchment paper or foil and fill with pie weights (uncooked rice, dry beans, coins or tiny ceramic balls). Bake around 15 minutes, until edges start to turn light brown.
  3. Take pie shell out of the oven and remove pie weights. Set aside to cool a bit and lower oven temperature to 350°F.
  4. In large mixing bowl, combine sugar and flour. Mix in beaten eggs and melted butter until well blended. Stir in pecans, chocolate chips, vanilla extract and bourbon.
  5. Pour mixture into crust. Bake in about 45 to 50 minutes, or until mostly set with slightly jiggly center. Remove from oven and fully cool so filling firms up.
  6. Cut into 8 even slices and serve.

What to serve with Kentucky Derby pie

Since this pie is rich and sweet, a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream adds a touch of creaminess. You can also drizzle a warm fudge or caramel sauce over each slice to make it extra decadent. (Find out how to freeze pie so any leftover slices can be enjoyed for months to come!)

Keep reading for more mouthwatering dessert recipes!

This Chocolate Pasta Recipe Turns a Comfort Classic Into the Perfect Dessert: So Sweet + Easy

These Air Fryer Chocolate Chip Cookies Are Perfect for When A Craving Hits — Ready in 15 Minutes

Easy Butter Cake Recipe Bakes Up Deliciously Golden — Ready for the Oven in 20 Minutes

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