How to throw a Kentucky Derby Party with Recipes


The Kentucky Derby: “The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports”

“This Kentucky Derby, whatever it is—a race, an emotion, a turbulence, an explosion—is one of the most beautiful and violent and satisfying things I have ever experienced.” —John Steinbeck On the first Saturday of May, all eyes turn to Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville, KY for the Kentucky Derby, the first jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown.

You don’t have to be at Churchill Downs to party on Derby Day. This blog prepares you for Kentucky Derby Day party-throwing tips including essential dishes for hosting a game-watching buffet to sit-down dinners and backyard barbecues.

Your guest list should include people who share your love for the Kentucky Derby and also people who might be new to the experience.

You can assign guests to bring their own Kentucky Derby recipes to share or cook it all yourself. I would assign the guest a dish to bring and make several myself. You can purchase all of your party paper wear at a party store that has Kentucky Derby themes. Have the guests wear a home-made Kentucky Derby hat to the party, no exceptions. Have prizes for game winners such as Kentucky Derby themed items.

You can play games and have prizes for the ugliest hat, the best hat, and Kentucky Derby Trivia. Before the Derby begins, have everyone write down the horse they think will win with their name on a piece of paper. After the race, find out who chose the winner and give them a prize. You can have everyone put in a dollar or two, depending on how large you want the pot and the winner gets it all. If there is more than one winner, split the pot between them.

Derby Twister is another game everyone can play. Instead of calling out the usual “left hand on red” replace the colors with your favorite Derby elements.  Suggestions are: Big Brown (2008 Derby Winner), Proud Spell (2008 Oaks Winner), Hats, Roses, Twin Spires, Jockey Silks.  Print out images of each element and tape them to the colored circles. You can take almost any party game and make it a Kentucky Derby Party game!

The food is the best part of a Kentucky Derby Party. You can fire up the grill and have burgers and hot dogs if that is what everyone wants. Here are some additional recipes you can serve:

Benedictine Spread

This spread can be used as a dip or a sandwich & canapé ingredient. It was made popular at Louisville’s Benedict’s restaurant earlier in this century.


1 large cucumber

12 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons grated onion

1/4 tsp salt

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

Pinch of cayenne

Green food coloring (optional)

Pare, grate, and drain cucumber.


Combine with remaining ingredients in food processor.

Serve as is or as a sandwich or canapé spread.

Thin with sour cream to make a dip for vegetables

Ale 8 One Chicken Wings (Ale 8 One is a Kentucky Tradition)

10 chicken wings, wing tips removed for sauces, stock or soup

.5 lbs ground pork

1/2 cup diced shiitake mushroom

1 tbsp garlic, minced

1tsp fresh ginger, minced

1 tbsp fresh cilantro, minced

1 tbsp hoisin sauce

1 Ale 8 One

Spice rub (optional)

1tbs salt

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon garlic

1 tablespoon lemon pepper

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/2-teaspoon ground clove

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions In a mixing bowl add the ground pork, garlic, ginger, cilantro, hoisin.  Mix ingredients together and form into little balls 1.5 ounces a piece.  Place a ball of stuffing in the open cavity created by frenching the wings. Prepare the spice rub by mixing the spices together. Sprinkle the spice rub liberally all over the chicken wings. In a small saucepot add the Ale 8 One and slowly submerge the stuffed side of the chicken wings in the beer.  Turn the stove on medium and simmer the wings for 20 minutes. Remove wings and place on a serving plate.   Reduce the leftover Ale 8 One by 1/2. Adjust the seasoning and drizzle the sauce on the wings.  Enjoy.

Ham Salad 


2 cups cubed cooked ham

1 cup diced celery

½ cup diced apples

½ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup light cream


Combine ingredients and serve in lettuce cups or pastry shells.

Fried Chicken


8 pieces chicken

2 cups vegetable oil

2 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

½ tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

1 tsp paprika

2 cups flour 


Beat eggs and milk with fork and add salt, pepper and paprika. Dip chicken into egg mixture. Dip into flour. Fry in hot oil. Brown chicken on one side, turn and brown it on the other side. Cover pan and cook on low heat for 20 minutes.

Derby Shrimp


1 pound frozen, raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (45-50 count), tails removed

2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

4 teaspoons Cajun seasoning



1 English (seedless) cucumber, sliced into ¼-inch rounds

½ cup sour cream

Smoked paprika


Defrost the shrimp according to the directions on the package.  In a small bowl, combine the shrimp, olive oil and Cajun seasoning.  Stir to combine. Sauté in a hot pan until cooked through and just pink and opaque in color, approximately 3 – 4 minutes.  Season it to taste with salt and pepper.  Place a dollop of sour cream on a slice of cucumber and top with a cooked shrimp.  Repeat with the remaining cucumber, shrimp and sour cream.  Garnish with a dusting of paprika.

Crab Cakes with Mustard Rémoulade


1 whole egg

¼ cup heavy cream

½ Granny Smith apple (or similar), peeled, finely chopped

1 teaspoon fresh chives, finely chopped

1 stalk celery, finely chopped

1 clove fresh garlic, minced

¼ cup yellow onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons butter

2 lemons, zested and juiced

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped

2 pounds jumbo lump crab, picked clean

2 cups Ritz crackers, crumbled

2 cups panko bread crumbs

¼ cup oil or clarified butter, for frying

For the rémoulade

¼ cup buttermilk

1 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon whole grain mustard

1 lemon, juiced

1 tablespoon capers, finely chopped

1 tablespoon shallot, finely chopped

2 tablespoons celery root, grated

1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

¼ teaspoon cayenne powder

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped


Prepare the crab cake mixture: In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together (except the crab, the crackers, and the panko) and combine well. Add the crab and combine gently to incorporate.

In a food processor, pulse the Ritz crackers and the bread crumbs until they have the consistency of graham cracker crumbs. Reserve 2 cups for coating the crab cakes before cooking.

Incorporate the bread-crumb mixture into the crab. When you do this, be careful not to break up the lump crabmeat too much. (You really want to have that texture in the cakes.) Now you’re ready to mold your cakes. Use a 2- to 3-inch diameter cookie cutter or ring mold that is about 2 inches tall. Fill the molds with the crab mix and pack them nice and tight. The tighter you pack, the better your cakes will hold up when you cook them. Store all of your molded cakes on a sheet tray in the fridge until you’re ready to cook them.

Make the rémoulade

In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients (except the salt, pepper, and parsley) and mix well. Season with salt and pepper and finish with the parsley. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Cook the crab cakes: Heat a large nonstick pan on high heat and add ¼ cup of clarified butter or cooking oil. Remove the crab cakes from the fridge and coat them in the 2 cups of the cracker mixture. Sear them in the pan until they’re golden brown on one side, then flip them over and pop them into the oven (in the pan) for about 6 minutes. (Keeping them in the pan while they’re in the oven enables the bottoms to get nice and brown while they heat through.) Test for doneness by poking them with a cake tester or metal skewer and testing the temperature on the inside of your wrist. If it’s hot, you’re good to go!

Arrange each cake on a plate and a dollop of rémoulade.


Tomato, Arugula, and Basil Salad


5 ripe tomatoes (sliced thickly) 2 tbsp Nicoise olives (chopped) optional 2 tbsp basil leaves (torn) 4 thick bread slices (torn in bite sized pieces) Olive oil (for bread) 2 oz arugula leaves 3 tbsp olive oil (for dressing) 2 tbsp red wine vinegar


Preheat (oven) to 350 degrees.

Toss tornbread in olive oil and toast for approximately 10 minutes or until golden brown.  Place all ingredients in salad bowl and gently toss with 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Brie Delight


Thinly glaze a round of brie cheese with Honeycup mustard, sprinkle with sliced almonds.

Bake in oven at 350F – 375F until cheese is runny and nuts are slightly brown. (Approx. 5 minutes) 


Vanilla Custard Ice Cream


¾ cup sugar

2 tbsp all purpose flour

¼ tsp salt

2 cups milk

2 beaten eggs

2 cups whipping cream

1 ½ tsp vanilla

Fruit cut up if desired


Combine sugar, flour and salt; gradually stir in milk.  Cook and stir over low heat till thick.  Add small amount of hot mixture to eggs; mix well; return to hot mixture.  Cook and stir 1 minute.  Chill.

Stir in cream and vanilla.  If desired, add fruit.  Freeze in ice cream freezer.  Makes 1 ¼ quarts.


Apple Crepes


2 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup sugar

6 eggs

2 cups milk

½ stick melted butter

1 tbsp vegetable oil

Zest of one orange

Zest of one lemon

2 medium apples (peeled, cored and thinly sliced)


Using a large bowl, combine flour and ¼ cup of sugar. Whisk in the eggs one at a  time, then slowly add the milk, melted butter and the zest of orange and lemon. It is always better to allow batter to sit for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator.


In a medium saucepan, combine the sliced apples, a pat of butter and remaining sugar. Cook until thickened.  Heat a no-stick pan until hot, and add enough butter/oil to coat the pan. Add a thin layer of crepe batter and cook on both sides until golden brown. Repeat until all the batter is finished. Take each crepe and fill with apple compote. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Sticky Toffee Pudding


2 cups chopped dates

1 3/4 cups water

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

Toffee sauce

1 pint heavy cream

1 cup brown sugar

2 sticks butter


Place the cream, sugar and butter in a heavy bottomed sauce pan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Stir until the sugar is completely melted.  Remove from the heat.

Heat oven to 350°F.

Place dates and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Remove from the heat and add the baking soda.  Puree and set aside to cool.

Grease a 3 quart baking pan and set aside.

In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and gradually add the sugar.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating until just combined.  Add the vanilla and cooled date puree and mix just until combined.  Mixing on low speed, Add the flour and baking powder just until combined.  Pour into the prepared baking dish.  Bake until set and firm and a skewer comes out clean, about 35 minutes.

Remove from the oven and, using a skewer, poke holes in the top of the cake every 1/2 inch.  Pour the sauce over the warm cake, reserving some for serving on the side.  Serve with a dollop of freshly whipped cream and toffee sauce.

Kentucky Derby Devil’s Food Pudding Cake

Chocolate pudding Ingredients

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted

4 cups half & half

2 ounces Manjari Chocolate

1 each vanilla bean


In a pot, sift the first four ingredients together, whisk in the cold half and half.   Bring to a simmer, whisk in chocolate and vanilla. Begin to heat while stirring constantly until it begins to bubble around the edges and has thickened significantly.  Pass through strainer and pour directly into dishes.  Place plastic wrap directly on surface. Cool immediately in fridge.

Devil’s food cake Ingredients

3 each eggs

1 3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup mayonnaise

2 3/4 cups pastry flour, sifted

1 1/8 teaspoon baking soda, sifted

1/2 teaspoon baking powder, sifted

3/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted

1/2 teaspoon salt, sifted

1 cup water


In a mixing bowl with the whip, whisk the eggs and sugar until it reaches the ribbon stage.  Whisk in the vanilla extract and mayonnaise. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the water.  Mix only until combined.  DO NOT OVER-MIX. Spread onto a quarter size sheet tray with a Pam-sprayed silpat.  Bake at 350°F until the cake springs back when touched.

Whipped cream Ingredients

1 pint heavy cream

Whip cream until you have soft peaks.


To assemble, cut the cake in individual circle to match the bottom of a 4 oz. cocktail (rocks) glass. Place the cake at the bottom of the glass. Pipe pudding onto cake, layer on whip cream and finish off with chocolate nibs and candied rose petals.

Garnish with a whole candied rose petal in the corner with cream.


Run for the Roses Strawberries Dessert


4 cups plain Greek yogurt

1 cup Brown Sugar

2 Tbsp. Vanilla

1 Tbsp. Orange zest

½ cup honey

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Toasted Slivered almonds

4 Pounds of fresh strawberries sliced

4 oranges, cut with all pith and skin removed in sections


Combine yogurt with the brown sugar, vanilla, and orange zest.  Heat the honey in a small sauce pan over low heat. Simmer until honey is dissolved. Cool and add the lemon juice. Slice the strawberries and toss with the Honey. Spoon the berries into your favorite serving dish with the yogurt, garnish with mint and toasted almonds.

Mint Julep


4 mint leaves

4 oz of Woodford Reserve Bourbon

4 oz sweet and sour mix


Blend with ice until smooth and pour into a tall glass and garnish with mint sprig.

Southern Sweet Tea


3 Quarts water; give or take 2 cups sugar or equivalent amount substitute

4 Quart size tea bags

Sliced Lemons


Bring water to a rolling boil, add sugar. (Stir to dissolve) Add 4 tea bags. Stir. Let sit 20 minutes. Pour up into gallon jug or container. Fill the rest with cool water. Garnish with lemon or fresh mint. Serve in silver julep cup.

Make an extra recipe of un-sweet tea for the ones who like it natural.



1 quart water

1 cup sugar

1 cup fresh lemon juice

Sprite sugar free or regular chilled


Mix first three together. Fill a tall glass 2/3 to 3/4 with Lemon mixture then fill with Sprite.

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