Kentucky Derby 2021: Traditional Recipes for Watch Parties

Apr 17, 2021 06:05 AM EDT | By Zyanya James (

Kentucky Derby 2021: Traditional Recipes for Watch Parties
The mint julep, made with Kentucky bourbon, is the Kentucky Derby's signature drink.
(Photo : Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

The Kentucky Derby, one of the most iconic sporting events in the world, is traditionally held on the first Saturday of May.

The first Kentucky Derby took place in 1875. On May 1, 2021, the 147th running of the prestigious horse race will be covered by NBC Sports

As with any major sporting event, food is something that everyone also looks forward to. Below are some traditional recipes for your Kentucky Derby watch party.

Traditional Kentucky Derby Recipes

With your Kentucky Derby signature drink of mint julep, munch on these following traditional treats.

Kentucky Hot Brown

The Hot Brown is an open-faced turkey sandwich with bacon and Mornay sauce. The Hot Brown is Louisville tradition courtesy of the historic The Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, where spectators worldwide stay during the Kentucky Derby. Here's how to make the famous sandwich. 


2 oz. Whole Butter

2 oz. All-Purpose Flour

8 oz. Heavy Cream

8 oz. Whole Milk

½ Cup of Pecorino Romano Cheese

Plus 1 Tablespoon for Garnish

Pinch of Ground Nutmeg

Salt and Pepper to Taste

14 oz. Sliced Roasted Turkey Breast, Sliced Thick

4 Slices of Texas Toast (Crust Trimmed)

4 Slices of Crispy Bacon

2 Roma Tomatoes, Sliced in Half




In a two‑quart saucepan, melt butter and slowly whisk in flour until it forms a thick paste (roux). Continue to cook roux over medium‑low heat for two minutes and stir frequently.

Whisk whole milk and heavy cream into the roux and cook over medium heat until cream begins to simmer for about two to three minutes. Remove sauce from heat and then slowly whisk it with Pecorino Romano cheese until the Mornay sauce is smooth. Add nutmeg, pepper, and salt to taste.

For each Hot Brown (this recipe produces two), place two slices of toast with the crusts cut off in an oven-safe dish. One slice should be cut in half from corner to corner to make two triangles.

Leave the other slice in a square shape, then cover with seven ounces of turkey. Take two halves of Roma tomato and two toast points and set them alongside the base of the turkey and toast.

Next, pour one-half of the Mornay sauce to cover the dish completely. Sprinkle with additional Pecorino Romano cheese. Place the entire dish in the oven and bake for 20 minutes at 350°. 

When the cheese begins to turn brown and bubble, remove it from the oven, cross two crispy bacon pieces on top, sprinkle with paprika and parsley, and serve immediately.

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Kentucky Fried Chicken

Follow Food Network Star Bobby Flay's recipe below for traditional fried chicken.


For marinade:

3 cups buttermilk

2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons kosher salt

Few dashes hot sauce

8 to 10 pieces of chicken

For batter:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup cornstarch

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika

1/4 teaspoon chile de arbol powder

1 3/4 cup cold water

10 cups canola oil

Fine sea salt


For the marinade: Mix the buttermilk, sugar, salt, and hot sauce in a big bowl. Add the chicken and coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for about 4 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.

Remove the chicken from marinade and pat dry. Place the chicken on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet and then let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before frying.

For the batter: Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, pepper, paprika, and chile de arbol in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the water and mix until smooth. Set the batter aside for 15 minutes.

Heat the canola oil in a large Dutch oven at 350°F. Transfer half the chicken into the batter. Remove one piece at a time and fry the chicken for about 12 minutes. 

Drain the chicken on paper towels and then transfer to a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet and season it with a bit of fine sea salt. Bring the oil back to 350°F and repeat with the remaining chicken.

Kentucky Derby Chocolate Pie

This recipe is courtesy of food writer John Mitzewich from The Spruce Eats.


1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled

2 tablespoons Kentucky bourbon

1 cup walnuts, chopped

1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

1 ready-made pie crust (for a 9-inch pie)


Heat the oven to 350°F.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour and sugar. Add the eggs and cooled butter. Once combined, stir in the bourbon, vanilla, chocolate chips, walnuts, and salt, then pour the mixture into the raw pie crust.

Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes and let it cool before slicing. Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on top is welcome.

Catch the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby on NBCSN on Saturday, May 1, from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. ET and from 2:30 to 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC. You can also watch it online on or download the NBC Sports app.

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