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Kentucky Derby Bars for a Delicious Spring Dessert

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Celebrate the Kentucky Derby with these easy and delicious Kentucky Derby Bars. Much like Derby Pie, these bars are packed with traditional elements like butter, eggs, pecans, and chocolate!

Squares of Derby Bars on a White Scalloped Plate

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These bars are utterly decadent, creamy and delicious. This recipe is adapted from Paula Deen, who knows a thing or two about southern cuisine for sure. I’ve made a few alterations to the original, mostly in the shortbread crust.

There isn’t a year when I don’t look forward to the Kentucky Derby. I’m not sure if it’s the pomp and ceremony, Southern hospitality… or the hats.

Or, just as likely, the beautiful horses, roses, and stately edifices of Churchhill Downs.

If you’re like me and adore all things Southern, you might love to read my Kentucky Derby Recipes with Southern Charm for more food ideas!

Whatever drives us to the Derby, food is most definitely a top priority. Sipping a mint julep in the sunshine surrounded by beauty is dreamy and wonderful. By the way, here’s a non-alcoholic mint julep recipe you can make and serve to the whole family.

Kentucky Derby Bars

When I think of Southern cuisine, many ingredients come to mind. Pecans are one of them.

These bars are a twist on the iconic Derby Pie. They are utterly delicious and incredibly simple to make, and they freeze well too.

Baked in a 13 x 9-inch pan, this recipe will make plenty of bars for Derby Day… and beyond!

Kentucky Derby Bar Ingredients

The ingredients are rather simple for these chocolate chip pecan bars. The exact measurements are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post. Here’s what you need:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Confectioners’ sugar and brown sugar
  • Unsalted butter
  • Dark corn syrup
  • Large eggs
  • Pecans
  • Chocolate Chips

Traditional Derby Pie ingredients will often include bourbon. If you want, you can add 2 tablespoons to the filling and bake as directed.

How to Make Kentucky Derby Bars

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 13×9-inch baking pan with aluminum foil.

Step 1: Make the Crust

Whisk together flour, granulated sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until the mixture is crumbly. Press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until lightly browned.

Step 2: Make the Chocolate Chip Pecan Filling

In the same large bowl, whisk together brown sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, and eggs until combined. Then fold in the pecans and chocolate chips. Pour the mixture over the partially baked crust.

Step 3: Bake the Bars

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the center is set. Let cool completely.

Storing the Chocolate Chip Pecan Bars

Store the bars in an airtight container for up to 5 days at room temperature. Freeze for longer storage.

Tips for Making Derby Bars

  • Line the baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang of foil on the sides. Then spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray. This helps to lift the bars out of the pan after they’ve cooled.
  • Partially prebaking the crust helps keep it crisp and solid. Bake until it’s lightly browning, about 15 or so minutes.
  • Bake only until the center is set. This should take between 30 and 35 minutes.
  • Once the bars have come to room temperature, I like to refrigerate the bars until they are very solid. It helps cut more precise bars.
Kentucky Derby Bars with Pink Roses

More Southern-Inspired Recipes to Try

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Squares of Kentucky Derby Bars on a White Stand

Kentucky Derby Bars

Celebrate the Kentucky Derby with these easy and delicious Kentucky Derby Bars. Much like Derby Pie, these bars are packed with traditional elements like butter, eggs, pecans, and chocolate!
4.3 from 37 votes
Print Pin Save
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 24 servings
Author: Stephanie Wilson

Ingredients

Crust

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened

Filling

  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup butter melted
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350° and line a 13×9-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, letting excess extend over the sides of the pan; spray foil with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  • For the Crust
  • In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until the mixture is sandy. Transfer to the prepared pan and press the mixture firmly into the bottom. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until lightly browned.

For the Filling:

  • In the same large bowl, whisk together brown sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, and eggs until combined. Then fold in the pecans and chocolate chips.
  • Pour the mixture over the partially baked crust.

Bake the Bars:

  • Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the center is set. Let cool completely. I like to chill the bars in the refrigerator (after they have cooled slightly) until firm.
  • Using excess foil as handles, remove the bars from the pan before cutting. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Nutrition

Calories: 342kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 58mg | Sodium: 116mg | Potassium: 123mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 26g | Vitamin A: 403IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

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Course: Desserts
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chocolate chip pecan bars, derby bars, derby pie, derby pie bars, kentucky derby bars, pecan bars

14 Comments

  1. Ky gal here! 35 mins wasn’t near enough time for the center of mine to set. They were still very jiggly in the middle after 35. I turned the temp down to 325 and covered with foil loosely for 10 additional minutes. Foil prevents burning while cooking longer.

    1. Hi Ky gal! Thank you for updating me on the baking time, Lisa. As you know, all ovens are a bit different— it is so helpful to know how long it took in your oven. I’ve upped the baking time a bit on the recipe to accommodate that! Wishing I were in Kentucky today!

      1. It was a beautiful day, despite the rain predictions. We spent it at the lakehouse with our neighbors decorating our golf carts & parading thru the neighborhoods, eating yummy food and placing little $1 bets on the “derby pots.” These bars were a HUGE HIT! Ty for sharing them.

        1. Hi Lisa! I’m a tiny bit jealous! Thank you for sharing your day… in Kentucky… and how you celebrated. I was sad not to be there this year, but all of the festivities were fun to watch too. I kept wondering if the rain would come just in time for the race. And I’m thrilled the Derby Bars were a hit! Thank you for making them!

    1. Hi Laura! I’ve not tried making these bars with a store-bought rolled crust. It’s a great idea though! If you try it, I’d love to hear how it turns out.

  2. I made these for a Derby party at our neighbors’ tomorrow. They are in the oven now, but look like a hit already.

  3. Is unsalted butter used for both the crust AND the filling. I couldn’t find it specifically listed on the recipe-may have overlooked it.

    1. Hi Dawn- yes, unsalted butter for both. However, I made this recipe using salted butter last week and it worked fine too.

  4. Why double the butter from original recipe? Wouldn’t it make the crust fall apart like a shortbread cookie.

  5. Pingback: Foodie Friday // Kentucky Derby Appetizers and a New Home! – VB in the city

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