If you love southern cooking, horses, and the Derby, you’ll adore these authentic Kentucky Derby recipes to celebrate with on the first Saturday in May.
Kentucky Derby Traditions
Few American sporting events exist with the history and southern charm of the Kentucky Derby. Its rich traditions – sipping a mint julep, beautiful hats, roses, and the singing of “My Old Kentucky Home.”
All of which transcend the Kentucky Derby from a mere sporting event.
Kentucky Derby History
The Kentucky Derby’s history began in 1872, when Meriwether Lewis Clark, grandson of William Clark of Lewis and Clark fame, traveled to Europe. While there, he attended well-known horse racing events, like the Epsom Derby in England.
Inspired by his travels, Clark was determined to create a horse racing event in the United States, much like those he experienced in Europe. Enlisting help from his uncles John & Henry Churchill, who gifted Clark with the necessary land for a racetrack, the beginnings of the Kentucky Derby was born.
“On May 17th, 1875, the racetrack opened its gates and the Louisville Jockey Club sponsored the very first Kentucky Derby. A total of fifteen three-year-old Thoroughbred horses raced one and a half miles in front of a cheering crowd of approximately 10,000 spectators. Aristides was the first winner of the Kentucky Derby.”
Kentucky Derby Food History
It’s well established that food is a central component of The Kentucky Derby. Every year, the concession stands at the Kentucky Derby sell about 142,000 hot dogs, 18,000 barbecue sandwiches, 32,400 jumbo shrimp, 13,800 pounds of beef, and 300,000 strawberries for traditional strawberries and cream.
A mint julep is made over 120,000 times during the event. And there is a competition event for the best Derby Pie.
Hot Browns and Burgoo are traditional Kentucky foods that are staples at Derby parties and pecans are everywhere.
Kentucky Derby Recipes
With the Derby right around the corner, here are some favorite Derby recipes. Dust off those mint julep cups, find that fancy hat, and let’s celebrate the Kentucky Derby!
Chosen as an appetizer for the Official Kentucky Derby Menu. “This year, Executive Chef David Danielson inventively combined traditional Southern flavors and local ingredients to make an authentically American culinary experience for our Derby guests in the premium dining areas.”
Butter bean season is coming to an end so there's no time to waste in making this perfect summer side dish. Churchill Downs Executive Chef David Danielson served this to our guests as part of the official menu for the 142nd Kentucky Derby! Enjoy!
Begin with these “colorful open-faced (crust off!) tea sandwiches. These are super easy to make if you make the spread ahead of time and assemble these just before your guests arrive. Instead of a cream cheese spread, I made an herbal creamy dill spread by blending sunflower seeds to create a creamy base. Slather it on some sourdough sandwich bread and then top with rows of paper-thin slices of cucumbers, radishes, and candy-striped beets. Use a sharp knife to cut the crusts off and you have the cutest little springtime snacks.”
No celebration of the Kentucky Derby seems quite right without a Mint Julep. That cool, refreshing drink of summer. While most contain alcohol, we were looking for something different. Here is our non-alcoholic mint julep everyone can enjoy at the Kentucky Derby.