Chocolate pecan pie with bourbon, in time for the Kentucky Derby

We’re a week and a day from the Kentucky Derby, and as a genuine Kentucky Colonel (I have a certificate from the governor that proves it), I feel a certain obligation to preserve and promote the rich traditions and heritage of  the commonwealth.

So, I’m sharing my family recipe for what is generically known as chocolate pecan pie with bourbon.

It’s basically a pecan pie made with chocolate chips and a shot of Kentucky bourbon.

It tastes a bit like Derby-Pie, and some folks call it that, but Derby-Pie is a registered trademark of Kern’s Kitchen of Louisville. Kentuckians do that sometimes, use a brand name generically, but we shouldn’t it, because Kern’s lawyers don’t like it, and, trust me, you don’t want to get a letter from those people.

Ramsey’s Diner in Lexington (my favorite local restaurant) calls its version May-Day Pie, because the Derby is always the first Saturday in May, but it’s good any time.


  • 9-inch deep-dish pie crust
  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1 cup chocolate chips, more or less
  • 1 and 1/2 cups pecan halves, more or less


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. With a mixer, whip the butter, sugar, corn syrup, eggs, vanilla and bourbon together until frothy
  3. Spread the chocolate chips and pecans evenly on the bottom of the pie shell
  4. Pour the mixed ingredients into pie crust and back at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until set
  5. Let cool 30 minutes before serving (it’s good with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream)

Photo by gregoirvedb via Flickr

20 thoughts on “Chocolate pecan pie with bourbon, in time for the Kentucky Derby

    1. The original recipe used walnuts instead of pecans. I have it on good authority (OK, Wikipedia) that George Kern created the pie in 1950 at the Melrose Inn in Prospect, Kentucky.

  1. Can’t wait to try this one out. I LOVE pecans! “Kentucky Colonial” Way to go…I’m assuming not of the chicken variety as in the restaurant. Have a great weekend!

    1. Harland Sanders was made an honorary Kentucky Colonel in the 1930s by Governor Ruby Laffoon. I know, it sounds like I’m making this up, but I’m not. We had a governor named Ruby Laffoon. Others who have received the honor include Kentuckians Muhammad Ali (Louisville), Johnny Depp (born in Owensboro) and Ashley Judd (born in California but raised in Kentucky). Also, Hunter S. Thompson (Louisville). Colonels from out of state have included Elvis, Roy Rogers, Betty White and Pope John Paul II.

  2. You’ll want to top Derby Pie with

    Bourbon Cream Sauce

    1 cup whipping cream or heavy cream
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    3 egg yolks
    1/3 cup granulated sugar
    2 to 3 tablespoons bourbon

    In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the whipping cream and vanilla, bring just to a simmer. Remove from heat.

    Beat together the egg yolks and sugar. Quickly stir 1/2 cup of the hot cream into the egg yolks, stirring constantly. Pour back into the hot cream in the saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes, until it just begins to simmer, then stir and cook 2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat and stir in the bourbon. Strain and serve warm.

    Makes about 1 cup of bourbon sauce.

  3. Thanks – I love new recipes! I went to school at Indiana University and one spring we made a road trip to Churchill Downs, the weekend before the Derby. I had never been to a horse race before that and I really enjoyed the action and the colors of flowers and silks. I didn’t place any bets that day, but I had a friend who won about $4 – very exciting.

  4. I have no flipping idea how I didn’t see this post until AFTER the Derby, but the important thing is that it’s now starred in my reader. Sadly, I have not consumed Derby Pie yet this year. (Note the “yet.”) But I did have Derby Pie ice cream at my favorite creamery shop and it was deeeeelicious. They even put crust in the ice cream. If it was Kerns, high five to them.

    1. It was Derby Week, Louisville was crazy, the juleps were flowing … I can understand how you’d miss it. I ended up making 2 pies. Took one to work. I thought people would have a slice after lunch. They tore into it around 8:30.

      1. The sweets are always gone before 11:30a. That’s why I usually just take monkey bread for the workfolk – they gobble it up!

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