Thanksgiving Derby Pie


For my Friendsgiving this year half the dessert was set.  My oldest daughter made an apple pie at school last week so that was a done deal.  But I felt we needed something else.  Something a little less traditional than the usual apple, pumpkin, pecan fare.  But still with a nod to those classics.  They’re classic for a reason after all.

chocolate chips and chopped pecans in bowls

And that’s when the Kentucky Derby popped into my head.  I know what you’re thinking, what’s the connection between the Derby and Thanksgiving?  But go with me for a sec because there was a connection in my thousand mile a minute mind.

Pecans being chopped on cutting board

Right after law school I lived in Louisville for about a year and worked only a few blocks from The Brown Hotel (a Louisville institution and famous for, among other things, it’s invention of the criminally underappreciated Hot Brown sandwich)

I went there for lunch with some co-workers one day and that’s when I first encountered Derby Pie.  One bite and I was immediately indignant that I’d made it to my mid-20s before discovering this pie.  Why had no one told me about this delicious creation before?

For those who haven’t had a Derby Pie : first, my condolences.  I don’t know who hid this from you, but you’re missing out.

Let me remedy that and make the proper introductions.  Derby Pie, reader.  Reader, Derby Pie.  Derby Pie is a dessert traditionally served during the Kentucky Derby.  It could be described as a pecan chocolate chip cookie in a pie crust but that sells it short.  It’s rich, it’s chocolatey, it’s ooey-gooey its amazing with a little whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.  But what puts it over the top is the bourbon.

bourbon and other pie ingredients

Bourbon is to Louisville as wine is to Napa.  The area is surrounded by bourbon distilleries though everyone has their favorite bourbon.  In Louisville, bourbon is in the drinks, it’s in the food, and a whiff of it’s oaky caramel scent can often be caught in the air.

Fun fact: When I was pregnant I didn’t have many strange cravings – food or otherwise.  The only one that stands out is that I loved, even craved, the smell of bourbon.  I used to have my husband order a bourbon on the rocks just so I could sniff it like some sort addled kid with a bottle of white-out.  But I digress.

  Derby Pie filling in bowl

In this dessert you add bourbon to the batter and then mix in pecans and chocolate chips.

Derby Pie filling being stirred in bowl

After that, prepare a 9-inch pie tin lined with pie dough.  To keep my Friendsgiving simple, I used a store bought one but if you have the time to make dough from scratch do it.  Go wild.

Uncooked pie crust with fork pricks

Then you’re going to prick holes in the crust with a fork and blind bake it with pie weights or beans in a pinch.  If you have a pudgy two-year old around, like I did, let them put in the baking weights in.  It makes for a cute picture and distracts them from whining for a hot second.

After the crust is blind baked add the filling mixture.  Inhale the delicious wafts of bourbon that emanate from the pie.  Mmm, bourbon.

Derby Pie filling being poured into crust

Once baked and cooled, Derby pie is the perfect twist on a holiday classic – pecan pie.  Told ya I’d make a connection between the Derby and Thanksgiving.  Took me a while but there it is.  Make the pie, eat a slice and then tell me how brilliant I am for connecting the two.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait if you give me a bourbon on the rocks to sniff.


Slice of derby pie


Thanksgiving Derby Pie

  • Author: closeenoughcook
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
  • Yield: 1 (9-inch) pie 1x


You’ve had pecan pie, you’ve probably even had chocolate chip pecan pie but have you had Derby pie?  It blows those other two out of the water.  If you took a chocolate chip pecan pie and got it drunk this is what you’d have.  The hint of bourbon cuts the sweetness of the chocolate chips and the filling batter.  The crunch of the pecans along with a flaky pie crust give it an unbeatable texture.  Served with whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream this pie can more than hold its own on any holiday table.

Adapted from Heide’s Kentucky Derby Dessert



1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

4 large eggs

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled

1/4 cup white sugar

2.5 tablespoons bourbon

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 (9 inch) pie crust

confectioner sugar (optional)

melted chocolate (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Place pecans on baking sheet and toast for 5 minutes or until aromatic. Allow to cool.
  3.  Line 9-inch pie pan with pie dough and prick bottom of pie with fork.
  4. Place baking weights on parchment paper in pie crust and blind bake for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove pie crust from oven and allow to cool.
  6. Whisk brown sugar, light corn syrup, flour, butter, white sugar, bourbon, and vanilla extract together in a bowl until smooth.
  7. Fold pecan pieces and chocolate chips into batter mixture until incorporated
  8. Pour into prepared pie crust and bake until pie is set (approx. 50-60 minutes).
  9. Let pie cool at least 15 minutes and top with confectioner’s sugar and melted chocolate if desired.

Keywords: Derby Pie

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