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Thoroughbred Pie

Celebrate Derby Day with this gooey and sweet pie filled with chocolate and walnuts and flavored with bourbon.

Thoroughbred Pie

The Kentucky Derby has been a big deal in my family for years. My grandfather was originally from Louisville and had Derby tickets for over half a century. I’ve attended 3 Derbys and each one was an experience I’ll never forget. Whether its celebrity spotting, drinking mint juleps, placing bets, or cheering for your horse to come in, there’s nothing like the excitement of the Kentucky Derby. It’s impossible to go to Churchill Downs and not be completely in awe of the history and tradition associated with it.

Thoroughbred Pie

I’ve never eaten Derby Pie at the Kentucky Derby or seen anyone eat one. Most people are too busy drinking to eat, but I do like a food tradition of any sort. Incidentally, we are calling it Thoroughbred Pie here because Derby Pie is a registered trademark and the owners of the trademark have sued multiple times to protect the name of their pie including a lawsuit against Bon Appetit in 1987. The Washington Post published a recipe in 1982 calling it “Not Derby Pie”.

Thoroughbred Pie

But I think the name Thoroughbred Pie works just as well as it is called in this recipe I’ve adapted slightly from America’s Test Kitchen. The pie is gooey and sweet with a chocolate layer on the bottom and a thick, sugary walnut layer on top. A nice splash of bourbon added to the pie filling gives it its signature taste.

Serve with Bourbon Whipped Cream for a boozy and sweet Kentucky treat.

If you’re planning a Derby Party be sure to check out these Mint Julep Brownies.

Thoroughbred Pie

Thoroughbred Pie

Thoroughbred Pie

A delicious southern pie filled with walnuts and chocolate and flavored with bourbon.
PREP: 1 hour 15 minutes
COOK: 40 minutes
TOTAL: 1 hour 55 minutes


Pie Crust

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and chilled
  • 3-4 tablespoons ice water

Pie Filling

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (8 tablespoons), cut into 1 tablespoon sized pieces
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • whipped cream for serving


  • Make pie crust. Place flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse until combined. Scatter pieces of chilled shortening over top and process until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, about 10 seconds. Scatter butter pieces on top and pulse for another 10 seconds, or until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  • Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of ice water on top. Use a rubber spatula to stir and press the dough until it sticks together. Add 1 more tablespoon of water only if dough is too dry to come together. You can test whether you need more by picking up a piece of dough and squeezing it in your hand. If it holds together, you do not need more water.
  • Place dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, flatten into a disk, and completely wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  • Let chilled dough sit rest on counter for 10 minutes.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 12-inch circle. Loosely roll dough around rolling pin to move it to the pie plate. Center it in the pie plate and press it into the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate. Trim overhang so that it only extends 1/2-inch past the edge of the pie plate. Tuck overhanging dough under itself. Crimp dough around the edge using your fingers.
  • Loosely wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for 30 minutes.
  • Heat oven to 375 degrees with oven rack in lower-middle position.
  • Line chilled pie crust with aluminum foil, being sure to cover the edges and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake 20 to 25 minutes. When you remove crust from oven, reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.
  • Remove aluminum foil and weights and quickly spread the chocolate chips evenly over the bottom of the still hot crust. Let sit 5 minutes and then use an offset spatula to smooth the melted chocolate. Set aside.
  • In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until butter is dark brown and has a nutty aroma, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and slowly stir in bourbon. Let cool 5 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together granulated sugar, brown sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Add eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla and whisk until smooth.
  • Gradually mix in warm butter mixture. Stir in walnuts and pour filling into pie crust.
  • Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool for 4 hours before slicing.


Calories: 672kcal
Author: Christin Mahrlig
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Southern

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21 thoughts on “Thoroughbred Pie”

  1. Marilyn Petitto

    This looks delicious, we have a Kentucky Derby Party every year, so I cannot wait to make this pie. Thank you so much for this recipe.

  2. Coming in here late to the party but thinking about making this for Thanksgiving.
    Question about the walnuts-Do I measure out 1 1/2 c walnut halves, toast them and then chop them? If I bought them already chopped, would it still be 1 1/2 cups?

  3. The pictures look like there is a top crust as well. Are my eyes playing tricks on me, did I miss a step in the recipe? I’m making this pie over the weekend as part of a challenge to consume forty types of pie this year and I want to make sure I have it down right.

    1. Christin
      Christin Mahrlig

      Hi Amy. There is no top crust. I think the cornstarch in the filling is what makes it look like there is a crust.

  4. Loved the story behind this pie – it looks amazing! The filling looks so decadent and gooey and the bourbon whipped cream sounds fantastic!

  5. Christin, this pie looks amazing! That sugary walnut filling just so delicious oozing out the side, and I’d really love a slice!

  6. Interesting story behind this great looking pie, I bet the derby was quite the adventure, I’m picturing ladies with beautiful hats. Anyway, love this combination of ingredients, wonderful looking pie crust.

  7. Lindsey @ American Heritage Cooking

    Oh for the love of all that is good! I need a slice of that pie!! Loved your backstory on the pie! Always enjoy a bit of food history 🙂 I didn’t know you could trademark a pie!!!

    Pinned! Because I need this in my future with or without a giant hat!

  8. Wow this pie looks so ooey gooey delicious! And I think bourbon whipped cream sounds perfect for topping! I’ve never been to the Kentucky Derby but it always looks like so much fun!

  9. Amy (Savory Moments)

    This pie looks so decadent and super delicious! Pinning it now so I can try it sometime!

  10. nicole ~ Cooking for Keeps

    SO flakey!! I’m not really one for fruit pies, but give me a nut or cream pie and I’m all in. This looks fabulous!!

  11. Renee@Two in the Kitchen

    Oh my gosh Christin!! I love you!! And I love this pie!! And I love the Kentucky Derby!! I have so enjoyed watching it since I was a little girl. This pie just looks amazing and I knew exactly what you were referring to regardless of the name. Pinning and sharing this great recipe!!

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