Kentucky Derby Recipes To Win The Day

By:

Dave Joachim

The Kentucky Derby has become a national treasure. That’s pretty surprising for a two-minute horse race. Nonetheless, “the most exciting two minutes in sports” and its $3 million purse have attracted more than 16 million television viewers nationwide. This thoroughbred horse race is the first leg of the prestigious Triple Crown, which also includes the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. As of 2018, American Pharoah and Justify are the only living horses to have won the Triple Crown, and millions of American tune in to watch who will become the next winner.

But this short race at Churchill Downs has taken on even greater significance. The event itself is now the culmination of a rollicking two-week festival that overtakes the entire town of Louisville (pronounce LOU-uh-ville) with a grand parade, fireworks, and many other sporting events from basketball and a running marathon to a steamboat race and balloon race.

Maybe it’s the horses. Maybe it’s the traditions. Either way, the Kentucky Derby has captured our national attention. 

Maybe it’s the mint juleps! These cold, boozy cocktails are a mainstay at Derby Day parties, and they’re super easy to make. Check out our recipe for making mint juleps as a batch cocktail for a crowd, or just as a single drink for yourself. The choice is yours. If you’re watching the race, be sure to serve some barbecue. Kentucky is a dark horse in the BBQ world but no slouch by any means. The state’s claim to fame, especially in western Kentucky, is mutton cooked over hickory wood and basted with a deep dark savory sauce heavy on Worcestershire, black pepper and allspice. Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn made this dark sauce famous and sells it nationally, but you can make a very faithful version with our easy “Sunlite” recipe below. It’s fantastic on any cut of smoked or grilled lamb. 

Most Kentucky BBQ joints also serve pulled pork with a vinegar-based sauce, and our recipe for perfect pulled pork will not do you wrong on Derby Day. What other meats show up in Kentucky barbecue? Hickory smoked ham is popular, thinly sliced for sandwiches. At Derby parties, the humble ham sandwich has found fame in the form of country ham biscuits. On Derby Day, slice up some salty, country ham, split a biscuit (using our tried and true recipe below), and sandwich the ham with a good slathering of melted butter. If you’re feeling really crazy (too many mint juleps?), slather some mustard in there too! No, it’s not traditional. But this is how traditions are born!

No matter how you slice it, enjoy your Derby Day in style. Gather your friends, share some nibbles and drinks, and watch the most exciting two minutes in sports. Don’t forget to wear a stylish hat!

mint julep cocktail

Kentucky Mint Juleps: The Ultimate Recipe

By:

Meathead

Here's the ultimate recipe for mint juleps, a refreshing beverage made from Kentucky Bourbon and mint. The mint julep became the official drink of the Kentucky Derby in 1938 and today the governor of Kentucky salutes the victorious Derby owner with a toast at the fashionable Winner's Party following the race.
cocktail with smoked ice

Smoked Ice Recipe Amps Up Any Cocktail

By:

Meathead

Add an unexpected twist to your bourbon, Bloody Marys, and cocktails with this simple recipe for smoked ice. While it sounds like a challenge, creating smoked ice couldn't be easier, requiring nothing more then some wood, a grill, and ice. The end result is a smoky BBQ addition to virtually any cold drink.
lamb chops in kentucky black sauce

Sunlite Kentucky Black BBQ Sauce And Dip Recipe For Lamb and Mutton

By:

Meathead

In Western Kentucky the BBQ is mutton, and the sauce is vinegary, spiked with Worcestershire sauce. Here's a recipe for black BBQ sauce inspired by Moonlite Bar-B-Q Sauce & Dip. This thin tart sauce cuts the rich fat, making it perfect for use as a deeply penetrating baste as the meat cooks or as a finishing sauce.
grilled leg of lamb

Dolly’s Rub Is The Only One You Ever Need For Lamb

By:

Meathead

This wonderful spice rub is perfect when looking to amp up the flavor for smoked and grilled lamb. Use it as a dry rub seasoning for lamb or mutton prior to cooking or add liquid to make a flavorful paste for the meat. It also works well as a dry brine, ensuring deep flavor penetration and maximum moisture.
bbq baked beans

Bourbon BBQ Baked Beans, A Simply Amazing Side

By:

Meathead

Step up your next cookout with this recipe for the ultimate BBQ baked beans featuring a kiss of Bourbon. This will arguably result in the best baked beans you've ever had, certain to wow your guests. While there are a lot of ingredients, it's actually quick and easy to assemble then stew to perfection.
Biscuits

Easy Southern Biscuits That Just Can’t Fail

By:

Meathead

Southern biscuits are not as hard as some folks want to make them. These biscuits can be served plain, with butter and/or jam, with turkey and the fixings, with ham, smothered in sausage gravy, and as sandwiches. They can be used as a topping for fruit cobblers, pot pies, or chili baked in a Dutch oven.
double smoked ham

You Have Stumbled Across The Ultimate Double Smoked Ham Recipe

By:

Meathead

Create the best ham you've ever tasted with this ultimate double smoked ham recipe. Ordinary store bought whole or spiral ham is taken over the top by slowly smoking it on the grill. The true star of the show, however, is the sweet and savory glaze!
Smoked pork butt on the grill

The Easiest Authentic BBQ Pulled Pork Recipe Ever

By:

Meathead

This easy BBQ pulled pork recipe skips the slow cooker to create authentic low and slow smoked pulled pork on a smoker or grill. With smoke woven through the moist meat, bits of seasoned crust, and a gentle splash of BBQ sauce, BBQ pulled pork is a foolproof low and slow smoked food, perfect for feeding large crowds.
Frying chicken

Make This Fried Chicken Recipe On The Grill And Skip The Mess!

By:

Meathead

Fried chicken is easy to do on the grill with no mess, no smell, and no smoke alarms. Plus, the grill grate serves as a rack for drip drying the fried chicken. Give it a try with this recipe roughly based on KFC fried chicken!
Fried green tomato burger with comeback sauce

Fried Green Tomato Burgers That’ll Make Any Southerner Swoon

By:

Clint Cantwell

Take a trip to the south thanks to this burger recipe featuring fried green tomatoes and comeback sauce. Green tomatoes are sliced, breaded, and deep fried to golden perfection. Crunchy with just a hint of tartness, the fried green tomatoes pair perfectly with the burger patty and a classic Southern comeback sauce.

Related articles

Published On: 6/28/2019 Last Modified: 4/29/2021


If you help us, we’ll pay you back bigtime with an ad-free experience and much more!

Millions come to AmazingRibs.com every month for quality tested recipes, tips on technique, science, mythbusting, product reviews, and inspiration. But it is expensive to run a website with more than 4,000 pages and we don’t have a big corporate partner like TV network or a magazine publisher to subsidize us.

Our most important source of sustenance is people who join our Pitmaster Club, but please don’t think of it as a donation. Members get 21 great benefits. We block all third-party ads, we give members free ebooks, magazines, interviews, webinars, more recipes, a monthly sweepstakes with prizes worth up to $2,000, discounts on products, and best of all a community of like-minded cooks free of flame wars. Click below to see all the benefits, take a free 30 day trial membership, and help keep this site alive.


Post comments and questions below

grouchy?

1) Please try the search box at the top of every page before you ask for help.

2) Try to post your question to the appropriate page.

3) Tell us everything we need to know to help such as the type of cooker and thermometer. Dial thermometers are often off by as much as 50°F so if you are not using a good digital thermometer we probably can’t help you with time and temp questions. Please read this article about thermometers.

4) If you are a member of the Pitmaster Club, your comments login is probably different.

5) Posts with links in them may not appear immediately.

Moderators

  Max

Click for comments...

Spotlight

These are not ads or paid placements. These are some of our favorite tools and toys.

These are products we have tested, won our top awards, and are highly recommend. Click here to read how we test, about our medals, and what they mean.

Use Our Links To Help Keep Us Alive

A big part of this site is our unbiased equipment and product reviews. We love playing with toys and we have no problem calling them the way we see them. Some companies pay a finder’s fee if a reader clicks a link on AmazingRibs.com and buys a product. It has zero impact on our reviews, zero impact on the price you pay, and the sites never tell us what you bought, but it has a major impact on our ability to keep this site alive! So before you buy, please click our links. Here’s a link that takes you to a page on Amazon that has some of our favorite tools and toys: https://tinyurl.com/amazingribs


The Good-One Is A Superb Grill And A Superb Smoker All In One


The Good-One Open Range is dramatically different from a traditional offset smoker. By placing the heat source behind and under the smokebox instead of off to the side, Open Range produces even temperature from left to right, something almost impossible to achieve with a standard barrel shaped offset.

Click here to read our complete review


The Undisputed Champion!


 
The Thermoworks Thermapen MK4 is considered by the pros, and our team, to be the single best instant read thermometer. The MK4 includes features that are common on high-end instruments: automatic backlight and rotating display. Don’t accept cheap substitutes.
Click here to read our comprehensive Platinum Medal review


Finally, A Great Portable Pellet Smoker


Green Mountain’s portable Davy Crockett Pellet Smoker is one mean tailgating and picnic machine. But it’s also gaining popularity with people who want to add a small, set it and forget it pellet smoker to their backyard arsenal. And with their WiFi capabilities you can control and monitor Davy Crocket from your smart phone or laptop.

Click here to read our detailed review and to order


The Cool Kettle With The Hinged Hood We Always Wanted


Napoleon’s 22″ Pro Cart Charcoal Kettle Grill puts a few spins on the familiar kettle design. In fact, the hinged lid with a handle on the front, spins in a rotary motion 180 degrees. It’s hard to beat a Weber kettle, but Napoleon holds its own and adds some unique features to make the 22″ Pro Cart a viable alternative.

Click here for more about what makes this grill special


Bring The Heat With Broil King Signet’s Dual Tube Burners


The Broil King Signet 320 is a modestly priced, 3-burner gas grill that packs a lot of value and power under the hood. Broil King’s proprietary, dual-tube burners get hot fast and are able to achieve high, searing temps that rival most comparatively priced gas grills. The quality cast aluminum housing carries a Limited Lifetime Warranty.

Click here to read our complete review


Masterbuilt MPS 340/G ThermoTemp XL Propane Smoker


This is the first propane smoker with a thermostat, making this baby foolproof. Set ThermoTemp’s dial from 175° to 350°F and the thermostat inside will adjust the burner just like an indoor kitchen oven. All you need to do is add wood to the tray above the burner to start smokin’.

Click here to read our detailed review


Grilla Pellet Smoker proves good things come in small packages

We always liked Grilla. The small 31.5″ x 29.5″ footprint makes it ideal for use where BBQ space is limited, as on a condo patio.
Click here for our review on this unique smoker