At the Table

Kentucky Derby Food Ideas from the Bluegrass State

By: Hannah Lee Leidy

Kentucky Derby food ideas for at-home revelers

The Kentucky Hot Brown is part of the Derby trifecta: See the 100-year-old Brown Hotel, go to the tracks, have a Hot Brown. While the standard version of the sandwich is a layering of Texas toast, roasted turkey, and bacon, all smothered in Mornay sauce and cheese, we asked Kentucky chef Josh Bettis to create a more manageable way to enjoy the dish at home. His Hot Brown spring rolls offer a bite-sized taste of Louisville, and they’re just the beginning the Kentucky Derby food ideas. These smaller bites in the Derby Day spread include a wedge salad, double-decker ham sandwiches, and a sweet julep trifle to cap it all off. Don your hats, place your bets, and pour your best bourbon; we’re off!

Kentucky Derby Food Ideas from The Brown Hotel

Kentucky Derby Food Idea: Wedge salad with benedictine dressing

Kentucky Derby Wedge Salad with Benedictine Dressing

Fresh, light, and healthy, is there any more to ask for on race day? Crispy iceberg lettuce gets decked with a shower of blue cheese crumbles and salted ham before being finished with a creamy, cooling cucumber dressing.

Hot Brown Spring Rolls are a bite-sized Kentucky Derby Food Idea

Hot Brown Spring Rolls

This Kentucky Derby food idea is a must for any appetizer spread. Turkey, bacon, creamy cheese, and Roma tomatoes get packaged into a crispy, fried wonton for a version of the Kentucky Hot Brown that you can eat on the go.

Party tea sandwiches are an easy-to-assemble Kentucky Derby food idea

Party Tea Sandwiches

Make your Derby party a refined event with these teeny finger sandwiches that combine elements of the two classics: cucumber and pimento cheese-and-ham. Turn them into a double-decker sandwich, but slice them into little logs for easy eating.

Mint Julep Trifles for a sweet Kentucky Derby Food Idea

Mint Julep Trifles

In the market for an eccentric yet dignified dessert? Look no farther than this trio of bourbon-ginger gelée, sharp mint mousse, and earthy almond crumble. This Kentucky Derby dessert has just enough sweet and natural flavors to cleanse the palate without ruining your appetite. Take in the races as you sit back and savor the minty, boozy bite.

Other Kentucky Derby Food Ideas

B & G Goat Cheese Deviled Eggs Recipe for a Kentucky Derby Food Idea

B & G Goat Cheese Deviled Eggs

Creamy and decadent deviled eggs with Berkshire prosciutto, robust goat cheese, and a splash of white truffle oil for garnish. These bite-sized morsels of expertly paired flavors and textures are perfect for grazing on throughout the day.

Plate of watermelon skewers for a refreshing Kentucky Derby Food Idea

Watermelon Skewers

A watermelon appetizer may remind you of childhood, but the hint of tequila and kick of chile and lime is enough to keep adults happy. These watermelon skewers can excite, surprise, and refresh all in one cooling bite.

Mac and cheese

Kentucky Colonel Mint Gelato and Bourbon-Smoked Sugar Cookie Sandwiches

Are you looking for a frozen treat that’s simultaneously snappy and creamy? Reach for these ice cream sandwiches made with homemade mint gelato and bourbon-smoked sugar cookies for a cooling bite that reimagines mint juleps into dessert form.

Tray of salmon croquettes with Duke's Mayonnaise from Ashleigh Shanti

Duke’s Salmon Croquettes 

Seasoned with garlic, paprika, bay leaves, and onions, these savory salmon croquettes make a filling and satisfying option among the Kentucky Derby food ideas. The crunchy exterior encases a luscious salmon interior, and the croquettes are shaped into optimal shape for dunking into the Duke’s Mayonnaise dipping sauce.

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