And they’re off! The first Saturday in May is the kick-off to the Triple Crown of horse racing, the Kentucky Derby. Celebrities, locals and horse racing enthusiasts wait all year to watch the greatest two minutes in sports. If you don’t feel like braving the crowds at the track, a rockin’ Kentucky Derby party is the way to go. Everything bourbon is a *must*, including the official drink of the Derby, the Mint Julep. Which obviously means that you need your own DIY engraved julep cup kit to customize your drink. Break out your favorite derby hats and put your best betting face on, because these 18 easy recipes will make your Kentucky Derby party the one to be at.


1. Pink Lily Cocktail: The day before the Kentucky Derby is the Oaks, which is a race specifically for fillies. The signature cocktail for that event is the Lily, based on the garland of lilies bestowed upon the winning horse. It’s made up of cranberry juice, lemon juice, blackberries and vodka, and is a necessity for all non-bourbon drinkers at your Derby party. (via Pip and Ebby)


2. Crock Pot Apple Cider Pulled Pork: Crock pot dishes are a party essential. You can throw everything in your slow cooker and move on to your other tasks at hand. This pulled pork cooks for 10 hours on low, so you can easily do it overnight if you wish. (via Foods of Our Lives)

bacon wrapped pork loin

3. Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin With Cherry Bourbon Sauce: Your Derby party can be as casual or fancy as you want it to be. If you decide to go for more of a classy dinner soiree, this pork loin would be perfect for a plated main course. (via My Modern Cookery)


4. Pecan Shortbread Thumbprints Filled With Chocolate and Bourbon: These delectable little cookies have the same flavors as the signature pie of the Derby, but in bite-sized form. Try and eat just one — we dare you. (via The Hungry Traveler)


5. Derby Day Bourbon Brownies: Boxed brownie mix and a ton of booze will make these Derby day brownies a hit. There’s bourbon not only in the brownies themselves, but in the frosting on top as well. Yes, please. (via The Seasoned Mom)


6. Kentucky Derby Pie Milkshake: Chocolate ice cream mixed with butter pecan ice cream, plus — you guessed it — bourbon equals an indulgent milkshake you won’t want to share. You’ll definitely want to convert the recipe to serve a whole party. (via Camille Styles)


7. Gourmet Deviled Eggs With Speck Ham and Roasted Red Peppers: Deviled eggs are a spring party staple, which means they have a permanent seat at any Derby party. If you can’t find speck ham, prosciutto or country ham would work just as nicely. (via A Fork’s Tale)


8. Horse Cupcakes: Obviously, Derby day isn’t *just* about bourbon. It’s about horses! These adorable horse cupcakes are quick and easy to put together, and you can even enlist the help of a few kiddos if you like. (via Flying on Jess Fuel)

hot chicken

9. Nashville Hot Chicken Sliders: Hot chicken may have originated in Nashville, but it’s slowly become a Kentucky favorite. Kick your usual fried chicken up a notch by dousing it in this spicy and tangy sauce. Feel free to leave some bare if there will be kids at your party. (via My Modern Cookery)


10. Kentucky Hot Brown Dip: The Kentucky Hot Brown is a classic recipe that has been around for generations. Typically, it’s a hot open-faced sandwich, layered with turkey, bacon, tomatoes and a Mornay sauce. Turning that into a gooey appetizer that everyone can dig into makes total sense. (via Cupcakes and Kale Chips)


11. Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwiches: If you want to go the traditional route and serve the sandwiches themselves, go for it! This drool-worthy version uses jalapeño cornbread biscuits instead of toast, thick-cut honey bourbon bacon and heirloom tomatoes. (via Half Baked Harvest)


12. Southern Sliders: Finger foods are always the first to go at parties — especially when they’re loaded with Southern ingredients like pimento cheese and green tomatoes. Serve on mini biscuit buns to drive the country theme home. (via Runaway Chef)


13. Mint Julep: Having a Derby party without a Mint Julep is like having a birthday party without cake — you just can’t do it. Stay true to the classic cocktail with this simple recipe. Try putting out a few different bourbons so your guests can sample and choose their fave. (via Food Fashion and Fun)


14. Oven Roasted Corn on the Cob: Fresh corn on the cob can be a pain to make for a large group. That issue is solved when you give them a simple roast in the oven. Slather with a homemade spice blend and 25 minutes later you’ll have perfectly sweet and spicy roasted corn that’s made for munching. (via Eat Healthy Eat Happy)


15. Oven-Fried Southern Chicken With Sweet Honey Bourbon Sauce: Frying chicken on the stove in a vat of oil takes a lot of time and patience, not to mention it makes your house smell less than inviting. Save yourself some frustration and go with a crispy oven-baked chicken instead. Drizzle with a sweet bourbon sauce and let the sticky-finger licking commence. (via Half Baked Harvest)


16. Strawberry Bourbon Habanero Ribs: Grilling ribs doesn’t have to be intimidating. These sweet and spicy ribs take just over an hour start to finish, with only 10 minutes of active grill time. This way you have more time to mingle with your pony-betting guests. (via Fork Knife and Love)


17. Sweet Tea Mint Juleps: Sweet tea and Mint Juleps are a match made in heaven. Make two batches, with and without bourbon, so the kids and non-drinkers can enjoy the minty sweet tea. (via Spicy Southern Kitchen)


18. Ladies’ Hat Piñata Cookies: Giant floppy hats and fascinators are not optional at the Kentucky Derby or at any Derby party. These charming hat cookies represent the most well-known part of Derby fashion, and they have a sweet candy surprise in the middle. (via Hungry Happenings)

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