Sporked’s Guide to Derby Day Food and Drink

The Kentucky Derby is nearly here, and if there’s one thing I love about humanity, it’s the way we can make a famously two-minute race become an all-day affair. Of course, all of the delectable, comforting, Southern-inspired food and drinks play a huge role in that. From hot brown fixins to the best Kentucky Derby appetizers and desserts, any good Kentucky Derby party food spread will have everyone cheering louder than the crowd at Churchill Downs. So, without further ado, here is Sporked’s curated guide to Kentucky Derby foods you can bet on… and actually win. 

Best Bacon

best bacon
Credit: Liv Averett / Instacart / Target

We know you take your Kentucky hot browns very seriously and, lucky for you, we take our bacon taste tests even more seriously. If you’re looking for the perfect hickory smoke to go with that rich mornay sauce, we’ve got you covered. 

Best Turkey

best deli turkey
Credit: Liv Averett / Instacart / Ralphs / Vons / Walmart

Quality matters, and not everyone has time to roast and pluck a turkey to throw together some hot brown sandwiches. Our top oven-roasted turkey breast slices will save you time and energy without sacrificing that savory taste of this beloved Kentucky Derby food, so check them out!

Best Spreadable Cheese

Best cheese spread
Credit: Merc / Instacart / Trader Joe’s

If you skip the pimento cheese on Derby Day, well, I’m not sure your horse deserves to win. (Yep, I said what I said.) Our favorite picks include a classic Cabot Pimento Cheese Spread and a spicy white cheddar pimento cheese from My Three Sons that will knock you right off the saddle. 

Best Potato Salad

best store bought potato salad
Credit: Liv Averett / Instacart / Walmart

Nothing beats the classic charm of a creamy, tangy potato salad to go with your barbecue ribs and ice-cold Mint Juleps. Picture tender potatoes, crisp celery, crunchy pickles, all mixed with zesty mayo. Now picture buying this iconic Kentucky Derby food pre-made from a grocery store with zero fuss! You’re welcome!!

Best Deviled Eggs Seasoning

deviled egg seasoning
Credit: Liv Averett / iStock

Derby Day and deviled eggs go together like roses and racehorses. Jeez. That was cheesy. (Just like your hot brown sandwich! Har har… someone sedate me.) Anyways, when it comes to Kentucky Derby party food ideas, you can’t do much better than deviled eggs—but you can do better than just paprika. Seriously. Put down the paprika. 

Best Canned Whiskey Cocktails

best canned whiskey cocktails
Credit: Merc / Instacart / World Market / Drizly / Target

We haven’t tried canned Mint Juleps worthy of our stamp of approval, but these canned whiskey cocktails have absolutely no right being as good as they are. If you have a cooler to fill or you’re simply Mint-Julepped out, sip on these bad boys instead. 

Best Frozen Appetizers

best frozen apps
Credit: Liv Averett / Instacart / Target / Trader Joe’s / Walmart

Countless frozen appetizers have jockeyed to make it into this Sporked ranking, and our top picks remain undefeated. All of them are great, but for the best Kentucky Derby appetizers, we’ll go ahead and recommend the Trader Joe’s Parmesan Pastry Puffs, Foster Farms Hot & Spicy Chicken Wings, and El Monterey Southwest Chicken Taquitos to keep in line with the theme.

Best Biscuits

best store-bought biscuits
Credit: Paula Kunatee / Sarah Demonteverde / Target / Walmart / Ralphs / Instacart

Soft, fluffy biscuits are what your Derby Day dreams are made of. You can eat these with just butter, make a savory version with some seared sliced ham and pimento cheese, or opt for fruity sweetness with a little jam (like fig jam, apple butter jam… whatever jams your jam). Biscuits are some of the most versatile Kentucky Derby foods, so don’t miss out on these!

Best Pecan Pies

best store bought pecan pie
Credit: Merc / Walmart / Instacart / Ralphs

It’s true: Your horse might not win. In fact, the odds aren’t great to begin with. But if you have a delicious, nutty, crunchy pecan pie waiting for you at the end of the day, does that even really matter? Of all the Kentucky Derby desserts—and maybe all of the races, too—pecan pie is, in our opinion, the real prize. 

About the Author

Ariana Losch

Ariana Losch is a Sporked contributor, webcomic writer, java junkie, and bad TV enthusiast. She only ever feels at peace laying out on a beach like a kebab, roasting in the sun; sadly, she can never move back to Florida, her home state, because there simply isn’t enough good Mediterranean food. You can find her overstaying her welcome at just about every LA coffee shop, working on a screenplay and avoiding all eye contact. (She is embarrassed to be there, please leave her alone.)

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