Kentucky Derby 2015: 19 bourbon-based recipes to celebrate

Bourbon-based recipes
Maple-Bourbon smoked duck shot in the Los Angeles Times studio on January 28, 2015. Read the recipe.
(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

The Kentucky Derby is Saturday, May 2. Have you found a flamboyant hat yet? More importantly, do you have enough bourbon?

Sure, the mint julep may be the offical drink of the day at Churchill Downs tomorrow, but its not the only way to enjoy Kentucky’s most famous liquor.

To celebrate the two most exciting minutes in sports, we’ve compiled 19 of our favorite bourbon-based recipes. Whether you’re looking for a simple snack, savory main, or sweet finish to your festivities, we’re here to help.

Have a stack of napkins ready when you tackle the pecan-crusted bourbon ribs or smoke the maple and bourbon-brined ducks pictured above. Keep things simple with loaded meatball sandwiches, flavored with no less than one-half cup of bourbon. Finish things off with a slice of sweet potato or pecan pie.


Don’t worry. We also included a recipe for bourbon balls, which you can also find below. They’re classic, come together quickly and there’s no cooking involved.



Total time: 1 hour, plus chilling time for the dough | Makes about 4 dozen bourbon balls


Note: Submitted by Kate Wheeler of Pasadena.

10 ounces Nilla wafers or graham crackers, crushed into crumbs (about 2 1/2 cups crumbs)
1 cup finely ground pecan halves
1/2 cup powdered sugar
6 ounces chocolate chips
1/2 cup bourbon
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
Granulated sugar, for dusting

1. In a large bowl, stir together the cookie crumbs, ground pecans and powdered sugar.

2. In a microwaveable bowl, microwave the chocolate until it’s melted (I usually do it for 30 seconds, then in 10-second intervals, stirring between each interval, and stop before they’re totally melted because they’ll melt as you stir). Stir in bourbon and corn syrup to combine (the chocolate will seize a bit and the bourbon won’t incorporate well. Just do the best you can).

3. Add the chocolate mixture to the crumbs mixture, and stir until thoroughly combined. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes.

4. Pour some granulated sugar into a dish. Form the chocolate mixture into small balls the size of grapes, and roll each ball in the sugar.

Each of 4 dozen cookies 73 calories; 1 gram protein; 9 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 4 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 1 mg cholesterol; 6 grams sugar; 20 mg sodium.

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