Try a bite-sized derby pie for the Kentucky Derby! These mini treats have pecan pie filling with bourbon and semisweet chocolate chips. Yum!

plate of mini derby pies next to glass of bourbon

The next few days are back-to-back holidays. We have Cinco de Mayo on Thursday, the Kentucky Derby on Friday and Saturday, then Mother’s Day on Sunday!

Yesterday I shared my recipe for no bake margarita cheesecake bites and today I’m sharing a recipe for these mini derby pies.

mini derby pie with a bite on top of more mini pies on plate

What is in a derby pie?

Is anyone wondering what a derby pie is? I can explain. A derby pie is a chocolate and nut tart in a pie shell and it was created by George Kern in Kentucky around 1950.

The majority of derby pie recipes call for pecans and semisweet chocolate. It is also common to add a bit of bourbon to the mix for an extra kick. Naturally this dessert was adopted by Kentucky Derby fans and quickly became their go-to treats during the horse race.

mini derby pie ingredients in bowls

How to make mini derby pies

  1. Preheat oven to 325° F. Spray mini muffin pan with nonstick spray.
  2. Prepare pie crust: Using a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out circles of pie crust dough and place in the muffin pan. Sprinkle pecans and chocolate evenly in bottom of each pie shell. Set aside.
  3. Make filling: Bring corn syrup, sugar, brown sugar and bourbon to a boil and whisk for 3 minutes. Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, butter, cornmeal, vanilla and salt. Add a quarter of the hot mixture to the egg mixture to temper the eggs. Then transfer the egg mixture to the saucepan, whisking constantly. Divide mixture among prepared pie crusts, filling each cup about two-thirds full.
  4. Bake at 325° F for 25 minutes.
photo collage demonstrating how to make filling for mini derby pies
photo collage demonstrating how to assemble mini derby pies in a mini muffin tin

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you freeze mini derby pies?

Yes. Individually wrap the cooled pies, place in an airtight container and freeze for up to one month. Defrost in the refrigerator before bringing to room temperature and serving.

Can I cut this recipe in half or double it?

Yes. This recipe can be halved and doubled easily.

Can I make this recipe without alcohol?

Yes. Bourbon may be omitted. Replace with equal amounts of water or apple cider. You can also substitute with 2 teaspoons bourbon extract.

Why are my mini derby pies hard?

They were likely baked too long or your oven was too hot. The filling should be soft and crunchy.

Dessert recipes for the Kentucky Derby

Are you throwing a viewing party for the Kentucky Derby? Once you have your hat picked out, be sure to plan your menu. I highly suggest making mint julep cupcakes. They are inspired by the Derby’s signature cocktail and have a kick of bourbon in them as well! An easier, no bake recipe are my bourbon chocolate pecan truffles. Other popular desserts include chocolate pecan cookie bars and red rose cupcakes (for the Run of the Roses!)

plate of mini derby pies surrounded by more mini pies and mini chocolate chips

Whether you watch the Kentucky Derby every year or you are attending your first derby-themed party with friends, I promise you these mini derby pies will be a hit.

plate of mini derby pies

Mini Derby Pie

Try a bite-sized derby pie for the Kentucky Derby! These mini treats have pecan pie filling with bourbon and semisweet chocolate chips. Yum!

Ingredients

  • 2 packages refrigerated pie crusts, (4 pie crusts)
  • 1 ½ cups (187 g) chopped pecans
  • 48 pecan halves for topping pies
  • 1 cup (175 g or 6 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup (235 ml) dark corn syrup
  • ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (100 g) firmly packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup (62 ml) bourbon, substitute water if you prefer
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¼ cup (56 g) unsalted butter,, melted
  • 2 teaspoons cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 325° F. Spray mini muffin pan with nonstick spray. Using a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out circles of pie crust dough and place in the muffin pan.
  • Sprinkle pecans and chocolate evenly in bottom of each pie shell.1 Set aside.
  • In a large saucepan, combine corn syrup, sugar, brown sugar and bourbon. Bring to a boil over medium heat and stir constantly for 3 minutes.2 Remove from heat and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, butter, cornmeal, vanilla and salt. Gradually whisk about one-fourth of the hot corn syrup mixture into the egg mixture (this will help the eggs from solidifying)3. Transfer egg mixture to the large saucepan with remaining hot mixture, whisking constantly.
  • Pour two teaspoons of filling into prepared pie crusts, taking care not to overfill.4 Fill about two-thirds full (a small cookie scooper is a good measurement). Once filled, top each pie with a pecan half.
  • Bake at 325° for approximately 25 minutes or until pies are set and crust is golden. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then remove pies and cool completely on wire rack.

Notes

  1. I placed 1 scant teaspoon of chopped pecans and 3 Ghiradelli chocolate chips in each shell.
  2. I suggest using a silicone spatula to stir. This helps to keep the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  3. If some of your egg bits solidify, pour your filling through a fine mesh strainer before adding into your pie shells.
  4. Overfilling will make the mini pies harder to remove from the muffin pan.  I used a small cookie scooper as a good measurement.
  5. Store mini pies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
  6. To freeze mini pies (up to 2 weeks in advance): Bake and cool completely. Individually cover the pies in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. When you are ready to eat them, unwrap the pies and defrost them in the refrigerator (should take 2 to 4 hours). Then either bring to room temperature or reheat in the oven.

Recipe adapted from Home Is Where the Boat Is.

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