Derby Pie Truffles

Derby Pie Truffles are inspired by the iconic walnut-chocolate-bourbon pie served each year during the Kentucky Derby.

Derby Pie Truffles

Although I’m not a follower of thoroughbreds or an avid watcher of the Kentucky Derby, I am a huge fan of the food that surrounds the festivities. Mint Juleps, Kentucky Hot Brown, and Benedictine (cucumber spread) are all traditional Derby eats. They’re also from my general neck of the woods. We enjoy them year-round and without the brouhaha of a horse race, but it’s nice to see them getting the extra attention they deserve come the first Saturday in May.

Derby Pie is another traditional food which surrounds the race – literally. It’s sometimes sold at Churchill Downs racetrack on Derby Day. Although it’s never been put on the official Derby menu. It’s a walnut-chocolate-bourbon confection that inspired these two-bite truffles. If you’ve ever tasted Derby Pie, then I think you’ll find these truffles to be equally Kentuckified.

Form the Bourbon Walnut Truffles

The original pie (a Kern’s Kitchen creation circa 1950) uses walnuts in the batter, so that’s what I’m using here. Pecans are sometimes substituted, but I’m not totally convinced that makes Derby Pie.

The truffles are pretty simple to put together. Mix together ground walnuts, brown sugar, shortbread crumbs, bourbon, and a little maple syrup to hold things together. Roll the filling into walnut-sized pieces and freeze them until firm before dipping them in melted chocolate.

Derby Pie Truffles


Dip these truffles while frozen. And make sure the melted chocolate has a thin, pourable consistency. Do this by melting the chocolate with shortening or coconut oil, which is explained in the recipe. Otherwise the truffles will fall apart in the chocolate. Follow those two tips, and it’ll be smooth sailing going forward.

Derby Pie Truffles

Coat these with a three-quarter covering of chocolate (like buckeyes!). Or you can cover them completely if you prefer. They are absolutely delicious and I could not stop eating them. I had three for breakfast with coffee. Which is quite different from my morning smoothie routine but I have no regrets!

Derby Pie Truffles

I find these truffles to be slightly less sweet than Derby Pie, but they still hold all the nutty flavor and charm. These are certainly Derby Day appropriate, but I’m also eyeing them for winter holiday cookie trays. They’d be a perfect homespun gift!

The horseshoe picks I used for serving are for purchase here.

Derby Pie Truffles

Heather Baird
Derby Pie Truffles are inspired by the iconic walnut-chocolate-bourbon pie served each year at the Kentucky Derby.
Be sure to toast those walnuts – 350°F for 5-7 minutes should do it. Watch constantly to prevent burning. The shortbread crumbs can be made by grinding approximately 19 shortbread cookies in a food processor. (One sleeve of Trefoils if you’re a Girl Scouts cookie-buyer.)
4.50 from 2 votes
Prep Time 45 minutes
1 hour freeze time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 28


  • 2 1/2 cups toasted walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1 cup shortbread crumbs
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup plus extra if needed
  • 10 oz. semisweet chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening or coconut oil optional


  • Stir together the walnuts, cookie crumbs, brown sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add the bourbon, vanilla and maple syrup. Mix the ingredients together using your hands to make sure they are fully incorporated. The mixture should hold together when squeezed in your palm.
  • Scoop the mixture using a tablespoon measure and press it into walnut-sized pieces. Place on a lined baking sheet. Freeze until solid, about one hour.
  • Melt the chocolate in a double boiler bowl (or in the microwave). If the chocolate is thick, melt 2 tablespoons of shortening or coconut oil and stir it into the melted chocolate. When the mixture is smooth and pourable, dip the frozen truffles into the chocolate using a fork. Tap the fork on the side of the bowl to remove excess chocolate, and use another fork to place the dipped truffles onto the lined baking sheet. Let the candies stand until firm, about 20 minutes.
  • Store the truffles at room temperature in an airtight container. I also enjoyed eating these chilled, so I kept a few in the refrigerator.


This recipe is loosely based on Mayim Bialik’s pecan pie truffles.
Keyword mint truffles, shortbread crumbs, toasted walnuts
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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6 years ago

Loved the truffles. Those horseshoe shaped picks are just perfect.

6 years ago

These sound interesting and look like the Ohio treat 'buckeyes' like you said (peanut butter and chocolate)…I'm from Ohio and not a fan of them but each to their own. I like the sound of the KY version (minus the bourbon though).

6 years ago

These truffles look and sound so delicious!

1 year ago

4 stars
I loved the recipe and the taste. I got 28 pieces and made them the size of a walnut. But next time, I will make them smaller.I think bite size would be easier to serve. And I had difficulty dipping them in the chocolate.Not sure why. Definitely worth trying again.