The Ultimate Make-Ahead Derby Party Menu

Pimiento Cheese with Salt-and-Pepper Butter Crackers

© Con Poulos

By Julia Heffelfinger Posted April 29, 2016

Throw an epic, Southern Kentucky Derby party with this no-stress, make-ahead menu.

The Kentucky Derby might be the most exciting two minutes of horse racing, but let’s be honest; the day is really about big hats, good finger food, and abundant Mint Juleps. Here’s the game plan: Make this impressive derby party menu a few days in advance and then on the day of the big event just reheat your biscuits, lay out platters of food and start mixing up those cocktails!

Cool Ranch Kale Dip
Serve this tangy buttermilk dip with a mix of fresh crudité (such as cucumber spears, radishes, carrots, endive, etc.) and pita chips or seeded breadsticks. Wash and cut your veggies the day before and store in the fridge for easy day-of assembly.

Food & Wine: Cool Ranch Kale Dip

© Christina Holmes

Pimiento Cheese with Salt-and-Pepper Butter Crackers
You can’t have a derby party without pimiento cheese. I just won’t allow it. This classic version from Carla Hall is made in the food processor and can be refrigerated up to one week in advance. While the butter crackers are highly recommended, use store-bought saltines and celery sticks if you’re tight on time.

Food & Wine: Pimento Cheese with Salt-and-Pepper Butter Crackers

© Con Poulos

Deviled Eggs with Pickled Shrimp
These gorgeous deviled eggs with pickled shrimp are impressive crowd pleasers. The pickled shrimp and hard-boiled eggs can be made a few days in advance. The day before your party, clean your egg whites and make the filling. Refrigerate overnight in a pastry bag (for easy—and super fancy—filling) or in a Tupperware container with a piece of plastic wrap pressed directly on the surface. Give the filling a quick mix before filling the eggs.

Food & Wine:

Cold Fried Chicken
This juicy, slightly spicy fried chicken is double-dredged so that it stays crispy in the refrigerator overnight.

Food & Wine: Cold Fried Chicken

© Con Poulos

Broccoli Slaw
This crunchy slaw is the perfect fresh accompaniment to the fried chicken and biscuits. Bonus: Those leftover broccoli stems don’t go to waste! Shred your vegetables and mix your dressing a few days in advance and store separately. Right before your guests arrive, toss the slaw with the dressing and fold in the scallions, cilantro and sunflower seeds.

Food & Wine:

Pull-Apart Salt-and-Pepper Biscuits
Your guests will be fighting over the last one of these buttery, flaky biscuits. Bake off the biscuits the night before and then let them come to room temperature before storing in an airtight Tupperware. Shortly before your guests arrive, reheat the biscuits in a 250° oven.

Food & Wine: Salt-and-Pepper Biscuits

© Christina Holmes

Honey-Walnut Bars
Simultaneously gooey and crispy, these salty-sweet honey-walnut bars are a fun play on a classic southern pecan pie. Make them up to 5 days in advance and try your best to save some for your guests to eat.

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