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Derby Cupcake Recipe

A few years ago, my daughter got the idea to turn the flavors of Derby Pie into a Cupcake. We tried a few different versions and came up with a Derby Cupcake Recipe that we love! These brown sugar, pecan & chocolate chip cupcakes would be the perfect thing to serve at your Derby Party!

We had a fantastic weekend! I love that the Kentucky Derby turns the first weekend in May into one big week-long holiday here!

Kentucky Derby Pie Cupcakes

Friday, we went to Churchill Downs to watch the running of the Kentucky Oaks (the races the day before the Derby that attract just as big of a crowd). I love any excuse to wear a hat!

The horses are beautiful to watch run, but what’s even more fun is the people watching…

Beautiful hats and interesting characters everywhere! On Derby Day, we had great fun celebrating with friends!

The horse we “drew” came in 3rd, so we won a prize!

About our Derby Cupcakes

There is a tradition here in Louisville to eat Derby Pie on Derby Day (or any day, as it is delicious!)

My 15 yr old daughter thought it might be fun to turn Derby Pie into a cupcake! We have been scheming how to do this since January. Now the original recipe for Derby pie is a copyrighted secret! (as is the name “derby pie”).

For those of you that have not heard of Derby pie, it’s pretty much a pecan pie with chocolate chips. Plus, some other secret stuff. So there’s no way to make something exactly like it, but I tried to capture the flavors of Derby Pie and put them in a cupcake!

Kentucky Derby Pie Cupcakes

I am not a great baker, so I am thrilled (and surprised) that I could figure this one out.  It wasn’t easy to find a recipe to give you the same flavor as the pie.

About the Cupcakes

The trick I figured out was incorporating brown sugar into both the batter and the icing. I started with a base recipe from the Martha Stewart cupcake book, then kept changing it until I got the flavor I wanted.

We served these at our Derby party, and they were a BIG HIT!  I ate 2 of them and am craving them again today!

Here’s the recipe for the cupcakes; I incorporated chopped pecans and mini chocolate chips into a brown sugar cupcake batter.

Then top them with a fluffy cream cheese frosting with a dash of brown sugar added. I topped them with a crumble of pie crust to make them more like a pie. I love the salty contrast it gives to the sweetness of the cupcake!

Derby Pie Cupcake Recipe

Derby Pie Cupcakes

Melissa Mortenson
A brown sugar pecan cupcake with brown sugar cream cheese frosting, sprinkled with chocolate chips and a bit of pie crust. I love the salty contrast it gives to the sweetness of the cupcake!
4.38 from 24 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Resting 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 18 Large Cupcakes



  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 1/4 C packed light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 c buttermilk
  • 1/2 c finely chopped pecans
  • 1/2 c mini chocolate chips
  • 1 t vanilla


  • 1 refrigerated pie crust
  • mini chocolate chips
  • whole pecans


  • 8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/2 c unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 1 pound powdered sugar
  • 1 t vanilla


  • Preheat the oven to 325. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners
  • Cream butter and brown sugar until smooth. Add eggs one at a time. Sift together flour, salt & baking powder in a separate bowl. Add half of the buttermilk to the egg/sugar mixture. Add half of the dry ingredients. Add the other half of buttermilk then the other half of the dry ingredients. Mix well. Add vanilla.
  • Mix in chocolate chips and finely chopped pecans until just combined.
  • Scoop out into cupcake liners and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  • Cool.
  • Roll out refrigerated pie crust on a cookie sheet and poke with a fork several times. Cook according to package directions until just golden brown. Break into large pieces.
  • Cream together cream cheese, butter, and brown sugar. Beat until well combined. Add 1 lb of powdered sugar slowly until all is combined. Add vanilla.
  • After the cupcakes are cooled, frost (I used a star icing tip and a piping bag to frost them). 
  • Garnish with a whole pecan, mini chocolate chips, 1 large piece of pie crust. Sprinkle more crumbled pie crust on top.
Keyword kentucky derby, pecan pie
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Kentucky Derby Pie Cupcakes
Kentucky Derby Cupcake Recipe on polkadotchair.com

More fun Kentucky Derby Ideas:

Kentucky Derby Party Ideas and printables on polkadotchair.com

For LOADS of more Derby Party ideas and some FREE PRINTABLES, click here!! 

Free Printable Kentucky Derby Subway Art on polkadotchair.com

Kentucky Derby Subway Art

How to use ribbon and burlap to make Pillow Wraps

My Old Kentucky Home Pillow Wraps

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  1. What a wonderful time! The cupcakes look great and I have just the person to make them for. Love the hat! ~Kelly

    unDeniably Domestic

  2. those cupcakes sure do look yummy. I believe I’ll make them sometime soon, maybe even this coming weekend when I’m supposed to bring a dessert for an event. thanks.

  3. You look so beautiful at Oaks! I love the pop of color your necklace brings.

    The cupcakes looked as beautiful as they tasted! What a fabulous party! We enjoyed every single second (even though I’m sure you spent HOURS later cleaning it all up!)

    Thanks so much!

  4. Yum! Those look delicious. I will definitely be trying that recipe.

    I remember every year, at least in elementary school, doing a unit on the Derby. We colored steamboats, hot air balloons, of course horses, and roses. We took field trips to ride the Belle of Louisville. It was so fun! I thought everybody did this. I mean, why not? It’s the DERBY! My husband, who grew up in Bowling Green, said that sadly, this is not the case. He never ever did units on the Derby.

    I guess the Derby is like Papa John’s Pizza. I always assumed PJ’s was everywhere. I started eating it in Middle School. I didn’t know any different.

    Two things that make Louisville a great place to live :)!

  5. Oh my gosh ~ that had to be such fun! Those cupcakes look AWESOME! And to be reading this before breakfast is not good, because they just made me even hungrier. LOL

  6. Yay for a new derby recipe. I’ll have to give them a try.

    You and your husband made a very dashing derby couple. Great outfit!

    I died when we attended the derby at the women that were not wearing hats.

    What would be the point of going! 🙂

  7. Hiiiii!

    I ended up over here from tater tots and jello!

    I LOVE the idea of derby pie cupcakes!! So awesome!!
    My husband and I are both from Kentucky, he is from louisville, and I am from lexington. We met at UK, and we have gone to derby together for the last 3 years 🙂
    ( we now are in Georgia, moving to NC soon, but we still consider kentucky home!)

    And one of his all time favorite desserts is DERBY PIE!!

    I am so glad to have found this recipe! Totally making it for him soon!

    oh and NEW FOLLOWER! love your blog! And I love finding fellow Kentuckians 🙂


    1. I am getting ready to make your Derby cupcakes. They look delicious. I wish I knew how many they make since they are for my Derby party tomorrow. I will find out soon as I mix them up. Thanks for the recipe.

      1. Plan on 18 depending on the size of your cupcake plan. They are pretty rich and don’t need to be huge! I hope you like them!

  8. I think I love Quilting and Baking equally. I love trying out new recipes. I will definitely be making these very soon. Thank you for the recipe!

  9. I made these for my Derby party and they were a big hit. I soaked my pecan chips in bourbon and skipped the vanilla and also used bourbon in the frosting instead vanilla. The bourbon taste was mild but added to the theme! Thanks for a great recipe.

    1. Thanks for the suggestion!! I’m so glad you liked the cupcakes! I didn’t get around to making them this year, but they are one of my favorite treats.

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  12. I made the Derby Cupcakes for my daughter-in-law -to-be wedding shower (held on Derby Day 2018!). A few comments in making them:
    don’t do these on a warm day. It was 80 degrees out; warmer in my kitchen by then and it affected the outcome. I bake a lot and these were a trial in error!
    for the cheese frosting, be sure to combine ingredients in order (measure everything out first; set aside and follow recipe in order ( I added brown sugar last because I got interrupted and realized it was not added yet—disaster! It would not dissolve and ended up with a grainy frosting☹️);
    don’t over bake by a minute— 20 max for a lighter moist cupcake—mine were dry.

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