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Each year, Thanksgiving is an important event with my family. We always have extended family come in town for the weekend and it is such a fun time with everyone spending time together, cooking and laughing. I may have mentioned before that we typically make many of the same dishes each year. There is something extraordinarily comforting in that; our dishes represent home, family, compassion, and love.

The most anticipated of all (besides the smoked turkey) is our Derby Pie. The recipe is a traditional dish from Kentucky, where my family is from. It is very similar to a pecan pie, and they always disappear faster than anything else on Thanksgiving Day.

thanksgiving dessert recipe

In anticipation of Thanksgiving, and to continue my Thanksgiving-inspired posts, I decided to make a Derby Pie Bar. Very similar to the actual pie, the bars are cut into portioned pieces and can easily be taken on the go- although keep in mind that they are just as sticky as a traditional Derby Pie! So bring a napkin 😉

Derby Pie Bars

Makes 9-16 bars, depending on how you cut them; 1.5 hours total


For the crust I used my Great Grandmother’s dough recipe, which has become my go-to for baking. You can find that recipe here.

4 tbsp butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup*
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 tbsp bourbon
3 eggs, lightly beaten and at room temperature
1-2 cups pecans
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough and cut to fit the bottom of a square baking pan. Grease the pan and carefully place the dough inside. Prick all over the dough with a fork and bake for 20 minutes, until just golden.

Pecan Derby Pie Bar

While the crust is baking, prepare the filling: In a small sauce pan combine butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup. Bring to a soft boil and stir occasionally for 8 minutes. Meanwhile, pick all of the “pretty,” in-tact pecan halves out and crush (or chop) the rest of the pecans. Remove the pot from heat and add the vanilla and bourbon. Stir to combine and add 3/4 cup crushed pecans and salt. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Once slightly cooled, slowly whisk eggs into the filling.

Remove the crust from oven. Add the chocolate chips and then pour the filling mixture on top. Carefully lay the pecans in lines (or whatever fancy design you like) on top of the filling. Return to the oven and bake 35-45 minutes, until the filling seems to have set; it will not feel too squishy to touch. If the pecans begin to brown too quickly, cover the pan lightly with foil.

Derby Pie Bar for Thanksgiving

Before baking derby pie bar

You could wait patiently for an additional half hour for the filling to completely set, and even go so far as to refrigerate it. Or you could grab the nearest kitchen utensil and dig right in. I’ll let you guess what my family and I did…

Pecan Pie Bar

pecan pie bar recipe

I hope you find time to make these for your family during this holiday season, they’re divine. Share them with too many people & they’ll be requested by name!


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*I realize that some people are adverse to corn syrup. I am too, but I wanted to stay as true to my family’s tradition as possible with this recipe. If you prefer to not use corn syrup, you can substitute honey for some of it and add more brown sugar. I did not try this method, so I cannot vouch for its flavor or consistency.