17 Easy Kentucky Derby Appetizers

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Kentucky Derby appetizers can be both easy and elegant, the perfect recipes to share with friends when they're all dressed up in Derby hats and dresses! Fresh southern favorites with peaches, pimento cheese, buttermilk biscuits, and more.

A photo collage shows a peach pizza on top, sausage swirls, beef crostini, and pimento cheese on bottom.

You certainly don't need to live in Kentucky to have fun hosting a Kentucky Derby party for your friends.

If you want a little taste of the South, what better reason to cook up delicious Southern recipes for appetizers featuring fresh peaches, buttermilk biscuits, savory meats and cheeses, to go with those fun mint julep cocktails?

This fantastic list of elegant but totally easy Kentucky Derby appetizers is filled with my favorites from living down south for over a decade. I hope they help you host a party your friends will remember for a long time.

Kentucky Derby Party Tips

Gathering your friends to watch the races is such a fun excuse to throw a special event. Start with my easy Kentucky Derby party ideas and learn how to set up a make-your-own mint julep bar!

Then once you've planed your party menu, be sure to pick one of these easy Kentucky Derby desserts for your buffet table.

The Derby is all about elegance with those fancy Derby hats and stylish dresses. Be sure your home is ready by filling it with fresh flowers. On a budget? Check out how I stock my vases for less than $20 at Trader Joe's.

17 Elegant but Easy Kentucky Derby Appetizers

Don your Derby Hat, pour a mint julep, and be the hostess with the mostess by passing these classic Southern party appetizers for your Derby party.

My Kentucky Derby party menu includes fresh southern peaches, classic flavors like pimento cheese and souther buttermilk biscuits.

Roast Beef Crostini

4 ingredients and oh so easy to assemble, these delicious roast beef crostini are the perfect elegant nibble for a Derby party.

Crispy crostini toasts are topped with horseradish cream sauce, slices of roast beef, and a sprinkle of fresh cherry tomatoes.

Roast Beef Crostini
Easy beef crostini with horseradish cream is the perfect prep ahead appetizer for the holiday. Serve as an assembled small bite or as part of a snack board or charcuterie.
5 from 1 vote
A plate of roast beef crostini with horseradish cream and cherry tomatoes.

Pimento Cheese Spread

A classic Southern staple, creamy homemade pimento cheese spread is perfect spread on a buttery cracker or a crispy crostini.

You could even make simple finger sandwiches with mini biscuits served hot or cold.

Homemade Pimento Cheese
This delicious classic pimento cheese spread is perfect for serving alongside a platter of buttery crackers or using as the base for a pimento cheese sandwich. Just a touch spicy with a little dash of sweetness, it is the perfect texture.
5 from 1 vote
A bowl of homemade pimento cheese is served on a plate with butter crackers.

The Easiest Cheddar Snack Board

Place a cup of that homemade pimento cheese spread as a centerpieces for this easy cheddar snack board with in-season berries and savory meats and veggies.

Cheddar Snack Board
This delicious snack board is inspired by the Ultimate Cheddar Snack Board from Stunning Spreads by Chrissie Nelson Rotko.
5 from 1 vote
A round snack board has sliced green apples, spreadable cheese, slices of cheese, ruffled slices of various meats, and a bowl of fresh blackberries.

Crab Cakes with Spicy Remoulade Sauce

If you want to pass a hot appetizer at your Kentucky Derby party, pick up a box of frozen crab cakes and bake them in your oven or air fryer.

Make a batch of my easy spicy remoulade sauce for the crab cakes, it tastes SO much better than the bottled kind from the store and takes just a minute to stir together.

Remoulade Sauce for Crab Cakes
This spicy cajun remoulade sauce for crab cakes is a great dipping sauce for shrimp or po'boy sandwich spread, too! Made from easy things you have in your pantry mixed with a few classic creole ingredients for a creamy sauce you'll want to use again and again.
4.97 from 52 votes
The remoulade sauce is on a plate with mini crab cakes and a spoon. Lemon wedges are scattered around and green onions sprinkled on top.

Seasoned Boiled Shrimp

Don't want to mess with crab cakes? My seasoned boiled shrimp cooks in just 3 minutes and can be done ahead and chilled.

Serve them on a platter with the remoulade sauce or one or two of these easy sauces for dipping shrimp.

Boiled Shrimp
Caraway seeds and bay leaves season the boiling water for the most delicious boiled shrimp. This method makes easy peel and eat shrimp for serving with shrimp cocktail.
5 from 43 votes
A serving dish filled with boiled shrimp with caraway seeds.

Classic Deviled Eggs

In the south it just isn't a party unless there's a platter of homemade deviled eggs. If you're not a fan of mayonnaise, no problem! My recipe has a delicious tweak.

Classic Deviled Eggs
These creamy deviled eggs can be made with or without mayo using ranch or sour cream. Easy to prep ahead to bring to a potluck party or serve at a special event.
5 from 42 votes
A platter of deviled eggs has a yellow salt and pepper shaker in the center.

Peach Blueberry Salsa Bites

Fresh peaches are a true southern classic.

This fresh peach blueberry salsa tastes amazing when paired with the crostini and a spread of goat cheese. They're the perfect cocktail appetizer to go with a mint julep.

Peach Blueberry Salsa Crostini Bites
This elegant appetizer is perfect for summertime entertaining. Fresh peaches, blueberries, and basil are mixed with a spicy jalapeno and served alongside crispy crostini.
5 from 1 vote
A crostini toast has diced peaches, blueberries, and fresh thyme leaves on a blue plate.

Sausage Crescent Roll Swirls

For a buttery, savory warm appetizer, you can prep ahead these easy sausage crescent roll swirls and even freeze them!

Just slice and bake before serving and pile them up on your party platter.

Sausage Crescent Roll Swirls
Savory sausage rolled in sweet, buttery crescent roll dough, and baked for the perfect easy party appetizer.
5 from 1 vote
A platter of sausage swirl appetizers is ready to be served.

Cold Spinach Dip

Cold spinach dip can be made the day before and will taste even better as the flavors mingle in the fridge.

Hollow out a large loaf of fresh bread and serve the dip right inside the well, cube the rest of the bread and pile it up on the platter for dunking in the spinach dip. It also tastes great with bagel chips or tortilla chips.

Cold Spinach Dip
This easy spinach dip recipe is best served chilled. Simply mix together the spinach and cream cheese base for a delicious dip for bagel chips and crackers.
4.98 from 45 votes
A bowl of spinach dip is served with bagel chips for dipping.

Easy Cheesy Crab Melts

You can prep the cheesy crab melt topping in the morning and just spread it on the ciabatta breads and bake before serving.

For a hearty appetizer, serve the breads whole but if you want to stretch the dish farther you can cut each toast into bite-sized fourths for a smaller nibble.

Easy Crab Melts
This rich and delicious crab melt recipe makes a perfect party appetizer or simple dinner entree. Sweet lump crab meat is mixed together with savory cheeses and melted on fresh ciabatta bread.
4.99 from 55 votes
A platter of cheesy crab melts have green onions sprinkled over the top.

Homemade Cornbread Crouton Dippers

Surprise your friends with a new take on classic southern buttermilk cornbread and make a batch of these warm seasoned cornbread croutons.

Serve them on a platter with a cup of homemade buttermilk herb dressing for dipping.

Cornbread Croutons
Buttery, crispy cornbread croutons are an amazing topping for salads with chicken, pork, or shrimp. Pair it with a buttermilk dressing for a delicious southern side dish.
5 from 46 votes
Homemade cornbread croutons on a blue plate next to a bowl of buttermilk dressing.

Buttermilk Drop Biscuits with Cheese

Who wouldn't love a warm, fresh buttermilk drop biscuit for an easy appetizer?

You can split these in half to make mini pimento cheese sandwiches using the spread recipe from above or serve them with a dish of hot honey butter for a special treat.

Easy Buttermilk Drop Biscuits
These easy buttermilk drop biscuits can be made in just minutes and bake up so light and flaky. Try the classic butter biscuit recipe first and then switch things up with one of the 3 fun flavor variations listed in the notes below!
5 from 39 votes
A white plate has a pile of fresh baked buttermilk drop biscuits.

Buttermilk Drop Biscuits with Cheese

This elegant peach pizza has savory pancetta and fresh basil on my homemade pizza dough crust.

Most of the elements can be prepped ahead for easy assembly just before baking. Cut the pizza into smaller squares to turn it into a surprisingly fun Kentucky Derby appetizer.

Peach Pizza
This fresh peach pizza with goat cheese and basil is a delicious summer dinner or appetizer for cocktail hour.
5 from 1 vote
A homemade peach pizza has been sliced and served.

Glazed Peppered Pecans

Dig out the good china or fill elegant silver nibble bowls with homemade glazed pecans for an easy cocktail nibble.

Peppered Pecans
These sweet glazed pecans pack a very peppery punch and are an excellent addition to a festive charcuterie board or used as a salad topper. Mix them with dried cranberries and pretzels for a quick and easy glazed pecan snack mix.
5 from 2 votes
A wooden bowl on a plate is overflowing with glazed pecans.

Sweet and Spicy Peach Salsa

If the weather is going to be warm, try serving my sweet and spicy peach salsa fresh and cold from the fridge with a big pile of salty tortilla chips. I dare you to eat just one bite!

Sweet and Spicy Peach Salsa
Fresh juicy peaches mixed with red onion and bell peppers makes a surprisingly different fresh salsa for summer entertaining. Excellent served with grilled chicken or fish.
5 from 3 votes
A bowl of homemade chunky peach salsa has a blue spoon for serving.

BBQ Chicken Sliders

You could make these BBQ chicken sliders with my pulled chicken or this easy pulled pork recipe when you want an appetizer that is a little more filling to stand up to all your cocktails.

You could also pick any one of these easy 10 chicken slider recipes if you're looking for something different.

BBQ Chicken Sliders
These easy to assemble BBQ chicken sliders have just the right amount of filling, melting cheese, and a deliciously buttery crisp topping. They will fly off the baking pan at your next party or family game night.
5 from 1 vote
A metal baking pan has 3 rows of baked bbq chicken sliders showing the melted cheese oozing out.

Sweet Potato Fries & BBQ Sauce

Bake a big batch of frozen sweet potato french fries in your oven or air fryer.

Sprinkle a dash of seasoned salt over the top and then serve them with a warm cup of this homemade BBQ sauce or this white Alabama bbq sauce for dipping.

Sweet BBQ Sauce
This sweet BBQ sauce is lighter in sugar than other recipes and naturally vegan and gluten free. It is the perfect topping for your favorite barbecue recipe.
4.50 from 2 votes
A mason jar filled with barbecue sauce has a spoon and is in front of a dish of shredded pork.

Delicious Finger Sandwich Recipes

This is an amazing list of 30 easy finger sandwiches you could prep ahead and serve for an elegant party just like the Kentucky Derby.

30 Delicious Finger Sandwich Recipes
Pick 2 or 3 of these easy finger sandwich recipes to mix and match for a tiered tray at your party. Delicious ideas include vegetarian-friendly party sandwiches, creamy chicken salad bites, and delicate deli meat nibbles for plenty of variety.
A tiered sandwich tray has several finger sandwiches on display.


Can I make Kentucky Derby appetizers in advance?

Several of the appetizer recipes listed above can be made in advance or prepped ahead for easy finishing just before serving. Always store fresh fruit and vegetables, creamy dips and salsas, and meat and cheese items separately from bread or crackers to protect the final texture.

How many appetizers should I serve at my Kentucky Derby party?

The amount of food you prepare for your party depends on the size of your crowd. Plan for 2 - 3 small bite servings per recipe per person with a minimum of 2 appetizers so your guests have options. It's always smart to offer one vegetarian option in the mix.

How can I make my Kentucky Derby appetizers look more festive and derby-themed?

Now is the time to dig out your very best dinnerware and serve your appetizers on fancy china or polished silver platters. If you can find food-safe edible roses, that would make the perfect garnish for the party theme. Party napkins or plates with a horseshoe theme would also be a fun way to serve the food.

A photo collage shows several platters of easy appetizers for a Derby party.


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