7 Famous Foods of Kentucky

Like many Southern states, Kentucky boasts fried catfish, cornbread, hushpuppies and barbeque.

But there are quite a few eats that the Bluegrass state calls its own. Here are seven of the most famous foods of Kentucky. None are especially healthy—but you can bet they’re guaranteed crowd pleasers at any Kentucky Derby party. (So are the famed mint juleps--if you serve those, consider reviewing how to be a responsible party host and how liquor liability under your homeowners or renters policy works.)


This Kentucky staple has been described as a “midway between a hearty soup and a stew.” The filling (and often spicy) dish can include chicken, pork or mutton. (The earliest versions typically included game meat like venison, squirrels and even raccoons.) The dish is meant to feed a crowd, so you’ll often see it at large social gatherings and potlucks.

Hot Brown

Starved? Then consider ordering a Hot Brown, an open-faced turkey and bacon sandwich smothered in Mornay sauce (a rich, creamy sauce with shredded cheese folded in). Once assembled, the whole thing is then baked or broiled. Credit for this gut-buster belongs to Fred K. Schmidt, who created the sandwich in 1926 while working at the Brown Hotel in Louisville.

Derby Pie

If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll definitely want to try Derby Pie. The pastry’s filling includes chocolates and walnuts. (Pecans are commonly used as well). The family who created the pie in the Prospect neighborhood of Louisville in 1950 fiercely guards the recipe. They also trademarked the name of the pie.

Louisville style chili

Kentucky’s largest city is famous for its spicy chili that’s served over spaghetti. The meat is usually beef, but it can also include pork, lamb, mutton or venison.

Bourbon balls

Kentucky is known for bourbon brands like Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark and Wild Turkey. So it was probably just a matter of time before someone created a dessert from the state’s most famous spirit. Bourbon balls are bite-sized sweets created by rolling crushed cookies, pecans and bourbon into balls and “aging” them for a week. A sprinkling of confectioner’s sugar is the finishing touch.

Henry Bain sauce

Waiter Henry Bain created his famous sauce while working at Louisville’s Pendennis Club more than 100 years ago. Today, it still retains its popularity thanks to its ability to give meats a sweet and spicy kick. Ingredients include chutney, ketchup, chili sauce, steak sauce, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce.


Like many southern states, Kentucky puts its own spin on barbecue. Traditions vary by location—but one constant is Kentuckians’ love of grilling mutton. Lexington is also home to Barbecue Festival, an annual eat-a-thon that attracts 125,000 people.

Erie Insurance is proud to now serve the great state of Kentucky. If you’re looking for great coverage for your car or your “Old Kentucky Home,” ERIE can help. Contact an Erie Insurance Agent in your community to learn more and get a quote. You can learn more about Erie Insurance by checking out “Timeline: ERIE Through the Years.”

Next, learn some fun facts about Kentucky’s music scene.

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