This Bourbon Chocolate Walnut Pie puts a decadent spin on the classic Derby pie with its rich, nutty filling studded with semisweet chocolate and warm bourbon. The simple preparation comes together using just one bowl!
Chocolate Pecan Pie was always one of my favorite holiday desserts growing up. The original recipe for Kentucky Derby Pie was similar but made with walnuts and chocolate chips instead of pecans.
I decided to put my spin on a Derby Pie by incorporating walnuts and bourbon into my beloved family recipe. Though this Bourbon Chocolate Walnut Pie riffs on a classic, it still reminds me of the Chocolate Pecan Pie from my childhood holidays, now with an extra dash of Kentucky charm.
This pie is always on our Thanksgiving and Christmas dessert table, and it's also the perfect thing to enjoy while watching the horse races, along with mint juleps!
Key Ingredients & Substitutions
Looking for the full recipe? See the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the full list of ingredients, including measurements and instructions.
Walnuts - Using walnut pieces results in each bite being more consistent, but I prefer the texture of walnut halves. Pecans can be used instead, or try a mix of both for added flavor complexity.
Butter - Your butter must be softened to room temperature so that it is distributed evenly throughout the pie.
Corn Syrup - Use dark corn syrup for a deep caramel-like flavor. If you prefer to not use corn syrup then replace it with an equal amount of brown sugar or pure maple syrup. Light corn syrup can also be used but it will have less flavor.
Sugar - Granulated sugar is also added to sweeten the pie without an overpowering flavor, and it helps the top of the filling to brown.
Bourbon - A good Kentucky bourbon is best to echo the flavors of a Derby pie. If you do not enjoy the flavors of bourbon this can be left out.
Chocolate - I usually love dark chocolate, but found that semisweet chocolate is best in this recipe. I use chocolate chips, though chopped chocolate works just as well.
Pie Crust - For convenience, store-bought dough is just fine! But I highly recommend taking a few extra minutes to make your own pie crust from scratch. It's so worth it!
How to Make Chocolate Walnut Pie
1) Par-Bake Pie Crust
- Press the dough into a 9-inch pie plate, crimping the edges decoratively.
- Line with parchment and add pie weights or dried beans to keep the crust shape intact.
- Par baking helps to ensure the crust gets fully baked and is not soggy.
2) Mix Filling
- Place the filling ingredients into a medium bowl.
- Use an electric mixer to combine the ingredients at medium speed.
- If you do not have an electric mixer then using a whisk is fine.
- Once the eggs are frothy and all of the ingredients are incorporated, stir in the walnuts.
3) Fill the Pie
- Spread the chocolate chips evenly over the bottom of the partially baked pie shell.
- Then pour the pie filling over the chocolate.
4) Bake in the Oven
- Bake in a 325°F (165°C) oven for 50 to 60 minutes.
- Check doneness by gently jiggling the pan. It should be just slightly loose in the very center.
- Prevent over-browning by tenting edges with foil or a pie shield for the last 15 minutes.
- Cool on a wire rack at room temperature before serving.
How to Tell if the Pie is Done
Check doneness by gently shaking the pan. It should no longer move much, and only the center should have a slight jiggle.
The edges of the filling should be set. If it still moves a lot, it needs more baking time. Continue checking until the middle just has a little bit of movement.
Cool the Crust - Let the crust cool to room temperature before adding the filling. This will help ensure a flaky texture that holds up to the gooey filling without getting soggy.
Choose Quality Chocolate - This is a star ingredient, so spring for chocolate chips with complex cocoa flavors like Guittard or Ghirardelli brands. Their rich taste shines through.
Cool Completely - The filling needs to cool for about 2 hours for the filling to fully set. If you like to enjoy your chocolate walnut pie warm then you can always pop a slice in the microwave before eating, but if you slice into it when it is still warm it will be a gooey mess.
Toast the Nuts - Boost the nutty walnut flavor even more by toasting the walnuts in a pan on the stove over medium heat for 2-5 minutes. Make sure they are completely cool before mixing into the filling.
Add a Topping - A dollop of bourbon whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of the pie adds a creaminess that perfectly balances this rich filling. Drizzle a little bit of caramel to take it over the top.!
Make Ahead and Storage Tips
This recipe holds up beautifully for several days when stored properly.
- It can be made in advance. Once cooled completely, loosely cover it with foil or a cake dome on the counter or store it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- For longer storage, tightly wrap cooled pie in plastic wrap then a layer of foil to prevent freezer burn. Freeze for up to 3 months.
- Thaw frozen pie overnight in the refrigerator or for about 5 hours on the counter. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before slicing and serving.
- To serve, reheat chilled pie slices for 10-15 seconds in the microwave until the filling softens slightly but doesn't get runny. Add a dollop of whipped cream on top to contrast the silkiness of the warm pie.
If it is not cooked thoroughly then your pie will be runny. To check for doneness, give the pie a little jiggle. It should be firm.
The alcohol cooks out of this pie, so it is still a family-friendly dessert. But if you prefer to cook without alcohol, just leave the bourbon out. It will still be delicious!
The original Derby pie was created by the Kern family in 1957, to serve at their iconic Melrose hotel. The hotel was located near the race track in Louisville, so they named the pie after the iconic Kentucky Derby horse race as a marketing tactic. Linking it to this famous local sporting event helped make the pie an instant hit as a regional Southern dessert specialty.
More Delicious Pie Recipes
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Bourbon Chocolate Walnut PieRecipe by:
- Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
- Prepare your pie crust and place it in a 9-inch pie pan, pressing against the sides of the pan. Flute edges, as desired.1 9-inch pie crust
- Line the pie with parchment paper, then fill with pie weights or dried beans.
- Bake the pie crust for 15 minutes then remove it from the oven. Lift out the parchment paper with the pie weights. Return the pan to the oven for an additional 5 minutes so that the bottom of the crust can cook.
- Remove the par-baked crust from the oven and set aside cool on a wire rack. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F (165°C).
- In a large mixing bowl, add butter, granulated sugar, syrup, eggs, bourbon, vanilla, and salt. Beat together for 2 minutes.¼ cup butter, ½ cup dark corn syrup, 2 eggs, 2 tablespons bourbon, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, ½ cup granulated sugar
- Stir in the nuts.¾ cup walnuts
- Spread the chocolate chips evenly over the bottom of the blind-baked pie crust.½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Pour the filling mixture over the chocolate chips and spread evenly.
- Cover the edges of the pie crust with a pie crust shield or with aluminum foil, to prevent them from burning. Return the pan to the oven and cook for 50-60 minutes, until the filling has set. It should be slightly jiggly in the center, but firm on the outside.
- Remove from the oven and cool at room temperature for at least 2 hours.
- Swap out the walnuts for pecans.
- Replace the dark corn syrup with an equal amount of brown sugar or pure maple syrup.
- Leave the bourbon out if you prefer an alcohol-free pie.
- This can be kept at room temperature for up to 4 days though it slices more cleanly once refrigerated.
- To freeze, wrap with a layer of plastic wrap and then aluminum foil and place in the freezer for up to 3 months.
This recipe was for Bourbon Chocolate Walnut Pecan Pie and was originally published on September 22, 2020. It was updated on December 8, 2023, to adjust the recipe to Chocolate Walnut Pie. At this time additional tips and recipe information were added. Here's an image from the original post.