Learn about Kern’s Kitchen’s Derby-Pie

Kern's Kitchen is located at 2420 Ampere Drive.

Kern’s Kitchen doesn’t necessarily operate according to the days of the week, rather, time is measured by how many pies are going in the oven.

The family-owned business is in full throttle this time of year baking its signature Derby-Pies. If you’ve never had one — which would be odd for a Louisvillian — it’s like a warm chocolate chip cookie with walnuts wrapped up in a slice of pie. 

During the Kentucky Derby season, this local institution cranks out around 6,400 of its Derby-Pies a week using Kern’s secret family recipe, which was first written in 1954 by Leaudra, Walter + George Kern

Since its inception, the Derby-Pie has been highlighted by national publications like The New York Times and was named the most famous dessert in the commonwealth, while also being a long-time partner of the Kentucky Derby Festival.

City Editor Sarah tried a slice at Kern’s Kitchen with a cup of coffee. | Photo by @theloutoday


But let’s go back to the original mixing bowl. Its birthplace was the Melrose Inn in Prospect, a since-demolished restaurant the Kerns managed from 1954-1961. The sweet treat got its name as the result of a hat drawing among family members + became a federally registered trademark on Oct. 7, 1969. 

The Kerns hit their first pie milestone just six years after the Derby-Pie was created when they sold 1,000+ pies out of the Melrose Inn. When the family parted ways with the restaurant in 1961, production moved to the Kern’s family home where Derby-Pies were handmade three at a time using a small, five-quart KitchenAid mixer.

As the business grew, Kern’s Kitchen soon saw its 10,000th pie sold in 1977 + in 1985, baked the world’s largest Derby-Piewhich was 12 feet across — for the reopening of the Kentucky Derby Museum. 

Now, the fourth-generation family business operates at 2420 Ampere Dr. off of Blankenbaker Parkway + offers a Golden Pecan Pie and mini versions of the Derby-Pie. Something special this year, Kern’s partnered with local nonprofit Kentucky to the World to offer a Kern’s Kentucky Tradition bundle which features a Derby-Pie + a deck of cards displaying 52 prominent Kentuckians.