Tasty reasons why you should serve KFC at a Kentucky Derby party

KFC Saucy Nuggets
KFC Saucy Nuggets / Cristine Struble

Before the bugle calls the riders up, people gather for their Kentucky Derby party. While the cocktail glasses might be full, the food table needs to be overflowing for the day’s long event. For the home party, it might be time to call in a Louisville classic for that menu. Kentucky Fried Chicken is a great choice for a Derby Day celebration.

While the Churchill Downs chefs have spent months perfecting the menu on site, the home host might not have had the same time to prepare. Prepping that Kentucky Burgoo or finding the perfect spoonbread recipe might not have been on the agenda. Sometimes phoning a friend, like the Colonel, is the more efficient answer.

Hosting a party requires wearing many hats. The food and beverages need to be more than just whatever was on sale at the store. Incorporating a theme, even if it is subtle, can make the event more festive.

When it comes to a Kentucky Derby party, the parade of head to toe fashion may not be the primary concern for some guests. Having a hearty meal to pair with that Mint Julep or other Derby Day cocktail is important to the keeping the spirited emotions in check.

KFC Museum Louisville
KFC Museum Louisville / Cristine Struble

Why is KFC a great choice for a Kentucky Derby party?

Although the idea of finger licking good might not necessarily be the obvious choice to wear with that fascinator or seersucker suit, the iconic 11 herbs and spices is rooted in Louisville history. A visit to the KFC museum might not attract as many guests as the people on the infield during the Derby, but the favorite quick service restaurant could be the real winner of any at-home Kentucky Derby party.

Fried chicken, whether on the bone, strips, or those new Saucy Nuggets, is a classic dish. KFC has earned its spot as one of the most iconic, American food brands. Whether multiple buckets fill the table or people prefer their individual meal, those scrumptious pieces of white and dark meat always satisfy.

Thinking about a Derby party, KFC works for several reasons. First, it is a crowd favorite. Even if there may be a need for some extra napkins, most people enjoy the food. It is easy to eat, offers easy clean-up, and feeds a crowd.

For the person who may not be able to channel their favorite celebrity chef in the kitchen, the Colonel is a food icon. In addition to the classic seasonings, the breading done in the restaurant followed by the QSR’s special cooking technique ensures a perfect bite every time. Sometimes, it is just more efficient to leave the process to the experts.

Since some people might be sipping on a bourbon or other cocktail during the day at the races, it is important to have some hearty food. In addition, the food needs to pair well with beverages. For example, the mint in a mint julep helps to cut through the richness of the fried chicken. As any cook appreciates, balancing a little brightness with a heavier flavor makes it even more enjoyable.

Also, KFC has a beverage option that might be the savior for a large scale party.  Did you know that you can buy a larger container of drinks to go at KFC? From the brand’s popular lemonade to the exclusive Sweet Lightning MTN DEW flavor, that resealable beverage container is perfect for a party.

KFC beverages
KFC beverage options / Cristine Struble

Since KFC offers that larger beverage to-go container, it might be the simple way to be a little more creative behind the bar. For the person who would prefer to tone down all the mint flavors in the glass, but still loves bourbon, consider adding a splash of the Sweet Lightning MTN DEW to the glass. Or, for a simpler take on another Derby Day cocktail, The Spire, consider using the KFC lemonade with a splash.

With the rise in popularity of mocktails, the KFC Blueberry Lemonade with some muddled blueberries and a sprig of mint would be perfect for those people who prefer not to imbibe. Grabbing a few of the to-go beverage containers from KFC is easier than stacking cans from the store.

Lastly, many people love a sweet treat to end the celebration. The new Apple Pie Poppers are another simple solution. No one wants to be left to eat half a pie for Sunday brunch. The bite-sized desserts are the perfect solution for a party.

If the invitation to Churchill Downs got lost in the mail and the calls to the private chef went unanswered, head to a local KFC restaurant, instead. It is still a taste of Louisville and it always wins with flavor.