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Kentucky Derby Pie Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars, for those times when you just can’t decide between a chocolate chip cookie and a slice of pecan pie. Sweet, doughy, and buttery, filled with chocolate chips, and swirled with nutty chocolate chip pecan pie. A cookie and a pie in one, truly the best of both worlds. Serve these bars up tomorrow for the Kentucky Derby…and every other weekend after. Every last crumb is delicious!

overhead photo of Kentucky Derby Pie Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Taking us back to retro HBH today with a recipe that dates all the way back to the very first year of Half Baked Harvest. Honestly, I was not planning on sharing this recipe today. But when I realized that the Kentucky Derby is tomorrow, something inside me flipped a switch. I remembered these cookie pie bars from way back when. I reasoned with myself that the post I had planned to share could easily be saved for next week. And that today was good day for something over the top, extra delicious, and very fitting for the Derby tomorrow.

To be upfront, I’ve never actually watched the Kentucky Derby. But I’m all about celebrating it through some good southern inspired food. In year’s past I’ve made oven fried southern hot honey chicken (a tried-n-true reader favorite) and my Nonnie’s pecan pie (my family’s personal favorite). But this year I got so caught up in Cinco de Mayo recipes that I kind of forgot about the Derby.

side angled of Kentucky Derby Pie Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars stacked on top of each other

That is until I remembered these cookie pie bars. The perfect chocolate filled recipe to share today. Yes, they’re decadent, and yes, they might be a little more over the top than the recipes I usually share. But hey, every once in a while it’s fun to switch things up…live a little.

When I originally shared this recipe, it had a lot more ingredients. To be super honest, the recipe didn’t actually work all that well. So I was excited to revisit these bars and work out their kinks. I can now say they are so simple, so delicious, and pretty close to perfect.

Plus, they look much more delicious now too. It’s crazy to see how far my photography skills have come since that first year of 2012/2013. It’s also crazy that I’ve now been writing, cooking, photographing, and working on HBH for 6 1/2 years. And we have SO much coming up in the next few months, I cannot wait to share it all with you. Kind of loving seeing all the progress over the years. Makes me feel extra grateful. To all you long time readers (and newer readers too), thanks so much for sticking it out with me!

overhead close up photo Kentucky Derby Pie Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

OK, now let me break these bars down for you layer by layer.

Layer one: chocolate chip cookie bars. This is your favorite cookie, but in bar form. For the “crust” or bottom layer of the bars, I press my go-to, base cookie recipe, into a baking dish.

Layer two: chocolate chip (bourbon) pecan pie. I used my Nonnie’s recipe for this layer, which is foolproof and so good. I like to sweeten it with real maple syrup so that bars don’t become overly sweet. Once you’ve mixed the ingredients together, spoon the pecan layer over the cookie layer and bake them both together. As the cookie layer finishes baking it rises up over the pecan layer, creating an almost swirled like cookie bar with chocolate chips and pecans bursting up on top.

side angled photo of Kentucky Derby Pie Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars stacked on top of each other

My one tip here is to really allow time for the bars too cool before you cut into them. I know it will be SO tempting to cut into the warm bars, but they need time to cool in order to properly set up. These bars are incredibly fudgy and gooey, so cutting into them warm is just a bit too messy. Let em cool off and they’ll be perfect.

The bottom of the bars are doughy and soft. While the middle is very gooey and more pecan pie like. The top has more of a caramelized “crunch” to it from the nuts and the sugar browning in the oven.

Like I said, every last crumb is so delicious.

Chocolatey? For sure? Filled with gooey pecan pie deliciousness? 100%.

Thank God it’s FRIDAY. Friday can be decadent, enjoy it, and bake up some cookie bars for Derby Day tomorrow.

PS. scroll past the recipe and you’ll find the very original photo of this recipe. For all your aspiring food photographers out there, this goes to show you that over time, you will improve!  That said, I cringe looking at that photo, so it’s kind of crazy that I had the courage to include it in this post.

side angled photo of Kentucky Derby Pie Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

If you make these Kentucky Derby pie bars, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to also tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

Kentucky Derby Pie Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings: 24 (24 bars)
Calories Per Serving: 197 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

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Ingredients

Chocolate Chip Cookie Layer

Pecan Pie Layer

Instructions

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x13 inch baking dish with parchment paper. 
    2. Make the cookie layer In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until combined and creamy. Beat in the vanilla. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt, beat until combined. Stir in the the chocolate chips. Spread the dough out into the prepared dish in an even layer. 
    3. Make the pecan layer. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until incorporated. Add the maple syrup, bourbon, if using, and salt. Mix until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and pecans.
    4. Carefully pour the pecan mix over the cookie layer. It's OK if not everything is covered. Transfer to the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top is golden brown. It's OK if the center is a little jiggly. Let cool completely before cutting, at least 1 hour.

horizontal photo of Kentucky Derby Pie Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

the original photo…

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Comments

  1. I would like to make this recipe but after reading a lot of the reviews I am not sure!
    Is this a better version? I have made lots of your recipes and have enjoyed them
    immensely. I do not want to be disappointed.

    1. Hey Renee,
      So sorry, I am not sure what you mean by a “better version”? Let me know if you give the recipe a try:) xTieghan

    1. Hey Melissa,
      This was an older recipe that I revamped, there is no longer a Bourbon caramel sauce, you can follow the full recipe as is! I hope you love them! xTieghan

  2. 2 stars
    Baked these for Thanksgiving. Followed the recipe exactly, and the end result looked like the pictures shown. From a flavor standpoint the maple and bourbon really did not come through. You could really taste the egg quite strongly and the chocolate.

    1. Hi Cathleen! I am really sorry this did not taste as expected. If there are any questins I can help with, please let me know! xTieghan

  3. Very good recipe but cooking time was not accurate. My bars were very dry at 35-40 minutes so check it at 30minutes.

  4. 5 stars
    My mouth is watering while reading the recipe & when I tried this out I really liked the taste of this dish…That Amazing!!

  5. 1 star
    Going to start by saying that I bake A LOT. Would consider myself pretty good in the kitchen and know my way round a recipe. I wish I had listened to the other comments on here and picked a different recipe. These were so disappointing.
    Followed the instructions exactly and ended up with a grey, soggy gelatinous layer at the bottom. No maple or bourbon taste at all. Scraped the gross soggy mess off a few pieces and the cookie part tastes decent. But disappointing to have wasted good ingredients on that hot mess.
    Not sure where I went wrong but find it very strange that so many people are getting the same result.
    Stay away and make something else!

    1. Hi AC! I am really sorry to hear that this did not turn out well for you… Is there anything that could have gone wrong while making it? I would love to help! xTieghan

    1. Hey Catherine,
      That was the old version of the recipe, it has since been redone and added directly to the bars. I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan

  6. 2 stars
    These sounded so yummy and perfect for a KD tailgate party I was going to. Followed the steps and ingredients to a tee…I consider myself a very seasoned baker so was a bit dismayed when I discovered most of the pecan pie layer ended up under the parchment paper …ugh…what went wrong? Did u make these in a glass baking dish or 13×9 pan? I used a pan …wondering if this could have made the difference ? Idk…would love your feedback

    1. Hey Maria! I am so sorry you had trouble with this recipe. I used a glass 9×13 inch baking dish. Was there anything else you had changed about the recipe by chance?

  7. 4 stars
    I made this yesterday for my husband’s birthday. He’s not a cake guy. His favorite sweets are chocolate chip cookies & pecan pie so these were perfect for him! I usually make him a pecan pie for his birthday but wanted something different. It was very easy to make & they are delicious. I didn’t give it 5 stars for two reasons. 1 – I didn’t really get pecan pie or chocolate chip cookie from this bar. It tasted more like a pecan cake bar. My husband agreed. 2 – the pecan pie portion of this recipe ended up under the parchment paper so most of that was just a gel mess left in the pan. I will make it again because I want to see how it tastes with all that yummy pecan pie on/in the cookie dough. What I will change: I’ll melt the butter for the pecan pie portion because the room temperature butter did not combine well w/the maple syrup. I will also make the parchment paper come up the side of the pan so the pecan pie ingredients won’t make its way under the parchment paper or I may just skip the parchment paper & butter the pan. My husband still loved the bars. I warmed up the slices & served w/ice-cream – had one for breakfast too. Yummy.

    1. That is so sweet that you made these for him and I am so glad you both enjoyed these! Thank you so much Debra! xTieghan

  8. Made these today following the instructions and they are yummy! Nice and moist with great flavor. Not too sweet and a lovely mix of chocolate chip cookies and pecan pie. Sad to read that others had trouble and didn’t like it, but I hope they give it another shot because they are delicious. I’ll definitely make again!

    1. Thank you so much Evelyn! I am really happy to hear that these turned out so well for you! xTieghan

  9. 1 star
    It seems like the recipe was updated again, after May 3rd, 2019 the date of your post; on May 7th, 2019 the recipe called for 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, for the cookie layer. I have the print out, I am looking at it. I made it at the time & just like the few readers that actually baked the bars, w/o adjustment, just following the recipe faithfully, it was very disappointing; dry cookie bars with eggy tasting “pie” layer. BTW, mine was baked in 30 min @350, yet still very dry. Fast forward to my today’s comment; I made the bars again last night, is how I know that the sugars were adjusted from 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup for the cookie layer. I can’t comment on the texture & taste yet, but I will; Thank God I checked your site & noticed the changes. I really want to give this recipe a chance; made it both times, according to the instructions.
    Please post the comments from newest to oldest/sort them by whom actually makes the recipe; comments from 2013, from people that never bake/or have no intention to bake, are not helpful to the few of us, that bake & want to try an updated version of something that we baked w/o failing, for a long time! Expensive ingredients, disappointment in investing precious time & money; I would never ever, never serve something to my family or others, just because the picture was great! Never!
    Thank you,
    Codruta

    1. Hi Codruta! I will try to make sure the comments are easier to go through for you guys.. Thank you for trying this recipe. I am sorry it did not turn out well for you, but I hope you love others on my site! xTieghan

  10. 1 star
    This relates to your OLD recipe, which I had unfortunately read and printed prior to your update of May 3, 2019. It was a disaster. I bake a lot, and, even though I questioned some of the ingredients (an awful lot of butter and 3/4C flour in the filling?) and directions (375° for 10-12 min, then another 40 min), I faithfully followed your directions, because the photo looked scrumptious. They ended up overdone, dry and inedible. What a disappointment and waste of expensive ingredients! I’m so glad that you updated and corrected this recipe, even though it was too late for me! I ended up buying cupcakes at the last minute to take to my Derby Party. Lesson learned!

    1. Hey Paula, I am sorry you had trouble. This is why I wanted to update the recipe for everyone. Hope you enjoy it much more now! Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you! xTieghan

  11. 1 star
    I was SO excited to make these because they sound delicious, and even though the ingredients were expensive I figured it would be worth it. I think this recipe needs more tweaking because I had the exact same issues that others did, and I followed the recipe exactly! The top is more bready than cookie-like, and the pie filling sunk through the dough to form this really offputting, gelatinous, eggy layer at the bottom. I think it needs more sugar and butter, since I use 3x the amount of sugar and a full cup of butter for that much flour when making chocolate chip cookies. And maybe fewer eggs in the pie filling since all I can taste is egg, and not maple or bourbon at all.

    1. Hi Elizabeth! I am sorry these did not turn out great for you. I have tried this multiple times and it has turned out well every time. I will try to find out what could be happening for you all! xTieghan

  12. 1 star
    I hate to say it, but I think this recipe needs to be tweaked. I don’t see any reviews/comments that say that it turned out right. We made it today and the base is not cookie like–it’s more like a dried out cake texture. Also, salt is listed in the first layer ingredients but not mentioned in the directions. The ingredients are expensive so it’s disappointing to have the recipe not be right. Just a warning in case you are thinking of making it!

    1. Hey Summer, I am so sorry you had some trouble with this recipe. Was there anything you did differently when making these bars? I have made them many times now and have not experienced these issues and have updated the recipe since the first time I made these in 2013. If there is any insight you can give me on how you made the bars, that would be so helpful in problem solving. Again, so sorry for the trouble. Hope I can help!

  13. Hey Tieghan

    I just tried this recipe and tbh it did not turn out great and I was wondering if you could help… The only change I’ve made was up increase the butter and sugar slightly because my mixer is quite big and it doesn’t really mix properly with small amounts of ingredients. It seemed very eggy too, it was difficult to mix the eggs into the butter/sugar and then the maple syrup but it did work in the end. But then once it baked it looked good, it looked like yours but the cookie dough bottom is gelatinous, not like cookie dough at all! And the top was quite dry, it was soooooo odd! Do you have any ideas? 🙂

    Thanks
    Chloe

    1. Hi Chloe! It is hard to advise you since you upped both the butter and sugar in the recipe. Baking is pretty exact, so any changes can really affect the outcome of the recipe. The bottom is meant to be a doughy cookie, not really cookie dough. The top should not be dry, so I am not really sure what is happening. I would recommend baking the bars as directed next time and see how they turn out then! I really hope this helps you!

  14. I can’t wait to make this recipe for my Kentucky Derby party, have you halved the recipe and still had success?

  15. Tieghan, these look totally amazing, I will be trying them out soon! Just one suggestion, your photos are gorgeous but seem to lean more to the finished product. Which is great, but I would appreciate a few more of the “during” process to learn from!

  16. Hi!
    I am making these this week for my Derby party. Do you think I can make the sauce the night before and then just gently reheat before dessert the next day? Thanks so much.

    1. Hi there! There is no sauce with this recipe. Just the bars 🙂 Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you! xTieghan

  17. I’m sorry, this recipe was quite labor intensive and more expensive than other Derby bar recipes. The result was disappointing. Stick with recipes similar to the Paula Deen recipe using the shortbread crust recipe. It’s much easier, less pricey, and superior in taste. A tasty derby bar doesn’t need the sauce to mask the flavor.

    1. Hi Marian! I am so sorry to hear that! Are there any questions I could help you with so it turns out better? xTieghan

  18. I think the pics are awesome! I AM making these for Derby day…what a fabulous idea!!! Thanks for sharing.

  19. I’ve just made the cookie bars and they look perfect (I did have to place foil over the batter after they had baked about half the time, but I was using a convection oven).
    I have a question about the Bourbon Sauce – in the instructions it says the water/brown sugar mixture will turn to a golden color, then light brown (which my caramel has done if I cooked with granulated sugar). But using brown sugar, the mixture started out dark brown and didn’t change, so I couldn’t estimate when to add the cream… I went by the suggested times and the sauce turned out watery.

    1. Hey Bonnie! SO happy the bars turned out great for you, but sorry you had trouble with the sauce! I typically add the cream when the sugars begin to bubble up and thicken. Next time, i would cook it until 8-10 minutes and then add the cream. If after that it is still watery just boil it longer until the sauce thickens to your desired thickness. Hope that helps and let me know if you have other questions. Thank you! 🙂

  20. Be careful…”Derby Pie” is a fiercely guarded trademark by the inventors, Kern’s Kitchen, here in Louisville! It may be ok to use as a recipe, but restaurants have been sued for using the name! There are many great culinary traditions for Derby… I always have cheese straws, strawberries, and Benedictine sandwiches. Happy Oaks & Derby! These bars look tasty!

  21. I live in Kentucky and always watch the Kentucky Derby on tv. Can’t wait to try Kentucky Derby Pie cookies.

  22. Tieghan, these look amazing and I’m planning to make them this week for a get together. One question – I need to make these the night before. Is the bourbon sauce intended to be warm when served? I figured I could add the whipped cream and sauce at the last minute (just take it with me separately), but wasn’t sure if the sauce needed to be refrigerated and if it needed to be warmed? Thanks for this fabulous recipe!

    1. Hey Connie,

      The sauce can be made ahead, but I would warm it in the microwave for maybe 20 seconds? I think it is best just a little warm. Hope you all love these!! Oh and no, it does not need to be kept in the fridge.

  23. I love Derby Nut Pie, and I am looking forward to trying these tonight. We live in Louisville, though, and I’d like to make one revision. “Real” Derby Nut Pie has walnuts, not pecans. 🙂

    1. I hope you love these, Michele!! And thanks for the info about real Derby pie!! I cannot believe I did not know that! Oh well, I guess I will have to make them again with the walnuts this time!!

  24. Speaking of running and races…..better get an entire panful of this in my belly before I do a charity run this weekend. We’ll call it, er, motivation. I can’t *wait* to throw some bourbon into this batch–it looks gorgeous!

  25. Oh My Goodness!! These look so delicious!! I think your pictures are beautiful…they got my attention!!

  26. So I clicked on four links at High Hills and Grills….and three of them were yours! It’s official, new follower 😀 (promise not a stalker, though)! These sound delicious…pinned!

  27. Tieghan,
    These bars are amazing! I think your pictures are always the best! You critique yourself too much lady. I’ve watched the race a few times and I can take it or leave it but one thing’s for certain…..I’m taking these bars with me wherever I go from now on! I’ll be trying these probably for Mother’s Day 🙂
    Thanks for sharing.
    Michelle

  28. Yum – these look like an amazing alternative to the work of Derby Pie! I lived in Louisville for 3 years and it’s definitely all about the race once you get towards the end of April.

  29. These look amazing! I’m a sucker for Derby Pie–I grew up in Western Kentucky so it was at every holiday meal. Thanks so much for the recipe!

  30. Cinco de mayo is not that big around my town. I enjoy horse racing we have quite a few famous ones in the New York Area. So I am pinning your dessert for next year.

  31. Special dessert for a special race! The sauce and ice cream make all the difference. The bars look fancy and delicious!

  32. I guess I’m pretty boring I have never actually watched the Kentucky Derby. I don’t know why. If I get to eat good food like this I might just have to start. I had to come check these out the cookie bars look fabulous 🙂 Krista @ A Handful of Everything

  33. These look absolutely amazing. I had to stop by from Foodie Friday to check out the recipe. Thank you for sharing.

  34. Oh my, that looks sensational! Pinning this as a reminder to make this –YUM!!!

  35. In spite of all the funny hats, I am digging these for derby day…..and bourbon sauce ftw!!

  36. These look so delicious! I found your post at the From Dream to Reality link party, I linked up a Derby dessert as well.

  37. These look absolutely fab it’s been ages since I had cookie bars. Yum

  38. Gorgeous! Gorgeous! Gorgeous! I want!! Definitely making these!! Thanks for sharing such a fabulous recipe!!

  39. They are just gorgeous! So loaded with texture and tons of different flavors. I love layered bars & they’re totally my go-to and I don’t blame you for the pie crust! These wayyyyy trump pie anyway. The Bourbon Sauce …mmmm, drinkable! Pinned!

  40. Your Kentucky Derby Bars look way beyond fantastic!! Right down to the Bourbon Sauce:) I think I found my new favorite bars! Lynn @ Turnips 2 Tangerines

  41. I love the month of May for those two reasons – cinco de mayo and kentucky derby!! Both give me the excuse to eat these amazing gooey bourbon bars and drink margaritas. 😉

    1. Oh I SO agree! I am going a little crazy on the cinco de mayo eats!! The margarita themed foods seem to keep flowing out of my kitchen! LOL! Thanks Sally!

  42. I cannot even begin to describe how good these look, especially with that Bourbon sauce. Wow!

  43. Holy moly that looks incredible!! The bars by themselves look incredible, but then you drizzle on that bourbon sauce to put it over the top. Great job 🙂

    Happy Blogging!
    Happy Valley Chow

  44. These look AMAZING! Good idea with the last minute addition of the bourbon sauce! Takes them over-the-top! 🙂

  45. I hope you’ll tune in to the derby this year, it’s an awesome race. And the hats are the best part. But your pie could be eaten any day.