How The Burgoo Became An Icon Of the Kentucky Derby

Ah, the Kentucky Derby – the heart of horse racing, where the finest equestrians compete for the coveted roses and the thundering hooves of the horses echo throughout Churchill Downs.

But let’s not forget the other stars of the show – the delightful drinks, the stylish hats, and the mouth-watering cuisine!

One dish stands out among the rest and has become synonymous with the Kentucky Derby – the Burgoo.

The dish is so delicious that quite possibly even the Kentucky Derby jockeys eat it before or after the big race.

Get ready to add a little Southern flair to your soup game! Let’s take a journey through history and discover the heartwarming story of the Burgoo, the stew that has become an essential part of the Kentucky Derby.

What is Burgoo?

The Burgoo, a hearty stew cooked with a variety of meats, vegetables, and spices, has been a feature of the Kentucky Derby for years.

But, like a fine bourbon, the Burgoo has its own backstory.

Traditionally, the Burgoo was created by slow-cooking meats like beef, pork, or chicken in a big kettle over an open flame, together with vegetables like potatoes, maize, and okra. The ingredients were cooked for hours until they became a rich, hearty stew.

Origins of Burgoo

The Burgoo originated in the rural South as a way to serve large gatherings of people using simple ingredients that were readily available.

The name “Burgoo” is believed to have originated from the African word “barigo,” which means “thick stew.”

Burgoo At the Kentucky Derby

Since 1875, the Kentucky Derby has been a fixture in horse racing, and it has come to represent Southern hospitality and elegance. And what greater meal exemplifies these characteristics than the Burgoo?

The Burgoo was served in enormous kettles to the masses of spectators that gathered to witness the races in the early days of the Kentucky Derby.

The Burgoo grew in size as the festival grew in popularity, with organizers making hundreds of gallons of the stew to satisfy the thousands of guests who gathered each year.

The Evolution of the Burgoo at the Kentucky Derby

The Burgoo is still an important element of the Kentucky Derby today, although it has experienced some fascinating changes throughout the years that may push it back from the original.

Burgoo is currently created with a variety of meats and vegetables and is often boiled in big pots for hours to allow the flavors to fully develop.

In recent years, the Burgoo has also become a venue for chefs to demonstrate their culinary


Many chefs have put their own take on the classic meal, using exotic ingredients like lobster or truffles or developing low-fat or vegan versions to accommodate various dietary needs.

Nowadays, there are plenty of different versions of Burgoo, and each of them is very delicious.

No wonder why it is the top choice for Kentucky Derby fans on race day.


The Burgoo is more than simply a Kentucky Derby dish; it is a symbol of Southern hospitality and a monument to the culinary arts.

The Burgoo has evolved from humble beginnings as a way to feed huge groups of people to a treasured feature of the Kentucky Derby, adored by foodies and horse racing lovers alike.

This is the perfect dish for the Kentucky Derby, which honors tradition like no other sporting event in the world. It is very cool to see a sporting event that hasn’t changed much for decades.

Some things are not meant to be changed, and that is true for the Burgoo dish at the Kentucky Derby.

So, the next time you visit Churchill Downs, hoist a bowl of Burgoo in honor of this legendary food!

Amanda is the proud owner and head cook of her very own restaurant. She loves nothing more than experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen, and her food is always a big hit with customers. Amanda takes great pride in her work, and she always puts her heart into everything she does. She's a hard-working woman who has made it on her own, and she's an inspiration to all who know her.