Damaris Phillips Shares the Kitchen Essential She’ll Never Stop Buying and Her Kentucky Derby Must-Haves

If you want to throw a Kentucky Derby party at home, Damaris Phillips has you covered with easy-to-cook recipes that your guests will love.

By Marenah Dobin May 06, 2023 3:00 PMTags
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We interviewed Damaris Phillips because we think you'll like her picks at these prices. Damaris is a paid spokesperson for Kentucky Derby, GE, and Heirloomed. E! has affiliate relationships, so we may get a commission if you purchase something through our links. Items are sold by the retailer, not E!. Prices are accurate as of publish time.

"You should come to the Kentucky Derby at some point. It should be on everyone's bucket list," Damaris Phillips insists. If you can't make it this year, Damaris says, "You can throw your own Kentucky Derby party at home. It's just like a Super Bowl party, but with better clothes and better hats. There's also some more springtime fun food.  Have people over, turn on the race, and enjoy the Kentucky Derby even when you're not in Kentucky."

If you're into the idea and you need some hosting inspiration, Damaris curated a Kentucky Derby at-home menu with easy-to-make recipes in homage to the iconic event. Fans can also enter the Kentucky Derby at Home Giveaway for a chance to win a viewing party with catering for 20 inspired by Damaris' menu, official Derby party merchandise, Vineyard Vines host outfits, and more. 

In an exclusive E! interview, Damaris shared hosting insights and some of her kitchen must-haves, including this top-rated product she will never stop buying.

Lauren Conrad Shares the Kitchen Essential She's Used Every Day for 8 Years and More Cooking Must-Haves

E!: What are some distinct elements I need at a Kentucky Derby party that make it stand out from other events I may throw or attend?
DP: There's no way you could have a Kentucky Derby party without having some bourbon. The typical drink is a mint julep. I go with a good quality bourbon. 

Woodford Reserve

"Woodford is always a great choice for bourbon. It's at a nice price point, but it tastes delicious as well. Your friends will think it's fancy."

E!: That is such an honor. What a cool role. Tell me more about it. 
DP: I'm a Kentucky native and I'm very, very proud of the Derby. Being able to create a menu that celebrates Kentucky and celebrates the Derby was just a total dream come true. It's a lot of fresh springtime flavors, like Benedictine. Benedictine is a cucumber spread that we have in Kentucky. Of course, there are Mint Julep cocktails. I made a mint julep cucumber salad, which is a total delight. It's like the old style cucumber salad that your grandma used to make, but with a little bit of mint and a little bit of bourbon in there. You can find all the recipes, there's a whole menu

E!: If you're not the best cook, what are some easy things they can do to impress guests at a Kentucky Derby party? 
DP: Just buy some croissants at the grocery store and some pimento cheese. That's very easy and everyone will love it. Everybody can gussy up food. And there are so many good products out there now at grocery stores that now I'm never going to make my own croissants again. I'm just gonna buy these beautiful, artisanal croissants in the freezer section.

E!: Are there any budget-friendly kitchen essentials that you recommend?
DP: I am big on room temperature butter. I cannot handle butter that's not room temperature. A butter crock is really important for me. This has water inside, so it prevents bacteria from getting in. Boom, you will always have room temperature butter. It's a real game-changer from Carla Hall's line. She's a delightful human.  

Carla Hall Sweet Heritage Ceramic Butter Keeper

"It's so hard to find butter keepers nowadays and this one is not only functional but the design is gorgeous!" This butter keeper comes in blue, green, and red.

E!: What are some of the more expensive kitchen buys that you think are good to get on sale if you can?
DP: A good stand mixer is something that goes on sale all the time, especially around the holidays. I used my grandmother's for so long and it lasted me for such a long time until I got my own. It makes everything easier and it looks pretty sitting on the countertop. Mine is a GE. It's a slightly lower price point compared to other brands and it has  a huge amount of power with a big bowl.

GE Appliances Tilt-Head Stand Mixer 7 Speed 5.3 Quarts Qt.

"I love this because it's powerful and pretty!"

E!: Are there any kitchen essentials that you rebuy often? 
DP: There are two things that I buy constantly. I have an enormous amount of butter because I'm afraid of running out.  I always have butter in my freezer. There's always like four pounds of butter. The other thing is I'm a little bit obsessed with the Dawn Powerwash.

Dawn Powerwash Spray Starter Kit, Platinum Dish Soap, Fresh Scent, 1 Starter Kit + 1 Dawn Powerwash Refill

"I gave this to everybody as stocking stuffers this year. And although I'm not affiliated with Dawn, you know I have to have it. It works really well. It's a great hostess gift too."

This product has 35,000+ 5-star Amazon reviews.

Damaris Phillips Shares What's in Her Kitchen

Bourbon Smoked Pepper

"This pepper taste delicious!"

Cognitive Surplus Retro Science Drinking Glassware Set of 9

"These are visually interesting and you can learn as you drink. Also, the vivid color pallet really pops."

Stoneware & Co. 4 Qt Louisville Pottery Collection Casserole in White

"This is an heirloom piece, one of those kitchen items that lasts your entire life and lives on to be passed through the next generations of family cooks."

Heirloomed Keepsake Jar Adult Halter Linen Apron in Oatmeal

"This is the most flattering apron ever made. It's also crazy durable!"

Allegheny Treenware 9 inch Long-Handled Measuring Spoons (4)

"These are handcrafted in West Virginia. They last forever and look special."

If you want to shop for more celebrity kitchen must-haves, you'll love these picks from Rob Lowe.

(This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.)  

—Originally published April 17, 2023 at 10:22 AM PT.