Kentucky Bourbon Pound Cake

This simple, yet delicious, and boozy pound cake makes a great dessert for potlucks, family get-togethers, bridal and wedding showers, or to munch upon while watching the Kentucky Derby.

We are planning on watching the Kentucky Derby, sans fascinators, with a few Mint Juleps and Southern Cheese Squares to start. Benedictine Spread and crudite platter will follow and then a delicious, cheesy Kentucky Hot Brown for dinner. It sounds like an amazing day!

Why This Recipe Works

This cake has everything a pound cake should have…a velvety crumb, a golden exterior, and a moist, buttery interior that’s rich and tangy. Now add a hefty bit of bourbon in the cake batter, followed by a sweet bourbon soak, topped with a lemony glaze and you get how over-the-top amazing this pound cake really is.

Back in the day, the cake got its name because it was made with a pound of butter, a pound of sugar, and a pound of flour. Basically, it was a dessert that our grandmothers could throw together using pantry staples. It was a heavy, dense, and filling cake.

Today, there are recipes all over the internet using cream cheese, sour cream, pudding mix, all types of flavorings, and even different flours like almond or coconut. 

A slice of Kentucky Bourbon Pound Cake on a white plate.

Ingredients Needed

  • Cake flour – you can use all-purpose flour, but cake flour gives a more tender and delicate crumb. I used King Arthur’s cake flour.
  • Baking powder and baking soda
  • Kosher salt – you may need more if you are using unsalted (sweet) butter
  • Salted butter
  • Granulated sugar and powdered sugar
  • Vanilla bean paste – you can also use good vanilla extract.
  • Large eggs
  • Buttermilk – use full-fat. The buttermilk adds moisture, helps it to rise, and gives it a tangy flavor.
  • Lemon
  • Bourbon – use a brand that you enjoy drinking. I used Makers Mark.

Steps To Make This Recipe

  • Make the cake by greasing a bundt pan and preheating the oven.
  • Sift together the dry cake ingredients.
  • Cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time.
  • Combine the buttermilk and bourbon.
  • Mix the bourbon mixture and the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, alternating between the two.
  • Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake until golden.
  • Make the bourbon soak. Make a simple syrup by mixing the water and sugar together in a small pot. Bring to a low boil until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the bourbon.
  • When the cake is done and still hot, poke holes in the top with a wooden skewer.
  • Pour the bourbon syrup over the cake and allow it to soak in.
  • Allow the cake to cool and then invert it onto a serving platter.
  • Make the glaze. Whisk together the butter, powdered sugar, and lemon juice until smooth.
  • Drizzle over the cake and let the glaze harden before serving.
Close up of a whole Kentucky Bourbon Pound Cake on a white cake plate.

More Cake Recipes To Try


Kentucky Bourbon Pound Cake

A moist and delicious Kentucky Bourbon Pound Cake that is full of luscious bourbon flavor. This dessert is perfect for your Kentucky Derby party.

  • Author: Millie Brinkley
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Yield: 10 servings 1x
  • Category: Desserts
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: Southern



For the cake:

  • 3 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 sticks salted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • ¼ cup bourbon
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature

For the bourbon soak:

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup bourbon

For the fresh lemon glaze:

  • 3 tablespoons salted butter, melted
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar, more if needed
  • Juice of 1 large lemon


For the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour a 10-12 cup Bundt pan. Be sure to grease all of the grooves generously. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Add the butter, granulated sugar, and vanilla bean paste to the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Cream the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy – about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides at least once while creaming.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.

Stir together the bourbon and buttermilk. Set aside.

With the mixer on low speed, add ⅓ of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, and mix well.

Add half of the bourbon/buttermilk and mix well.

Add another ⅓ of the flour mixture, mixing well before pouring in the remaining bourbon/buttermilk and mixing until combined.

Finally, add the last ⅓ of the flour mixture and beat until just combined.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Smooth the top of the batter with the back of your spoon.

Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes or until the cake is golden on the top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

While the cake bakes, make the soak. In a small pan, bring the granulated sugar and water to a light boil until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and allow the simple syrup cool completely. When the simple syrup is cool, stir in the bourbon. Set aside.

Remove the cake from the oven.

Use a wooden skewer to poke holes all over the top of the cake.

Pour half of the bourbon mixture over the cake and allow it to seep into the hot cake for 30 minutes.

Carefully invert the cake onto a serving platter.

Use a pastry brush to glaze the inverted cake with the bourbon glaze. Repeat this process as desired while the cake cools completely.

Make the lemon glaze.

In a small glass bowl, combine butter, powdered sugar, and lemon juice until smooth.

Pop the bowl in the microwave and warm the mixture for 10 seconds.

Use a whisk to remove any clumps.

Drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake in a decorative pattern.

Allow the cake to set before slicing.

Keywords: Kentucky bourbon pound cake, pound cake recipes, Southern recipes, Kentucky Derby, bourbon desserts, cake recipes