What is Authentic Amish Food?
What comes to your mind when you think about Amish food? When I think of Amish cuisine, I think of rich, sweet, hearty, homemade comfort food. These are a few words that I would use to describe Amish food.
Consisting of potatoes, noodles, meats, vegetables, and bread, Amish meals are very filling and high in carbs. Milk and eggs are also a huge part of their diet. So, many of their dishes are super-rich and creamy.
But keep in mind, there is no such thing as “Amish food.” The Amish don’t have any dietary restrictions. And their recipes are open for anyone to use.
However, they have been a strong community in the United States for roughly three hundred years. And during this time, they've created some pretty fantastic dishes, passing the recipes down from one generation to the next.
Traditional Amish foods (ie. food that is typically served in many Amish homes), are often-times categorized as "Amish food" or "Traditional Pennsylvania Dutch food".
What Do Amish People Eat?
Many Amish have large families, and their daughters are taught how to cook at a young age. The women spend a lot of time in the kitchen since they make three home-cooked meals every day. And the saying is, "Practice makes perfect". So most Amish women are great cooks because they get a lot of practice. They have a reputation for good food.
The Amish (especially the farmers) eat a lot of meat and potatoes. Most of them butcher their own animals for meat. And the women raise lots of fruit and vegetables, preserving them for the winter months. A lot of their food is grown on the farm.
And, in case you've noticed, many Amish recipes include sugar. Even savory dishes and vegetables sometimes have sugar added. My mom used to make a sweetened creamy sauce to add to peas, asparagus, etc. It makes the food taste good, but it isn't the most healthy.
Some of them also cook food that is not typical of Amish dishes, like Italian, Mexican, or other cuisines. Amish people enjoy pizza, spaghetti, lasagna, taco salad, etc. And they eat plenty of casserole dishes. But commonly, you will find a hearty full-course meal of meat, potatoes, a vegetable, salad, bread, and dessert, for an Amish dinner.
Most Amish women serve a hearty breakfast every morning. But lunch is usually lighter, consisting of leftovers, sandwiches, etc. Although sometimes they have their full-course meal at lunchtime instead of the evening meal. It may depend on the families' work and school schedules.
Amish Food Lancaster, PA
It's no secret that the Amish in Lancaster, PA, have some unique food recipes. Some dishes that are popular in this area, you won't typically find in all other Amish communities.
I grew up Amish in Lancaster County. So I am the most familiar with the Amish in that area. And my blog may reflect the Lancaster County Amish more than other Amish communities. Although I also spent a lot of time in Holmes County, Ohio as well.
Here are links to a few recipes that are considered authentic Amish food in Lancaster, PA ...
•Pennsylvania Dutch Chicken Pot Pie Recipe (Unlike pot pie made with pie crust, this is a comforting hearty dish made with chicken and broth, vegetables, and homemade pot pie noodles.)
•PA Dutch Potato Filling Recipe (Mashed potatoes mixed with stuffing is a yummy potato side dish. And you will often find this dish at holiday dinners.)
•Sticky Buns (Sticky buns are basically the same thing as cinnamon rolls, but instead of getting icing on the top, they are baked on top of caramel glaze and pecans. After they're finished baking, we flip them upside down and all the sticky gooey caramel runs down over the cinnamon buns.)
•Amish Wet-Bottom Shoofly Pie Recipe (This is commonly considered a breakfast pie. It includes a layer of gooey molasses on the bottom, a cake-like center, and a lovely crumb topping. It's perfect with a cup of coffee.)
•Amish Apple Schnitz Pie Recipe (A delicious pie that's made with spices and dried apples that have been cooked and mashed, giving it an applesauce-like consistency. Typically, it's served with the Sunday church dinner.)
Mincemeat pie is another traditional PA Dutch food. My mom canned mincemeat pie filling whenever we butchered a cow. We ate it warm with ice cream, and I loved it. Sadly, however, I don't have her recipe.
Lancaster Amish Wedding Food
The Lancaster County Amish usually serve roasht, mashed potatoes, and creamed celery at all of their weddings. It's a very delicious meal that is unique to them.
•Amish Wedding Chicken Roast Recipe (This is roasted chicken or turkey mixed with a delicious buttery stuffing. In PA Dutch, it's called "Roasht". And believe me, it's yummy!)
•Traditional Creamy Amish Mashed Potatoes Recipe (Mashed potatoes are a popular American side dish. Although, the Amish know how to make the best mashed potatoes, topped with brown butter.)
•Amish Creamed Celery Recipe (Cooked celery in a sweetened creamy sauce. I love this stuff!! And it pairs perfectly with mashed potatoes and turkey roasht.)
Traditional Amish Breakfast Food
My Amish mom always cooked a hearty meal for breakfast (except Sunday morning). We had eggs every morning. And she frequently made fried potatoes because my dad loved them. Sometimes we had pancakes, waffles, etc. as well.
Two common Amish breakfast foods are fried mush and homemade scrapple. The main ingredient in fried mush is cornmeal. My mom cooked and packed it into a container to shape it. The next morning she sliced and fried it, and served it with maple syrup or ketchup. I never cared for fried mush or scrapple. So you probably won't ever find a recipe here.
Stewed crackers were another thing we ate for breakfast. You may think this sounds disgusting, but I loved it! Heat milk, add seasonings, and pour this over a bowl of saltine crackers. My mom always poured the milk over the crackers just before we were ready to eat. This way they were soft but not complete mush. And whenever the first few peas ripened in the spring, she added them to the stewed crackers. That was extra delicious!
•Amish Breakfast Casserole (An easy-to-make, hearty, and filling casserole made with bread, meat, cheese, and eggs.)
•Amish Sausage Gravy and Biscuits Recipe (Another hearty breakfast dish that is not hard to make.)
•Homemade Granola Cereal Recipe (To finish off his breakfast, my dad wanted cooked oatmeal with homemade granola cereal every morning. So my mom made sure we always had granola in the pantry.)
Authentic Amish Dinner Recipes
We usually had plenty of meat in our freezer. Since we had lots of animals on the farm, we butchered a cow, pig, and chickens almost every winter. My dad didn't care for steaks because he thought they were too tough to chew. So most of our beef went into roasts and ground burger. And we also canned beef chunks for handy meals.
•Amish Meatloaf with Oats Recipe (This is a simple, basic meatloaf recipe made with oats and tomato juice. We ate lots of meatloaves.)
•Poor Man's Steak Recipe (Thick juicy hamburger patties fried in butter and smothered with mushroom gravy. This is so good served with mashed potatoes!)
•Homemade Shake and Bake Chicken (Chicken legs or thighs coated in homemade crumbs and baked to perfection - tender on the inside, crispy on the outside.)
•PA Dutch Chicken Croquettes Recipe (Chopped leftover chicken mixed with a thick creamy sauce, then formed into balls, dipped in bread crumbs, and fried.)
•Yumasetti Recipe (A creamy Amish noodle and ground beef casserole topped with buttered bread crumbles. It's a complete one-dish meal.)
•Chicken Corn Noodle Soup Recipe (Brothy, comforting chicken noodle soup with corn.)
•Pennsylvania Dutch Corn Fritters Recipe (Fried sweet corn patties.)
More Traditional Amish Recipes
Living on a dairy farm, we always had plenty of milk and cream. Homemade ice cream was a special treat in the wintertime (we used snow to freeze it). And we made lots of homemade pudding.
•Homemade Vanilla Cornstarch Pudding Recipe (Creamy vanilla pudding is a popular Amish dessert.)
•Pennsylvania-style Apple Dumplings Recipe (Apples are encased in flaky pie dough and baked in a sweet caramel sauce.)
•Homemade Cinnamon Rolls Recipe (This is my sister-in-law's recipe. Amazingly soft and fluffy cinnamon buns!)
•Homemade Donuts are pretty popular in Amish communities, as well as many different kinds of pies, cakes, cookies, etc.
The Amish seem to enjoy their sweets. And most of their meals are completed by enjoying a bit of dessert. There's nothing quite as tasty as fresh homemade baked goods.
Amish Church Food Recipes
The Amish only have church every other Sunday. They take turns hosting the service at their house and serve a light meal afterward. At every Amish church that I've ever visited (mostly New Order Amish and Lancaster Old Order), we were served the same meal.
Amish groups do not all have the same customs. Some of them serve bean soup.
But we always had bread, rolls, peanut butter spread, Lebanon bologna or lunch meat, sliced cheese or cheese spread, home-canned pickles, pickled beets, and either pie or cookies. It was not the most healthy, but it was filling and delicious.
•Amish White Bread Recipe (Most of the Amish eat a lot of homemade bread. And if you've never tasted warm fresh bread, you are missing out.)
•One-Hour Dinner Rolls (Soft and fluffy yeast rolls that don't require a lot of rising time. These amazing rolls come together in only one hour.)
•Copycat Hawaiian Buttery Potato Rolls Recipe (Another one of my sister-in-law's recipes. It's another amazing recipe for homemade rolls.)
•Amish Church Peanut Butter Spread Recipe (We ate this sweetened creamy peanut butter spread on bread or buns. Use this instead of peanut butter and jelly for a pb&j sandwich. This post contains two different recipes.)
•Soft and Chewy Gingersnap Cookies (A delicious gingersnap cookie that was one of my favorite cookies on the platter.)
•Monster Cookies (Packed with peanut butter, oats, and M&Ms, these cookies are popular in many Amish circles. They were my dad's favorite!)
•Amish Dutch Apple Pie Recipe (Here is one of the best apple pie recipes! It's topped with buttery oat crumbles. Apple pie was often served for church dinner.)
Amish and Food
Good home-cooked meals are a huge part of the Amish culture. The family gathers around the table to share a meal, whenever it's possible. And sharing a meal or a snack is a great way to fellowship.
Many dishes we know and love came from the Amish, including variations on Dutch apple desserts, beef and noodles, and even soft pretzels! And there are many crave-worthy foods that the Amish incorporate into their weekly menus.
While some recipes have evolved over the years, traditional dishes remain a staple of their lifestyle. And most of the recipes that I have shared can be found right here on my blog. These are some of the best from Amish country.
Authentic Amish Food in Lancaster, PA
The best place to experience home-cooked, authentic Amish food is on their turf - in Pennsylvania Dutch country. Lancaster County (as well as Holmes County) is perhaps the best place to find the most traditional cuisine. Many local shops sell specialties such as Dutch apple dumplings, soft pretzels, shoofly pie, homemade noodles, and a variety of other Amish foods.
Numerous tourist restaurants feature “Pennsylvania Dutch” and “Amish-style” cooking. Dienner's Country Restaurant in Ronks, PA used to be one of the best buffets, along with Shady Maple Smorgasboard. But I don't live in that area anymore, so it's been several years since I've been there.
Do Amish Eat Store-bought Processed Food?
Yes, the Amish also eat some processed foods. Some of them enjoy junk food and pop, while others are more health-conscious.
Occasionally, my parents shopped at bent and dent stores and came home with all kinds of cereal (we loved Honeycomb and Lucky Charms too) and other treats that we didn't get often. When you have ten kids to feed, you have to buy the cheap stuff or grow your own. And we grew a lot of our food, but we also enjoyed store-bought goodies at times.
And as our world keeps changing, it becomes more difficult to make a living on a small farm than it used to be. Therefore, many of the Amish have started other occupations. And this makes it increasingly more difficult to keep their simple lifestyle. Therefore things are changing in their communities as well.
Although, most of them still have huge gardens and preserve lots of food. So the Amish continue to eat large amounts of fresh and low-processed foods, especially in comparison to the typical American diet.
Best Amish Recipes
This post contains links to over thirty of the most authentic Amish recipes. It's food that I ate as an Amish kid. Some of the recipes are very easy and quick to make, while others require more time and skill.
And some Amish food may require an acquired taste. Although, many of their dishes are very tasty and loved by most who get to try them.
I hope you will try some of these recipes, and please let me know in the comments below what is your favorite Amish food.
Amazon Affiliate Links to Amish Cookbooks...
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The Amish Canning Cookbook - a guide to canning and preserving Amish food.
Mennonite Community Cookbook - I don't have this cookbook personally, but I know my mom used it.