Top 10 Must-Try Foods of Amish Culture

The Amish community, known for its simple living, plain dress, and reluctance to adopt many conveniences of modern technology, also offers a ricStep into the world of the Amish, where simplicity meets culinary delight.

Renowned for their simple lifestyle, modest attire, and minimal use of modern technology, the Amish also boast a rich tradition of food that mirrors their close ties to farming and skilled craftsmanship. Celebrated for its heartiness and the freshness of its ingredients—most of which are grown right on their farms—Amish cuisine offers a tasty window into their culture.

Here are ten of the top dishes that embody Amish culture’s essence, providing a delicious insight into their way of life.

1. Shoofly Pie

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Shoofly Pie is a quintessential Amish dessert that offers a sweet taste of Pennsylvania Dutch country. This molasses-filled treat has roots in the 1880s and is believed to have been originally a crust-less molasses cake.

The name “shoofly pie” is thought to come from the brand of molasses used in the pie, or possibly because flies had to be shooed away from its sweet, sticky filling. The pie features a crumb topping and a gooey, rich filling, making it a unique blend of cake and pie.

Traditionally, Shoofly Pie is served with black coffee for breakfast, symbolizing the Amish knack for practical, hearty eating.

2. Amish Chicken & Corn Soup

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In a culture that values poultry farming and corn crops, Amish Chicken and Corn Soup is a staple dish that is especially comforting in the cold months. This soup is a testament to the Amish philosophy of waste-not-want-not, often made using leftover chicken and fresh vegetables from the garden.

It is typically seasoned with saffron, which gives it a distinctive yellow color and a rich flavor profile. The inclusion of homemade egg noodles or rivels (small dumplings) adds a delightful texture that makes this soup a filling meal.

3. Scrapple

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Scrapple, originating from the German settlers in Pennsylvania, is another iconic Amish food. Made from pork scraps and trimmings combined with cornmeal and wheat flour, it is seasoned with savory spices like sage, thyme, and black pepper.

This mixture is cooked into a mush, allowed to solidify, and then sliced and fried until crispy on the outside. Scrapple represents the Amish and Mennonite traditions of frugality and ingenuity, utilizing parts of the pig that might otherwise be discarded.

4. Amish Potato Salad

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Unlike the typical American potato salad, Amish Potato Salad is creamier and sweeter, often including a touch of mustard, vinegar, sugar, and eggs. It is a popular dish at picnics, church gatherings, and family meals, embodying the community-centric spirit of Amish gatherings.

This potato salad usually involves cooking the dressing, which is poured over the cooked potatoes, giving it a distinct, rich flavor that sets it apart from its cold-prepared counterparts.

5. Amish Friendship Bread

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Amish Friendship Bread is more than just food; it’s a ritual of kindness. This sweet, cinnamon-scented bread is made from a sourdough starter shared among friends and family.

The starter, a mixture of flour, sugar, milk, and yeast, is kept alive and cultivated over ten days, with portions passed to new homes. This practice not only creates a deliciously moist and flavorful bread but also fosters a sense of community and continuity, integral to Amish values.

6. Amish Macaroni Salad

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Amish Macaroni Salad stands out with its slightly sweeter flavor than its traditional American counterpart. This dish commonly features a creamy dressing made from mayonnaise mixed with sugar and vinegar, giving it a unique sweet and tangy profile.

Ingredients like bell peppers, celery, and onion add crunch and freshness, while hard-boiled eggs contribute a rich, comforting texture. This salad is a popular side dish at Amish gatherings, reflecting their penchant for hearty, home-cooked meals that can be easily shared.

7. Pennsylvania Dutch Pork & Sauerkraut

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This traditional New Year’s meal is deeply rooted in Pennsylvania Dutch (and thus Amish) tradition, signifying luck and prosperity for the coming year. The dish combines slow-cooked pork with fermented cabbage (sauerkraut), which is not only flavorful but also beneficial for digestion due to the probiotics in the fermented cabbage.

The pork is typically seasoned simply with salt and pepper, allowing the natural flavors to meld beautifully with the tanginess of the sauerkraut, creating a hearty and warming dish perfect for winter celebrations.

8. Whoopie Pies

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Although whoopie pies can now be found in many parts of the United States, they originate in Pennsylvania’s Amish and Mennonite kitchens. These delightful treats consist of two soft, cake-like cookies sandwiching a creamy, fluffy filling. Traditionally, the cakes are chocolate, and the filling is a sweet, vanilla-flavored cream.

Whoopie pies are a beloved treat among the Amish, often made for school lunches and picnics and to sell at local markets or roadside stands.

9. Amish Apple Dumplings

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Amish Apple Dumplings are a testament to the simplicity and deliciousness of their baking. Large apples are peeled and cored, then wrapped in a homemade pastry dough. Inside the hollowed-out core, they often place a filling of cinnamon and sugar, sometimes with a bit of butter, before baking them to perfection.

The result is a soft, sweet pastry with a gooey, flavorful center that highlights the natural flavor of the apples, a common crop in Amish orchards. This dessert is typically served warm, often with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a drizzle of heavy cream.

10. Egg Noodle Casserole

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Egg Noodle Casserole, often called Amish Yumasetti, is a comfort food staple in the Amish kitchen. It involves layers of homemade egg noodles, ground beef, and creamy soup mixture, typically cream of mushroom or chicken, baked until bubbly and golden.

This dish showcases the Amish knack for creating filling, comforting meals from simple ingredients. It’s a common feature at potlucks and large family dinners, illustrating the communal dining experience so integral to Amish culture.

Understanding Amish Culture

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The Amish are a group of traditionalist Christian church fellowships, part of the Anabaptist movement, that originated in Switzerland in the late 17th century.

They are best known for their simple living, plain dress, and resistance to adopting many modern technologies, which they believe promotes self-sufficiency, humility, and a stronger community.

Community & Family

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Community and family are at the core of Amish life. The Amish live in close-knit communities where members support each other’s physical and spiritual needs. Large families are common, and children are taught from a young age to contribute to the home and community duties, fostering a sense of responsibility and belonging.

Faith & Practice

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Faith plays a central role in the Amish way of life. Their religious practices include adult baptism, non-resistance, and high standards of modesty in behavior and dress. Sunday services are held in community members’ homes rather than churches, emphasizing worship as an integral part of daily life.

The Amish use a dialect of German known as Pennsylvania Dutch or Pennsylvania German in their religious services and day-to-day conversation.

Relationship with Technology

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The Amish’s relationship with technology is complex and governed by community-specific guidelines known as Ordnung. Public electricity, cars, and telephones are generally avoided because the Amish believe these technologies promote individualism, create inequalities, and weaken community ties.

However, they may adopt certain technologies that they deem essential to their work and community life, albeit in modified forms that adhere to their values of simplicity and communal living.

Economic Activities

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Traditionally, the Amish are farmers specializing in crops and dairy products that are often organic and sold in local markets. However, due to the decreasing availability of farmland, many Amish now run small businesses, including craft shops, bakeries, furniture making, and construction. This allows them to maintain their community standards and separation from the wider society.

The Amish way of life might seem enigmatic to outsiders, but their strong community orientation, spiritual life, and sustainable living practices offer insights into a distinct, enduring way of life in modern American society.

Martha A. Lavallie
Martha A. Lavallie
Author & Editor | + posts

Martha is a journalist with close to a decade of experience in uncovering and reporting on the most compelling stories of our time. Passionate about staying ahead of the curve, she specializes in shedding light on trending topics and captivating global narratives. Her insightful articles have garnered acclaim, making her a trusted voice in today's dynamic media landscape.