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Amish Food is the Epitome of Real Home Style Cooking

Traditional Amish food is very simple and something that we associate with the group today.

We think of it as comfort food.  It usually has simple, plain ingredients.

Keep reading to find out more about the Amish people, their cooking and get some tasty Amish recipes.

Find out about Amish Food and Traditions

Where are Amish people living in the US?

The Amish people are found in the United States in several rural areas, but primarily around Ohio and Pennsylvania, and also in smaller numbers in Ontario, Canada.

Lancaster, Pennsylvania is home to about 16,000 Amish people and is in the heart of the Pennsylvania Dutch area.

Information about Amish Food and Customs.

The Amish people are known for their simple living and homes, their plain dress code and for a reluctance to adapt to modern conveniences.

They grow their own food and cook hearty foods. There is a large tourism industry connected to the Amish, especially during the summer months.

While the countryside in Pennsylvania is dotted with large, lavish homes with huge barns, the Amish farms are much simpler.  

There are many tours in Pennsylvania Dutch country allowing one to tour the inside of their rustic abodes.Amish farm

Anyone who has been through Pennsylvania Dutch country will have seen horses and buggies such as this one on the streets, since this is their normal mode of travel.

We often travel north to visit my family every summer and the roads have lots of corners on the.  We have to be very careful not to come around corners too quickly!Amish buggy

While there have been some adaptations to account for technology, in a small way, in areas of the Amish communities, they still live a very simple lifestyle.

Old Order Amish, and most likely some New Order, too do not have their photos taken, which is why this photo might have been taken from behind.Amish people

What kinds of foods do Amish eat?

Amish food is known for being simple is considered very much home style cooking. 

Many eating establishments in the Pennsylvania Dutch area serve “family style” with platters of food being shared by large tables of people who may have just met that evening.

My husband is very social and loves this style of eating on our trips north since it gives him a chance to make new friends!

Much of what the Amish use in their cooking is food that they have grown themselves, whether it is vegetable or animal. Much of their farm machinery is horse drawn.

The Amish often sell the food that they produce as well as using it for their own needs to supplement the earnings of their communities.

Plowing a field

Many of the local stores serve pies, preserves, bread mixes, potato salad, and pickles as well as canned goods and desserts. Preserves

Amish shoo fly pies are commonly seen in the Pennsylvania Dutch area.

The Amish community spends a great deal of their time in manual labor, as they tend their crops and farms, and they use few modern conveniences to prepare their foods.

For this reason, they are not as concerned about the amount of fat in their diet as modern Americans are. Many of their breads and cereals are prepared from whole grains.

Why are the Amish people a healthy community?

The Amish people are known for being quite healthy in old age.  One of the reasons is the high level of physical activity that is performed, since so many tasks are done by hand.

It’s not uncommon for a normal Amish man to take over 18,000 steps in a day, and women take almost 15,000. That is a far cry from our habits.

The average American does well to make it to 5000 steps in a day (just half the recommended amount.)

It is also rare for Amish people to use tobacco so their rate of lung cancer is low.

This is not the case for cardiovascular disease, where the Amish have high blood-pressure and heart-disease rates slightly higher than those of other members of the population. (This is likely due to diet.)

Fresh bread

One particular bread that is well known among Amish people is the friendship bread. Amish friendship bread is made from a sourdough started that is often shared with friends.

The starter substitutes for baking yeast and can be used to make various kinds of breads. It can also be frozen and used later.

I once received some from a friend and used it for months and months to make new loaves of bread.

Sourdough starter

Another recipe that seems to be synonymous with the Amish people is a shoofly pie. This “cake in a pie” dates to the late 1800s. It was often eaten with breakfast and uses molasses as an ingredient.

Shoofly pies

As you travel through Amish country, it’s common to see Amish road side sellers.

One of the regular vendors to a Farmer’s market in my home town in Maine is an Amish couple. They sell food products as well as some home made goods.Amish road side seller

Amish Quilts

People from all over the USA travel to Pennsylvania Dutch country to view the quilts made my Amish and Mennonite women.

Quilts in the Amish community are used in a functional way, and are not considered art, for art’s sake.

Amish quilts on a clothes line

Public domain photo from Wikimedia Commons

Amish quilting didn’t become a tradition in Amish homes until the late 1800s.  The technique was originally brought to the USA by British Quakers but did not catch on in Amish communities. 

Even when they did adopt quilting, early Pennsylvania Amish quilts were quite subdued in color and design. However as the Amish moved around the country, they started using more colorful fabrics and colors. 

My mother was a long time quilter and many of her designs are fashioned on Amish quilt designs.

What about Hex signs? Are they Amish?

On our last trip north, we spotted many buildings and barns that had Amish hex signs on them. Hex signs are a form of Pennsylvania Dutch folk art. Stars in circles are common.

They first started appearing in the early 19th century and become popular in the 1950s as tourist items.

There are superstitions attached to them. While these signs are common, the Amish people themselves don’t use hex signs.

Amish Food Choices

The Amish diet traditionally focuses on the simple, hearty foods.  Many of their meals use these following ingredients:

Amish food is simple and hearty

  • Home grown fruits and vegetables
  • Sauerkraut appears at many Amish meals
  • Hearty meat dishes
  • Eggs and Cheese
  • Home made breads, cookies pies and cakes.
  • Coffee, tea, milk and lemonade are the beverages of choice.
  • Peanut butter (the home made variety, not purchased)

Some of My favorite Amish Food Recipes:

If you would like to try Amish cooking, a trip to Pennsylvania is not necessary.    I’ve put together a round up of Amish recipes that will delight the most ardent “home cooking” fan.

More than 25 of my favorite Amish style recipes for the ultimate in comfort food

Amish Salisbury steak

Amish Bob Andy Pie

Amish Apple Dumplings

Amish country Snickerdoodle cookies.

Amish Vegan Cinnamon Pear Bread

Amish Shoo Fly Cake

Amish Raisin Bread

Amish Cinnamon Bread

Amish Barbequed Chicken

Auntie’s Delicious Amish Soft Pretzels

Chocolate Amish Friendship Bread

Amish Turkey Stuffing

Amish molasses cookies.

Sour Cream Apple Pie

Amish friendship bread

Amish mashed potatoes

Amish style Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding

Baked Amish Oatmeal

Amish Strawberry Shortcake

Amish Buttermilk Pie

Amish Pot Roast

Soft Pretzels the Amish Way

25 of your favorite Amish recipes

Admin note: This post about Amish food and traditions first appeared on the blog in October of 2013. I have updated the post to include new recipes and photos as well as a video for you to enjoy.

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Saturday 2nd of November 2019

I agree with Bunny. I studied Amish in college. Was always fascinated by their way of living. Not too long ago I watched a movie based on true events of an Amish mod. Really surprised me, but they are people/human just like we "English". I just never fully understand the concept of shunning. What ever happen to forgiveness

Bunny T.

Tuesday 27th of February 2018

I live in a small valley in PA " Dutch country" that is inundated with Amish farms. I'm not Amish but I know many families and I know their ways. One thing most people remain unaware of regarding the Amish is that while there exists similarities between Amish communities, no two are identical. Their use of modern utilities, foodways, and acceptance of "the English" (which is what they collectively refer to those of us not Amish) varies widely. I've seen ALOT online claiming knowledge of this sub culture and I can tell anyone that very little of it is accurate. Amish buggies pass my front door 4-5 times a day, some own local businesses, some are very good, salt-of-the-earth people. Others not so much. For example, the prevailing online notion of wholesome, down home style country cooking may exist somewhere but I have witnessed on multiple occasions the foods these people serve their families and tasted some of it as well. Much of it would make a goat regurgitate without hesitation. Many of their children are vitamin deficient and clearly show it. I know 1 family with severe vitamin K deficiencies wherein nothing is done to identify nor correct the condition. Their lack of education is often the reason for their lack of common sense. An 8th grade education is all they get. Zero science of any kind. Nutrition and a balanced diet are totally alien concepts. Not to mention the absolutely ghastly physical deformities due to inbreeding and zero knowledge of genetic/chromosomal mutations due to intermarrying too closely related family members. So, wholesome goodness is certainly not a culture-wide norm. "English" society (and laws) are simply our strange ways that they recognize only when it suits them; think: rejecting seat belt use and withholding food for *days* as a childhood punishment. Many call themselves Old Order yet use electricity, buy rides from "English" drivers, regularly, own and run deplorable puppy mills, abuse and neglect animals in horrendous ways, so much so that Pa was recently forced to pass legislation on animal abuse,as a result, many maintain unbelievably outdated and harmful medieval beliefs and participate in truly horrifying "Pow Wows" which is their faith healing. Just look into what they do with their mentally ill people, I dare you, but be prepared. I know not all are like what I describe but neither are they all wholesome, good, God fearing people with an array of terrific food and cooking traditions. In fact, a look beneath the public tourist-driven facade will certainly change the erroneous perception. The state of PA looks the other way in all but the most severe publicly-known cases. Personally, I believe the Amish get the sacred cow treatment all the while concealing a downright frightening sub culture right under our noses. There are Amish brothels in operation, enormous, illegal gambling, overwhelming moral turpitude and a blatant disregard for basic health, hygiene and the rule of law and decency. They'll close ranks and deny it to anyone they deem too inquisitive, but I assure you it's alive, well, and thriving and no truly thinking person admires this false fronted deplorable sub culture.. I am able to provide names, addresses dates and specifics of the above. While I'm sure there are many exceptions to the above, I also know of an Amish community in Ohio that thrives on prostitution, conceals it's pedophiles, and operates underground pornography venues good people would certainly be horror-stricken to know what goes on under these tourist dollar driven, pure as the driven snow religious sub cultures. Just keeping it real.


Tuesday 6th of December 2022

@Bunny T., That was a very informative and interesting read. Thank you for sharing and God bless.

Randy Mauger

Saturday 2nd of May 2020

I worked in New Holland, Pa. For a few years with the Amish. Never really had a problem with them. Good workers. But l would never buy a horse from them!!


Thursday 28th of March 2019

I have to agree with much Bunny said. Maybe it wasn’t the case at one time but I know an ex Amish man who called it the “ religion of inconvenience “. In the area I lived in they hid phones, freezers, gas tractors and excavation equipment in sheds. Each congregation is different but never met one who lived up to the fantasy , “movie version” of Amish. Obviously, some were kind people but others were as bad as any “Yankee” , if not worse.


Tuesday 13th of March 2018

Thanks for all the info Bunny.


Thursday 12th of November 2015

Hi Vee. Thank you for the comment. That is good to know!


Thursday 12th of November 2015

Old Order Amish (and probably some New Order, too) don't have their photos taken. So, the people in the picture might be Mennonites.

Tina G

Sunday 20th of January 2019

No, they aren't Mennonites you can clearly tell by the dresses and coverings. They are Amish but their wishes were not honored.


Sunday 10th of July 2016

Orthodox Mennonites don't like having their pictures taken either. I grew up in Ontario Canada very near strict Mennonite communities. They would go door to door on horse and wagon with apples/eggs/produce for sale.

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