A Beginner’s Guide to Traditional Amish Foods

There’s nothing quite like a home-cooked meal, and the Amish take it even one step further. Thanks to the fresh ingredients used and countless hours spent on just preparing for the meal, a traditional Amish meal is one you’ll never forget.

Whether you’re interested in preparing a traditional Amish meal yourself or would like to experience one first-hand, this guide will help you get your bearings on this group’s unbeatable country cooking.

What Are Traditional Amish Foods?

Traditional Amish meals are served family-style with ingredients fresh from the farm. If there’s one thing the Amish aren’t concerned about, it’s making their food healthy. Meals and snacks are always hearty and filling, whether they’re sweet or savory. Some staple foods in this culture include:

  • Scrapple
  • Shoofly pie
  • Dutch cabbage rolls
  • Doughnuts
  • Butter noodles
  • Chicken corn soup
  • Pot pies
  • Bologna
  • Apple butter
  • Beets
  • Chow-chow
  • Chipped beef gravy

Recipes for these foods are passed down from generation to generation, designed to sustain people with hardworking lifestyles — after a day of working on the farm, hunger is almost insatiable. The recipes are also typically very simple, as children will often help in the preparation. Yes, we think that means your kids should be able to help, too!

Whether it’s a savory beef stew or a sweet, warm apple pie, there’s one ingredient that every traditional Amish meal has in common — they’re made with love.

Where to Experience a True Amish Meal

The best place to experience a home-cooked, authentic Amish meal is on their turf — in Pennsylvania Dutch country. Lancaster County is perhaps your best bet for finding the most traditional cuisine. The Amish community arrived here 300 years ago and has maintained a simple lifestyle ever since. Even if you’re just passing through, you’re sure to see at least one horse and buggy.

But to get the true Amish experience, it’s best to enjoy at least a fresh meal or snack while you’re in town. Many local shops sell specialties such as Dutch apple dumplings, soft pretzels, shoofly pie and a variety of smoked cheeses and cured meats. With enough covered bridges, wine, shoofly pie and ice cream to last a lifetime, Lancaster County is the prime destination to enjoy the traditional Amish lifestyle and food.

Typical Ingredients Used

A huge part of the Amish style of cooking are the ingredients used. They typically include lots of spices and seasonings with their food, such as cloves, bay leaves, thyme leaves and of course, salt and pepper. At the same time, most recipes also include those country cooking ingredients we love — like butter, milk, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. This is especially true for dessert recipes.

One simple, hearty meal you might not realize is of Amish origin is Beef and Noodles. Of course, there are tons of variations to this recipe, but this traditional Amish Beef and Noodles recipe is one of the best. Make sure to preface your meal with a good old-fashioned serving of Amish Friendship Bread, which perfectly captures the culture’s emphasis on community.

Times Are Changing

Contrary to popular belief, the Amish are updating their lifestyle as the years change, but not quite as drastically as other groups adapt. We can see glimpses of this adaptation in the way Amish people are changing their cooking styles and eating habits. More and more Amish people are eating in restaurants, shopping at grocery stores and purchasing pre-packaged foods.

At the same time, some Amish people are changing their diets as our country shifts away from agriculture. Although they appreciate good, home-cooked food, some people have different preferences than others.

The Secret to Enjoying Traditional Amish Foods

Aside from the incredible taste of traditional Amish foods, there’s one little secret to truly enjoying this style of cooking: appreciating the ones sitting around the table with you. In the Amish culture, dinner time is about more than fulfilling our innate need for food. It’s about celebrating family, sharing stories and relaxing with the ones you love after a long, hard day.

Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts.

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