What Is Amish Food? (10 Traditional Amish Foods to Try)

As a theology scholar passionate about understanding the Amish people and their traditions, I couldn’t think of a better thing to do on my sabbatical from work than to visit an actual Amish Country and focus on the foods they eat. Last semester, a student in my theology class mentioned that it must be tough to be Amish, not getting to eat pizza or go to Starbucks – sentiments echoed by the rest of the class. As much as this made me cackle, it gave me all the reasons to experience Amish Country in Pennsylvania and Ohio. And so, on my visit, I documented every food experience I had. So then, what is Amish food?

Amish food or Amish Cuisine represents the traditional food enjoyed by the Amish. It comprises the tastiest roasted chicken, fresh bread, creamy mashed potatoes with gravy, seasonal vegetables, homemade jam, and the best of pies and other baked delicacies. The Amish cook their foods using milk, eggs, potatoes, meats, vegetables, and noodles-rich ingredients that result in foods that are all so creamy and rich in a unique way.

In this post, I’d like to take you into the Amish world, where I’ll talk about the different foods that the Amish eat and what they eat, and I’ll also share some dos and don’ts. So, read on to learn more.

What does Amish-style food mean?

The Amish-style food represents the culinary Amish tradition, including some of the best-developed dishes made by Amish cooks and the foods made by all the Amish people of the Pennsylvania Dutch heritage. Amish-style foods are sweet, soft, and savory – exactly what you’d expect from the Amish people. Overall Amish-style foods refer to the culinary traditions the Amish people are known for – specifically, their hearty and straightforward foods made of simple, locally-available foods.

Their cooking style is just as rich, with Amish foods made with staples like potatoes, pork, noodles, and cabbages, among others. Notably, the Amish people are masters of cooking techniques like picking, frying, and baking.

It’s worth noting that despite their lifestyles and the perceived belief that they are separated from the rest of the world, the Amish have a lot in common with the rest of the world, like the fact that they eat Mexican-style foods and pizza.

Also to note is that Amish people have a special meal on Sunday called the Sunday Church Meal, which is served after the Sunday church service. The meal features cold cuts and cheese spreads, sliced pickles, pretzels, cheese spreads, cheese, bread, pickled beets, peanut butter spreads sweetened with molasses, water, and black coffee.

What foods do Amish not eat?

10 Traditional Amish Foods to Try
What foods do Amish not eat? Image source: Pixabay

While some Amish people avoid things like shellfish, they have no dietary restrictions, and they eat pretty much all that they want. They still prefer the traditional Pennsylvania/ German Dutch diet, but they still eat all other foods from places like the Olive Garden, Pizzerias, and Mexican Restaurants, among others.

Overall, the Amish prefer natural or organic foods and will use the best/cleanest ingredients whenever possible and when they can afford it. However, they still visit Target to shop but will avoid food with ingredients like corn sweeteners or flavor enhancers such as MSG.

Over the years, the Amish diets have changed considerably, especially with many of them shifting from agriculture, and their foods tend to have more preservatives and additives. Also, contrary to popular beliefs, the Amish eat highly processed goods.

What are the typical ingredients used in traditional Amish foods?

The Amish use the freshest herbs, like bay leaves, cloves, and thyme, and condiments like butter, sugar, and vanilla.

They use these ingredients in various foods, but most commonly in their beef, potatoes, and noodles, their staple foods. Other staple ingredients include sausages, beef, celery, potatoes, flour (bread), and peas, often obtained from the farmers markets.

What is the best place to enjoy authentic Amish traditional food?

What Is Amish Food?
The best place to enjoy authentic Amish traditional food. Image source: Pixabay

If you are planning to visit Amish Country but are unsure what places to enjoy the most delicious foods, here is a quick guide about the best places to indulge in authentic Amish traditional foods.

Amish Homes – There is no better way to experience Amish Country and their lifestyles than by visiting a home of a local Amish. While you’d need to be invited for this, the Amish are very friendly, and you will quickly be served their soft ice cream, pretzels, and a hearty, creamy, rich homemade meal. If you opt for this, be careful to observe their rules and don’t take photos of your hosts or anyone else in Amish country – the Amish are known to be technology-averse, and they are particularly against having their photos taken. Yes, their IDs have no photos, which shows how serious they are about the No-Photo Rule.

Farmers Market – is the best place to enjoy fresh foods and indulge in freshly made snacks. There are many vendors at these markets, and the best part is that they will guide you in enjoying these foods. Foods are freshly made at the market, so you wouldn’t have to worry about their freshness.

Cafes and Kiosks – the other best place for you to enjoy the best of authentic Amish foods would be in any of the local cafes and food kiosks with daily menus of freshly made foods and snacks. These are also the best places to enjoy their freshly made pretzels.

What are some examples of Amish traditional foods: 10 Amish traditional foods to try out today

Traditional Amish Foods to Try
Amish traditional foods. Image source: Pixabay

Poor Man’s Steak

Don’t let the name of this dinner meal fool you; the Poor Man’s Steak is a one-of-a-kind Amish meal made with the thickest, and the juiciest hamburger patties dipped in flour then, perfectly fried in butter and then smothered in mushroom gravy. Think of this meal as a smothered hamburger steak. This steak is perfectly complemented by the creamiest mashed potatoes, heaving you in food heaven.

Why is this meal called the Poor Man’s Steak when we all know that steak is freakishly expensive? Well, turns out that using ground hamburger rather than actual steak saves you a lot of money, but you still get the flavorful meal.

Yumasetti, The Amish Noodle Casserole

Yumasetti, also known as Yumasetta or Yumzetti, is another popular Amish meal that you may fall in love with if you love casseroles. It’s a rich and flavorful meal made with ground beef noodles, peas, and a creamy sauce topped with well-toasted breadcrumbs. You can tell that this casserole is equally filling and comforting. Yumasetti may also contain tomato soup.

The most common Yumasetti casserole features a creamy mushroom soup sauce (some people substitute the mushroom soup cream with the cream of chicken soup), cheese, and some sour cream. These ingredients leave you with a perfect one-dish meal whipped up in minutes.

Amish Sausage Gravy

This could be one of the most filling breakfast meals you will ever enjoy. It is pretty flavorful, surprisingly simple, and inexpensive. It pairs well with biscuits.

It’s made using ground sausage (it can be made with hot, mild, or hot country sausage, turkey, or any other sausage), white milk gravy served over biscuits, hashbrowns, or fried potatoes. For a nice twist on your breakfast, the sausage gravy could also be made with sliced hard-boiled eggs with the sausage gravy to make creamed eggs. The version with eggs is perfect over toast.

Amish Creamed Celery Recipe

Undoubtedly, I was a bit skeptical about this side dish because I seem to have an issue with some food textures. Still, as part of my learning experience and adventure, I opted to try it and was so surprised by the burst of flavors from this creamed celery. This authentic Amish meal will blow your mind, and if you are ever invited to a wedding or dinner, don’t skip it.

The creamed celery is made of celery cooked in a thickened and sweetened creamy sauce and is often served with the Amish chicken roast.

Amish Meatloaf with Oats

Meatloaf is a household meal in Amish homes, but did you know you could enjoy meatloaf made with oats? Well, as peculiar as it may sound, especially if you are not a fan of oats, the resultant meatloaf is quite hearty, healthy, and easily the ultimate form of comfort food for Sunday dinner. It also makes the perfect gluten-free meatloaf. You could enjoy it with scalloped potatoes.

Note that oats replace breadcrumbs in this recipe, and this meatloaf will keep your family asking for it at every meeting. Despite being gluten-free, it is tasty, easy to make, and you must have this meatloaf if you are traveling around Amish Country.

Amish Wedding Chicken Roast

Despite the name, this Amish Chicken roast isn’t reserved for weddings, and you should consider asking for it when in Amish Country. However, you shouldn’t be surprised when you are served turkey or their infamous PA Dutch Turkey Stuffing, the roast. The roast chicken or turkey is served alongside mashed potatoes and gravy, peas, creamed celery, salads, desserts, and buns. So, you can expect the most filling celebratory meal.

The chicken or turkey is cut into small pieces after it’s removed from the bones, then added to the big bowl with the rest of the stuffing. The result is more of a perfect Thanksgiving-style meal that can be enjoyed at home or a wedding. The best part is that you could ask for it in a café, and it won’t break the bank.

Amish Wet Bottom Shoofly

The Amish regard the Wet Bottom Shoofly as a standard breakfast pie layered with a base of gooey molasses, a cake-like filling at the center, and topped with a nice crumb. This pie is perfection on a plate with all its goodness encased in the pie’s flaky crust, and it is perfect with a cup of coffee.

An interesting fact about the Bottom Shoofly is that the pie seems to have its roots in Pennsylvania, Dutch, and was invented by Dutch housewives who were trying to feed their families with the little left in their pantries towards the end of winter. This often consisted of lard, flour, and molasses. Also, this pie dates back to the 1800s and is believed to have been baked in 1876 in celebration of the Declaration of Independence’s signing.

Pennsylvania Dutch Chicken Pot Pie

While your traditional pot pie features a pie crust, the Amish Chicken Pot Pie is comforting thanks to the heart and soul poured into this very hearty dish. It’s made of chicken and broth with vegetables and the infamous Amish homemade pot pie noodles. These ingredients make for a hearty meal that will always stand out and have me asking for more, and this dish is one of the many dishes that the ladies in Amish County pride themselves in.

The main difference between chicken pies and chicken pot pie is that the latter is made in a pot rather than a pie pan. Also, the chicken pot pie tends to carry more of a soupy consistency, unlike the chicken pie’s thick gravy filling in the pie crust. It’s also worth noting that the Amish will fix this hearty meal from scratch with locally available ingredients, making it even more special.

Schnitz Pie

The other authentic Amish meal that you must try is the Schnitz pie. This pie also doubles as a church pie served after Sunday service or for Sunday dinner, and it’s one of their best pies. Notwithstanding, making the Schnitz Pie is quite demanding, which is why most families would start pie prep and even baking on Saturday.

So, what exactly is Schnitz Pie? Well, the Schnitz refers to slices of dried fruit, commonly dried apples, and the pie gets its name from the German word Schnitz which means carving or slicing – also spelled Snitz Pie. In addition to the dried apple slices, it has spices, resulting in a filling pie with a thick apple butter consistency. It makes for an excellent dessert.

Amish Creamy Mashed Potatoes

The other must-have traditional Amish food you must try is their creamy mashed potatoes. I expected something good from the Amish people since their foods feature potatoes to a large extent, and I was beyond amazed by just how good the mashed potatoes are.

Their creamy mashed potatoes make for a quick side dish, and one of the ingredients that makes them all that good is brown salted butter rather than the traditional butter or unsalted butter. Using the brown butter leaves you with a nice nutty aroma that will have you asking for seconds.

Do Amish eat store-bought processed food?

Yes, the Amish also eat store-bought processed foods. However, they limit these foods and prefer their home-grown foods. Even when shopping from stores, they carefully avoid unsafe ingredients, emphasizing healthier options. The presence of large stores like Walmart and Target in Amish Country means that these people consume these foods.

The everyday store-bought items by the Amish include breakfast cereals, cheeses, meats, and bread, among others.

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