Amish Peanut Butter: Resistance is Futile

As I write this I’m sitting at home late Sunday morning, happily munching on bread slathered with Amish peanut butter, trying to keep it from sticking my laptop’s keys together.  Amish across America will soon be doing the same at the after-church fellowship meal (the peanut butter, not the laptop part), at which the Amish interpretation of the venerable nut spread features prominently.

What makes the stuff so darn good? I recently gave a jar to someone who’d never had it before.  A day later it was half gone, gobbled by the spoonful, along with what I’m sure had to be an intake of at least 3000 calories and 880 grams of fat (Jenny Craig this ain’t).

amish peanut butte
Amish peanut butter: closest thing to a controlled substance in the Amish repertoire

I am currently in possession of two jars, one which I picked up from a Kentucky Amish producer located at the end of a long lane leading to the back of nowhere.  The second is technically not “Amish” but bears the tag on its label: Mrs. Miller’s Amish Peanut Butter Spread.

Mrs. Miller’s is a non-Amish business located in the little town of Fredericksburg on the Holmes-Wayne County border in Ohio.  They are something of a mega-producer of canned goods and noodles, and you’ll find their stuff distributed in Amish areas around the country.  Miller’s products are usually pretty tasty, and I enjoyed meeting some friendly folks there when I dropped in once.

The Kentucky Amish spread, when I found it sitting on the shelf in the Amishman’s shop (the shop doubles as a tarp business and a storefront for his wife’s home cannery; the owner is a member of a Swartzentruber Amish church), actually had visibly separate layers–a darker layer above, and a molasses-y liquid beneath.

The Amishman slowly rotated the jar, mixing the two layers together as I fished for dollars.  I’ve noticed keeping it in the fridge keeps the layers together, as does heat (maybe I should stop experimenting with it and just eat it, I know).  Otherwise it inevitably segregates into layers when reaching room temp.

For culinary neophytes like myself, Amish Peanut Butter is made through a process shrouded in a level of mystery akin to that of scrapple (though, I’m sure, much more pleasant to think about).  Just what gives the spread its characteristic sweet flavor?  (For that matter, Amish peanut butter is not the kind you’d want to combine with PB’s longstanding partner in crime, J.  Jam or jelly or any sort of marmalade slapped on top would cause instant sugar catatonia, I’m certain.  Though I bet it’s been tried).

I’ve been told the sweetness comes from molasses, or from melted marshmallows.  I imagine there are various ways to sugar it up.  The Mrs. Miller’s I’m eating right now has a distinct marshmallowy flavor, and smell, it seems.  Sweet-sounding ingredients on the Miller’s label include Honey, Tapioca Starch, and Corn Syrup, as well as the always ominous-sounding (at least to me) “Artifical Flavor”.

amish peanut butter kentucky
On the prowl for Amish peanut butter in Kentucky

The Swartzentruber product lacks any sort of label with ingredients, just a mason jar with hand-written product name and price, $4, slapped on top.   The Swartzentruber type is less sweet, and more like what I’ve eaten at Amish church meals.  Miller’s is lighter in color and seems a tad on the sweeter side, though that may be to some folks’ liking.

Amish peanut butter is a characteristic treat on Sundays.  Usually you slather it on bread, maybe with some schmier kase (a cheese spread), salty pretzels, pickles, beets, coldcuts, or cheese slices thrown into the mix.  If that sounds like a bunch of stuff you wouldn’t usually combine with peanut butter, well, you’re probably right.  But let’s just say that stranger things have been eaten.

And the cheesey-peanutty-pickley mix actually goes down quite well after 3 hours in church, especially if you skipped breakfast.

For some, Amish peanut butter seems to be, well, more than just something you schmier on bread.  An Amishman in Indiana once explained (with a distinct air of gravity) that one thing which people who leave the Amish church always miss is the Sunday peanut spread.

I’m sure there’s a lot more to it than that.  But this may at least give an inkling of the mighty pull of Amish peanut butter.

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    49 Comments

    1. Alice Aber

      I suspect there are as man variations to Amish Peanut Butter spread as there are to peanut butter in general. But it is all good.

    2. ann

      my mom makes it with creamy peanut butter, marshmallow cream and enough light corn syrup to get the consistency right!

    3. I love Amish Peanut Butter. We get it in Ethridge TN. it is taste like a swirl of peanut butter and marshmallow cream! So tasty! Speaking of it… I think I am off to the kitchen! H

    4. Rosalie

      I LOVE PEANUT BUTTER. The Amish peanut butter is sweeter. Some Amish mix it with marshmallow creme.
      I also love the Amish Peanut Butter Angel Food Cakes, which I have purchased around Arthur, IL.
      They are great!

    5. Sherry Sutherby

      I’ve got a dozen or more jars of Amish jam from my Michigan Amish connections ~ any flavor you desire. And some honey. But this? I’m going to have to see about getting a jar or two! I can smell it from here!

    6. Melanie Rowley

      Want to try something fantastic? Take a really thin hamburger patty, top with a slice of American cheese, ketchup and Peanut Butter. You now have a Googer Burger!

      We used to eat these from the Goober Burger stand at the Missouri State Fair, when I was working American Saddlebreds, and they are great.

      Don’t knock it until you try it please.

    7. Melanie Rowley

      Just read my post, and it is a Goober Burger, not Googer like I first wrote, and if there is an edit button on here I can’t find it, so still just try it.

      1. Mona (Kentucky Lady).

        NO Melanie there isn’t an EDIT BUTTON on here….I keep trying to get Erik to put one on here……haven’t I Erik ? :)Maybe one day he’ll feel sorry for us and put one on…….I guess when he gets sick of reading all the mistakes we make and can’t correct once we hit submit…..

    8. Melanie–I’m intrigued by your burger suggestion. And on my first take I misread it to be a “Googler” burger. I should probably take a break from the computer now 😉

    9. Hi Whittaker woman, I saw all sorts of peanut concoctions when in Ethridge. Peanut brittle was all over the place: https://amishamerica.com/the-amish-of-ethridge-tennessee/

    10. Rosalie Amish Peanut Butter Angel Food Cakes seem almost a step over the line…I can imagine the sugar high if you fed those to the kids, might not be such angels 😉 Whoopie pies, for instance, have always been too sweet for me.

    11. I love peanut butter but it doesn’t love me back. It doubles me over in pain! but I can and would sneak a wee bite.

    12. I’d eat that in a heartbeat and will keep my eyes open for it when I stop by an Amish community!! Thanks for making me hungry! LOL

    13. Rose Goddaard

      I recently bought some of the Amish Peanut Butter a month or so when I went to the Yoder’s Quilt Auction here in Clare Michigan where they have over 500 vender’s also… I bought it from an Amish couple and they were from Indianna… It was good, I didn’t buy a pint it was about a half pint in a plastic container.. I actually wondered if it was really homemade because it was kind of thin, not thick, but, it was really good!!! I liked it!!! I don’t remember the name, of who made it though.. 🙁

    14. The Montana Amish I worked for used white corn syrup to “make it slide right down” as one of the said. I dont know the proportion of Peanut Butter to syrup, but it did come out right. 🙂 Mike

    15. Yes, there are variations to the Amish peanut butter. In my home community, we used to mix peanut butter with maple syrup and marshmallow creme. The mix of things that went on bread on Sundays after church was different from what you described. I’ll give you the recipe for what we used to eat after church:

      Take a slice of white bread
      Spread it with the sweet peanut butter
      Lay on a slice of bologna
      Lay on a slice of cheese
      Fork on a few slices of pickles (your choice — sweet or dill)
      Fold the bread to make a half sandwich

      Now you eat it.

      You’re right, Erik, after sitting in a three-hour church service, one is ready to chew on an old leather shoe, as my mother used to say. The above sandwiches were somewhat better than that. I finally got smart and had a sandwich with butter, not the sweet peanut butter, and then I’d have another slice of bread with the sweet peanut butter spread. Now at least the tastes were separate.

      That Amish man is way off the mark. I don’t think I’ve had Amish peanut butter since I left the Amish thirty years ago… it reminds me too much of those sandwiches, which is now enough to make me gag. And besides, if I really wanted to, I could mix myself some Amish peanut butter… There are other things I miss about Amish life, but that is not one of them.

    16. marie b

      I love the peanut butter spread on toast, with apple butter (another amish favorite) or apple jelly. try it next time. If you visit the Yoder Farm, in Walnut Creek Ohio, they have young girls making it there, and selling nice warm bread. Lovely combination. I always buy a few jars, and give for gifts during the holidays.

    17. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      The best pretzel I ever ate came from an Amish stall in Philadelphia at a market that could well be the one Erik wrote about earlier. I was a teenager at the time and I had to put up with my friends helping themselves to pieces of it before I finished it up. I don’t think sporting event, fair ground, or music festival food could even come close. This Peanut butter you describe sounds so addictive and good.

    18. Marilyn

      Hey, I loved your post! I’m on the Dominican Republic where they are finally beginning to sell peanut butter in supermarkets. In past years we had to import it all. We like store brands, but you make my mouth water to try some from the Amish!

    19. Jory Bowen

      I’ve been wanting to try the Amish peanut butter for a while now. Lehman’s catalogue sells “lehman’s Amish peanut butter. They are in Kidron, Ohio. Hope to order some soon. They also sell a stirring tool which screws on ones peanut butter jar to stir peanut butter, especially nice for separating home made peanut butter. Now I too am off for the kitchen, apple pie will have to do – no bread and no Amish peanut butter here now.

    20. Christina

      I have several different recipes for this yummy concoction, but I finally found one where I don’t need 5 lbs of peanut butter! The recipe that I recently made has brown sugar, water, peanut butter, marshmallow creme and a hint of maple extract. I took a little jar of it down to my sister and we almost finished off the whole jar during lunch. I plan on making another batch for Christmas treat baskets for our family and friends:-)

    21. I love hearing all the peanut butter tales. Sounds like corn syrup, maple, and honey are popular sweeteners. But a lot of local variety out there.

    22. Marilyn living overseas you realize what is truly great about the good old USA, and of course that would be its ample peanut butter resources 😉

      When I’m in Poland I can sometimes scrounge up a knock-off variety (I think it’s made in the Netherlands?) in a tiny jar for about twice the price and half the taste. Viva Peter Pan!

    23. Mike love the ‘slide right down’ comment, sounds very efficient, lubricated peanut butter!

      Shom you are probably talking about Reading Terminal? Amish first set up there in the early 80s. Reminded me of some great pretzels in Lancaster a couple weeks back.

    24. Saloma thanks for sharing the menu. I’ve noticed different churches have different things on tap–some places cookies and brownies for dessert, others pies. Sometimes noodle soup. Peanut butter has been pretty standard at every service I’ve attended though.

      Love your mom’s shoe quote!

    25. Faye

      Aw, Christina, please share your recipe! Thanks! At least it is in a small amount.

    26. Christina it sounds like your recipe works! I second Faye’s motion 🙂

    27. Jory that stirring tool somehow doesn’t surprise me, sounds like a classic Lehman’s-style product. And probably just the job for my 2-layer Swartzentruber peanut butter 😉

    28. Christina

      OK, Here is the recipe. It came from Wanda Brunstetter’s Amish Friends Cookbook.

      2 c. brown sugar
      1 c. water
      1 tsp. maple extract
      2 c. peanut butter
      1 (16 oz) jar marshmallow creme

      In saucepan, combine brown sugar, water, and maple extract and bring to a boil. Blend peanut butter and marshmallow creme in separate bowl. Then, blend both mixtures together until smooth.

      What I learned from this is that you just mix together the PB and creme as much as you can. They didn’t really get too smooth for me and then add them to the brown sugar mixture on the stove. I turned the heat down to low and kept stirring until everything sort of melted together and became smooth. I also couldn’t find a 16 oz jar of marshmallow creme so I bought a big jar and a small jar. This still makes a lot, but not nearly as much as 5 lbs of PB would!

    29. Katie Troyer

      I must be a bit weird. I never cared much for Amish Peanut Butter, although we had it on the table twice a day. Maybe it is because I don’t have a sweet tooth.

    30. Katie, despite singing its praises above, I have to admit that if I ate Amish PB every day I’d probably need a break at some point. Sweetness levels!

    31. Christina thanks for sharing that recipe. One thing I’ve never seen is a crunchy Amish peanut butter. I imagine the blending and whipping part may be a problem there.

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    33. Mona Greer

      Thanks Christina for the Peanut Butter recipe. After this is made, what is the best way to store it ?

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    35. Lindsay

      When I was growing up my mom always put PB on our grilled cheese sandwiches…it sounds so wrong but trust me it tastes so right. There was always the issue of getting it stuck on the roof of your mouth, but that was inconsequential, in my opinion.

      I can’t wait to see the article about the Amish in Nebraska. They’ve apparently moved back only in the past few years down near Pawnee City, and apparently there is a settlement up near Orchard. I really hope they stay this time…when my dad lived in Southeast Nebraska there used to be a decent sized community according to him, but unfortunately he said that the English were not friendly and harrassed them on a regular basis.

    36. Yes, but until you have tasted our soft Amish Cashew Crunch you really have not tasted anything as addicting. Chocolate and regular.

      We can hardly keep it in stock.

      Check out our website.

    37. Lindsay looking forward to doing the Nebraska article myself. There have never been very many Amish in Nebraska, they have had to deal with some school issues.

      Barbara, sounds tasty.

    38. Lisa Roszler

      Haha! Reminds me of my husband’s favorite sandwich: The Fluffer-nutter. I, a Southern girl, had never heard of such a combination as peanut butter and marshmallow creme/fluff. 🙂 I bet he will now want to try to find some Amish peanut butter next time we are in Pennsylvania to visit his family. We have made our own peanut butter and cashew butter in the past… may have to make some more and try Christina’s recipe, above!

    39. Amanda C.

      Photo makes me reminiscent!

      Erik, the photo you posted makes me miss home! I don’t know if it jumps out to everyone, or maybe just to me, but all I see is the road marked up from the buggies rolling across it. (The faint white “scratches” is what I’m referring to, but I can see some flattened road apples as well, when I look close!) Does anyone else notice that right away? The first thing I thought when I saw it was “That road looks just like the ones in Crawford County do!”. lol Funny how little things like stick in your memory.

      I can’t say that I’ve ever had Amish peanut butter, but it sounds intriguing!

    40. Amish Peanut Butter...

      My parents grew up in the Ozarks and a favorite treat they mixed up for us when we were growing up was Sorghum & peanut butter….or Sorghum & butter to spread on bread/toast.

      I’ve never been able to find Sorghum in California, but I always order it from the Ozark Country Kitchen in Dunnegan, Missouri. This is an Amish business. They make their own Sorghum, and it’s the best! When we’re visiting in the area, (about an hour from Springfield, MO) we drop by and visit and purchase other delicious baked goods too! They’re very friendly!

      I had no idea sweetened peanut butter was an Amish “tradition” until I started following this site and reading a few other books about the Amish.

      Love this site….so much good information and the discussions are delightful! Thanks Erik!

      1. Kathryn, Amanda, glad you liked it. I almost think peanut butter is a misnomer, on account of it being so sweet. Peanut butter for me is a salty treat…I couldn’t imagine Amish peanut butter subbing for regular PB on a PB and J, for instance.

      2. Sorghum- Amish Peanut Butter

        Kathryn Barker: Do you have a Meijer Store in your town? We have several Meijer near our home. They all sell sorghum there. Probably not as tasty as the Amish homemade kind. My family have been buying the Amish Peanut Butter Spread for years from the Blue Gate Inn that is in the town of Shipshewana, Indiana. Everytime we go to Shipshewana we surely come home with a few jars of the Amish Peanut Butter Spread. We especially love it when it is warm and added to homemade bread. Also found that if you warm it up just abit, that it makes a super delicious ice cream topping..

    41. Mrs. Yoder

      Small batch

      Mona, We used to store yummy peanut butter for a week at room temperature, but one time it was too many weeks, and mold appeared. Now I store it in the fridge.

      Taste of Home and Sherry Gore both have variations for a small batch of Amish Peanut Butter Church Spread. Here are both links, followed by the recipe from Sherry Gore’s July 11, 2011 blog.
      http://community.tasteofhome.com/community_forums/f/30/p/744600/6377327.aspx
      http://www.sherrygorebooks.com/blog/page/2

      Here’s an easy recipe from Taste of Pinecraft: Glimpses of Sarasota, Florida’s Amish Culture and Kitchens, for Amish Peanut Butter Spread – a staple on the table of many Plain folks. You can slather it on homemade bread or dinner rolls for a rich, sweet treat you’ll never forget.

      Amish Church Spread

      2 c. light corn syrup

      1 c. creamy peanut butter

      1/2 c. marshmallow creme

      Mix together in bowl until thoroughly blended.

      Keeps well in refrigerator for 2 weeks, but it never lasted that long at our house. Shannon Gore – Pinecraft, FL

      1. kentucky Lady 717

        Thank you Mrs. Yoder for your info…..I will try the recipe from Shannon Gore since she would know just what this Amish Peanut Butter Spread is…..:)

    42. Al in Ky.

      In the April 25 issue of The Budget, there is some interesting
      news about peanut butter from one of the scribes from Kalona, Iowa:

      “Since the price of peanut butter has risen, some people have
      discovered that meat and cheese (at reduced prices from Kauffman
      Meats)are more economical to serve for lunch after church.
      Peanut butter, which has always been served, is beginning to be
      dropped. That’s fine; it will just take a bit of adjusting our
      thinking.”

      1. Shocking! The Kalona folks are on the more progressive end of things so if the institution of Amish peanut butter is going to fall somewhere, perhaps that is the place 🙂

    43. Jo Sweatt

      I do not like my peanut butter fooled with, only natural for me. I remember going into an Amish store in Arthur, Il years ago and asking an Amish shopper how they made the flavored angel food cakes: strawberry, raspberry, etc. She said they use flavored Jello mixes!

    44. Tracy Drake Parks

      Amish peanut butter

      I make the Amish peanut butter, it is delicious. Also when I was growing up, my mother would fix us peanut butter and miracle whip sandwiches and peanut butter and miracle whip on soda crackers, this was very delicious and I still fix it today.