Amish Whoopie Pies (with Amish Housewife’s Recipe)

When you think of “Amish desserts“, a few things come right to mind – treats like shoofly pie, fry pies, and of course, whoopie pies. Even though this iconic treat actually came from outside Pennsylvania Dutch culture (more on that below), today it is closely tied to the Amish.

Classic Chocolate Amish whoopie pie on a plate

If you’re visiting bakeries or other PA Dutch-themed stores in Lancaster County, for example, the whoopie pie is hard to miss. And it has evolved into more than just the classic chocolate cake and cream version – with peanut butter, pumpkin, oatmeal, and other whoopie pie varieties vying for space on Amish bakery shelves.

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But where does this specialty come from, if it’s not originally Amish? And how can you make whoopies pies at home? Read on for that and more, including an authentic Amish whoopie pie recipe from an Amish housewife.

Origins of the Whoopie Pie

The whoopie pie has long been associated with the Amish and the Pennsylvania Dutch. But according to culinary historian William Woys Weaver, though there are some connections with the Keystone State, the dessert’s true origins lie outside its borders. Weaver is the author of a dozen books on food history, including As American as Shoofly Pie: The Foodlore and Fakelore of Pennsylvania Dutch Cuisine (2017). As a Pennsylvania native, Weaver has been well aware of the association of whoopie pies with his native state.

Selection of whoopie pies for sale in a plain Mennonite market
Pictured: Red velvet whoopie pies, peanut butter whoopie pies, chocolate with peanut butter filling, and raisin oatmeal creamies. For sale in a plain Mennonite store

However, Weaver explains that Pennsylvania can’t really stake claim to inventing the whoopie pie. He notes that the cake part of the dessert may have been made famous at a Maine train station – and that the full dessert itself “was altered and more or less reinvented by the Berwick Cake Company in Massachusetts.”

He suggests that in some sense the origins may even be found further back in time, and on another continent, in an Austrian confection known as the Wiener Krapfen. This is where the a cake-with-filling idea originates, though that dessert, more like a filled doughnut, is quite different from the modern whoopie pie. So when it comes to the actual chocolate-cake-and-cream-filling dessert we know today, it looks like Berwick in Massachusetts gets the credit.

Why are they called “Whoopie” Pies?

So where does the memorable name “whoopie pie” come from? You might hear a number of versions of the origin of “whoopie”. But Weaver traces it, surprisingly, to the theater. He notes that the Berwick Cake Company was selling the confection under a different name in the 1920s. But, sadly it was not a hit with the public.

The company then struck upon the idea of using stage actors to promote their pies. At the end of the Broadway play “Makin’ Whoopee”, playing at Boston a the time, Berwick had actors toss their cakes into the audience. This publicity stunt caused the cakes’ popularity to take off, and the name stuck.

Weaver does note that other bakeries were producing the treats under different names at around the same time, including in Pennsylvania. The version found around the Pittsburgh area was known as “Gobs“.

There are other origin stories for the name, including one which gives credit to an Amish girl who exclaimed “Whoopee!” when the cakes emerged from the oven. You might also hear it told that “Whoopie!” is what Amish boys and girls shout when they find these in their lunchpails.

How did whoopie pies become associated with the Amish?

So if whoopie pies originated in the Northeast in the 1920s, how did they become so enmeshed in Amish and PA Dutch culture? Weaver explains that they reached the Amish on a wide scale not until the 1970s, when they were sold at the Threshermans’ Reunion in Kinzer, a town in Lancaster County. From there they were popularized within the tourist industry and different versions of the pie emerged.

Three Amish boys in straw hats at an auction
Whoopie pies are among the foods commonly sold at auctions and other Amish public events

Others claim that the treat was present in the community earlier (though perhaps not as popular on such a wide scale). A popular Lancaster County cookbook author named Phyllis Pellman Good says that she interviewed many Amish cooks who told of making and eating the pies even as far back as the 1950s. However, Good admits that these accounts were anecdotes drawn from long-ago memories.

Amish Whoopie Pie Recipe

This authentic recipe comes from a cookbook created by an Amish community in Montana (Horse and Buggy Montana: The Food of the Amish Community in St. Ignatius, Montana, Carlisle Press, 2012). Some Amish communities put out these cookbooks consisting of favorite, tried-and-true recipes sourced from the ladies of the community.

This recipe comes from Amish church member Dena Hostetler. This is how to make the classic whoopie pie that most people would recognize, which Dena calls “Simple and Delicious Chocolate Whoopie Pies”.

Amish whoopie pie recipe in a cookbook

Amish Whoopie Pie Ingredients:

  • 4 c. sugar
  • 8 c. cake flour
  • 2 c. cocoa powder
  • 4 tsp. soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/3 c. vinegar
  • 3 1/2 c. water
  • 1 1/2 c. vegetable oil

Icing or Filling:

  • 2/3 c. milk
  • 2/3 c. flour
  • 3 c. Crisco
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 6 c. powdered sugar

How to Make Amish Whoopie Pies

Mix together dry ingredients with wire whip, then add the wet ingredients. Cake flour makes the best cookies, but other flour works as well. After all ingredients are together whip until smooth, add more or less flour or water to get texture perfect. This is a large batch that I use in my bakery. One batch makes around 55 sandwiches. You might want to cut it in half.

For Icing or Filling: Cook together milk and flour until thick. Cool a little and add Crisco, vanilla and powdered sugar, more or less. Whip together.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pie Cookies

There are a lot of variations on the whoopie pie that have come about over the years. Here is one you might try which takes the classic whoopie pie cake format and transforms it into a cookie format. The filling is still the classic whoopie pie-style cream, however. If you’ve never tried it, the double-cookie with filling is a nice crunchier take on the traditional whoopie pie experience.

This recipe for “healthy” pumpkin whoopie pie cookies is by Mrs. Nancy Troyer, also of the St. Ignatius, Montana Amish community.

Healthy Pumpkin Whoopie Pie Cookie Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 c. Sucanat or fructose (note: “Sucanat” is the brand name of a type of whole cane sugar which keeps its molasses content)
  • 2 c. pumpkin
  • 1 c. butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 c. speltz
  • 2 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. cloves
  • 1 tsp. soda
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 c. carob chips


  • 5 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 1/4 c. milk
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1 c. Crisco
  • 3/4 c. sugar or fructose

How to Make Pumpkin Whoopie Pie Cookies

Cream together sweetener and butter. Beat in pumpkin, vanilla, and eggs; add spices, baking powder, and soda, then add speltz. Mix well. Add carob chips. These are very good. Bake at 350°.

To Make Filling: Mix flour and milk and put in saucepan, cook till thick. Cool. Beat in butter, sugar, and Crisco.

Where can I buy Amish whoopie pies?

Whoopie pies can be found for sale at Amish bakeries, PA Dutch markets, roadside stands, restaurants in Amish areas, and other tourist destinations. They are more likely to be seen in larger Amish communities which get significant numbers of tourists, including Lancaster County, PA, Holmes County, Ohio, and northern Indiana (Shipshewana and surrounding areas). In some smaller communities you’ll have a harder time finding them, because not all Amish regularly eat or make the pies.

Simple market and bakery sign in winter with snow falling

Whoopie pies are sold both as single-serve, and in packs. You may come across mini whoopie pies, or jumbo editions. Cake flavors may vary, with varieties such as the traditional chocolate, red velvet cake, and banana. You will also see variations in the creme filling, with the classic version or peanut butter-flavored variety both popular. And don’t forget whoopie cookies, which may be made from traditional chocolate chip or oatmeal, to take two popular varieties.

Are Amish whoopie pies good?

So, I’ll just close with a little “Amish whoopie pie review“. Whoopie pies get a lot of hype – but are they actually any good?

First off, if you’ve never tried one, it’s definitely worth doing at least once. If you’re visiting a big Amish community as a tourist, they may even be a little hard to avoid. So as for the flavor itself: The whoopie pie is not subtle – it’s an exeedingly simple, fairly rich, spongey chocolate cake hugging a whopping dollop of creme. So if you like “sweet”, there’s a good chance you’ll like the whoopie pie.

Various whoopie pie varieties for sale in a Lancaster County market store
Selection of whoopie pies for sale in a Lancaster County store. Visible are shoofly whoopie pies, peanut butter creme whoopie pies, and chocolate chip cookie whoopie pies

For me, I’ll just say that I usually enjoy the first several bites of a whoopie pie. After that…the sweetness gets to be a little too much. That’s why the mini whoopie pie version might be a better bet. Or, if you’re making them for yourself, try to go a little lighter on the cream filling if, like me, you find them to be a bit too sweet and overwhelming.

So when it comes to Amish desserts and sweet treats, whoopie pies actually don’t make my top ten favorite Amish desserts – even though I appreciate the many varieties of the treat that have come onto the scene (whoopie cookies might rank a little higher than the pie itself, in fact).

But if you’re asking me which Amish dessert or sweet treat I would take over the whoopie pie, I can name several – for example, homemade doughnuts, church peanut butter spread, or snitz pie, a special dried-apple church pie found primarily among the Lancaster County Amish.

All that said, if you’ve never tried an Amish-made whoopie pie before, you’ve got to do it at least once! So let us know in the comments how you feel about the whoopie pie – or share your own recipe with the community.

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    1. Sue Wilfinger

      Whoopie Pies

      Hi Erik, I’ve tried various kinds of whoopie pies; chocolate, pumpkin, oatmeal & peanut butter. I loved them all; but then again I have a sweet tooth, so that could explain it. I really enjoy reading your blogs. Keep up the great work!

      1. Hi Sue I still haven’t tried the peanut butter that I can recall…I think that flavor might be a winner:) I’m happy you found the site!

    2. Ann of Ohio

      Love ’em! Interestingly, the whoopie pie is the Official Dessert of the state of Maine.