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Pennsylvania Dutch Cooking

Updated: Feb 2, 2019

Traditional Dutch Dishes (Recipes)

The following except and recipes are from "Pennsylvania Dutch Cooking". (Download recipes in PDF format).

PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH COOKERY In 1683 the Plain Sects began to arrive in William Penn’s Colony seeking a land of peace and plenty. They were a mixed people; Moravians from Bohemia and Moravia, Mennonites from Switzerland and Holland, the Amish, the Dunkards, the Schwenkfelds, and the French Huguenots. After the lean years of clearing the land and developing their farms they established the peace and plenty they sought. These German-speaking people were originally called the Pennsylvania Deutsch but time and custom have caused them to be known to us as the Pennsylvania Dutch.

The Pennsylvania Dutch are a hard working people and as they say, “Them that works hard, eats hearty.” The blending of recipes from their many home lands and the ingredients available in their new land produced tasty dishes that have been handed down from mother to daughter for generations. Their cooking was truly a folk art requiring much intuitive knowledge, for recipes contained measurements such as “flour to stiffen,” “butter the size of a walnut,” and “large as an apple.” Many of the recipes have been made more exact and standardized providing us with a regional cookery we can all enjoy.

Soups are a traditional part of Pennsylvania Dutch cooking and the Dutch housewife can apparently make soup out of anything. If she has only milk and flour she can still make rivel soup. However, most of their soups are sturdier dishes, hearty enough to serve as the major portion of the evening meal. One of the favorite summer soups in the Pennsylvania Dutch country is Chicken Corn Soup. Few Sunday School picnic suppers would be considered complete without gallons of this hearty soup. Many of the Pennsylvania Dutch foods are a part of their folklore. No Shrove Tuesday would be complete without raised doughnuts called “fastnachts.” One of the many folk tales traces this custom back to the burnt offerings made by their old country ancestors to the goddess of spring. With the coming of Christianity the custom became associated with the Easter season and “fastnachts” are eaten on Shrove Tuesday to insure living to next Shrove Tuesday. Young dandelion greens are eaten on Maundy Thursday in order to remain well throughout the year. The Christmas season is one of the busiest times in the Pennsylvania Dutch kitchen. For weeks before Christmas the house is filled with the smell of almond cookies, anise cookies, sandtarts, Belsnickle Christmas cookies, walnut kisses, pfeffernusse, and other traditional cookies. Not just a few of one kind but dozens and dozens of many kinds of cookies must be made. There must be plenty for the enjoyment of the family and many holiday visitors. Regardless of the time of the year or the time of the day there are pies. The Pennsylvania Dutch eat pies for breakfast. They eat pies for lunch. They eat pies for dinner and they eat pies for midnight snacks. Pies are made with a great variety of ingredients from the apple pie we all know to the rivel pie which is made from flour, sugar, and butter. The Dutch housewife is as generous with her pies as she is with all her cooking, baking six or eight at a time not one and two. The apple is an important Pennsylvania Dutch food. Dried apples form the basis for many typical dishes. Each fall barrels of apples are converted into cider. Apple butter is one of the Pennsylvania Dutch foods which has found national acceptance. The making of apple butter is an all-day affair and has the air of a holiday to it. Early in the morning the neighbors gather and begin to peel huge piles of apples that will be needed. Soon the great copper apple butter kettle is brought out and set up over a wood fire. Apple butter requires constant stirring to prevent burning. However, stirring can be light work for a boy and a girl when they’re young and the day is bright and the world is full of promise. By dusk the apple butter is made, neighborhood news is brought up to date and hunger has been driven that much further away for the coming winter. Food is abundant and appetites are hearty in the Pennsylvania Dutch country. The traditional dishes are relatively simple and unlike most regional cookery the ingredients are readily available. Best of all, no matter who makes them the results are “wonderful good.”

Potato Doughnuts, Johnny Cake, Crullers, Shoo-Fly Pie

Funnel Cakes (Drechter Kuche), Quick Coffee Cake

Old Fashioned Funnel Cakes, German Egg Pancakes, Potato Pancakes

Scalloped Potatoes, Fried Egg Plant, Hashed Brown Potatoes, Home Baked Beans, Fresh Peas and New Potatoes

Vegetable Dishes: Lancaster County Baked Corn, Seven-Minute Cabbage, Scalloped Sweet Potatoes and Apples

Scrapple and Pennsylvania Dutch Chicken and Oyster Pie

Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers Pennsylvania Dutch style

Chicken Baked in Cream and Dutch Meat Loaf

Sweet Roll Dough, Crumb Cake, Dutch Sticky Buns, Coffee Cake (Kaffee Kuchen) and Dough

Creamed Cabbage and Dried Beef, Chicken Pot Pie, Horseradish Sauce for Boiled Beef or Corned Beef, Ham and Noodles in Casserole

Meat Filling for Noodles, Chicken Noodle Soup, Egg Balls for Soup, Spinach Filling for Noodles

Egg Noodles, Dutch Country Bean Soup, Split Pea Soup, Vegetable Soup

Mixed Fruit Preserves, Bread and Butter Pickles, Raspberry Rhubarb Jam, Apple Butter

Apple Butter Pie, Rhubarb Pie, Apple Dumplings

Ginger Cookies, Pumpkin Pie, Rivel (Crumb) Pie

Sponge Cake, Walnut Kisses, Scripture Cake

More Traditional Pennsylvania Dutch Recipes:

FRUIT SALAD DRESSING ½ cup sugar 1½ tblsp. flour 2 eggs ½ cup pineapple juice ½ cup lemon juice 1 cup whipped cream

Combine the fruit juices and stir slowly into the flour and sugar. Cook. Stirring constantly, until it thickens. (or cook in double boiler) Add the beaten eggs and cook for another minute. Let cool and fold in the whipped cream.

BEET AND APPLE SALAD 2 cups apples, diced 2 cups cooked beets, diced ¼ cup chopped nuts 2 hard boiled eggs ½ cup salad dressing parsley

Mix the apples, beets, and chopped eggs. Add salad dressing (see Grandma’s salad dressing). Mix and garnish with chopped nuts and parsley.

A GOOD PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH SALAD DRESSING 2 hard boiled eggs, mashed a little grated onion 3 tablespoons salad oil 1 tablespoon vinegar ½ teaspoon salt pinch of pepper

Mix well together, then put on lettuce and turn and stir until it is well covered with the dressing. Good with any green salad.

PEPPER CABBAGE 2 cups shredded cabbage 1 large green pepper ½ cup hot salad dressing 1 tsp. salt

Mix the cabbage, pepper, chopped fine and salt. Let stand 1 hour in cool place. Drain off all liquid. Make a hot dressing with: 1 tblsp. butter 1 tsp. flour ½ tsp. dry mustard salt and pepper yolk of 1 egg ½ cup vinegar

Melt the butter and blend in the flour. Add vinegar and stir until mixture thickens. Mix mustard, salt and pepper and add to the liquid. Cool for 4 minutes, pour over the beaten egg yolk and mix well. Cook for 1 minute more. Pour this over the pepper cabbage and mix well.


1 beaten egg

½ cup sugar 1 tbsp. flour ½ cup water ½ cup vinegar 2 tbsp. butter ½ tsp. salt ¼ tsp. pepper

Combine in the order given, stirring after each addition. Boil until thick. Cool before adding to the salad.

BEAN SALAD 3 cups navy beans baked or boiled 1 medium onion 2 tblsp. pickle relish or 1-large pickle 3 hard boiled eggs 2 tblsp. vinegar ⅔ cup boiled salad dressing 1½ tsp. salt

Chop the onion fine, the boiled eggs, add the relish, or the pickle, chopped and the beans. Mix well together and add salt and salad dressing. Chill and serve. Green string beans, cut in 1-inch pieces may be used for this salad.

DANDELION SALAD Young dandelion greens 4 thick slices bacon ½ cup cream 2 tblsp. butter 2 eggs 1 tsp. salt 1 tblsp. sugar 4 tblsp. vinegar ½ tsp. paprika black pepper

Wash dandelions and pick over carefully. Roll in cloth and pat dry. Put into a salad bowl and set in warm place. Cut bacon in small cubes, fry quickly and pour over dandelions. Put butter and cream into a skillet and melt over low heat. Beat eggs, add salt, pepper, sugar and vinegar, then mix with the slightly warm cream mixture. Cook over high heat until dressing is quite thick. Pour, very hot, over the dandelions, stir well and serve. PENNSYLVANIA COLE SLAW 1 head young cabbage ½ cup cream 1 teaspoon salt

½ cup sugar ½ cup vinegar

Beat cream, sugar, vinegar and salt together thoroughly until the dressing is like whipped cream. Discard outer leaves of cabbage. Shred the rest finely and combine with dressing just before it is ready to serve. Serves six. As variation: Add shredded green and red peppers.

DEVILED EGGS 6 hard-boiled eggs ½ tsp. prepared mustard 2 tsp. soft butter salt, pepper, paprika

Remove shells and cut eggs in half. Mash the yolks to a smooth paste, adding the mustard, butter, salt and pepper. When well mixed press into the cup-shaped egg whites, round the tops and sprinkle with paprika. For a special treat, add 2 tblsp. finely chopped ham or a small can of deviled ham to the egg yolk mixture.

HOT DUTCH POTATO SALAD 4 slices bacon ½ cup chopped onion ½ cup chopped green pepper ¼ cup vinegar 1 teaspoon salt 3 hard boiled eggs ⅛ teaspoon pepper 1 teaspoon sugar 1 egg 1 qt. hot, cubed, cooked potatoes ¼ cup grated raw carrot

Dice bacon and pan fry. Add chopped onion and green pepper. Cook 3 minutes. Add vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar and beaten egg. Cook slightly. Add cubed potatoes, grated carrot and diced hard-cooked eggs. Blend and serve hot.

HOT SLAW Shred cabbage finely. Boil in slightly salted water until tender. Drain. Serve hot thoroughly mixed with warm cooked salad dressing made as follows: ½ teaspoon mustard

1½ teaspoons salt 1½ teaspoons sugar 1½ tablespoons flour ⅛ teaspoon pepper 1 beaten egg 1 cup milk 4 tablespoons vinegar 1½ tablespoons butter

Mix mustard, salt, sugar, flour, paprika and pepper. Add egg and mix thoroughly. Add milk and vinegar. Cook over hot water, stirring frequently until thick. Add butter. Cook and stir until melted.

CUCUMBER SALAD 2 medium cucumbers 1 medium onion salt 2 tblsp. vinegar sour cream pepper

Pare and thinly slice cucumber and onion sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt and let stand for a few minutes. Pat with towel or absorbent paper to take out all moisture possible. Place cucumbers and onions in serving dish, add the vinegar and mix. Pour on enough sour cream to half cover and dust with pepper. Chill.


1 cup milk

2 cups flour

2 eggs

1 tsp. salt

Add milk to flour slowly, stirring continually to keep mixture smooth. Add 1 egg at a time, beating well after each addition. Salt and mix well. When cooking in boiling salted water or meat broth, pour the batter from a shallow bowl, tilting it over the boiling kettle. With a sharp knife slice off pieces of the batter into the boiling liquid. Dip knife in the liquid before each cut to prevent sticking.


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