Does Amish Butter Taste Any Different Than Regular Butter?
Learn what Amish butter is, where to find it, and how it stacks up against regular butter.
Next time you need a creamy, slightly tangy, and unique table butter that will intrigue your guests, consider Amish butter. This flavorful butter has been produced for generations by family-owned and operated farms, but we’re just beginning to see it pop up in local grocery stores. Aside from the attractive, agrarian packaging, what makes Amish butter a worthwhile addition to your refrigerator? Is it only produced in Amish communities by Amish farmers? How is it different than American butter? Below, we clarify everything you need to know about the latest dairy trend.
What Is Amish Butter?
Amish butter is a USA-made, small batch, slow churned butter. It's traditionally hand-rolled and wrapped in parchment. The hand rolled log of butter is the signature detail that distinguishes Amish butter from regular butter. However, some companies do sell individually wrapped ¼ lb. sticks of butter like you’re used to. The nostalgic, pastoral imagery printed on Amish butter labels appeals to customers who favor artisanal, specialty products.
However, it’s hard to tell which companies are truly Amish (with Amish employees, based in an Amish community, Amish values, Amish farmers, and so on) versus which ones are branding themselves as such for enticing marketing. Pearl Valley Cheese, for example, sources some of their milk from Amish farmers and employs Amish workers, though they do not make claims about their Amish roots beyond that.
Amish Butter vs. Regular Butter
Authentic Amish butter is produced in or near historically Amish communities in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Companies often rely on Amish farmers to provide cow’s milk for their butter and hire Amish employees. The cows are often pasture-raised, which means that they graze on grass and live outside the confines of barns (their diet is usually supplemented with grains, which means that it is unlikely butter will be labeled as 100% grass-fed).
The flavor and shape of Amish butter distinguishes it from regular U.S. butter. Some brands, like Minerva Dairy, produce it with a high butterfat content that rivals European butter (~85%). Regular U.S. butter typically contains 80% butterfat. The higher butterfat results in a creamier, richer product with more flavor than average butter. The Amish kind is most commonly hand rolled into one or two pound logs and hand-wrapped in parchment paper. Regular butter is molded and cut into sticks, then wrapped by a machine.
Similar to European butter, we recommend using Amish butter when the unique flavor and high butterfat content will noticeably improve your baked good (i.e. pie crust and shortbread cookies). If butter is a small component of your dish, or will be masked by more prominent flavors (like bolognese sauce), save your good stuff for another time and stick with regular butter.
How Does Amish Butter Taste?
I initially tasted Amish butter and regular butter by placing individual slivers on my tongue. When the two butters were measured up against each other in their pure, un-accessorized form, the Amish one was the clear winner. It tasted complex, rich, slightly tangy, and incredibly creamy. It was flavorful, a bit salty, and would easily enhance baked goods. The unique flavor was even more noticeable when paired against regular butter; the Amish product tasted far more natural and milky. Regular butter, on the other hand, tasted remarkably bland and mellow.
Where to Buy It:
The most common brands of Amish hand-rolled butter include Minerva Dairy, Amish Country Roll Butter, Alcam Creamery, Pearl Valley, and Troyer Country Market. Although Amish butter hasn’t made its way to mainstream markets everywhere, many natural and specialty markets carry it. The Fresh Market carries Minerva Dairy Amish Butter ($6 for 8oz). Amish Country Roll Butter is available on Amazon. Check out this guide to find an Amish market near you.