Amish Friendship Bread~all you need to know!

Mmm. Who hasn’t had a loaf of this cinnamon-sugared sweet bread? It’s one of those things that you receive with enthusiasm, and send on its way with equal enthusiasm! The constant “squishing” of baggies full of dough can feel relentless, but the look on my family’s face when they see what’s cooling on the counter…? Worth it every time!

I’ll share the from scratch starter recipe followed by the ten day instruction sheet and recipe for our favorite Amish Friendship Bread. Anything with two boxes of instant vanilla pudding has to be superb, right?(Maybe someone else can explain why it seems so “un-Amish”…I mean, honestly…ziploc baggies and instant pudding? Give me a break!) 🙂

Amish Friendship Bread Starter

(for an Easier/Smaller Batch follow this link)

Always use a wooden spoon for stirring the starter. Never use a metal spoon.

1 package active dry yeast

¼ cup warm water (110 degrees F)

3 cups all-purpose flour, divided

3 cups granulated sugar, divided

3 cups warm milk (110 degrees F), divided

Day 1

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Let stand 10 minutes.

In a 2 quart glass, plastic or ceramic container, combine 1 cup flour and 1 cup sugar. Mix thoroughly or flour will lump when milk is added. Slowly stir in 1 cup milk and dissolved yeast mixture. Cover loosely and let stand at room temperature until bubbly.

Days 2 through 4

Stir starter with a wooden spoon.

Day 5

Stir in 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk.

Days 6 through 9

Stir starter with a spoon.

Day 10

Stir in 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk. Remove 1 or 2 cups to make your first bread, give three cups to friends along with the recipe. Store the remaining starter in a container in the refrigerator and begin the 10 day process over again.

You can also freeze this starter in 1 cup measures for later use. Frozen starter will take at least 3 hours at room temperature to thaw before using.

Yields 6 cups starter.

Amish Friendship Bread Recipe instructions
(to be given with 1 cup starter in Ziploc bag)

Once again, DO NOT use a metal spoon and DO NOT refrigerate! (Using a metal spoon or bowl or fork will have an acidic reaction with your starter)

Day 1—Do nothing day

Day 2—Squish bag

Day 3—Squish bag

Day 4—Squish bag

Day 5—Squish bag

Day 6—Squish bag

Day 7—Add to bag: 1 ½ cups each: flour, sugar, milk. Squish bag to mix.

Day 8—Squish bag and let air out.

Day 9—Squish bag and let air out.

NOTE: If you don’t let air out, the bag will explode!

Day 10—Empty contents of bag into a large mixing bowl. Add ½ cup each of flour, sugar and milk. Combine ingredients thoroughly. Pour 1 cup of this mixture into each of 3 sturdy Ziploc gallon size bags and give to friends along with a copy of this instruction sheet.

Add to the remaining mixture and mix well:

  • 1 cup oil
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

In a separate bowl, mix the following dry ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 small boxes instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)*.

*Optional: add 1 cup chopped nuts, or ½ cup: raisins, blueberries or chocolate chips.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients thoroughly. Grease 2 large bread loaf pans well. Mix up some additional cinnamon and sugar and shake into greased loaf pans to coat bottom and sides (this is optional!). Pour mix into pans. Sprinkle extra cinnamon and sugar on top. Bake at 325 degrees F for one hour. If freezing, cool completely beforehand.

*****************EDITED TO ADD******************April 14, 2008******************

Due to the numerous comments this post has generated, I’ve compiled the best of the Q&As and reader suggested recipe variations into another blog post. FAQs and Recipe Additions for Amish Friendship Bread. So check it out, unless you feel like scrolling down hundreds of comments…then, by all means, be my guest! Happy Baking!

493 thoughts on “Amish Friendship Bread~all you need to know!”

  1. Rocio,
    No worries! What you’ve got is Amish Friendship Bread “delayed” starter! You’ve only slowed the fermenting process by refrigerating, not killed it. It should be just fine when allowed to go to room temperature and proceeding as if you are on day 3 instead of day 5. In fact, I’ve heard of people putting their starter in the fridge to slow down the fermenting process during a particularly busy week when they know they won’t get around to making it. I’ve never personally done this, so I can’t 100% say it will work as normal, but it should. I keep Kefir on hand, and when I want a break from it, I stick it in the fridge to slow down the fermenting. It still ferments, but not as quickly. Same idea with AFB starter.

    So go ahead and put it on the counter and pretend you are on day 3. Check back here and let us know how it worked. :O)

    God bless,

  2. Okay…problem. I am doing the Amish Friendship Bread for the first time (received a starter bag and directions from my friend last week. I’m on day 6 (the day, according to my recipe) that I’m supposed to add the flour, sugar and milk. However, my directions did not say anything about HEATING the milk before adding it to the bag and unfortunately, I just added them and THEN read on here that you’re supposed to heat it. Did I ruin it…do I have to start all over?? Can I heat the bag in the microwave with all the ingredients in it? HELP!!!

  3. Hayley, there is no problem! You are NOT supposed to heat the milk except when making the initial starter from scratch. The recipe at the beginning of this article, is for starter from scratch. What you have is a bag of starter someone has given you…in this case, you simply add your flour, sugar and milk–no heating necessary! So don’t put the bag in the microwave, you will ruin the starter! You have done everything right, I promise! ;O)

    Hope it turns out great for you!


  4. Hi Shari,
    This is a popular question today! On another AFB thread here, I have a similar Q&A going. :O) Hopefully when your starter was frozen, you made a note on the bag as to which day in the process it was frozen. After determining that, simply thaw it at room temp on your counter and pick up where you left off. Nothing special to the process! Good luck!


  5. I love this bread. My 6 year old is going to use it for a science fair project this year. Does anyone know where I can find info about the science of this process. Also last time we used Banana pudding mix and added choc chips and nuts, This time we are going to try choc pudding and peanut butter chips. Thank You!

  6. It seems so “Un-Amish” because it isn’t really an Amish recipe. It’s just called that…for some odd reason.

  7. Hi Mary, you’ve just posted a very good detail on Amish Friendship Bread Starter. Thanks that you’ve shared this blog. I’m just curious what’s the difference between using a wooden spoon from a metal spoon when it comes to stirring the starter. Is there any benefit you can get from using a wooden spoon? Because as for me, it sounds like a superstitious belief.

  8. I have no idea, Peggy! I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t of Amish origin!

    Thanks, Breadmaker! I’ve heard from several places that the fermenting process of the friendship bread reacts to metal…not sure of the chemistry behind that, but I’ve heard the same thing with my kefir (which is also a fermented product)…maybe someone else reading this thread can add their 2 cents? Sorry I’m not much help!

  9. Hi there! I was just wondering something. Yesterday, was Day 10 for me to split the starter and bake. I was not able to do it yesterday.
    Have I ruined it now, throw it away or is it still ok to add the ingredients and bake today?
    Help! I sure can you some feedback here.
    Thanks! Valerie

  10. You’re fine to bake, Valerie…this is a hard recipe to mess up. This is probably the number one question asked in all these 360 comments…one day more or less doesn’t affect the bread’s safety or quality at all. So go ahead and enjoy!


  11. I started a starter tonight. I didn’t heat the milk because I got a recipe that didn’t have that part in there. Will it ruin my batch? Also I was wondering can I add the extra cup of flour, sugar, and milk on the 4th day and bake it? I want to give it to some friends before Thanksgiving is over.

  12. Dear Anonymous…I suppose if your recipe didn’t have the part about heating the milk, then you’d be okay. Baking as early as the 4th day might be a bit too soon. One or two days earlier isn’t a big deal..but you do want it to have time to ferment and do its thing! If you didn’t get this in time, and have already baked, please let us know if it worked…I’ve never tried to bake that early…thanks!

  13. Hi Mary!!
    Yours is just wonderful site, I found You a couple of days ago and now I am hooked…
    Back in May Sandra asked about Herman (or Hermann as it is spelt in German)and if it is the same as AFB starter. The answer is yes, they are basically the same, although Hermann is kept in the fridge and fed with half a cup of sugar each time. There are also three brothers of Hermann, Robert and Siegfried, they are wheat based starters with a bit less and even much less sugar and buttermilk instead of milk.The third brother, Werner, is made from rye for bred.
    I know it is a bit late for an answer, but I hope Sandra will find it (useful). :))
    Have a great day!

  14. Wow, three brothers to Herman! He sounds easier than AFB. I like the idea of using a wheat based starter with less sugar! Will have to look into that. Thanks so much for all the details, Reka! Hope Sandra gets this!

    Merry Christmas!

  15. Today is day 10 and instead of keeping starters, I’m dividing up the mixture and baking all of it. How long will the baked bread keep in the refrigerator? I’m giving it as gifts and would like to keep it for about 10 days. Or should I freeze it (the baked bread) instead?
    Thanks and Merry Christmas!

  16. Faye, if it were me, I’d freeze it and thaw it the night before gifting. That way your recipients can enjoy the taste of fresh baked bread. And it won’t go stale on them, or get mold spots if they don’t eat it in the first 2 days. I’d only refrigerate it a week tops before using it up. What lucky friends and family you have! ;O) Merry Christmas!

  17. Hi I just finished reading all the posts and found a lot of great info but I’ve got a question that I haven’t seen yet. I’ve made this bread several times but not for years now. I am currently on day 7 and it smells like beer and when I woke up this morning it was seperated into a clear oily looking mess in the bottom of the bag and bread looking dough on top. It mixed back up fine when sqished but now I’m worried about. Is it still good or should I toss it. Thanks so much for any help you cab offer.

  18. When you choose to make the entire batch (9 loaves or so) to finish off the starter… do you still add the
    1 cup oil
    3 eggs
    ½ cup milk
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    before dividing it into 4 separate bowls? Or do you simply divide the starter into 4 separate bowls and then begin mixing and baking?
    Love the details in this! Thanks!

  19. Hello, I have made so many variations of the bread that I have had so many people wanna buy it from me. I enjoy baking and You are so right when you say this is a fogiving recipe.
    White chocolate Amaretto
    Milk Chocolate-Caramel
    Cherry cheesecake
    Apple Spice
    Cranberry Orange
    I just look in the cupboard and use dry ingredients for the pudding and substitute wet items for the oil
    I have NEVER had a bad bread yet…… Enjoy

  20. Danica, I’m so sorry I let this question fall through the cracks…I will blame it conveniently on the holidays! It’s probably too late for you, but if you are going to bake up the whole batch, then you would need to adjust the bread baking recipe to accommodate more batter. For instance, you’re supposed to remove 3 cups to give away to friends, so after 3 cups are removed, how much batter is left? 3 cups? Or less. I’ve done this before, but didn’t keep track of the math. HTHs!

    Jody, thanks so much for sharing your favorite combos! They all sound good. And you sound like an adventurous cook! Appreciate your tips!

  21. Misty, it was probably fine…I realize this is too late to be of help to you…I’m sorry! Did you go ahead and bake? Hope so!

  22. this website is wonderful!! My guestion is: my starter is bad…how do I make a “New” starter??? I have checked the web and they have given me 3 different recipes? I don’t know which one is right – but I know that you would know!! Please help!! We are having withdrawels!!!!!

  23. Thanks, Bobbi! This recipe IS the “from scratch” recipe for a new starter. And also, you might want to check out the link in this post for Easier Amish Friendship Bread…it makes a smaller batch, which I find more feasible to use on a regular basis!

    Hope this helped!

  24. Day 1: Do nothing.
    Day 2: Mush the bag.
    Day 3: Mush the bag.
    Day 4: Mush the bag.
    Day 5: Mush the bag.
    Day 6: Add to the bag: 1/2 cup of flour, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of milk. Mush the bag.
    Day 7: Mush the bag.
    Day 8: Mush the bag.
    Day 9: Mush the bag.
    Day 10:
    Add 3/4 cup of milk, flour and sugar. Mix well. Remove 1 cup of the batter into a new bag.
    To the remaining batter add:
    4 eggs
    1 1/2 cups oil (or use 1/2 oil and 1/2 applesauce)
    3/4 cup milk
    1 1/2 cups sugar
    3 tsp. cinnamon
    3/4 tsp. vanilla
    2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
    3/4 tsp. baking soda
    3/4 tsp. salt
    3 cups flour
    1 large box of instant vanilla pudding.

    This will make three smaller loaves or two large loaves, or you can make muffins. Grease the bottom of the pans and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Pour batter into pans and sprinkle the top with sugar and cinnamon. Bake at 325 about and hour for bread loaves or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool until the bread loosens from the pan easily.

  25. This is a great variation! Thanks SO much for sharing it. I’ve posted another link to my Easier Amish Friendship bread, but it’s based on starting over from scratch, not reducing the starter you’ve already got. LIKE this! Thanks, Amy!!

  26. Does anyone know why the bread would fall in the middle? I made this bread a few weeks ago and as soon as I took it out of the oven it completely sank in the middle. It still tasted delicious (made a white chocolate lemon cheesecake flavor) but it was so disappointing. I live in a high altitude (Utah) and I even adjusted my second batch to high altitude and it did the exact same thing! Any suggestions as to why this happens? Any help would be greatly appreciated!



  27. I made my own starter and there’s way more than the 1 cup that I would have received from someone to start this bread, is this correct?

    I don’t want to give starters away, can I freeze the dough, after adding the 10th day ingredients(flour, sugar & milk), then just thaw and bake at a later date?

    Also, after taking out the 4 1 cup starters, how much dough is left in the bowl to make the bread?

  28. This was probably the most informing web site I have ever come accross.
    I didn’t stop until I had read everyone of them.What wonderful ideas you and your readers have!!! I panicked when today j/when I realized each of my (9) starters is ready to be handed out with no one to hand them too. So here I am learning about freezer time. I’ll make it alright but I also picked up a few great recipes. I’ve also make different flavors, but getting some new ones was great. Thank you again!!!

    Love and good cooking from my kitchen to yours,

    Marvelle Conard

  29. My mother made this bread often when I was younger, and I just discovered it a couple weeks ago and did it myself. It was amazing..I haven’t seen this question so I want to ask…If you get the starter, add all the day 10 ingredients, does it really make a difference whether it sat out for 10 days or not? What happens if I don’t let it sit for 10 days?

  30. Hi Vera, I’m sorry I didn’t get you answered sooner, it’s been busy at my place! Yes, you can thaw your frozen starter and pick back up on the process at whatever point you left off of it when you froze the starter. ;O) As far as how much starter is left in the bowl…it’s been a while since I measured it out, but I think I mentioned that specifically in my Easier Amish Friendship Bread recipe (there is a link to that in this post)…but you’ll have to keep in mind the recipe ratio I used for the Easier AFB version is (half as much?) as this one, so it would be double whatever is left in the bowl. Make sense?

    Thank you, Marvelle!!! ;O)

    Anna, the fermenting process is important–and that is what happens over the ten days of squishing, etc. Going two days earlier or later doesn’t seem to affect the turn-out though. HTHs!

  31. Hi, okay this is my first time making the amish freindship bread. My question is, if your bag pops, is it still okay to make the bread with the remainings?? Not alot fell out of the bag I still have lots of dough in the bad… I’m supposed to be making it today which is my 10th day..

  32. Is there any way to just bake what I have, and not separate it into “friendship” bags? I have been looking everywhere, but I can’t find instructions for just baking what I have..

  33. Hi Amy–I think I missed this–I am sure sorry. If you can salvage the remains, it should be fine. Sometimes the pressure builds and this happens…esp if you leave any air in the bag. I try to squeeze all the air out before sealing the baggie. Again, I’m sorry I didn’t respond in time to help you on your baking day. I hope you went ahead.



  35. Kim, I’ve become a huge fan of ww flour since I first wrote this AFB post! Thanks for sharing how you love it in this too!

    Rachel…I don’t know…I guess just assume your day one was the day you received it, and go from there with the directions on this site? Hth!

  36. very excited to try my first round of AFB (which reads Air Force Base to me every time)!
    one of the girls at work brought in several starters and i jumped at the chance to get one.
    i’m not much of a sweet tooth, so i will be doing some experimentation with the savory recipes people have offered.
    i have read all of the posts on here, and Mary, you have the patience of Job to answer all of those questions! i thank you for doing so, it took some time and a few notes but i now feel confident to go out and make some bread.
    if my first tries go well i’m going to experiment with some herbed varieties!

  37. Hi Karin Elizabeth! Btw, I love your name–someone in my family shares the exact same with you! ;O) Glad you found the tips helpful, there are a ton to wade through. I have another post on this site where I compiled all the tips from this comment section into an easier to read format–you could find it under a search for “FAQ Amish Friendship Bread”…

    Please come back and share your savory bread successes–love to hear all the things this versatile bread is good for!

    Happy Easter!

  38. Just wanted to say I was a little hesitant about baking my bread since, by day 10, it had a very tangy yeast smell, almost like beer?! (Hard to explain) Anyway, it wasn’t a weird color so I went ahead and baked it and it was DELICIOUS!! Thanks for this website. It’s been very helpful!!

  39. I just started my starter today. But before I found this website here I saw one site that says to do this: one pack of yeast, 1/4 cup warm water, 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk. Now I see that on this site it says to use 3 cups each flour, sugar and milk. What’s the difference? Also it told me to mix my flour and sugar well or when milk is added flour will be lumpy. I mixed and mixed for over 10 mins and when milk was added it still came out lumpy? Is this going to affect anything?

  40. Hi Jessica, I’m sorry I’m just catching up on blog correspondence. Hopefully your starter is well on its way. I can’t tell from your post if you used this recipe here, or the one with the yeast? My recipe posted here is the only way I’ve started AFB, so that’s a question to ask the folks that posted the yeast starter. My AFB batter is on the lumpy side and never causes a problem. I know I don’t mix it, I just squish it together in the bag. Hope that helps you out for the next time around!!

  41. I accidently put my second starter in the refrigerator and let it overnight. Took it out in morning. Will it still be okay?

  42. I just made my first batch of AFB today using a slightly different recipe. I came across your site while browsing the web. A lot of really good information has been posted here over the years. I just wanted to share some information with you guys: My mother made this for probably a year using the baggie method, and, thankfully, she never had any explode, but I have read a good suggestion elsewhere which I took to heart today: Double-bagging. My starters are all in ziploc bags which are sealed in an additional ziploc bag. So, if your inner bag pops, then you have another bag to hold in your starter. When I first made the starter, I actually kept it in a gladware container with a lid. It seemed to work ok, but I wanted to wash the container so I went ahead and put all the new starters in baggies. Other airtight (metal free) containers will work so long as you can squish or stir, and have room to “feed”. Thanks for keeping this site going!

  43. I have read all your replies and they answered a lot of my own questions, except 1. I froze all 4 divided cups on the day I was to give them away, I want to thaw them one at a time to bake for myself and when I get to the last one, I want to start that at day 1.
    Can this be done? Can I thaw the starter and bake it the same day?
    thanks for your help

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