Why do I need to use instant pudding in my Amish Friendship Bread?
One thing that throws people off when it comes to Amish Friendship Bread is the inclusion of instant pudding as one of the ingredients.
Here are questions I get about using instant pudding in Amish Friendship Bread recipes:
- “I received my Amish Friendship Bread recipe years ago and it didn’t have instant pudding listed in the ingredients. Do I really need it?”
- “Instant pudding doesn’t seem very Amish?”
- “I don’t use artificial ingredients. Can I leave out the pudding?”
- “What happens if I skip the instant pudding?”
- “They don’t sell instant pudding where I live. What should I do?”
The big question
I’m going to tackle the easy one first: is instant pudding even Amish? Um, no. It’s made by Jell-O, a division of Kraft Foods. So why is it included as an ingredient for the original Amish Friendship Bread recipe?
Amish Friendship Bread has been a culinary cultural phenomenon in the United States for several decades. Lots of people in the Friendship Bread Kitchen remember making it in the 1960’s and 1970’s. A Girl Scout troop claims to have started it around that time, too. Whatever the case, one thing is clear: the spirit of Amish Friendship Bread is sharing what we have with others, which echoes the Amish practices of compassion and community.
The Amish don’t use electricity, and the starter can be kept at room temperature so it’s easy to use a scoop whenever you’re ready to bake. While I’m not sure the Amish keep this starter on their counter, you can bet they have some kind of sourdough starter going on at all times.
Want to keep a starter on your counter? Check out this tutorial.
Somewhere along the way, as all “chain” or “do-this-and-pass-it-on” letters tend to do, the recipe got adapted and somehow a box (or two) of instant pudding got added in. The first Amish Friendship Bread recipe I received including instant pudding as one of the ingredients, so I’ve kept it in ever since. If you have a set of instructions that doesn’t include it, feel free to leave it out.
Why instant pudding?
Instant pudding boosts flavor and moisture in a recipe. The best way to see if it makes a difference to you is to prepare one batch of Amish Friendship Bread with the pudding, and one without. You could even do a third batch with TWO boxes of pudding, as some instructions are nice and vague, asking for “1-2 boxes of instant pudding.”
Everyone’s taste buds are different, so experiment and see what you prefer. In general I recommend following the recipe as presented the first time, and then tweak based on your results. One SMALL box per recipe is sufficient.
Some of the recipes play with seasonal flavors, like pumpkin, get an easy boost with flavored pudding. If a specific pudding flavor is recommended and you can’t find it, use vanilla and boost any other flavors accordingly.
I don’t do artificial ingredients or don’t have access to instant pudding
Sometimes people don’t have access to instant pudding or don’t have time to run to the store. In those cases, you can either omit the pudding or make your own from scratch.
Here are a few homemade variations if you prefer to keep your ingredients fresh:
It’s your call
Some people like their Amish Friendship Bread with it, some are fine without it. It is totally up to you!
And at the end of the day, Amish Friendship Bread is all about quick and easy, and the addition of instant pudding in the recipe helps make that happen.
I only have sugar free instant pudding. Will that work?
Marcy Westland says
Can you use already prepared pudding in the recipe instead of powdered instant pudding? I made a delicious homeade vanilla pudding last night and it came out so nice and creamy. I want to use that in my bread instead of the box of instant powdered pudding.
Hi Marcy, we don’t recommend putting already prepared pudding in the recipe because it will affect the liquid content in the recipe. However, you can always omit the instant pudding from the recipe, if you’d like.
Aunt M Kitchen says
I have been feeding, keeping, and baking with an Amish friendship bread starter for around 35 years. After about a year of keeping it on the counter and baking with it every 10 days, I wanted to throw it out the window. That was too much work, no friends wanted starter anymore, and my freezer was full. So, I made one last batch, fed it again, and stuck it in a mason jar in the freezer. It survived freezing with no alteration in flavor. I found out by trial and error that it only needs to be thawed, fed, and then you can bake with it without the 10 days of rigamarole, and put the rest into a clean jar and back into the freezer. (I also found you should use a plastic cap for that mason jar. The friendship bread starter is a sourdough, although it has a lot of sugar, so it will cause a metal lid and rim to rust over time, which can get into the starter and ruin it.)
Anyhow, it makes a delicious bread or muffin, but one I can no longer eat. Due to a genetic illness that the symptoms get worse as I age, I cannot eat anything really sweet anymore. So, I have been feeding it with progressively less sugar, and am now the possessor of a lowered sugar Amish friendship bread starter. I use some sort of sweet fruit in it when I bake, but it is not at all like the sugar-rush giving original version. And it makes better savory rolls or breads to accompany a meal since it isn’t really sweet.
I do have to be more careful with this starter. It is not as forgiving as the high sugar version. And since my training is in analytical chemistry, I know that the reason is that the high sugar of the original only will allow certain microbes to grow, yeast, certainly, but also some friendly probiotic bacteria similar to those in yogurt or buttermilk, like lactobacillus. But since sourdough starters don’t spoil on the counter because the established microbes can easily out-compete any pathogenic ones, and because with less sugar the ones in the friendship bread aren’t quite as robust, it’s important to keep the starter uncontaminated. So each time I thaw it and feed it, the part I am saving needs to be put in a clean jar with a plastic lid and back into the freezer. But I have made a delicious lowered sugar Amish friendship bread starter, and would be willing to share how I converted the high sugar one to this lower sugar starter, if anyone else wants to do it.
And by the way, the original recipe I was handed all those years ago didn’t contain instant pudding, and I have never used pudding in any friendship bread I have made. I have tasted in when friends used pudding and I think for me, it masks much of the wonderful sourdough flavors, which are why I like the bread, so I will never use it. Just my $0.02 worth.
Thank you for sharing your wonderful story, Aunt M! We really love to hear about how people take this starter and really make it their own and work for their needs. ❤️
MEG B says
I would like to know how to make it with lower sugar. I have fibromyalgia and lots of sugar is usually responsible for flare ups but I love Amish friendship bread… So if there’s a way to do it with lower sugar I’m willing to give it a go.
Hi Meg! You may want to try our low-sugar options for the starter and bread. Here is the starter recipe: https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/afb-starter-sugar-free/ and the bread recipe: https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/sugar-free-afb/
Shirley Ann West says
I’m really enjoying trying this Amish bread. I tried the cinnamon apple date nut Sweet Bread ! It’s so moist and tasty ! I did use the instant pudding ! I was surprised how much this recipe made !
We’re so glad you’re enjoying it, Shirley! If you’ve taken any pictures, we’d really love to see them on our group Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/amishfriendshipbread
Shirley West says
I love using the pudding in the Sweet Bread recipes,it really makes them moist ! They are nice Christmas gifts !
We agree! The pudding does add moisture and flavor, and we love it!
Michelle Merkley says
I used chocolate chips in your recipe how can I keep the chips from sinking to the bottom, thank you
Here are some simple solutions, Michelle:
1. Toss your add-ins in 1 tablespoon of flour
2. Chop your add-ins into smaller pieces
3. Make sure to gently fold your add-ins into the well-mixed batter at the end of your mixing
4. Reduce the liquid content of your batter if all else fails. Since everyone’s starter is a little bit different (some are wetter, some are creamier), you could try leaving out one egg to see if that helps.
5. Another option is putting your batter in the fridge and letting it thicken before you pop it into the oven.
How much liquid (water) is used when I want to make a serving of butterscotch pudding mix?
Hi Cathy! How much pudding are you hoping to make? We haven’t used the butterscotch pudding mix to make pudding, because we usually use the pudding mix inside an Amish Friendship Bread. However, you could probably follow the box recipe with your homemade butterscotch pudding mix: https://www.hy-vee.com/aisles-online/p/52983/JellO-Sugar-Free-Fat-Free-Butterscotch-Instant-Pudding-Pie-Filling
Does that help?
Justin W Ranson says
I have found you can substitute the pudding with over ripe banana and then this becomes one of the best banana breads you will ever eat.
That’s a great tip, Justin! Thanks for sharing!
Hi, my name is Carolyn. I have a question. Can I substitute mayonnaise for the oil in my batter? If I can, do I use the same amount, more or less? Thank you.
Hi Carolyn! Because of the other ingredients in mayonnaise, as well as the flavor profile, we wouldn’t recommend using mayonnaise instead of oil in a recipe.
Gail Peach says
Why is my Amish friendship bread batter so thick? I have to spoon it into my pans. What am I doing wrong or is it supposed to be so thick?????
Hi Gail! What does your starter look like when you use it? This may be a possible reason that your starter is extra thick. How is the bread baking?
Can i mix fresh banana as an ingredient?
Hi Georgia! You can definitely add bananas to your amish friendship bread! Were you thinking of trying to use it as a substitute for the pudding?
Can I store my starter in a large mason jar and stir instead of a baggie and squish? Then only use baggies for those I share?
Hi Angela! Yes, you definitely can just keep it in a jar and stir, if that is easier! This might help you decide what the best container option is for you: https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/faq-what-kind-of-container-should-i-use-to-store-my-starter/
Are you supposed to add the pudding mix as is (powder, right out of the box), or should you make the pudding according to the directions on the box and then add to the bread ingredients?
Hi Kate! You’ll put the powder straight out of the box into your recipe. 🙂
Thank you so much for this website! I’m following you on FaceBook too.
1st Question: During the Global Pandemic (March-TBD 2020) I decided to give AFB starter/baking a try. I order my groceries online and use a pick-up service to avoid exposure to the virus. I just realized that instead of INSTANT pudding mix, I was given COOK ‘N SERVE pudding mix. *Can I substitute Cook ‘n Serve for Instant? (I don’t have the ingredients to make my own pudding mix)
2nd Question/Comment: I tried using your (affiliate) link to purchase the glass storage container. Instead of being ~$10, it is almost $21 on Amazon. I just wanted to let you know.
*I didn’t find the answer to my question on your FAQ but please feel free to send me a link if this question has already been answered. Thanks again and stay well.
I only have Cook and Serve pudding. Is there a reason why this would not work? Does it have to be instant?
Darien Gee says
Hi Sarah! Cook and Serve will work, but it ends up being a lot thicker because of additional thickening agents added to the powder. You can also skip it altogether and see if you like that result. Since each recipe yields two loaves, you could try one loaf with the Cook and Serve added (do half a packge), and the other without, and see which you prefer.
Paige Anderson says
Just starting with Amish Friendship Bread so have lots of questions. Like, above you say you use starter every day. How? My current batch is on day 4. How could I bake now?
Darien Gee says
Hi Paige! I don’t see where it says to use the starter every day. The way it works is that you start and maintain your starter for 10 days, bake on Day 10, and then after that you can continue to maintain the starter and then remove a cup whenever you want to bake. After 10 days, the yeasts in your starter have established themselves. Here’s a link that should help: https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/faq-how-soon-can-i-bake-use-my-amish-friendship-bread-sourdough-starter/.