What is Shoofly Pie?

Slice of Shoofly Pie
Slice of Shoofly Pie with whipped cream from Miller’s Bakery.

Mmmm, shoofly pie. A true PA Dutch original dessert. When you visit Lancaster, you must try shoofly pie as it has become synonymous with the Amish and Mennonite communities of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

It’s not hard to find shoofly pie, as most restaurants and bakeries make and serve it year-round. Some people prefer it warm, with vanilla ice cream. Others like it with whipped cream. There are different types of shoofly pie, and you’ll hear people talk about a preference of wet or dry bottom. Plus, there are the variations from shoofly whoopie pies to shoofly cake, chocolate shoofly pie to shoofly pancakes.  How you prefer your shoofly pie is a matter of personal preference.

What is Shoofly Pie?

It is a molasses-based pie that is typically made with a crumbly topping and a sweet, gooey filling. Although its origins are somewhat unclear, the history of shoofly pie in Lancaster County, PA is deeply intertwined with the region’s Amish and Mennonite heritage.

The Origin of Shoofly Pie

The origin of shoofly isn’t really known. Early Mennonite and Amish settlers of Lancaster County were known to be very resourceful and to have a dislike of waste. The shoofly pie is made with what most households considered “staples”. Flour, sugar, molasses, spices; all these ingredients were usually on hand and easy to come by. Plus, they were relatively cheap for the home baker and it was slow to spoil. It does seem to trace back to the late 1800s.

One theory about the origins of shoofly pie is that it was developed by the Pennsylvania Dutch as a way to use up leftover ingredients, such as molasses and flour. Another theory is that it was created as a dessert that could be easily transported by farmers who were often on the go. There is some agreement that it started as more of breakfast cake but was placed in a pie shell around 1880 to make it easier to transport.

The origin of the name has long been said to have come about because the sweet, sticky molasses would attract flies to the pies that had been set out to cool. Hence the term “shoo fly”. Another theory for the name from the Keystone Center for the Study of Regional Foods and Food Tourism is that it was Shoofly the Boxing Mule, who was part of a popular traveling circus act in the Dutch Country.

Whatever its origins, shoofly pie quickly became a staple of Amish and Mennonite cuisine in Lancaster County.

The Pie’s History over Time

Shoofly pie’s popularity continued to grow throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, particularly as tourists began to flock to Lancaster County to experience the region’s unique culture and cuisine. In fact, shoofly pie was so closely associated with Lancaster County that it became known as “Lancaster County pie” or “Pennsylvania Dutch pie.”

During the mid-20th century, shoofly pie began to fall out of favor with some consumers, particularly those who were more health-conscious. However, the dessert experienced a resurgence in popularity during the 1960s and 1970s as Americans became more interested in traditional, homemade recipes.

Today, shoofly pie remains a beloved dessert in Lancaster County and throughout Pennsylvania. In fact, it has even become something of a cultural icon, with many tourists flocking to the region specifically to sample the dessert. Many bakeries and restaurants in Lancaster County offer their own take on shoofly pie, with some incorporating new and innovative twists on the classic recipe.

Despite its enduring popularity, shoofly pie continues to be closely tied to the region’s Amish and Mennonite communities. In many ways, it serves as a symbol of their unique cultural heritage and the deep connections they have to the land and traditions of Lancaster County.

Types of Shoofly Pie

Wet bottom pies are gooey, more like the oozy layer of a pecan pie with a thick crumb topping. They have a heavy molasse flavor. Dry bottom pies are more-cake like with molasses ribbons running throughout the pie. Each bakery will usually offer either wet or dry bottom. Both are very sweet. From there, bakeries may put their own spin on the pie adding chocolate, or other items. At Miller’s Bakery, we make a wet bottom shoofly pie that is served at both Miller’s Smorgasbord and Plain & Fancy Restaurant.

Classic Shoofly Pie Recipe

Ready to try making shoofly pie at home? Try this classic wet bottom shoofly pie based on Miller’s Bakery recipe. 

Wet Bottom Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

Crumb Topping Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Dash of salt
  • 2 – 9″ pie shells, unbaked


Heat all ingredients for the “wet bottom” until sugars dissolve completely. Combine all ingredients for crumb topping in a large bowl and work into crumbs using a pastry blender or 2 knives, crisscrossing through the mixture. Pour 1 1/2 cups of wet bottom syrup into each pie shell. Top with crumb topping until level with edge of pie shell.

Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 1 1/2 hours. Enjoy!

Shoofly Pie Summation

The history of shoofly pie in Lancaster, PA is a testament to the enduring legacy of the region’s Amish and Mennonite communities. The shoofly pie has become an integral part of the region’s cultural identity, and it continues to be a beloved dessert that is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. Whether you’re a die-hard shoofly pie fan or simply curious about the history of one of Pennsylvania’s most iconic desserts, there’s no denying that this sweet and sticky treat has left a mark on the culinary landscape of Lancaster County.

Want to order a Shoofly pie? You can order a Miller’s Bakery Shoofly pie online at Locally Made Food Shop or you can stop in to Locally Made to pick up a fresh pie seven days a week.