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This traditional Soda Bread Recipe is SO easy to make (no major kneading or rising) and goes perfectly with a hearty beef or lamb stew, as well as a wonderful complement to a hearty soup!
Step by step photos and instructions below!
I’ll use any excuse to make homemade bread, St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) or not! This bread is SO easy and makes a really great addition to any kind of stew or soup recipe. A thick chunk of bread always screams “comfort” to me.
Because it takes no time to rise like a yeast bread, you can have this bread made in under an hour. That’s kind of awesome, don’t you think!?
Everyone needs a good soda bread recipe, and this is mine!
Irish Soda Bread history
Back in the “old days” when money was tight and ingredients hard to come by, traditional Irish Bread was born out of need.
Making bread with available and affordable ingredients was the main motivation. Most people had access to “soft” wheat flour (lower in gluten – ie, cake flour), baking soda, salt and soured milk. Soured milk was used because of the high acidity – these days of course, we use buttermilk! I use baking
This is a great recipe for anyone who wants to try their hand at soda bread!
Check out my Irish Nachos for another fun recipe to make to celebrate!
Why you’ll love this recipe:
- Basic ingredients, that you likely already have at home.
- This is a pretty fool proof bread. It’s an easy quick bread recipe that is hard to mess up! Make sure you have fresh ingredients (there’s nothing like stale baking soda to mess up your soda bread).
- This is a no knead, no rise bread. Just mix, shape and bake.
Frequently Asked Questions
I do it because it allows the bread to expand in a controlled way, vs the shaggy/jagged tears that occur if you don’t cut it.
Traditionally – it was because it was believed that the cross on the top would ward off evil and protect the household.
The simple answer is, any shape you like. However, I make my Irish Soda Bread into a round loaf (like those in Southern Ireland) vs how the do it in the north (cut the dough into triangles and cook on a griddle)
Not a scientific method, but it sounds hollow when tapped lightly on the top of the bread.
This bread works as a result of the chemical reaction between the acidic sour milk (we use buttermilk) and baking soda, which forms small bubbles of carbon dioxide in the dough.
Pat it into shape, don’t knead it to make it smooth. Shaggy is GOOD!
What to serve with Irish Soda Bread
Pretty much anything. Depending on if you use raisins or not, this hearty bread goes well with beef or lamb stew, with a little butter spread on, or dunked in soup.
Personally, I like to eat it for breakfast slathered with salty Irish butter, along with a cup of tea.
I have included step by step photos and instructions, as well as tips and tricks in the post. If you’d rather skip all that, scoot right on down to the full recipe card located at the bottom of the post.
The full list of ingredients and quantities is found in the printable recipe card below.
- Flour. Regular. All-purpose white flour. Cake flour has typically been used for soda bread, but I don’t usually have it on hand, so I use all-purpose flour.
- Sugar. Plain white sugar.
- Salt. I use kosher salt.
- Baking Soda. Also known as bicarbonate of soda, this is the only leavening agent in the bread, so make sure it’s fresh! Some people use baking powder (which is just baking soda with some cream of tartar added). If that is what you have, use that in place of the baking soda.
- Butter. You may use salted or unsalted. Just be sure it is very cold, as room temperature butter will not work as well.
- Raisins. These are optional.
- Buttermilk. You can sub this for homemade buttermilk using white vinegar or lemon juice. This is one of the ingredients that flavor the bread and gives it the tang, so don’t try to use regular milk.
- Egg. I use large eggs in my recipes.
- Cast iron skillet. You can use a sheet pan if you don’t have a skillet.
- Large mixing bowl for the dry ingredients.
- Large jug for liquids.
How to make this recipe
Scroll for Recipe
The full list of ingredients, quantities and instructions can be found in the printable recipe card below.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a skillet or baking sheet and set aside.
Make the dough
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda until well combined.
Use a pastry cutter or large fork to incorporate the cold butter into the flour mixture until well-distributed and dry ingredients resemble clumpy sand.
Stir in the raisins and set aside.
In a small bowl or large measuring cup, beat together the buttermilk and egg until well-combined.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the milk-egg mixture. Use a wooden spoon to stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until you’re unable to stir anymore, then use your hands to continue kneading the dough, at least 2 minutes until no longer sticky and the dough forms a cohesive ball.
(Avoid adding more flour to the dough for at least a minute – it will be sticky at first but should become less sticky with kneading.)
Cut and bake
Shape the dough lightly on a floured work surface, then place the ball of dough onto the prepared skillet or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Use a sharp knife (a serrated knife) to cut a deep cross in the center of the dough to allow steam to escape.
Bake for 45 minutes (up to 55 minutes), until golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. If you tap the top of the bread and it gives a hollow sound, you know it’s done!
Set on a wire rack, until completely cooled before slicing.
Don’t overmix the dough – it needs to be shaggy so you get the craggy crust (see the pics for reference) Pat it into shape, don’t knead it to make it smooth. Shaggy is GOOD!
Leave out the raisins and add cheddar and bacon bits to the dough – you’ll have a non-traditional loaf, but it will be delicious!
Brush the top of the loaf with leftover buttermilk, if you have it.
This recipe can be frozen after baking. I recommend cutting into slices and freezing, then pulling out a slice or two at a time. Wrap in aluminum foil and store in a freezer bag until ready to use.
More delicious bread recipes:
- Red Lobster Biscuits. Soft, fluffy biscuits packed with cheddar cheese, and brushed with flavorful garlic butter after baking, these cheddar biscuits are dreamy!
- Maple Oat Skillet Bread – A gorgeous loaf, with a delicious crumb! This Maple Oat Skillet Bread is hearty, delicious and perfect for toasting, sandwiches, or eating with soup. Perfect for Fall! Yum!
- Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls. Quick and easy to make, these deliciously soft Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls make the perfect amount for your family! They make a hearty side to any dinner. Yum!
- Fluffy Golden Skillet Cornbread – a cinch to make, and is a fantastic side for any meal!
- 30 Minute Dinner Rolls – Make these dinner rolls from scratch in just about 30 minutes!! These are great for holidays, weeknights, basically – any time you need them. Using a stand mixer and simple ingredients, you can have these homemade rolls on the table FAST!!
Irish Soda Bread Recipe
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Grease a skillet or baking sheet and set aside.
Make the dough
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda until well combined.
- Use a pastry cutter or large fork to incorporate the cold butter into the flour mixture until well-distributed and dry ingredients resemble clumpy sand.
- Stir in the raisins and set aside.
- In a small bowl or large measuring cup, beat together the buttermilk and egg until well-combined.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the milk-egg mixture. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until you’re unable to stir anymore, then use your hands to continue kneading the dough, at least 2 minutes until no longer sticky and the dough forms a cohesive ball. (Avoid the desire to add more flour to the dough for at least a minute – it will be sticky at first but should become less sticky with kneading.)
Cut and bake
- Place the ball of dough onto the prepared skillet or cookie sheet.
- Use a sharp knife to cut a large X-shape in the center of the dough to allow steam to escape.
- Bake for 45-55 minutes, until golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Don’t overmix the dough – it needs to be shaggy
- Pat it into shape, don’t knead it to make it smooth. Shaggy is GOOD!
- Add cheddar and bacon bits to the dough – you’ll have a non traditional loaf, but it will be delicious!
Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.
Update: This recipe was originally published in March of 2018. It was republished with updated photos in March of 2022.