Irish Soda Bread
A simple loaf of Irish Soda Bread is quick, comforting and the perfect addition to your St. Patrick’s Day feast. But feel free to make it ALL year long!
This Easy Soda Bread is leavened without yeast, but instead baking soda (occasionally baking powder, too, but the name comes from soda). These are also called quick bread. Adding buttermilk enhances the rising potential with the chemical reaction between the alkaline soda and acidic buttermilk.
Why You Must Make
I had only made Irish brown bread before, so I followed this recipe pretty closely except for adding a few tablespoons of sugar. There were only 4 ingredients in this recipe: flour, soda, salt, and buttermilk. I didn’t even need to make out a shopping list.
- This easy bread recipe only needs 4 Ingredients: Flour, baking soda, salt and buttermilk.
- A lovely dense loaf with a perfectly chewy crust came out of my oven after the 50-minute baking time.
- Despite its rustic look, this is a fabulous bread for such minimal effort. I got the “this is really, really good” response when I cut Bill a slice.
- This soda bread recipe comes from Marion Cunningham, cookbook author and food writer.
Soda Bread Ingredients
- Flour – All-purpose flour
- Baking Soda
- Salt – Table salt is fine
- Sugar – Not traditional, so it’s an optional ingredient.
- Buttermilk – You can make a buttermilk substitute with milk and an acid like lemon juice or vinegar. Real buttermilk is always preferred.
- Dried Fruit – Currants are classic, but any dried fruit like cherries or cranberries will be a delicious addition. Chop if needed.
How to Make
- Preheat the oven, grease the baking dish, then measure all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
- Whisk the ingredients together until they’re well combined.
- Add the buttermilk and mix until combined.
- Knead the dough on a floured surface for just a minute or so. Shape into a 6-inch ball, slice an X across the surface, then bake as directed.
- My Italian friend, Ann, recommends mixing the dough with your hands to give the bread a light and airy consistency. Her version also has a stick of butter and is quite tasty! Using a whisk is perfectly acceptable, too.
- The dough should be well-blended, but not overworked. As with all quick bread (those using baking powder and/or baking soda), they will develop tunnels if over-mixed.
- The dough should be heavy, but not too wet. If it seems too dry you can add a bit more buttermilk.
- I like to dust my hands with flour to shape the bread into round loaves.
- Ann uses the wrong end of a fork to cut a deep X into the loaf. I used a sharp knife instead. This provides the classic look of homemade soda bread. It also helps the loaf to bake evenly.
- Dusting the top with flour before making the cut will make the X stand out.
- Adding raisins is a traditional option, though one my family would not appreciate.
- I’ve added dried cherries in the past, but I’m the only fan of those around here! Raisins are more traditional.
- Bake in a cake pan or cast iron skillet (the skillet will give a better rise).
- Inserting a knife into the bread at the end of the baking time will tell you if your bread is done. It should come out clean if the bread is fully cooked.
Later, I made a second loaf, a half batch with the addition of 1/3 cup of dried cherries. Soda Bread with Raisins is a more traditional option, but I prefer cherries. This smaller Irish soda bread loaf was baked for 35 minutes. I hope you all had a marvelous St. Patrick’s Day. Erin Go Bragh!!!
Frequently Asked Questions
In the 1800s, the cross on this Irish bread was thought to keep the Devil escape from the bread as it baked. It’s also a symbol of giving thanks.
Use the recipe’s baking time for guidance. But also watch for the slash to expand and the loaf to be golden brown.
Wait until it cools completely before serving. Serve plain, with butter or with butter and jam or marmalade.
Wrap it well and store it at room temperature. This is a bread that is best on the day it is made as its lack of fat makes it dry out quickly.
You May Also Like
- St. Patrick’s Day Desserts from Hoosier Homemade
- Sunflower Whole Wheat Bread
- Homemade Pita Bread
- Irish Cream Pots de Creme
- Irish Chocolate Mousse Cake
- Plus all my Best Bread Recipes
Irish Soda Bread Recipe
A classic loaf of Irish soda bread!
- 4 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar (my addition, optional)
- 2 cups buttermilk*
- 1 cup dried cherries, optional
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Grease an 8-inch pie plate or baking sheet.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt (and sugar if using). Whisk in the buttermilk until the dough comes together. Add dried cherries or other dried fruit, if using.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently for a minute. It should be soft and malleable but not overworked.
- Pat it into a 6-inch dough ball and place it in the pan. Cut an X into the top.
- Bake for 50 minutes or until golden brown and the X has widened. Cool completely before slicing.
Recipe from Baking with Julia.
*If you do not have buttermilk on hand, you can easily make your own by mixing 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice with 1 cup of milk (less the one tablespoon). Let rest for a few minutes to let thicken and curdle.
May add raisins, currants, dried cherries, or other chopped dried fruit to the bread dough.
Best eaten on the day it's baked.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 441Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 899mgCarbohydrates: 93gFiber: 3gSugar: 26gProtein: 12g
75 Comments on “Irish Soda Bread”
I haven’t baked a irish soda bread. I need to make it. Looks delicious.
I love a simple bread recipe. If you can add fruit to it it’s like a double bonus! Looks gorgeous btw 🙂
awesome and fantastic bread
I’m with you on liking brown bread better, but this is lovely and it does make for a nice change of pace, particularly with some high-quality butter.
Yes! I had Irish Soda bread for the first time recently and I loved it! I am so happy to see that it looks very easy to make myself.
Loved both your loaves. Although it was non-traditional, I added raisins (and, felt guilty) but now I wish I thrown in cherries of cranberries or tried all the other variations tried by our fellow bakers. My Bill ate half a warm loaf. Would love to have your brown bread recipe. Mary Hirsch
Your bread looks fantastic! I have been wanting to try Irish Soda Bread and this looks fantastic.
Your’s is so pretty, Lizza – I made some last week and it turned out looking more like a pancake and feeling like a brick – I think I might need to try YOUR recipe!
Simply beautiful loaf of soda bread, Lizzy! I made several! I always have soda bread for St Paddy’s Day and this was a very good recipe!
Your soda bread look perfect! The X was not too deep. I too have only ever made brown soda bread but will have to give this one a try. You are right about eating it freshly baked so making two small loaves is a great idea.
Haven’t tried it before but I’m sure it tastes yummy ! Your bread always looks so gorgeous !
Lovely! Both looks great & yummy! Well done, Lizzy! 🙂
The loaf looks delicious, as expected! And your honey and jam sides are already giving me ideas for next time!
Beautiful soda bread! And it’s easy to make.
Another beautiful baked bread. You need to own a bakery because the world at large needs you. 🙂
Great idea with the cherries. And your ‘X’ was perfect. Now that I’ve made soda bread, I think it’s much simpler & faster than making a yeast bread.
A great loaf of bread! I quite admire your final presentation with the honey drizzler right next to it – irresistible!
Hi Lizzy! Your Irish soda bread looks wonderful! I baked mine over the weekend and we loved it but I decided not to post today. I did share my photos on Facebook. I’m so impressed that you post so many recipes here, your energy is impressive and you always do a great job;-)
Oooo, I love the smaller one with the cherries added. Yummo.
Wow, delicious bread.. Beautiful.
Presentation is very nice