Traditional Irish Soda Bread

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This Traditional Irish Soda Bread recipe only requires 4 ingredients! It doesn’t use yeast, so it’s simple to make!

Round loaf of Traditional Irish Soda Bread wrapped in a towel.

How many of you have ever had a loaf of Traditional Irish Soda Bread??? How many of you only eat it around St. Patrick’s Day?? 

Fun fact: this easy Irish soda bread recipe is a really good bread that is dense, moist, and delicious. So while you can serve it for St. Patrick’s Day, it’s fantastic with soups and other main courses.

A few other really easy to make bread recipes I have are: Beer Bread (so good!!), Buttermilk Cornbread (my favorite!), and Garlic Cheddar Biscuits (we make these all the time).

Why You’ll Love This Irish Soda Bread With Buttermilk

  • Only 4 simple ingredients
  • Less than 1 hour to make
  • No need to rise the dough
  • Great for parties
  • Delicious
Slice of traditional Irish soda bread with butter.

A little authentic Irish Soda Bread history:

I want to give you just a few interesting facts about Irish Soda Bread with buttermilk. Don’t worry I won’t bore you — it’s only a few!

  • The cross that is slashed into the dough before baking was made to ward off devils and protect the house. It also helps the center of the bread bake all the way through, so it’s very important not to skip that step!
  • During the mid-1800s, the Irish were making so much soda bread that baking soda almost doubled in price!
  • Soda bread was served as an inexpensive way to put bread on the table.
  • Authentic Irish soda bread should only contain 4 ingredients: flour, buttermilk, salt, and of course, baking soda.

Ingredients

  • Buttermilk – is what gives this easy Irish soda bread recipe its flavor. I prefer to use whole buttermilk, but use what you can find. You can also make your own buttermilk by pouring 2 tablespoons of white vinegar or fresh (not bottled) lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup. Fill with whole milk or 2% to the 2-cup line. (I don’t recommend using anything less than 2% for this recipe.) Let stand 5-10 minutes before using.
  • Baking soda – replaces the yeast, which makes this bread very easy to make. It reacts with the buttermilk and makes the bread rise.
  • Salt – also provides flavor to the loaf of bread.
  • Flour – traditionally soft white wheat flour was used in Ireland.

These 4 ingredients create an authentic Irish soda bread that I feel tastes similar to buttermilk biscuits or scones. The loaf is dense, slightly sour from the buttermilk, and has a hard crust. It’s perfect to pair with soups and stews, but I also like it warm and slathered with butter!

Top down view of a round loaf of Traditional Irish Soda Bread.

FAQs

CAN I ADD OTHER INGREDIENTS TO THIS EASY IRISH SODA BREAD RECIPE?

Sure! While it won’t be traditional if you add other ingredients, it’s a fun way to incorporate new flavors. Here are some ideas:
Raisins
Lemon Zest
Orange Zest
Sugar
Honey
Dried Cranberries

HOW DO YOU STORE THIS SODA BREAD?

For best results, let the bread cool all the way. Then wrap and place in a sealed container. It can be kept at room temperature for up to 4 days.

CAN YOU FREEZE IRISH SODA BREAD?

Yes, cool completely then wrap in plastic wrap and then in foil or place in a freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature overnight.

What to serve with this Traditional Irish Soda Bread Recipe:

  • Serve it warm and fresh from the oven with pats of butter.
  • Use it for breakfast as toast with jam or put a poached or fried egg on top.
  • Its denser texter and thicker crust make it pair beautifully with soups and stews.

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Round loaf of Traditional Irish Soda Bread wrapped in a towel.

Traditional Irish Soda Bread

Course: Bread
Cuisine: American
Keyword: soda bread
Traditional Irish Soda Bread- this Irish Soda Bread recipe only requires 4 ingredients! It doesn't use yeast so it's simple to make!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 1 loaf (6-8 servings)
Calories: 3634kcal
Author: Malinda Linnebur
Print Recipe Save Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 cups (580g) all-purpose flour
  • teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups (470ml) cold buttermilk

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400℉.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease well; set aside.  You can also use an 8" cake pan or oven proof skillet.
  • In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Stir in the buttermilk just until combined and it starts to become too stiff to stir.  Transfer to work surface and with floured hands lightly knead the dough 5-10 times or until all the flour is moistened and the dough comes together.  
  • Form dough into an 8" round.  Place on the prepared pan and with a very sharp knife, cut a ¼-½" deep X on the top.  Bake for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown, and it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. The loaf is also done when an instant read thermometer reads the center of the loaf at 195℉.

Notes

  1. This bread is best served shortly after baking but can be stored at room temperature tightly wrapped for 2-3 days.  Can also be frozen for 2-3 months. 
  2. Buttermilk is vital to the flavor and texture in this recipe and cannot be replaced with plain milk. However, you can make your own buttermilk by pouring 2 tablespoons white vinegar or fresh (not bottled) lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup.  Fill with whole milk or 2%.  (I don’t recommend using anything less than 2% for this recipe.)  Let stand 5-10 minutes before using.  
  3. Nutrition Facts: Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the information shown is just an estimate. Nutrition information is for the entire loaf. 

Nutrition

Calories: 3634kcal | Carbohydrates: 745g | Protein: 113g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 19mg | Sodium: 4483mg | Potassium: 1727mg | Fiber: 26g | Sugar: 25g | Vitamin A: 222IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 691mg | Iron: 44mg

83 thoughts on “Traditional Irish Soda Bread”

  1. Could you please post this to Pinterest? I would love to keep this recipe in my cooking collection.
    Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

    Reply
  2. 4 stars
    Measurments online are weird. This recipe says 4C = 580 gm. I measure 3 3/4C (CDN) and I get 580gm. A conversion site I go to says 4C=600gm. Still a third site gives me 4C=520gm. A 4th gives me 480gm. And a 5th says 4C=450gm. ALL for 4C white AP flour. I did not sift, just scoop, level and weigh.
    I went with the 580gm (3.75C) of unbleached white flour. Extremely sticky (cannot knead) as it must be mixed so 580gm may be a bit light. Having said that, next attempt will be 600 gm flour. AND you have to wait till it’s totally cool before cutting. If done when warm, it’ll be gummy inside as it’s still cooking. GREAT flavour in any case !!

    I wish all recipes used grams. Your beer bread for example does not.

    Reply
    • I am sorry this didn’t work as you had hoped. I don’t use online conversions I measure and weigh as I cook/bake. Different climates will also have a factor in how much flour to use. And I am slowly converting old recipes to grams as I have time to update them.

      Reply
    • Cup sizes differ depending on where in the world you are. I have found if you just se the cup measurement for all ingredients, it balances out ☘️

      Thank you for sharing ☘️

      Reply
  3. 5 stars
    Fabulous. Needed a recipe using cups as opposed to my normal grams. Used 1/4 cup wheet germ. It was gobbled up, had to make a 2nd one. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Hi. A question please. This recipe seems super easy and i want to try it. It asks for 2 cups buttermilk. If i make my own like you said , is it 2 tbsp vinegar to make 1 cup of buttermilk?

      Reply
      • Hi! Great question! The 2 tablespoons of vinegar will make 2 cups of buttermilk. Sorry for the confusion. I changed it in the post to hopefully make more sense.

        Reply
  4. Hi, i am from Germany and i love ireland! I have been to your wonderful island many times! Thanks so much for the sodabread recipe! My bread right now is in the oven and i hope, that it will taste like in ireland!

    All the best
    bernd

    Reply
    • Hello!! I hope you were pleased with your soda bread!! I would love to travel to Ireland someday and learn more about its culture!

      Reply
      • 5 stars
        The sodabread has been just fantastic! Wonderful recipe and indeed very easy for beginners in bread baking like me. I even made the buttermilk by myself like you said. Incredible, it’s really super easy! Absolute recommended!

        Reply
  5. 5 stars
    Love it!
    I never can make enough, it disappears from the table the day I bake it!
    We have another type of soda bread wich is more like pita and traditionally baked on a hot iron plate…

    Reply
    • YAY! So glad you like the bread! The other bread you mention sounds interesting! I love learning about different recipes.

      Reply
  6. You are mistaken in your belief of the origins of Soda bread, the history of an item in America is not necessarily the history of the item. While it is certainly possible that Native Americans made a similar bread, our family history has had no relationship with America whatsoever (we are 100% Scottish on one side & on the others, Scottish for 5 generations & Irish prior to that) & soda bread has long been part of our culture. I imagine the ingredients changed depending on what was available, but as the Scots & Irish share some ancestry with the Germanic peoples & there are German traditional bread recipes made with potash/soda ash, it would be reasonable to believe this ingredient was used prior to the 1800s & the availability of sodium bicarbonate – which incidentally was discovered in Germany.

    Reply
    • I am sorry if I have offended you in any way. And I thank you for leaving your comment!! It is hard to scour the internet and figure out which article is correct sometimes. I remember when I was writing this post questioning myself whether or not I should even include anything about the history because there were conflicting articles out there. So, I thank you for leaving me your comment!!

      Reply
  7. 5 stars
    We absolutely love this 🍞. I am making another loaf tomorrow to make over night French Toast Casserole. This will be my third time making this bread. We enjoyed this bread with a very Irish Stout Stew the other night. Thank you

    Reply
  8. 5 stars
    This is our new favorite Bread around here. My family loves this bread. We are making an Irish Stout Stew to go w ith the bread tonight. Amazing Bread.

    Reply
  9. This is an awful recipe. It is so doughy, had to add loads more flour, which then mucked up the ratio of the ingredients. I am NOT happy. I definitely followed the recipe correctly.

    Reply
  10. 5 stars
    This is just the recipe I was looking for. Fabulous bread and lovely simple recipe. Just a note, please delete this before posting, when writing “its”, as in “its flavour is creamy there is no apostrophe because its is a pronoun in its own right, like his and hers. Incorrect use of the apostrophe detracts from the otherwise pristine professionalism of your website. ☺️

    Reply
  11. Will definitely try in lieu of a recipe I have, using Buttermilk, Soda, salt and 2 flours. It calls for 2 cups of Wheat Flour to 2 cups White Flour, resulting in a very tough crust. Can any Wheat flour be added to this recipe to up the nutrition? I’m the cook not Allen that shows up in the e-mail…….(Kathy)Thank You

    Reply
    • I have not tried replacing any white flour with whole wheat flour for this recipe. Soda bread does have a thicker crust even when made with all white flour. My suggestion would be to replace some of the white flour with wheat flour each time you make this bread until you reach a crust you like. Hope that helps and let me know how you like it! 🙂

      Reply
  12. 5 stars
    I like this bread with stew. Have not made either for a while but now I am hungry for both so will make it one of these days.

    Reply
    • 5 stars
      I like this recipe traditional soda bread 4 ingredients if you do sugar to me it is a sweetened Easter type bread not really good with soups especially if you add raisins but good toasted with butter

      Reply

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