The Best Easy Traditional Irish Soda Bread Recipe (2024)

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This easy traditional Irish soda bread recipe delivers golden-brown perfection every time. Skip the kneading and enjoy the best warm, fluffy bread with this 5-minute recipe using only 4 ingredients. You can have fresh no yeast Irish Bread with any family dinner! Plus try all the sweet & savory mix-in ideas.

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I absolutely love Irish Soda Bread! And it’s not just because of my Irish ancestry! It is an incredibly quick and easy no-yeast bread recipe to make with minimal effort! And since soda bread tastes mild in flavor it makes it very versatile for several different flavor mix-ins making it sweet or savory.

Best of all, you don’t have to wait until St Patrick’s Day to make it either! It is perfect any time of the year!

You can even enlist the help of your kids. This is a perfect bread to start teaching your kids to bake. You don’t have to worry about them not being strong enough to knead the bread because there is no kneading involved! And they won’t get bored, because you don’t have to sit around waiting for the dough to “prove”.

You can easily have this traditional Irish bread ready for family dinner in no time on busy weeknights. Just mix it up and bake!

Table of Contents hide

1 What Is Irish Soda Bread?

2 📚 The History Of Irish Soda Bread

3 🥛 Ingredient Notes

4 🌱Flavor Mix In Variations

4.1 Changing the Texture:

4.2 Sweet Soda Bread:

4.3 Savory Soda Bread:

5 🍞 How to Make Moist Irish Soda Bread

6 🍽️ Serving Tips

7 💡 Tips for the Best Soda Bread

8 🧊 Storing and Freezing

9 💭 FAQs

What Is Irish Soda Bread?

Irish soda bread is a quick bread that rises beautifully with the help of baking soda and buttermilk. That’s right, there is no yeast in this bread recipe. It is the lactic acid in the buttermilk that reacts with the baking soda to create air bubbles, resulting in a perfectly risen dough.

The perfect soda bread has a gorgeous golden-brown crust and a dense interior that is incredibly tender and soft. I’d say it almost has a biscuit-like crumb texture. Fresh from the oven, the crust has that satisfying crispness that turns slightly chewy by days two and three.

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📚 The History Of Irish Soda Bread

The first traditional Irish soda bread recipe appeared in Ireland in the early 19th century when baking soda first became available in the country. It wasn’t a regular sight on dinner tables until after the devastating potato famine of 1845-1852. Back then, wheat, the main ingredient in soda bread, was simply too scarce to use for everyday meals. But once wheat and baking soda were easily accessible again, it reemerged.

Its rise to fame among the Irish owes to a few key reasons. It was the epitome of simplicity and affordability, made from ingredients that were easy to come by.

Plus, it did not require a lot of skill or equipment to make, which made it accessible to people of all social classes.

Its versatility also played a huge part; as soda bread fit right in whether you were dunking it in soup, pairing it with a hearty stew, or slathering it with butter for a sandwich.

According to Folklore, they cut a deepcross into the top of the bread before baking because the cross wards off evil. But other Folklore says that the crosslets the fairies out and protects your soda bread from the fairies, who were liable to jinx your baking.

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Over time, various bakers and cultures across the globe have made their own versions of soda bread, thus slightly altering it over the hundreds of years leaving us with over 3000 variated recipes in just Ireland alone, or so they say. But there is a website dedicated to the purity of the traditional Irish Soda Bread. Go ahead and pop over there to learn even more of the history. It is quite a fascinating read.

🥛 Ingredient Notes

Flour: Traditionally authentic Irish soda bread is made from Irish wholemeal flour which is softer than American wheat. The best substitute is a combination ofunbleached white flourandwhole-wheat flour, plus some wheat germ. Bread flour or pastry flour would also be good substitutes. I also like to use Kamut flour, as it is a non-gmo flour that is high in protein, and has a slightly nutty flavor. I find it is fairly close to the combination flour results. But for the average home baker, you can still use all-purpose white flour with great results.

Buttermilk– This is the key ingredient as to why it works! Buttermilk reacts with the baking soda to provide the bread’s leavening. It also addsa wonderfulflavor! A buttermilk substitute of mixing 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice with regular milk can be used if in a pinch. But real buttermilk will give the best results.

Baking Soda – Baking soda isgood indefinitely past its best-by date, although it can lose potency over time.To test for freshness, grab a small bowl and add a splash of white vinegar with about half a teaspoon of baking soda on top. If the baking soda is fresh, it should fizz and bubble like crazy! If it doesn’t, it’s time to replace your baking soda.

Salt – Regular kosher table salt is the most popular because it is usually what people have on hand. But I prefer using course ground sea salt.

🌱Flavor Mix In Variations

Over the years and through various cultures, traditional Irish Soda Bread has morphed into quite a versatile experience. One reason I love soda bread is because it is so easy to customize it to fit your meal. You can be creative with the mix-ins to bake up something unique and magical every single time! Try some of these “Mix-ins” and see which is your favorite.

Changing the Texture:

  • Add an Egg to the buttermilk before mixing with the flour will give a richer texture to the bread.
  • Adding cold unsalted butter gives the bread a scone-like texture.
  • Baking Powder: for extra lift to the texture, add equal parts baking powder and baking soda (ie 1 teaspoon baking powder) this will double the leavening agent and make the bread lighter and fluffier without changing the taste.
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Sweet Soda Bread:

When I make a sweet version, I like to sift in 2 tablespoons up to 1/4 cup sugar or brown sugar (depending on the preferred level of sweetness) with the flour or molasses mixed with the buttermilk to make the bread slightly sweeter. And then I add in the sweet mix-ins.

  • Raisins
  • Cinnamon chips: I like to chop these even smaller than standard chip sizes so it is more evenly spaced throughout the bread.
  • Chocolate chips: Just like the cinnamon version -chop your chocolate chips into tiny bits.
  • Apples diced into very small bits or chopped dehydrated apples. Want apple cinnamon – add both diced apples and cinnamon chips.
  • Freeze-dried Fruit like strawberries.
  • Cherries
  • Dried cranberries
  • Diced Rhubarb
  • Red currants

Savory Soda Bread:

  • Caraway Seeds: are a versatile mix in, because they can go into a sweet or savory bread. I usually add anywhere between 2 teaspoons up to 2 tablespoons depending on the preferred potency.
  • Cheese: add in a little shredded cheddar cheese and make a cheddar Irish soda bread.
  • Bacon: mix in bacon bits. Make it even better by doing both bacon and cheddar cheese!
  • Jalapenos: want a tex-mex version? Toss in diced jalapenos, bacon bits, and cheddar cheese!
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Walnuts – or any chopped nut of your preference.
  • Basil
  • Olives
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Caramelized onions.
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🍞 How to Make Moist Irish Soda Bread

Helpful Tools:

  • kitchen food scale. This allows you to get more accurate measurements of ingredients versus using the American standard of using cups. But I will include both measurements in the recipe card below for your convenience.
  • liquid measuring cups. Many show measurements in both cups, oz, and milliliters so you can get accurate measurements.
  • Dough Whisk: this makes a lot less mess when mixing up the dough and prevents over-kneading

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 C).

Prepare the baking sheet.

Traditionally Easy Irish Soda Bread was baked in a cast iron pan. But you can also use a basic cooking sheet with parchment paper. I prefer to use a cast iron skillet or my stoneware baking sheet. You can also use Polish Pottery Stoneware.

If you’re using a cast iron pan, give it a good greasing. But for stoneware, parchment paper is your friend – no greasing required!

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Measure The ingredients

Using a food scale, weigh out the flour. Then add the baking soda and salt. If you are going to include any add-ins like caraway seeds, this is the time to add them in.

Measure your buttermilk with a liquid measuring cup for accurate results. If you are adding any liquid mix-ins like molasses or an egg, you will want to add that to the buttermilk after it is premeasured.

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Making the Dough

In a large mixing bowl, Sift the dry ingredients together. Then make a well in the center.

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Slowly add half of the buttermilk to the dry mixture. With a spoon, spatula, dough whisk, or your hands, mix until the buttermilk is absorbed.

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Add the remaining buttermilk and continue mixing just until a sticky dough forms.

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Do not over-mix or knead the dough. This will make the texture of the bread tough, dense and dry if you mix too much. You want a sticky dough that is just barely mixed so there are no dry ingredient patches.

Dump the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. With your hands, shape the dough into a ball and slightly flatten it on top.

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Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour.

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Transfer the dough to a baking sheet or skillet.

With a sharp knife cut a cross deeply into the dough forming quarters but not cutting all the way to the base.

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Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the soda bread is cooked through. The bread should be a golden brown color and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

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Cool the Irish soda bread on a wire rack to prevent a soggy soft bottom.

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🍽️ Serving Tips

Irish soda bread is best served warm and is traditionally served with Irish butter. Obviously. But it is also popular to spread a slice with your favorite strawberry jam, peach preserves, or rhubarb jam.

It pairs perfectly with hearty old-fashioned goulash, creamy ham and potato soup, simple Italian Baked Chicken, or even use as the bread in a chicken salad sandwich.

Basically, it rounds out any hearty family dinner, or enjoy it as a snack with a cup of comforting apple wassail, refreshing lime twister, or decadent hot chocolate.

Enjoy!

💡 Tips for the Best Soda Bread

  • Do Not overmix the dough. The bread can easily become dry if overmixed
  • Score your dough a quick “X” with a sharp knife before baking. This will not only give it it’s authentic look, but it also lets steam escape and guarantees a perfectly baked center.
  • Cold Ingredients: just like when making a flaky pie crust, the colder the ingredients, the better the result.
  • Cool it on a cooling wrap. This will allow the steam to escape and not soften the bottom crust.

🧊 Storing and Freezing

Irish soda bread is like a party guest – it shines brightest when enjoyed fresh! However, leftovers can still be delicious.

This delicious bread can dry out a bit faster than others, so to keep it fresh, wrap it in plastic wrap and store it in an airtight container for 2-3 days.

Want to extend its life even further? Let your bread cool completely, then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil before placing it in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator, and you’ll be ready to enjoy it again!

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💭 FAQs

How do I tell if my soda bread is done?

The loaf should be golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the base. To be extra certain, you canuse a kitchen thermometer to check the internal temperature. It should read between 190 degrees Fahrenheit and 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Can I make soda bread without buttermilk?

Because of its acidity, buttermilk activates baking soda and helps the bread to rise, giving it a light, fluffy texture. Without it, the bread will not rise and will be flat and dense. If you are in a pinch you can “make” a buttermilk substitute or use a low fat plain Kefir.

How do I make a Buttermilk Substitute?


If you are in a pinch and don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can make a buttermilk substitute of mixing 1 tablespoon vinegar with regular milk. Stir and let sit for a few minutes until the mixture curdles.

Why is my soda bread tough?

Gentle treatment is key! Over-mixing or over-kneading will make the bread tough. Handle the dough as little as possible for a soft and fluffy result.

Why is my Soda bread dry?

Soda bread can become dry if you don’t have the proper ratio of baking soda, buttermilk, and flour. It also becomes dry if you over-mix the dough. Remember not to over-mix and follow the ratios of flour, buttermilk, and baking soda closely.

Why is my Irish bread gummy?

Oops, gummy bread? This might be a sign of over-kneading. Once the buttermilk hits the baking soda, the magic happens – tiny bubbles form, making your bread light and fluffy. But knead for too long, and these precious bubbles escape before they can do their job. Plus, over-kneading creates chewy gluten, which contributes to a gummy texture.

Why do you put a cross in Irish soda bread?

The cross or “x” in the bread helps steam escape as it bakes ensuring a perfectly cooked center.

Want to get into baking with more European Cookbooks? Some of my favorite ones include Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry cookbooks.

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Yield: 1 loaf

Traditional Easy Irish Soda Bread Recipe

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This no-yeast easy Irish soda bread will be your new favorite quick bread. No kneading, no yeast, and just 4 ingredients and 5 minutes of prep it's perfect for busy weeknights or impromptu gatherings.

Prep Time5 minutes

Cook Time40 minutes

Total Time45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 500 g (3 cups + 2 tbsp) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tspsea salt
  • 400 ml (1 2/3 cups) buttermilk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 C)
  2. Prepare a baking sheet or cast iron skillet with parchment paper on the bottom.
  3. Use a food scale and weigh out your flour.
  4. Add the baking soda and salt.
  5. Stir dry ingredients together and make a well in the center
  6. Slowly add 1/2 of the buttermilk into the well in the flour
  7. With a spoon, dough whisk, or your hands gently mix in the buttermilk with the flour
  8. Add the remaining buttermilk and stir until a sticky dough forms
  9. Don't overhandle the dough and don't knead. It just needs to be mixed until no longer dry ingredients remain.
  10. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface.
  11. With your hands, shape the dough into a ball and slightly flatten it on top.
  12. Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour
  13. Transfer to a baking tray or skillet.
  14. With a sharp knife cut a cross deeply making it appear divided into 4 quarters but not cutting all the way to the base.
  15. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the soda bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the base.
  16. Cool on a wire wrack.
  17. Serve warm with your favorite Irish butter or cheese.

Notes

To check for doneness - The loaf should be golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the base. Allow to cool slightly on a cooling rack. Serve warm.

Storing:

This Easy Irish Soda Bread is best to eat within a day of baking. After it has cooled, wrap tightly in plastic and store for 2-3 days. For freezing; allow to cool completely, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 2 months.

Change The Texture:

  • Add an Egg to the buttermilk before mixing with the flour will give a richer texture to the bread.
  • Adding cold unsalted butter gives the bread a scone-like texture.
  • Baking Powder: for extra lift to the texture, add equal parts baking powder and baking soda (ie 1 teaspoon baking powder) this will double the leavening agent and make the bread lighter and fluffier without changing the taste.

Mix-In Variations:

There are many mix-ins to change up the flavor. For the complete list, read the full recipe post above. Some common min-ins include:

  • Sugar
  • Raisins
  • Cinnamon chips
  • Chocolate chips
  • Caraway Seeds
  • Cheddar cheese
  • jalapenos
  • onions
  • sun-dried tomatoes

Kamut Flour substitute:

Kamut flour is a non-GMO natural wheat flour that is high in protein and easier on the stomach than regular gluten flour. It has a ratio of 3/4 cup kamut to 1 cup of regular flour. So for this recipe, you will use approximately 2 1/4 cups kamut flour.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

1

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving:Calories: 227500Total Fat: 613gSaturated Fat: 97gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 313gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 4834mgCarbohydrates: 47694gFiber: 1688gSugar: 169gProtein: 6456g

Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although Busy Creating Memories attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

The Best Easy Traditional Irish Soda Bread Recipe (2024)
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