Irish Soda Bread Recipe

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The secret to the best Irish Soda Bread Recipe lies in baking soda and buttermilk. When combined, they release carbon dioxide which makes the bread rise without yeast.

A loaf of Irish soda bread on a wire rack with some slices cut.


 

When baking soda arrived in Ireland towards the end of the 18th century, clever Irish bakers took note. Because baking soda can react with an acid to function as a leavening agent, they were able to get a crusty, delicious bread without using yeast.

Today, soda bread is still paramount in Ireland and an easy way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. This traditional version is on the sweeter side and uses currants and orange zest, but you can use any flavor combination you like. Try caraway seeds, rye seeds, raisins, lemon zest, fresh herbs, grated cheese, or even scallions. For the savory versions, reduce the sugar to 2 or 3 tablespoons.

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for Irish Soda Bread.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Sugar: For a less-sweet Irish soda bread, reduce sugar to 2 or 3 tablespoons.
  • Buttermilk: You can make your own buttermilk with regular or whole milk and lemon juice or white vinegar. Just whisk them together and let stand for 10 minutes.
  • Currants: Currants are traditional but hard to find, so I bought these currants on Amazon and they were great. 

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Combine the dry ingredients of flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add butter and mix on low speed until butter is mixed into the flour. With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. 
Someone pouring liquid into dry ingredients for Irish Soda Bread.
  1. In a small bowl, stir currants with 1 tablespoon of flour, then mix into the dough with a wooden spoon. Dough will be very wet. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on prepared baking sheet and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated sharp knife. 
A loaf of Irish soda bread before being baked.
  1. Bake for 45- 55 minutes, or until a toothpick or wooden skewer comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow “thump” sound. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Slices of Irish soda bread on a cooling rack.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes one loaf of bread, enough for 12 slices (more or less depending on how you cut them).
  • Storage: Wrap leftover Irish Soda Bread in an airtight container or plastic bag and eat within 3 to 4 days. Keep it out of the refrigerator, though, or it will dry out quickly.
  • Freezer: Wrap Irish Soda Bread in a double layer of plastic wrap or aluminum foil and pack in a freezer-safe bag. Label, date, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature.
  • Soda bread: It’s called “soda bread” because the recipe uses baking soda instead of yeast for leavening.
  • Brown bread: Substitute whole-wheat flour for part or all of the all-purpose flour.
  • Savory bread: Omit the sugar and add 1 teaspoon of caraway seeds.
  • Beer Bread: This Beer Bread Recipe is a yeast-free quick bread leavened with baking powder and beer or any other carbonated beverage like clear soda, ginger ale, or sparkling water. It’s soft and delicious, perfect with butter or creamy dips and spreads.
  • More quick breads: Love baking without the yeast? Try Banana Bread, Lemon Olive Oil Cake, Pound Cake, or yogurt-infused Orange Cake.
  • Round out your ultimate St. Patrick’s Day menu: start your feast off with Irish Nachos or Hot Rueben Dip. Serve Corned Beef and Cabbage and homemade Sauerkraut along with a basket of Marble Rye bread. Leftovers can be put to use for breakfast with Corned Beef Hash, or lunch with a hot Rueben sandwich or Rachel Sandwich.
Sliced no knead bread on a cooling rack with a bread knife.
If you loved Irish Soda Bread, a yeast bread might be fun to try next. Mastering homemade yeast bread is easy with this foolproof No-Knead Bread recipe in your repertoire. You’ll never want to buy bread again after tasting a slice from this chewy, delicious No-Knead Bread recipe (that bakes in a Dutch oven in just 30 minutes!).

Frequently Asked Questions

What do you serve Irish Soda Bread with?

Irish Soda Bread is best served with butter and some orange marmalade. It also goes great as a side alongside a bowl of Guinness Stew and Colcannon, for a hearty dinner meal.

More Irish recipes

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Irish soda bread sliced on a baking rack.

Irish Soda Bread Recipe

The secret to Irish Soda Bread lies in baking soda and buttermilk. When combined, they release carbon dioxide which makes the bread rise without yeast.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 12 slices
Course Bread
Cuisine Irish
Calories 263
5 from 8 votes

Ingredients 

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add butter and mix on low speed until butter is mixed into the flour.
  • With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With mixer on low speed, slowly add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture. 
  • In a small bowl, mix currants with 1 tablespoon of flour, then mix into the dough. Dough will be very wet.
  • Turn the dough out onto a well-floured board and knead a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with serrated knife. 
  • Bake for 45- 55 minutes, or until a toothpick or wooden skewer comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow “thump” sound. Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes

  1. Sugar: For a less-sweet Irish soda bread, reduce sugar to 2 or 3 tablespoons.
  2. Buttermilk: You can make your own buttermilk with milk and lemon juice or vinegar.
  3. Currants: Currants are traditional but hard to find, so I bought these currants on Amazon and they were great. 
  4. Yield: This recipe makes one loaf of bread, enough for 12 slices (more or less depending on how you cut them).
  5. Storage: Wrap leftover Irish Soda Bread in an airtight container or plastic bag and eat within 3 to 4 days. Keep it out of the refrigerator, though, or it will dry out quickly.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 sliceCalories: 263kcalCarbohydrates: 47gProtein: 6gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.5gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 29mgSodium: 461mgPotassium: 192mgFiber: 2gSugar: 13gVitamin A: 206IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 61mgIron: 2mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag @culinaryhill on Instagram so we can admire your masterpiece! #culinaryhill
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Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.

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Comments

  1. Dying to .make those biscuits and irish soda bread hope i can make it with no problem let you know thank you be safe

    1. Hi Allison, in this case it doesn’t matter which one! I tend to keep unbleached flour on hand, but it won’t make a difference here. It’s just a personal preference. Thanks for the question! -Meggan