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.

A thick slice of Traditional Irish Soda Bread, a generous smear of butter, and a cup of strong tea makes almost everything better. Buttermilk and baking soda are the magic ingredients in this fabulous yeast-free bread that needs no time to rise, and gets gobbled up fast.

So when baking soda arrived in Ireland towards the end of the 18th century, clever Irish bakers took note. And today, soda bread is still paramount in Ireland and an easy way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

Table of Contents
  1. Ingredient notes
  2. Step-by-step instructions
  3. Recipe tips and variations
  4. Irish Soda Bread Recipe

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 milk and lemon juice or vinegar.
  • Currants and orange zest: Or try caraway seeds, rye seeds, raisins, lemon zest, fresh herbs, grated cheese, or even scallions.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. 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. 
Making the dough for Irish soda bread.
  1. 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. 
Making the dough for Irish soda bread.
  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 baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Irish soda bread sliced on a baking rack.

Recipe tips and variations

  • 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 caraway seeds.

More Irish recipes

Irish soda bread sliced on a baking rack.

Irish Soda Bread

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.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Servings 20 slices
Course Bread
Cuisine Irish
Calories 157

Ingredients 

  • 4 cup all-purpose flour plus extra as needed
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar (see note 1)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter cold and cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 1 3/4 cups buttermilk cold (see note 2)
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten
  • 1 cup dried currants (see note 3)
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest

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 and orange zest: Or try caraway seeds, rye seeds, raisins, lemon zest, fresh herbs, grated cheese, or even scallions.
  4. Soda bread: It’s called “soda bread” because the recipe uses baking soda instead of yeast for leavening.
  5. Brown bread: Substitute whole-wheat flour for part or all of the all-purpose flour.
  6. Savory bread: Omit the sugar and add 1 teaspoon caraway seeds.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 157kcalCarbohydrates: 28gProtein: 4gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 256mgPotassium: 123mgFiber: 1gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 122IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 36mgIron: 1mg
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Comments

    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