Addictive Recipes from a Self-Taught Baker

Grandma’s Irish Soda Bread.

Crusty and classic, this easy Irish soda bread recipe comes straight from my grandma’s kitchen.

Classic Irish soda bread-- quick, easy, and mega crusty bread! Grandma's recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Tomorrow, St. Patrick’s Day, would be my grandmother’s 89th birthday. I’m often asked from where I gather my inspiration in the kitchen. It’s all her. She passed in 2011. I started my blog two weeks later.

Grandma Harlett

I dedicated my first cookbook to grandma where I published a couple of her famous recipes. And by “famous” I mean loved by our sweets-loving-family. And hopefully famous in your family now too? Who’s tried her sticky sweet pecan rolls?

Today I’m sharing another one of grandma’s classics. It wasn’t St. Patrick’s Day nor her birthday without crusty Irish soda bread filled with plump raisins.

Sally's Baking Addiction | Grandma's Irish Soda Bread Recipe with step-by-step photos

The thought of homemade bread may send you running for the hills, but baking Irish soda bread is anything but scary. In fact, it’s the quickest, easiest bread recipe you’ll find on my blog at this point.

Irish soda bread is a quickbread whose rise comes from baking soda (hence, soda!) instead of bread recipes using yeast. My ideal Irish soda bread, like this one, has a beautiful golden brown crust with a dense yet slightly tender interior. The crust is my favorite part. This is coming from the same girl who LOVES the corners of brownies. Are you like that too? Probably not. The cheese stands alone.

It’s not overly sweet at all. (Sugar break.) For flavor, I always add raisins to the bread. Certainly this doesn’t surprise you. Irish soda bread is damn tasty served with a hot bowl of soup. I like mine in the morning with butter and jam. I feel like this paragraph just got really boring.

To make it:

Sally's Baking Addiction | Grandma's Irish Soda Bread Recipe with step-by-step photos

Notice how I score the top of the bread with a cross or “X” before going in the oven? This helps the center bake through.

Buttermilk is key. With its thick and creamy texture, smooth tangy buttery taste, produces tender soda bread. Something else to note:  never overwork Irish soda bread dough. Though a dense bread, the dough is fragile. Overkneading the dough will lend a tough texture.

What this bread lacks in chocolate / caramel / peanut butter / cookie dough / sprinkles, it makes up for in crispy crust, tender center, and remarkable taste.

Sally's Baking Addiction | Grandma's Irish Soda Bread Recipe with step-by-step photos

Sally's Baking Addiction | Grandma's Irish Soda Bread Recipe with step-by-step photos

Favorite.

Follow me on Instagram and tag #sallysbakingaddiction so I can see all the SBA recipes you make. 

 

Grandma's Irish Soda Bread

It's classic. It's crusty. This easy Irish soda bread recipe comes straight from my grandma's kitchen!

Ingredients:

  •  1 and 3/4 cups (420ml) buttermilk1
  • 1 large Eggland's Best egg
  • 4 and 1/4 cups (515g) all-purpose flour (plus more for your hands and work surface) (measured correctly)
  • 3 Tablespoons (38g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 and 1/2 Tablespoons (65g) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 cup (150g) raisins (I use half golden, half regular)2

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F (218°C). Lightly grease a 8-10 inch oven safe skillet or cake pan with butter or nonstick spray. A baking sheet will also do, though the bread may spread out a bit more.
  2. Whisk the buttermilk and egg together in a small bowl. Set aside. Whisk the flour, granulated sugar, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Cut in the butter using a pastry blender, two forks/knives, or your fingers. Work the dough until into coarse crumbs, then fold in the raisins with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the buttermilk mixture. Gently fold the dough together until dough is too stiff to stir. With floured hands, work the dough into a ball as best you can. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface and knead the dough for about 30 seconds or until all the flour is moistened. Dough will be sticky, but if it is absolutely too sticky add a little more flour as needed. Do not overknead.
  3. Transfer the dough to the prepared skillet/pan. Using a lightly buttered serrated knife, score an X on the top. Bake until the bread is golden brown and center appears cooked through, about 45 minutes. Loosely cover the bread with aluminum foil if you notice heavy browning on top about halfway through bake time.
  4. Remove skillet/pan from the oven and allow bread to cool for 10 minutes before transferring it to a wire rack. Serve warm, at room temperature, or toasted with desired toppings/spreads.
  5. Make ahead tip: Irish soda bread can dry out quickly, so keep it wrapped up tight with aluminum foil or plastic wrap for around 3-4 days. Freezes well, up to 2-3 months. Thaw and reheat as desired.

Recipe Notes:

  1. Buttermilk is key to this bread's texture. If you don't have any on hand, you can make a homemade "DIY" version. Whole milk or 2% milk is best for this DIY version. Whisk 1 and 3/4 cups milk with 5 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice or distilled white vinegar. Let sit for 5 minutes. The soured milk can now be used in the recipe.
  2. Instead of raisins, try 1 cup of nuts or dried cranberries/dried blueberries/currants. Or leave the bread plain.

Did you make a recipe?

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© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Eggland’s Best provided me with eggs to bring you this recipe.

127 comments

  1. Hey Sally! I made this tonight and used DIY buttermilk. When you made this recipe did you use store bought buttermilk or did you make your own? I found my dough was extremely sticky to the point where I was adding waaay too much flour. I followed your recipe word for word with the buttermilk substitution. Thanks!

    • I typically use real buttermilk when I make this bread. Adding more flour as necessary is OK, but the bread can still be somewhat sticky going into the oven. How does it taste?

  2. We are vacationing in Italy right now and the other day we were in San Gmignano on market day. In one of the many stalls there was one with bread and cheese. We chose a crispy large roll filled with raisins, white raisins and nuts. It was crispy on the outside, and soft, but chewy on the inside. It reminded me of the Irish soda bread I have made several times. When I return home I plan to try your recipe but shape it into smaller loaves and see what result I get. We have also had the most delicious multigrain croissants. I call bread my “addiction!”

  3. I make a soda bread similar to this recipe. However, I soak my raisins in Irish Whiskey before I put them in the bread,,,,yum!!!

  4. I never understood the closeness of grandparents. I was raised far away from mine. Then we moved up here and I grew very close to my grandma. So I can honestly say I’m sorry yours isn’t around anymore and I can understand the heartbreak. I’m glad you have cooking to remember her by. I’m going learn to sew in honor of my grandma. 

    Decided to make this soda bread tomorrow. Hehe

  5. This is a great recipe! Thanks for sharing. I used salted butter because that is all I had and used raisins & cranberries. I also made the buttermilk using 2% and lemon juice. It came out perfect and tastes great! Just wondering if you can make it with whole wheat flour? 

  6. Hi Sally!  Your recipe is perfection except for a fun fact I thought you might enjoy! You make a cross, not an x on the loaf. Legend has it that the cross keeps the leprechauns away!

    I would love more Irish recipes!! 

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day!! 
    Anne

  7. This is in my oven right now! Looks great! I know it’s not St Patrick’s Day yet, but I have two favorite St. Patty’s day meals that I like to make every year, so I have to start early to get them both in this week! One is Split Pea Soup with a side of Irish Soda Bread; the other is a traditional Corned Beef and Cabbage dinner. Looking forward to enjoying this yummy bread with my soup in a hour!

  8. Amazing recipe Sally! but I have to ask if I did something wrong as mine came out a lot wetter than it should seem. I used correct portions of everything but maybe it seems a little bit less buttermilk would have lended a more workable dough instead of the sticky substance I got after working it all in. Im a novice, perhaps I should have mixed the milk in slowly but no one’s got time for that!

  9. Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I made your Grandmother’s recipe for Irish Soda Bread last night and was so pleased with it; absolutely delicious!  I just had a piece toasted with my morning coffee.
    “Top of the morning to you!”

  10. Made this the other day as part of our St. Patrick’s Day dinner, and it was absolutely scrumptious! My dad had no idea it was homemade until I asked him if he liked the bread I made, he thought we got it from Great Harvest Bread Co.! Thanks for the keeper recipe! 

  11. Just made your Irish soda bread and it was delicious except burned on the bottom.  Cooking time was right, used a dark non-stick pan.  Any suggestions?

  12. love your recipe. Red Hill makes a good premix. I will add blue berries for a variety instead of raisins. and now, I can use Kerry Gold Butter from Ireland with it!!!!!! Wit good coffee, it is often our breakfast with bacon.

  13. Hello, Sally. I was just wondering if I can make this receive through step 2 then refrigerate the dough overnight and bake it the next day? Thank you!!!!!

  14. I’m thinking I want to bake a few of these for the holidays to gift with some apple butter! If I were to split the dough into four rolls, how long would you recommend baking for?

  15. Great recipe Sally! I made these into individual irish soda breads using a muffin tin- they came out great! Thanks again for sharing 🙂 

  16. Absolutely LOVE this bread. I stored mine in a ziplock bag after cooling to trap in all the moisture. This will allow the bread to stay intact and not crumble. Thanks for the recipe, Sally!

  17. This bread is just amazing. I swear its easier than making cookies even! Each year its a success. Thanks Sally!

  18. Thanks Sally! Made this bread this morning and it turned out great! I’ve made a few other Irish Soda Breads this week and my family wanted something more like what we got in the store. I read your recipe and thought it would fit the request. I didn’t believe it when you wrote that the bread would spread on the baking sheet…mine almost filled the whole sheet, but it raised well and looked beautiful – slightly larger than the traditional circle. 🙂 Absolutely tasty and easy! I didn’t kneed it though as I didn’t want to get my hands sticky and was short on time. I just plopped it on the baking sheet, smoothed out the top with a spoon, made the cuts and baked it. I only baked mine for about 30 minutes and it was done. My husband, who has been critical of the other recipes I’ve tried, ate his piece with satisfaction and rave reviews. I will be making this again. It was so easy that I’ll probably make it at least once a month. Thank you so much!!

  19. Love me some soda bread so I do!! I’m Irish – so it’s in my blood haha!!

    Rebecca
    xx
    http://www.peppermintdolly.com

  20. Hi Sally! Others have had my comment as well. But, I thought I’d check again. My soda bread is in the oven now. I have no doubt it will be delicious. However, as some have noted, my dough came out SO stick I had to add WAY more flour. I just kept adding, adding, and adding until I could somewhat get my dough into a ball. Is this OK? I did use gluten free flour. But, I have had this problem before with other recipes I have tried. Also, I did bake in a greased cake pan. I have a cast iron skillet. But, we always cook fish in it. I was worried the cast iron might give my bread a bit of a fishy taste! Should I not worry about it next time? What about baking the bread in a Le Creuset Dutch Oven? Could that work?

    • And Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

    • A dutch oven absolutely works. I’ve never worked with gluten free flour before so I’m not really sure if that is the issue. I usually keep adding flour until I can form into a ball. It will still be sticky though.

  21. Hello! First I wanted to say I LOVE your recipes! You truly bake with your heart and I like to think I do the same – hence the reason you are my go-to for new recipes. 

    I had a question regarding this recipe though. My bread turned out a tad under-done after just over 50 minutes of baking. The outside browned very quickly so I loosely covered it with foil per your instructions. It looks perfect, but the inside is still sticky. Im afraid had I left it in much longer the bottom would have been burnt. The ‘done’ sections are fantastic (taste wise). Do you have any suggestions you could send my way? 

    Im not at all a beginner in the kitchen, Ive been baking for about 15 years but this is the first attempt I have made at Irish Soda Bread. Any suggestions are appreciated, thank you and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!!

    • Hi Jen! If you decide to try this Irish soda bread recipe again, feel free to reduce the oven temperature and bake for longer. This should prevent the bottom from burning and slowly cook the center too. And cover with foil too.

      • Oh I will absolutely make it again. Turns out it was only one small section that wasn’t completely done. Odd. But it is so tasty and even my husband (picky eater) loves it! Thank you for the quick reply! 

  22. Made this on the day before St. Patrick’s day and it turned out great. Very tasty with raisins and a few dried cranberries. I will definitely be making it again. Thanks,

  23. Made this for St. Patrick’s day.  Such an easy and good recipe.  Love the texture very similar to a scone inside but nice and crusty on the outside.  10/10, will make gain and maybe try a savoury variety with cheese and herbs, my kids aren’t too keen on raisins and I honk a cheese and herb version would be great with soup or stew

    • Thanks for reporting back about the Irish soda bread recipe, Tracie! I’m so glad you enjoyed the texture. A savory version would be so, so tasty!

  24. Hi,
    I’m sure this tastes delicious, but it is actually a scone recipe.
    Soda bread is much simpler and is only flour, baking soda, salt, buttermilk and a small quantity of water, and is, de facto, savory.
    Try eating yours with jam and clotted cream – cream first! ;o)

  25. Made this tonight for my husband and it was the best I have ever made. I used whole milk with lemon but also added the zest of the fruit, baking raisin’s, substituted 1 and 1/4 of the flour for wheat flour, and used brown sugar. Snuck some cinnamon/nutmeg in too because he wanted it as a dessert. I didn’t kneed at all just put the semi sticky dough in the pan, floured my hands, and shaped the mound. Came out perfectly and he told me to start using your recipes more often! Thank you for a wonderful bread!

  26. Made this with walnuts and cheddar cheese to go with soup….very tasty!

  27. Have just made this using Gluten-Free self raising flour, it’s turned out beautifully exactly like photo, it’s the first gf soda bread that’s come out edible, there is already two in the bin this week, can’t recommend this highly enough, all you coeliacs out there give it a go , it’s a real winner. 

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