Grandma’s Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread is a quick bread that does not require any yeast. Instead, all of its leavening comes from baking soda and buttermilk. This Irish soda bread recipe is my grandmother’s and has been cherished in my family for years. It’s dense, yet soft and has the most incredible crusty exterior. Buttermilk and cold butter are the secret to its delicious success!

Irish soda bread loaf

Welcome to my favorite Irish Soda Bread recipe. I shared this no yeast bread recipe on my blog a few years ago and decided to revisit with fresh new pictures and a video tutorial.

I’m often asked where I gather inspiration in the kitchen. The answer is simple: my grandmother. She passed away in 2011, 2 weeks before I started this food blog. I dedicated my 1st cookbook to her. Full of energy and the creator of the best homemade pie crust on earth, she would be in her 90s today. St. Patrick’s Day is her birthday.

Grandma Harlett

Irish soda bread cut into slices

Irish Soda Bread is a Quick Bread

Does the thought of homemade bread send you running for the hills? Sometimes homemade bread feels daunting, but you’re in luck today. Irish soda bread is a quick bread made with baking soda, not yeast. Like my easy no yeast bread, this is a shortcut bread that doesn’t skimp on flavor. (If you want a yeast bread, I recommend my sandwich bread recipe!)

What’s the texture like? The best Irish soda bread, like this recipe, has a golden brown crust with a dense, tight crumb. The bread isn’t heavy, it’s actually quite tender and soft inside. The crust is nice and crisp when it comes out of the oven and becomes a little chewy on day 2 and 3. It’s so good.

The raisins are optional, but Grandma would never let you skip them!

Video: Homemade Irish Soda Bread

My grandmother’s Irish soda bread contains some sugar, but it’s not overly sweet. It’s a wonderful companion for savory dinners like hearty stew or you can serve it with butter, jam, and/or cheese.

Irish soda bread dough in cast iron skillet

How to Make Irish Soda Bread in 6 Steps

Irish soda bread dough comes together in about 10 minutes. You need buttermilk, egg, flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and butter.

  1. Whisk the wet ingredients together.
  2. Whisk the dry ingredients together.
  3. Cut cold butter into the dry ingredients. Like scones and pie crust, cutting cold butter into the flour is a key step. Coating the flour in cold butter guarantees a lovely flaky texture. You can use a fork, your hands, or a pastry cutter.
  4. Add the wet ingredients.
  5. Bring the dough together with your hands. You can watch me do this in the video tutorial above. Don’t stress, it’s really easy! Using a very sharp knife, score the dough. This allows the center to bake.
  6. Bake until golden brown.

Buttermilk is the Secret

Irish soda bread only requires a few ingredients, including buttermilk. Buttermilk reacts with the baking soda to provide the bread’s leavening. It also adds wonderful flavor! We use buttermilk for the same reasons in my regular no yeast bread, too.

Irish soda bread in a cast iron skillet

Irish soda bread cut into slices

3 Success Tips

  1. Don’t over-work the dough. It’s supposed to look a little shaggy.
  2. Score the top of the dough with an “X” before baking. This helps the center bake through.
  3. You can bake Irish soda bread on a baking sheet, in a baking pan, or in a cast iron skillet. I recommend a cast iron skillet because it helps guarantee a super crispy crust. Here’s how to keep your cast iron cookware seasoned.

If you’re baking for St. Patrick’s Day, you’ll love my Guinness Brownies and Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes!

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Irish soda bread cut into slices

Grandma’s Irish Soda Bread

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 1 loaf
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Irish

Description

Irish Soda Bread is a quick bread that does not require any yeast. Instead, all of its leavening comes from baking soda and buttermilk. This Irish Soda Bread recipe is my grandmother’s and has been cherished in my family for years. It’s dense, yet soft and has the most incredible crusty exterior.


Ingredients

  •  1 and 3/4 cups (420ml) buttermilk*
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 and 1/4 cups (515g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled), plus more for your hands and counter
  • 3 Tablespoons (38g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5 Tablespoons (70g) unsalted butter, cold and cubed*
  • optional: 1 cup (150g) raisins

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). There are options for the baking pan. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, use a seasoned 10-12 inch cast iron skillet, or grease a 9-10 inch cake pan or pie dish. Set aside.
  2. Whisk the buttermilk and egg together. Set aside. Whisk the flour, granulated sugar, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter, a fork, or your fingers. Work the dough until into coarse crumbs, then stir in the raisins. Pour in the buttermilk/egg mixture. Gently fold the dough together until dough it is too stiff to stir. With floured hands on a lightly floured surface, work the dough into an (approximately) 8 or 9 inch round loaf as best you can. Knead the dough for about 30 seconds or until all the flour is moistened. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour.
  3. Transfer the dough to the prepared skillet/pan. Using a very sharp knife, score an X into 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. I usually place foil on top halfway through bake time.
  4. Remove from the oven and allow bread to cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm, at room temperature, or toasted with desired toppings/spreads.
  5. Cover and store leftover bread at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. Freezing Instructions: Baked and cooled bread freezes well up to 3 months. Freeze the whole loaf or individual slices. Thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature, then reheat as desired.
  2. Baking Pan: There are options for the baking pan. You can use a lined large baking sheet (with or without a rim), a seasoned 10-12 inch cast iron skillet, or a greased or lined 9-10 inch cake pan or pie dish. I don’t recommend a loaf pan because the loaf may not bake evenly inside. This dough is best as a flatter loaf.
  3. Buttermilk: Using cold buttermilk is best. Buttermilk is key to the bread’s flavor, texture, and rise. The bread will not rise without it. If you don’t have any buttermilk on hand, you can make a homemade “DIY” version. Whole milk or 2% milk is best, though lower fat or nondairy milks work in a pinch. Add 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to a liquid measuring cup. Add enough cold milk to make 1 and 3/4 cups. Whisk together, then let sit for 5 minutes before using in the recipe.
  4. Cold Butter: The colder the butter, the less sticky the dough will be. Make sure it’s very cold, even frozen cubed butter is great.
  5. I have most success when I bake this bread at 400°F (204°C). I used to bake it in a hotter oven, but found that the bottom would easily burn if you don’t watch it carefully. 400°F is perfect.
  6. Recipe originally posted on Sally’s Baking Addiction in 2015.

Keywords: Irish soda bread

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

452 Comments

  1. Never had a bad experience with your recipes. Nice to see so many Q20 people joining the fan club. Made this with cup4cup for our little celiac sufferer. Dried cherries because I had them. It was perfect.

  2. Marguerite Perrotto Deboyace says:

    Great,and so easy to make . I didn’t have butter milk only skim milk so I attempted to make my own buttermilk using lemon juice from a fresh lemon .The bread turned out so much better than I could of ever hoped for.
    Thank You

  3. Tastes great, but definitely NOT Irish Soda Bread! The whole point of IRISH soda bread is that it requires very few ingredients. Sugar, butter and eggs are complete no nos! Having been brought up in an Irish household we and the extended family made this daily and.still do. No need to complicate, keep it simple! Love your website and love the recipes!

    1. Hi Paul, thanks! This is how my Irish grandmother made it and in keeping her tradition alive, I published it how she passed me the recipe. There can be many variations. Thank you for sharing your feedback!

  4. Followed the recipe exactly as written. I used my hands to blend in the butter and it worked amazingly well. I can’t believe how easy this was to make. Baked it in my cast iron pan and it browned perfectly in my oven. I didn’t need to cover it with foil. So delicious!!!! Thank you for this wonderfully easy and delicious recipe!

  5. Does it matter if i use baking powder or soda?

    1. Bethell, yes! These do not do the same thing and the baking soda reacting with the acidic buttermilk is what will give the rise to your loaf.

  6. Delicious! Mine needed a bit more time in the oven, about 50-55 mins, tented at 40. Flavour and texture were great, I used a tbsp of caraway seeds instead of raisins because I was pairing with corned beef and cabbage and it turned out great.

  7. Thank you for posting your Irish Soda Bread receipt. It was fun to make and turned out looking like the loaf I bought at the store. I can’t wait until tomorrow when I have a slice for breakfast. I wanted to add a picture cause it looks so good. Yum

  8. I have a flour mill and wheat I want to use up. Any idea how much of this whole wheat flour I should use, maybe in combination with white flour?

    Thanks
    Vivian

    1. Hi Vivian, I don’t recommend whole wheat flour. The bread will be extremely heavy. Feel free to use half whole wheat and half all-purpose, but the bread will still be quite dense.

  9. How do you season a cast iron pan?

  10. Omigosh! I decided to try this tonight. Seemed like great comfort food during “stay-at-home” coronavirus times. It is delicious … and just what the doctor ordered. Seriously, I’m not the best baker ever and expected to royally mess this up. It turned out perfect. (It must be foolproof.) Give it a try!

  11. George Remsberg says:

    Absolutely Love the bread! Is it possible to prepare everything up to putting the loaf in the oven, but freezing it instead, then thawing and baking later?

    1. Hi George, so glad you enjoy this recipe! I can’t see why not. Thaw in the refrigerator then bake as directed (cold). The bread will take a little longer to bake since it’s cold and may taste even denser since it wasn’t baked right away.

  12. Nancy Bixler says:

    Have you tried this with gluten free flour? I’d love to make it for my Mother who has celiac disease. She hates most gf breads as they are so dry. I made this with regular all purpose flour and it is delicious!

  13. Trying this recipe tomorrow how do you store it?

  14. Steven Ketola says:

    I’m a neophyte with bread, so I thought that I’d try soda bread first. It took about 5-10 minutes longer than your recipe, and I did not have to tent the loaf. I think that I have a gas oven, so it produces a more humid atmosphere than an electric oven. So, making these small allowances for my oven, it has turned out perfectly a number of times.

    Usually a make it plain, but I’ve experimented. The best, especially with tea, is with raisins (I’ve tried resuscitating in different alcohols as well as water, but my best results have been with dry white wine), with freshly crushed fennel seed (about 1Tbsp+) and zest of a largish orange – flavourful without being too sweet.

    Thank you so much!

    1. Steven Ketola says:

      Should have read “that *because* I have a gas oven, it produces”

  15. Steven Ketola says:

    Jeez, where is my mind today?

    In addition to wine-soaked raisins, fennel seed, orange zest, I also add add a Tsp of saffron soaked in Tbsp hot water.

  16. Hi!! Where is the video tutorial for this recipe? Can’t find it on this page:)

    1. Hi Julia, The video is displayed under the words “Video: Homemade Irish Soda Bread” Give the video right below a few seconds to load. It’s a faded horizontal image. Click on the play button in the center to play it. Make sure any ad blockers are temporarily paused on your browser. The video is also on my YouTube!

  17. Johanne Dion says:

    Very very good. I was a little afraid of missing the recipe but it was a success. thank you for sharing with us this beautiful bread recipe.

    1. I loved your recipe! Thank you so much for sharing it! Warm regards!

  18. Ann garrow says:

    My thanks to your Granny for her recipe. Make the bread regularly, and just love it,especially in these difficult times, and can’t shop.

  19. I found the taste of this to be delightful, but personally think the egg made it too heavy. I used exact measurements, making sure to level off my measuring cups, and it came out doughy. Maybe I misinterpreted the recipe, but I think cutting all the way through made a huge difference rather than just making slits in the top. Might try again.

  20. Is it possible to use kefir in this recipe instead of buttermilk please? Thanks

  21. Great recipe. Added Walnuts and used mashed banana as I did not have sour cream, and reduced the sugar to under 100g in total. Perfectly moist and wonderful at teatime.

  22. Mike Albers says:

    Our first attempt at soda bread and it came out wonderfully.

    We baked it on a pizza stone, which gave a nice even brown to the bottom.

  23. I make this recipe all the time! I always add a little brown sugar and do an egg wash over it, and it comes out perfect!

  24. I love the flavor of this bread. I’ve made the no yeast bread successfully a couple of times, so I figured I would give this one a go. I had some dried fruits that I added, and I loved the taste! I’ll definitely include this in my bread making rotation!

  25. I love this recipe..its much more moist and heartier than the normal soda bread recipe..the egg gives it more fullness or body..thankyou ..your gramma sure did know how to cook great!I like to add dried sweetened cranberries..yum!,so many variations so little time lol!

  26. This recipe is a keeper. I made it today while I was cooking a big lunch of octopodi stifado, pourgouri, and a salad. I had a lot to do and thought I might have bitten off more than I could chew by adding homemade bread when I had never made bread before. But no, it turned out amazing. I tented about 25 minutes into the baking and it was crisp and brown and perfect after 45 minutes just as you said. I did do the super easy DIY buttermilk and I forgot the egg altogether. Still awesome bread. Thank you so much for your wonderful blog. I have made a few things from your blog and they always turn out great.

  27. Hi Sally, thanks for your recipe. I am horrible baker, and this came out super tasty! However, I have made it twice once using measuring cups and once by weighing the ingredients, and both times the dough was super super wet to the point where I had to add almost another cup of flour. What am I doing wrong? Thank you!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Aila, The dough is supposed to be pretty sticky, but if it seems stickier than what you see in the photos and video tutorial, feel free to add a bit more flour as you have been doing. Flouring your hands helps also. If it’s turning out well then you aren’t doing anything wrong 🙂

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