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. It’s a shortcut bread that doesn’t skimp on flavor.

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 and knead a few times. You can watch me knead the dough in the video tutorial above. Don’t stress, it’s really easy!
  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!

Irish soda bread in a cast iron skillet

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.

Irish soda bread cut into slices

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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 (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 bread at room temperature for 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. Buttermilk: Buttermilk is key to the bread’s flavor, texture, and rise. If you don’t have any buttermilk on hand, you can make a homemade “DIY” version. Whole milk or 2% milk is best. Add 1 Tablespoon of fresh lemon juice or white vinegar to a liquid measuring cup. Add enough milk to make 1 and 3/4 cup. Whisk together, then let sit for 5 minutes before using in the recipe.
  3. The colder the butter, the less sticky the dough will be. Make sure it’s very cold, even frozen cubed butter is great!
  4. 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.
  5. 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

220 Comments

  1. This looks like a St. Patrick’s Day dish I would enjoy! Corned beef….blech! I love the corners and edges of brownies too!

  2. I’ve never had soda bread but yours has my mouth watering! Happy St. Patrick’s day – hope you can enjoy it now that you aren’t writing THE COOKBOOK. 🙂

  3. I’ve never had soda bread either… all the more reason to try this perfect recipe! I bet you are drop dead tired from your book writing. If you haven’t decided to already, I would take the day off, plop on my favorite spot on the couch and eat this soda bread while catching up on Netflix :). Congratulations on your cookbook! I can’t wait to grab one this fall!

  4. What a lovely tribute to your grandmother!
    I do love the traditional soda bread, but that didn’t stop me from posting a chocolate chip version today. I guess less sugar in the bread has to be compensated for somehow, either with raisins or chocolate!

  5. Congrats on the new book! I’m sure that having the final deadline pass and having the finished manuscript was a huge weight off your shoulders.
    Nobody does it quite like Grandma, do they? My mother does a more savory Irish soda bread, so although I’ve had soda bread numerous times, I don’t think I’ve ever had it with raisins. It’s funny that you mention corners of brownies because those are my mom’s favorites too. I wonder if that’s a universal trait of Irish soda bread lovers? Must love brownie corners. Lol.

  6. Sally, what a wonderful story to share about your grandmother! It sounds like she was an amazing person, and I’m so glad that she inspired you to start this blog 🙂 This recipe of hers looks incredible, and I can’t wait to make it tonight to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! (Plus, I already have the buttermilk on hand since I made your Triple Layer Chocolate Cake for my mother’s birthday this weekend!) As always, thanks for sharing an awesome recipe!

      1. Sally–we LOVED it! It was so easy to make and absolutely delicious. My boyfriend and I are so pleased to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a proper Irish soda bread. Thank you again!!

  7. HI,I make soda bread every day but I am definitely going to make yours tomorrow. It looks great.will have it for breakfast!thanks for the inspiration. Happy St.Patrick’s day from all in Ireland.

  8. I posted an Irish Soda Bread today with eerily similar pictures and recipe. Apparently I was channeling Grandma too! My family’s traditional Easter bread is posted on my blog as a tribute to my grandmother. They really did just know best. Here’s to Grandmas!

  9. Sorry for asking too many ?’s but are your family stemming from Irish heritage?

    I have never tried this bread before buy once again your gorgeous pics have me tempted to try it.

    Relax this week…you deserve it!

  10. Heigh-ho the derry-o, the cheese stands alone… Only in this case it doesn’t because I love brownie edges, crusty bread and pizza crust. My friends think I’m weird…and they would be right, but apparently not due to my love of “crusty” baked goods. Unless we’re both weird? But I digress..
    What a wonderful tribute to your grandmother’s memory. I’ve only recently discovered Irish Soda Bread; a vendor at a local farmers market/street fair was featuring it (with samples!). I ended up bringing a loaf home. Once again, you’ve made a recipe less intimidating. As soon as I get some buttermilk, I’ll be attempting to do your grandmother’s recipe justice.
    Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!
    Congratulations on meeting your deadline for BOOK#2!
    Here’s to your grandmother and all the wonderful memories; love & inspiration.

  11. I’m sure you are happy to have an easy recipe to share after all your cooking for your cookbook! Give yourself a break after all your work 🙂 This bread looks amazing, I love easy bread recipes!

  12. This bread looks sublime. My family is Irish so when I go back to Ireland, I always make sure to have some hearty brown soda bread. In fact, I made some a couple of weeks ago. I love the addition of the raisins, I am recently loving raisins in breads, even though I normally can’t stand them! Pinned!

  13. Hi Sally

    I make a lot of soda bread and I’ve discovered if you can’t get hold of buttermilk plain yoghurt works really well too. Thanks for all the lovely recipes, I shall give this one a try!

    Petra

  14. Hi Sally, what a beautiful picture of your grandma. I wish that I was close to just one of my grandmothers, but sadly, I didn’t get the chance to even meet my dad’s mom and she passed in the early 2000’s. This recipe looks and sounds delicious. I’ve never tried Irish soda bread and I have several cookbooks with recipes for this particular bread. By the way, congrats on your new cookbook, you’re doing big things.

  15. It is the grandmas that are so often the inspiration for the kitchen! I hope our generation keeps that tradition going. You are for sure doing your part Sally! This soda bread looks like perfection (but let’s be honest, when do carbs not look good to me 😉 ) and that crust is gorgeous. Pinned!

  16. Hi, sorry if this is a little off topic but i noticed that your next book is going to be all about candy making, and chocolate is involved! So i have heard you need to temper chocolate. Are you going to need to temper chocolate for the recipes included in your book, and if so will you teach us? Thanks for the all the awesome recipes! =)

    1. It’s listed as optional for the chocolate recipes in my cookbook. And yes, I teach how to do it in the book too!

  17. I can nearly smell this bread through my screen 😀 There’s nothing better than the scent of freshly baked bread coming right out of the oven ♥
    I also always like bread that has a nice crust – as long as the inside is soft and chewy ^_^

      1. Yum!! I just baked this( it turned out beautifully). I can’t wait to eat it with my corned beef and cabbage 🙂

  18. I swear I miss my Mommom more each passing day. It’s amazing how much one person can change your life in all the right ways. I miss her so much and, like you, she instilled in me the love of baking. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Sally. She would be so proud of you!

  19. Your soda bread sounds delicious! I actually made my first one this year and the post is schedule for tomorrow. I guess great minds think alike 😉 However, I choose to keep it simple (i.e. no raisins…though the golden raisins sounds delicious). I hope you have a great St. Patrick’s Day and are taking some time to rest after that beast called a cookbook! I’m super excited for it and can’t wait to get a copy!!

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