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 before baking

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

collage of 4 images showing steps to making Irish soda bread including dough in bowls, formed into a circle, and in a skillet before baking

Irish soda bread in a cast iron skillet

458 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. 🙂

    1. You NEED yo try it! I’m 11 And i love to make Irish soda bread! 🙂

  3. Heather - Butter & Burlap says:

    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. Kathy @ Beyond the Chicken Coop says:

    Beautiful inspiration! Your memories of your grandma will always remain and it’s great to be able to share her through your recipes and cooking. This soda bread looks so wonderful! Congrats on completing you book.

  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.

    1. Happy St. Patrick’s Day to YOU!

  8. Lynn @ Fresh April Flours says:

    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!

    1. Yep, I have Irish roots! Hope you try it Iram. Thanks!

  10. This looks amazing, must give it a try some time ❤

  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. The more people who don’t like the crusts/edges, the more for us! Thanks so much Jannett!

  13. Perfect. Let me know how you like the bread, Sam!

    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!!

      1. Thanks for reporting back Sam!

  14. Eve ~ Baking the Day says:

    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!

  15. Stacey @ Bake.Eat.Repeat. says:

    That soda bread looks absolutely lovely. The crust is definitely my favourite part too, love that crunch! Recipes that you have that are family favourites are the best aren’t they?!

  16. Laura- Beauty of Baking says:

    Looks great! I subbed currants for raisins when I made Irish Soda Bread this weekend. Can’t wait to try your recipe!

  17. Jennifer | Bake or Break says:

    My grandmother is a big part of my baking inspiration, too. I love looking through her recipes for inspiration and to do a little reminiscing. This bread looks like a great family baking tradition!

  18. Averie @ Averie Cooks says:

    What a great tribute to your grandma and this bread looks absolutely PERFECT! Like just the most delectable, perfect loaf of soda bread ever!

  19. Kayle (The Cooking Actress) says:

    your grandmother was obviously a wonderful and talented woman! this Irish soda bread is complete perfection

  20. Grandmas are always the best bakers in the house 🙂
    Can’t wait to try this!

  21. Laura (Tutti Dolci) says:

    So pretty, the perfect loaf!

  22. 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.

  23. Mary Frances says:

    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!

  24. 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!

  25. Lena | la fille lumineuse says:

    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 ^_^

  26. Love this bread….. Can I bake it in some thing other than a skillet?

    1. Yep – see the first direction of the recipe.

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

  27. 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!

    1. happy st. patrick’s day Laur! xo

  28. Elle @ Only Taste Matters says:

    What a beautiful tribute to your grandmother. I am actually near tears right now. Thank you for sharing such a treasured recipe and happy St. Patrick’s Day!

  29. Alexis @ Upside Down Pear says:

    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!!

    1. I bet yours is delicious Alexis. And yes, I’m taking a break from the kitchen this week!

  30. Shelby @ Go Eat and Repeat says:

    I love that you use your grandmother as inspiration for cooking. I can see a bit of resemblance between you and her =)

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