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


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.


  •  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


  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.


  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


  1. Andrea Gray says:

    This looks real good. My 7 year old loves the corner pieces if brownies!!

    1. Andrea Gray says:


  2. Ah that last picture! Really shows the crust and tender center. Yum!

  3. Erin @ Miss Scrambled Egg says:

    My grandmother is also Irish. I grew up listening to stories of when she visited and enjoying my grandmother’s baking. I was talking to my grandmother this weekend and asked her if she had made Irish Soda Bread yet. She said that’s one recipe she didn’t know how to make. Now, I can share it with her. 🙂 Thanks Sally!

  4. We have a similar family recipe – but we were always told growing up that the reason you cut the X on the top was to allow the demons to escape from the bread!

    1. Haha I’ve read that before!

  5. Laura @ Laura's Culinary Adventures says:

    What a great legacy you have!

  6. loove this recipe

  7. Debbie Guida says:

    Hi Sally, thanks so much for sharing your Grandma’s recipe. My mother-in-law (Cassidy) always makes the Irish Soda Bread for St. Patrick’s Day, which she’s always happy to make, but this year I decided I want to give it a try (if she comes over I’ll have to hide it

  8. Tried your recipe for St Paddy’s Day today and it turned out absolutely gorgeous! I do wanna say that the crust is the best part… 😉

    1. It IS the best part! Thanks for reporting back Lilly.

  9. I made this yesterday. I used currants and dried lemon rind instead of raisins. It was delicious! Even a day later, it’s lovely slathered in butter. And it rose even higher than the one in your photograph. Thanks Sally!

    1. The dried lemon rind addition sounds perfect. I need to try that!

  10. Mandie | Mandie's Kitchen says:

    I’ve always wanted to try Irish Soda Bread. I mean, come on – it’s IRISH! Lovely recipe Sally!

  11. Half the loaf is gone already!!!! My husband and sons love this bread; it’s still warm and the butter just soaks in – absolutely delicious!!! And, it really was very easy to make – I will definitely make this bread again. Thx Sally!!

    1. Thanks Erin!

  12. It just came out of the oven to be enjoyed with corned beef, cabbage, colcannon, carrots and parsnips shortly … we’re eating supper early because we have been smelling the braising cb all day and can’t wait!
    Thanks for sharing the recipe for what looks like the best loaf of soda bread I have ever laid eyes on, Sally!

    1. What a st. patrick’s day menu! thanks for reporting back, Peggi.

  13. I’ll try adding nutmeg and craisins to my next loaf. Sounds so good.

  14. Sophia Short says:

    Hi! I have been reading your blog for a few years now and recently created my own with a good friend! I would love if you stopped by and tried out a recipe or offered us tips about blogging!! Thanks so much!

  15. Hayley @ The Domestic Rebel says:

    Wow, this looks delicious! And I do have to say, you look a lot like your grandma – strong, beautiful genes (and women!) clearly run in the McKenney family. Love you!

  16. Looks yummy! I had to laugh when I saw your explanation for the score on top, when I was about 5 yrs old I was watching my very irish great grandmother make irish soda bread and asked her why she was drawing an x on top and she said oh hunni thats to let the evil spirits out, I don’t think I ate another slice of Soda Bread until I was about 20 LOL. Thanks for sharing your family’s recipe have a lovely St. Patrick’s day!

  17. Martha Clark says:

    Made this a few hours ago, so delicious!!! My BF and I ate 1/2 already with Irish Stew and Guinness. Lovely texture and the crust is wonderful, next time I’m going to be naughty and sprinkle coarse sugar on top before baking. Yum! Thanks Sally for another great recipe.

  18. Cathleen @ A Taste Of Madness says:

    My grandmother was also a super cook and baker. She actually worked in the kitchen of a high school. She left me a book with her handwritten recipes in it, but unfortunately most of them are written in Danish. I guess I need to learn Danish!
    This bread looks amazing! I’m sure you are doing your grandmother proud 🙂

  19. This was a great part of our St. Patrick’s Day dinner last night. Thank you (and your grandma) for the lovely recipe.

  20. I made this last night and it was wonderful! I had never tried Irish soda bread before this and we loved it. My husband kept going back for more. I promptly deleted other pinned Irish soda bread recipes after trying yours. Perfection!

  21. Natasha @ The Cake Merchant says:

    This is such a lovely tribute to your grandmother! I’ve always been intimidated by bread, but this looks simple enough for me. Can’t wait to try it!

  22. I made this for dinner tonight (used craisins instead of raisins because that is what I had on hand). My husband and I both loved it…so delicious! Thanks for sharing your Grandma’s recipe!

  23. I’ve been making soda bread for over 40yrs, this one is the best! thanks

  24. I have never tried making my own break but this looks delish – especially served warm with a big dollop of butter (like your photos!!)

  25. When we have dinner tonight we will have had your delicious Soda Bread for the 3rd time since you posted the recipe. Thanks for sharing it and all your recipes! I love them!!

  26. Hi Sally. Any suggestions as to the size of cake pan to use or even a loaf pan? Thanks.

    1. 8-10 inches for the cake pan. A loaf pan could work too; I’ve never tried it that way to be honest.

  27. Austria Azaceta says:

    Hi Sally,
    I made this soda bread yesterday & absolutely LOVE IT!!! It came out perfect!! A wonderful crusty outside & deliciously soft inside. I made mine sans raisins (not a big fan). Had some for breakfast this morning with some butter & jelly….so good!!! Will be making this a lot for sure because its so easy to make! Your recipes are always spot on & never disappoint. Thanks again!!

    1. Thanks for reporting back Austria!

  28. Hi Sally,
    Congos mongos on completion of your 2nd cookbook!!
    Can I use whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour in this recipe?
    Amu 🙂

    1. The bread will be incredibly dense, but you can give it a go!

      1. Hi Sally,
        I tried it with half whole wheat and half all purpose flour, it was slightly dry. May be due to whole wheat 🙁

  29. My wonderful, Irish born mother-in-law, always incorporated 3 tablespoons of caraway seeds into her bread.  We wouldn’t think of not including them.   Yummy!

  30. 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!”

    1. Those rolls sound incredible, Selah! Let me know how you like this soda bread.

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