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


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

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


  1. Came out perfect and very delicious! No substitutions and baked in a 9 inch pie plate. Lightly toasted a slice for breakfast this morning too – very yummy! Thanks Sally!

  2. I’m so glad that this was such a hit, David!

  3. Made it yesterday for St. Patty’s Day and it was amazing. Baked for about 50 minutes. Making another loaf today for leftovers and it’s at 50 minutes in the oven and still not cooked. Not sure what I did wrong. Any suggestions anyone?

    1. Hi Nick! I’m so glad you made and enjoyed this bread. Thanks!

      Depending on how thick and cold the loaf is, the bread will require a longer bake time. Avoid opening/closing the oven, which will extend the bake time. Cover with foil so the exterior doesn’t over-brown.

      1. I took it out to put foil on about halfway through, so maybe that’s why it took a little bit longer. Just took it out at about 1 hour 5 minutes of cooking and the whole house smells amazing!

  4. Boter & Bloem says:

    Love the recipe

  5. I only had about 250 grams of flour on hand and no time to run to the store. Out of desperation, I added about 100 grams of almond flour/meal, and made up the balance with whole wheat flour. It was absolutely delicious! I might even make it this way on purpose next time. Thanks for a delicious and flexible recipe.

    1. I’m so glad you were able to make it work with what you had, Kristen!

  6. I made this for St Patrick’s Day as part of a baking trifecta (also made Pistachio Drop Cookies and Guinness Brownies) and it turned out wonderful! I didn’t make it with raisins as my partner isn’t a fan, but I want to try adding them next time. The dough is definitely sticky, so extra flour was a must. It baked up perfectly, and sliced like a dream. The flavor reminded me of tea biscuits my grandma and mom used to make (which was a lovely taste memory :)). Thank you Sally for another awesome recipe!

  7. Ellen Reichenbach says:

    Didn’t add currents but 1/2 Tbsp of caraway seed. It was delicious! Great toast the next day! I do think cutting in the butter made all the difference!

  8. I made this to bring to a friends, and everyone loved it! Thank you for sharing your grandmothers recipe with us.

  9. Came out perfect the first time I made it. Everyone loved the Irish Soda Bread. Love that the weights of the ingredients was included. Use weight instead of cup measurements like the pros do, assures what one bakes comes out right every time!

  10. The 3 TBS of sugar in the recipe is correct!

  11. Hi as a coeliac I’m just wondering do I just substitute the flour, hope to try it out today

    1. I have not tried substituting gluten free flour but let me know if you do!

  12. Lorren Huynh says:

    Hi, I have a question. How would you cover bread if you are going to store it in the fridge?

    1. I usually place it in a resealable bag. But you can also wrap it with plastic wrap or aluminum foil.

  13. kathy downey says:

    It’s in the oven as I type this,got the coffee brewing.Smells delicious,thanks for sharing !

  14. Ellen Lofland says:

    Yes, Sally. I baked it at 400 in cast iron. Perfection.

  15. Sally, do you preheat the cast iron pan like with traditional yeast bread? Not sure if my cast iron pan is properly seasoned. What do you recommend….lightly brushing it with oil or butter? Thanks.

    1. Hi Susan! You can pre-heat the cast iron skillet if desired, but sometimes I forget or don’t have enough time. The crust will still be pretty crusty even if you don’t! Give the cast iron pan a light brush or drizzle of vegetable oil to grease it.

  16. Elizabeth Brown says:

    I was looking for a recipe for a treacle bannock . I was wondering if you would have one. My mom used to bake one as well as this delicious looking soda bread of yours. Any help would be much appreciated Thank- you Elizabeth Brown

  17. I’m trying to move toward a vegan diet and often substitute rice milk for cow’s milk. Can I do this with this recipe — adding vinegar to make a substitute?

    1. Hi Janet! You can sub rice milk for buttermilk. Add at least 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of white vinegar.

  18. The directions for mixing and baking were good and produced a nicely structured loaf. However, overall the bread was very bland compared with Irish Soda bread I have enjoyed from bakers. I checked some other recipes and see they use 2 – 3x the amount of salt. If you are on a low salt diet this recipe may work well but otherwise I advise to shop around and check out a few recipes.

  19. I have a question. If I don’t have raisins or currants, can I substitute dates?

    1. Yes! Just make sure they are finely chopped (to about the size of raisins).

    2. Well, I made it even before I saw this reply and it was deeeeelicious. I used the chopped dates. Hubby wants me to make it again and again. Easy recipe and flavorful.

  20. I used half buckwheat, half all purpose flour, it turned out beautiful and delicious. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

    1. I’m glad you made it work for you!

  21. Have been making my grandmother’s soda bread for close to 45 years. Never put an X in the center but a cross.

  22. Michelle Breier says:

    This recipe is no fuss baking, simplicity at its best. I didn’t add raisins because we were serving it with chili. Wow…my husband, my two year old and I ate half the loaf…it’s buttery heaven. I’ll definitely be making this one again. . Thanks Sally!

  23. Excellent!! Try this you won’t be disappointed!!!

  24. This is such a good bread… and it was so easy to make! I’ve been following your recipes for a lot of my baked goods but I just have to leave a comment this time! Thanks Sally!

  25. Made this for an International Night at my kids’ school and it was a huge hit with the kids and adults!! The recipe was very easy which was just what we needed since we had to make 4 loaves!

  26. Fantastic ! So easy to make, I made two loaves this weekend. Instead of buttermilk, I used spoiled milk in my fridge. I take frozen butter out of my freezer as Sally suggests and cube it. I baked it in my cast iron skillet.

    I’d like to try other variations. Can you easily use cranberries and nuts? Or other combinations? And if so, will it affect baking times?

    This recipe is a WINNER!

  27. I made this recipe and it was easy and tasted great however I do have a question can the sugar be cut down or is it essential to the recipe as it is?

    1. If you’d like, you can try it with 2 Tablespoons, but I recommend keeping the sugar amount as-is.

      1. Has anyone tried to make mini versions in a muffin tin?

  28. I substituted the baking powder with Soda (because “Soda” bread ^^), used half plain, half wholemeal flour and left out the raisins (even the notion!) – and I loved it! I had one a couple of months ago that was really disappointing. So thank you for sharing the recipe! 🙂

    1. Silvia Torontow says:

      The recipe was with SODA. Maybe that is why your first one did not work?

  29. When baking this in a cast iron skillet, do you preheat the skillet first or no?

    1. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. You definitely can, if desired, for a crispier crust.

  30. What a lovely way to honor the memory of your mother! My family can’t wait for this to come out of the oven!

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