Irish Soda Bread

This Irish staple is quick and easy to make! You should have most of the ingredients in your pantry already. The best part is that there is no extra rise time!

*Buttermilk substitute recipe available.

Photo by Allison of Culinary Cupcake

Irish soda bread is a bread that is made without yeast. The leavening agent is baking soda. Soda bread traditionally consists of flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk. The lactic acid in the buttermilk reacts with the baking soda to form carbon dioxide, which creates the bubbles to help the bread rise quickly. Irish soda bread is considered a “quick bread” because it does not involve the large amounts of time and temperature control needed like yeast breads do. There is a cross cut into the top of the bread to help it rise, but according to folklore it was also used to let the fairies out or ward off any evil.

When I was at university I discovered an Irish pub not far from campus. The pub was a warm friendly place where all the servers, cooks, and managers knew everyone’s name. They gladly welcomed new customers and were loyal to their regulars. During university and some time after, this pub became a regular hang out for my friends and me. We loved going there, getting a pint, eating a hot hearty meal, and listening to the live Irish music on the weekends. Whenever we ordered food the servers would always put a big basket of Irish soda bread in front of us. Even my pickiest friends would devour these slices of soda bread. Unfortunately, I no longer live right by an Irish pub. I thought it would be nice to bake this familiar bread and remember all the happy times I had with my friends. Please enjoy this recipe!

Irish Soda Bread Recipe

Yields 1 loaf

Prep Time 10 minutes

Bake Time 25 to 30 minutes


4 cups all purpose flour and extra for dusting

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 3/4 cups buttermilk* (substitute recipe below)

Vegetable oil for brushing

To Serve: Butter


Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl.

Mix in 1 1/2 cups buttermilk. Stir well with a wooden spoon and then work the dough with your hands.

The dough must be soft, but not too wet. If the dough is too dry, add the remaining buttermilk and stir until dough reaches the proper consistency.

Dump the dough on a floured surface. and knead for a for 1 to 3 minutes.

Shape the dough into a 8 inch round loaf. Place loaf onto the prepared baking sheet.

With a sharp knife, cut an plus/cross sign on top of the loaf. Brush vegetable oil onto the loaf.

Bake in oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove when golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when it is tapped on the bottom.

Transfer to a cooling rack and let it cool slightly.

Serve warm with butter. It will accompany Guinness Beef Stew and Leek and Potato Soup very nicely.

Want this to be a sweeter bread? Mix 1/4 cup of raisins and 2 teaspoons of sugar into the dough.

Many people do not have buttermilk lying around at home, thus a substitute can be created.

*Buttermilk Substitute Recipe


1 1/2 cups milk

4 tablespoons white vinegar or 4 tablespoons lemon juice


Place all ingredients in a large bowl and stir. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes. Use in any recipe that asks for buttermilk.

Note: This recipe will not work with any non-dairy milk substitutes. You must use dairy milk.


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