This recipe for Irish Soda Bread is a quick and easy yeast-free bread that is perfect for St. Patrick's Day! This Irish classic is made with simple baking ingredients and is easy to assemble. The results are a light and fluffy loaf that is perfect for slathering with butter or jam.
Irish soda bread is a unique type of quick bread that originated from Ireland. This bread gets its name from the baking soda that is used as a leavening agent instead of yeast. The ingredients are very simple and consist of flour, baking soda, salt, sugar, buttermilk, and butter.
Irish soda bread is a light and fluffy quick bread that has a slightly sweet and tangy flavor. The buttermilk gives the bread a slightly sour taste, while the sugar provides just a hint of sweetness. There are many variations of Irish soda Bread, including adding different types of fruits or nuts.
This easy recipe is great for beginners and will yield the perfect soda bread loaf that's wonderful to serve with a cup of tea or Irish Coffee with a little Homemade Irish Cream Whipped Cream on top for St. Patrick's Day!
How To Make Irish Soda Bread
- Preheat the oven to 350°F, and prepare the baking pan. Set aside. (see recipe tips on how to choose the correct baking pan)
- Add all of the dry ingredients to a large bowl and whisk to fully combine. Cut the butter into small cubes, then add it to the dry mixture. Using a pastry cutter, two forks, or your hands, cut the butter into the dry mixture until a coarse cornmeal texture is formed. Stir in the raisins and caraway seeds (if using) until well coated in flour.
- Pour in the buttermilk and stir until the dough becomes soft. It should be a shaggy texture. If it is too sticky, add 1-2 tablespoons of additional flour.
- Form the dough into a rounded shape, and transfer into a prepared baking pan. Use a sharp knife to score the dough with an "X". Bake for 50-60 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Transfer the Irish soda bread to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing and serving with your favorite spreads.
- Choosing the right baking pan: There are a variety of baking pan options available for this recipe. We used a 10.25-inch cast iron pan that was well buttered. A large baking sheet, Dutch oven, or 8-inch or 9-inch cake pan can also be used. Using a large pan, such as a baking sheet, will cause the bread to spread more since there are no sides for it to press against as it rises. For a taller loaf, try using an 8-inch cast iron pan or even a 9x5-inch loaf pan. Just make sure that the amount of dough will fit into the pan and have adequate room to expand.
- We don't recommend substituting the buttermilk with another milk (homemade or dairy alternative). The acid in the buttermilk is just the right amount to activate the baking soda allowing the bread to rise while still providing the correct amount of moisture.
- Raisins and caraway seeds are classic ingredients in Irish soda bread but are completely optional.
- The granulated sugar is also optional, but many people love the sweetness it provides to the bread. The sugar can be adjusted up to 1 cup for a sweeter bread or omitted completely for a more savory bread.
- Add in dried fruits for a sweet and tart flavor. Dried cranberries or apricots are all great options for sweetening the loaf.
- Add in your favorite nuts to the mix. Nuts such as walnuts or pecans also add texture and flavor to the bread.
- Add in your favorite spices. Commonly used spices include cinnamon, nutmeg, or ginger.
- To make gluten-free Irish soda bread, use a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend in place of the purpose flour. Be sure to also use a gluten-free baking soda.
Storing and Freezing
Storing: Irish soda bread can be stored at room temperature for up to two days in a large Ziploc bag or in the fridge in a container for up to four days.
Freezing: To freeze, tightly wrap the cooled Irish soda bread in plastic wrap, then place it in a freezer-safe container or bag. It will last up to three months. Thaw at room temperature before serving.
Recipe Card with Ingredient Amounts and Instructions
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar, optional
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, cold, cubed
- 1 cup raisins, optional
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds, optional
- 1 ⅓ cups buttermilk, no substitute
- Preheat the oven to 350°F, and prepare the baking pan (see notes below). Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter, two forks, or your hands. The mixture should look like coarse cornmeal.4 cups all-purpose flour⅓ cup granulated sugar1 teaspoon baking soda1 teaspoon kosher salt¾ cup unsalted butter
- Stir in the raisins and caraway seeds (if using) until well coated with flour.1 cup raisins1 tablespoon caraway seeds
- Slowly add the buttermilk until a soft dough forms. The dough should be stiff and slightly shaggy, but not sticky or tacky. If the dough is too sticky, add 1-2 additional tablespoons of flour.1 ⅓ cups buttermilk
- Form the dough into a rounded loaf, and transfer it to the prepared baking pan. Use a sharp knife or bread lame to score the top in the shape of an “X.”
- Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the bread to a wire rack to cool completely. Allow bread to cool before slicing.
- See post for storage options.