Oatmeal Soda Bread

Oatmeal soda bread, a quick bread made with finely ground rolled oats, flour, buttermilk, an egg, and leavened with baking soda.

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: Makes one loaf.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (170 g) old fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 1/4 cups (290 g) all purpose flour plus more for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (350 ml) buttermilk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Butter for greasing the pan

Method

1 Preheat oven to 450°F.  Place oats in a food processor and pulse until finely ground.

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2 In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together the finely ground oats, flour, baking soda, sugar, and salt.

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Stir the buttermilk and egg together. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk egg mixture. Gently fold the surrounding flour over the buttermilk with a wooden spoon. Continue to gently fold until just combined. Do not over mix! The dough should look very shaggy. It should be on the moist side. If it is too wet to handle, add a little more flour. If too dry, add a little more buttermilk.

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4 Place dough on a lightly flour dusted surface. Knead one or two times only, and form into a mound shape. Grease a large cast iron frying pan with a little butter and place the dough in the center. (If you don't have a cast iron frying pan, just put on a greased baking sheet that can take high heat.) Score the center of the dough in a cross shape with a sharp knife, making 1 1/2 inch deep cuts.

5 Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes at 450°F (230 °C). Then lower the oven temperature to 400°F (205°C) and cook for 25 minutes more.  To test if the bread is done, take it out of the oven, turn it over and knock on the bottom. If it sounds hollow, it's done.

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6 Remove pan from oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Note, take care with the hot handles of the cast iron pan! I never leave this one to chance (after having burned myself pretty badly once picking up a hot pan), and I rub an ice cube over the hot handle to cool it down, so that someone doesn't inadvertently pick up the pan by the handle.

Remove bread from pan and let cool further on a wire rack for another 15 minutes or so. The bread is best if eaten within hours of baking. Serve with butter and jam. If saving for later, wrap in a slightly damp clean tea towel.

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Comments

  1. Candy C.

    I love the addition of oatmeal to Irish Soda bread! It really does make a world of difference!

  2. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

    This sounds fabulous! Such a classic.

  3. Ella

    This looks easy to make and does not require me to be chained to the kitchen too long. Loving this!

  4. Little Kitchie

    Sounds awesome! Getting to work on this right now!

  5. Mary

    Question: At which point do you dust it with flour?

    • Elise

      When you form the dough into a mound on a lightly flour dusted surface, some of the excess flour can end up dusting the loaf. I didn’t even think about it, it just happened that way this time.

  6. emma

    What a great recipe – so quick and easy too!
    Thank you for sharing it – was great with soup.
    - almost makes the cold of winter worthwhile!
    Emma.

  7. Sandy S.

    Ah for the days … a loaf of bread, a pound of butter and… me! This picture should come with a warning. “May be very tempting to those who are GF!” What a perfectly beatiful loaf!

  8. gilda oliveira

    Pure beauty! Hope mine will brown nicely as this one.

  9. Little Kitchie

    Made it this morning and it was AWESOME! So easy and turned out absolutely perfect!

  10. Denise

    Great idea about putting oatmeal in the mix – I love textured breads. And bring on the butter with a warm slice …

  11. als-hightech

    Is this soda dough a problem for diabetes.

    • Elise

      I don’t know. Is bread a problem for diabetes? There’s a teaspoon of sugar in the recipe which you can easily leave out.

  12. Judith

    Is there a way to add steel cut oats to this recipe?

    • Elise

      Hi Judith,
      You can soak steel cut oats overnight in the buttermilk (I would weigh out an equivalent amount to what is listed in the ingredient list for the rolled oats). Then add an egg to that, and stir in the dry ingredients before baking.

      • Marg

        Should one pulverize the steel cut oats before soaking, like with the rolled oats? Or do you mean to just soak the steel cut oats as they are?

  13. Danielle

    Will have to try to remember your ice cube trick. I grab the cast iron handle All the time. I recently started trying to remember to leave the pot holder on top of the handle as a reminder. Think I’ll try this loaf tomorrow!

  14. mantha

    Beautiful, gorgeous soda bread, and your so lovely photo. If you can find Irish butter, it truly does have a sweetness and texture that’s not quite like any other.
    That trick of using ground oats as part of the flour also works, in smaller proportions, for shortbread and oatmeal cookies. In the cookies I put raisins that have been soaked in strong Irish breakfast tea, like they do for barmbrack. Grand flavor.

  15. Nisrine

    Mmm, a warm crunchy piece with some butter would make my day. The bread looks hearty and absolutely delicious.

  16. lesle

    Irish soda bread is my favorite in the whole wide world!

  17. Kim Bee

    I think I need to make this immediately. I can almost smell it.

  18. Corina

    This was awesome – it took barely any time to make, and it smelled and tasted heavenly! I will absolutely make this again and again!

  19. DrDug

    Made this today and it was great. We loved the dense, most crumb. The next loaf we make I want to try your suggested use of steel cut oats. Thank you so much for the awesome website and recipes Elise.

  20. Robt

    Has anyone made this gluten-free? Any suggestions on gf flour mixtures?

    • Rua

      I use Juvela or Glutafin GF flour but I don’t know if those brands are available outside of the UK and Ireland. When in the USA I use Bob’s Redmill GF All-Purpose flour. They all make a good soda bread.

      This oatmeal bread sounds like a great substitute for Irish brown/wheaten bread, which I’ve missed so much since my diagnosis. I’ve never seen a soda bread recipe using egg so I’m interested to try it.

  21. Melanie

    Sorry, what are “old fashioned rolled oats”? I have large flake oats and regular Quaker rolled oats (I think those are “quick oats”) at home in the cupboard. Will either work for this recipe? Would the large flake oats have to be soaked in the buttermilk like the steel cut ones discussed in the comments?

    • Elise

      I think Quaker makes three types of oatmeal – old fashioned, quick, and instant. I use Quaker Old Fashioned. You could easily use Quaker Quick in the same manner as described in this recipe. And for those reading who may have Quaker Instant, I’m guessing that you probably wouldn’t even have to grind those.

  22. Sues

    I feel like this most definitely needs to be made in time for St. Patrick’s Day! I love it!

  23. Jen

    What if I don’t have a food processor to grind the oats?

    • Elise

      Then soak them overnight in buttermilk. When ready to make, add a beaten egg to the buttermilk oatmeal mixture and stir in the dry ingredients.

  24. Joy

    Could I use anything else instead of buttermilk? It’s extremely hard to get where I live

    • Elise

      You need the acidity to create the leavening with the baking soda. If you don’t have buttermilk, add 1 1/2 tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice to a little less than 1 1/2 cups of regular milk.

  25. Deirdre

    This is what the Irish usually call brown bread. You can use different whole grains instead of the oatmeal. In my family, we use a cup of bran and a cup of some combination of cracked wheat and bulgar, depending on what’s in the pantry. In Ireland they often use something called whole meal in addition to white flour and bran. As my aunt would say, you use a “good fist” of each. We never use eggs either, FWIW.

  26. Dee

    What size cast iron skillet? eight inch? ten inch? twelve inch?

    • Elise

      Whatever you have. Just form the dough so that it fits in the skillet. Of course a super small skillet won’t work. But anything 8-inches and larger should.

  27. Heidi

    I used a blender to grind up the oats and it worked better than I had anticipated. Also used your substitution for buttermilk (1 cup milk + 1/2 cup plain yogurt + 1 tbsp vinegar) from another soda bread recipe. It came together very quickly and it’s in the oven now. Can’t wait to try it after it’s done baking :D

    • Heidi

      An update post-baking. I took it out 5 minutes early (15 minutes at 450F, 20 minutes at 400F) and am glad I did – I think 5 more minutes would have been too much. The bottom ended up a little crunchy. It smells wonderful, like oatmeal cookies (never realized baked oats have such a distinctive smell until today). I like how it tastes too, especially with some butter and homemade raspberry jam :) Thank you for the recipe!!

  28. Shelly

    After the 15 minutes at 450, mine took 20 minutes at 395 and came out a little too dark.

  29. Lynne

    I see Google are “retiring” Reader. Would you consider starting Pinterest boards that we could follow you on?

  30. Gary

    I made this loaf the other day and oh boy was it good. The crust was absolutely fantastic. What I like about this recipe is that it is simple and quick to make. Even the next day it was still good but I recommend to leave it in a plastic bag. Thanks Elise.

  31. Marg

    I made this last night(finally). I used steel cut oats, but did it differently than the suggested soaking them as they come. Instead I ground them in to flour like the recipe says to do for old fashioned oats and simply used them that way. It really came out well. It works just fine to grind the steel cut oats into a flour. I should have added a bit more all purpose flour as the dough was very sticky but I finally managed to wrangle it into shape. :) It ended up looking almost exactly like your picture.

    It really came out well, had a wonderful texture. I’ve never made any kind of bread before so this was a good first experience and can’t wait to try to make other kinds now. :)

    PS I cooked it 15 minutes at 450 and then ended up doing only 20 minutes at 400. It looked done to me and when I tapped the bottom it sounded hollow so I took it out. The extra 5 minutes would have burnt it for sure.

  32. Diane

    I’ve made this twice now and have to tell you it is AWESOME. I subbed in Quaker rolled multigrain cereal (rye, barley, oats, wheat), 5/8 cup whole grain rye flour and 5/8 cup whole wheat flour for the same amount of all-purpose flour, and let the dough sit a while before kneading it for more liquid to absorb. I’ve used the lemon juice/milk combo in recipes forever. (Although ny nother used to buy powdered buttermilk in a can like baking powder.) The leftover bread makes awesome sanwiches and is soooo good with jam or jelly, or cherry butter! Finally a quick bread that’s not loaded with melted butter or heavy with lots of oil!

  33. Rick

    This bread came out very dense and not that flavorful, yearning for jam or honey. As a rookie breadmaker, I wonder if I did something wrong. Also, would adding caraway seeds and/or raisins adversely affect the outcome?

    • kevin

      Rick I know this response is very late in coming, but I just had to answer. This a basic recipe that has been around for over a century. It was never meant to be a show stopper bread. it was meant to be plain, slightly tastey, nutrition for every day eating so yeah the flavor may be very mild to some. As for addition of seeds and raisins. Go ahead! You will have to experiment with the exact amounts you like. I like to use about a stingy teaspoon of caraway or dill or what ever I feel like. As for the raisins start with about 1/2 cup of softened fruit and adjust batch by batch according to your own tastes. some times I add minced figs, dates, apricots and/or cranberries. As long as the fruit is soft and not wet it should hold up well.