Irish Soda Bread

VideoSt. Patrick's DayBakingIrishSoda Bread

Quick and easy Irish soda bread recipe with flour, baking soda, salt, buttermilk, raisins, an egg, and a touch of sugar.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

It appears everyone has their favorite Irish soda bread recipe. Some with caraway seeds, some with raisins, some with both, some with neither.

The essential ingredients in a traditional Irish soda bread are flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk. The acid in buttermilk reacts with the base of the baking soda to provide the bread’s leavening. This leavening from buttermilk and baking soda is what gives the bread its name, “soda bread”.

How to make Irish soda bread

Why the cross in the center? Scoring the dough will help the heat reach the center of the loaf while baking.

This soda bread is a slightly fancied up Americanized version of the Irish classic, with a little butter, sugar, an egg, and some currants or raisins added to the base. You can bake it in a cast iron frying pan (now that’s traditional!) or an a regular baking sheet.

You can also make a simpler version without eggs or currants, but with some caraway seeds, or you could turn your soda bread dough into biscuits.

how Irish soda bread is made

How long does Irish soda bread last? Soda bread dries out quickly so it really is only good for a day or two. It is best eaten freshly baked and warm or toasted. Keep it wrapped in plastic wrap or foil.

That said, you can make it ahead and freeze it (let it cool to room temperature first). Wrap it tightly first in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil. It will last up to 2 months frozen.

HOW TO MAKE IRISH SODA BREAD (WATCH OUR VIDEO!)

Irish Soda Bread Recipe

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

Ingredients

  • 4 to 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup currants or raisins
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 3/4 cups buttermilk

Method

1 Whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking soda: Preheat oven to 425°F. Whisk together 4 cups of flour, the sugar, salt, and baking soda into a large mixing bowl.

2 Work the butter into the flour, add currants or raisins: Using your (clean) fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal, then add in the currants or raisins.

3 Make a well, mix in buttermilk, egg: Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add beaten egg and buttermilk to well and mix in with a wooden spoon until dough is too stiff to stir.

4 Lightly knead dough and form dough mound: Dust hands with a little flour, then gently knead dough in the bowl just long enough to form a rough ball. If the dough is too sticky to work with, add in a little more flour. Do not over-knead!

Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a round loaf. Note that the dough will be a little sticky, and quite shaggy (a little like a shortcake biscuit dough).

You want to work it just enough so that the flour is just moistened and the dough just barely comes together. Shaggy is good. If you over-knead, the bread will end up tough.

5 Score with an X: Transfer dough to a large, lightly greased cast-iron skillet or a baking sheet (it will flatten out a bit in the pan or on the baking sheet).

Using a serrated knife, score top of dough about an inch and a half deep in an "X" shape. The purpose of the scoring is to help heat get into the center of the dough while it cooks.

6 Bake: Transfer to oven and bake at 425°F until bread is golden and bottom sounds hollow when tapped, about 35-45 minutes. (If you use a cast iron pan, it may take a little longer as it takes longer for the pan to heat up than a baking sheet.)

Check for doneness also by inserting a long, thin skewer into the center. If it comes out clean, it's done.

Hint 1: If the top is getting too dark while baking, tent the bread with some aluminum foil.

Hint 2: If you use a cast iron skillet to cook the bread in the oven, be very careful when you take the pan out. It's easy to forget that the handle is extremely hot. Cool the handle with an ice cube, or put a pot holder over it.

7 Let cool a few minutes: Remove pan or sheet from oven, let bread sit in the pan or on the sheet for 5-10 minutes, then remove to a rack to cool briefly.

Serve bread warm, at room temperature, or sliced and toasted. Best when eaten warm and just baked.

Hello! All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use our photos without prior written permission. Thank you!

Products We Love

This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links can benefit Simply Recipes. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.

Adapted from Saveur Magazine.

Links:

Oatmeal Soda Bread here on Simply Recipes

Caraway Soda Bread here on Simply Recipes

Blasphemous Bread from Deb of Smitten Kitchen

Wikipedia on Soda Bread

What?! Nothing Irish about Irish soda bread? - an Epicurious interview with chef and teacher Rory O'Connell

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

215 Comments / Reviews

No ImageIrish Soda Bread

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Bernadette

    I always wrap the bread in a damp tea towel when it comes out of the oven, for about a half hour, this keeps the crust From getting too hard. Then wrap in a dry tea towel and let cool.

  2. Bernadette

    you know, it reallly annoys me , all these comments telling you how to bake your
    bread! I have been making this soda bread for fifty years at 425 degrees and it
    Comes out perfect every time! This is how my mother made it also and always worked! So I don’t know what they are doing wrong but it is not the fault of the recipe!

  3. Niki

    I did what others said and set the temp to 375. I used 4 cups and 4 tablespoons flour. After 20mins I covered it with foil. Took 55-60mins to cook. Outside got pretty crispy, but the inside was very soft. My daughter and I like it a lot! Thanks for the recipe!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  4. Joann

    Good recipe however the temperature was way too high so I lowered to 375 about 15 minutes in since it was browning way too fast. I did covered loosely with foil and it worked out fine.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  5. Donnabelle

    I have been using this recipe for at least five years. I add raisins but not caraway seed. Everybody loves it. Quick and easy to put together.

    xxxxxyyyyy

View More
Irish Soda BreadIrish Soda Bread