Irish Soda Bread Recipe (2024)

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I ate Irish Soda Bread for the first time about 7 years ago. It was this delicious, dense, biscuit-like bread that I slathered with butter and enjoyed with a good cup of coffee.

A friend made Irish Soda Bread for a bake sale fundraiser, and while it was nowhere near St. Patrick’s Day, it sold like hotcakes. When I ate it, I could see why.

It was unlike other breads I had ever eaten before. Almost a bit like cake but also still very much bread. It was also slightly sweet in a light and surprising way.

The reason for its unique texture is due to the lack of yeast. Instead of using yeast to help the bread rise, it uses baking soda. Hence the name Soda Bread.

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So, what exactly is Irish Soda Bread?

Irish Soda Bread is one of the easiest brads to make. It’s a very low maintenance bread, unlike a sour dough. Traditionally, it contained a few simple ingredients that included:

  • Flour
  • Salt
  • Buttermilk
  • Baking soda

That said, I added a few more ingredients in to give the bread more of a rich flavor. Most modern traditional recipes like mine will also include butter, an egg and a bit of sugar.

How does it work without yeast?

I mentioned that the baking soda is used in place of yeast in Irish Soda Bread. But, it is actually a chemical reaction between the baking soda and the buttermilk that produces carbon dioxide and causes the bread to rise.

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Is Irish Soda Bread really Irish?

Well…technically no…but sort of. The first soda bread has been traced to American Indians who used pearl ash to help their breads rise. But then the process was adopted in Ireland in the 1830s and the rest is history.

Ireland was one of the poorer countries at that time and the people didn’t have an abundance of ingredients to work with. Irish Soda Bread was born more out of necessity using the inexpensive ingredients they had on hand at the time.

Why the X in Irish Soda Bread?

The X on Irish Soda Bread is actually a cross. Some legends say that it was to “let the devil out” while baking the bread and other places say it was done to make the bread break apart.

Whatever the reason, the X (or cross) is an important element. It actually helps the bread to cook through. Because the bread is so dense if you don’t cook it to the right temperature it might be a bit undercooked in the center. Making a nice, deep X in the bread allows the heat to get to the center.

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What to eat it with

As I mentioned in the opening, I like to eat Irish Soda Bread with butter and have it as a snack. But, it was traditionally eaten with the Irish soups and stews. It’s really perfect to eat either way. It’s also very delightful with some butter topped with jam too. It turns it into a bit of a breakfast bread. You can find my Guinness Irish Stew {HERE}.

Storing the bread

Since it is a baked good, you’re not going to get a long shelf life out of Irish Soda Bread. It is best to make it and eat it in the same day. However, if you store it in an airtight container then you might be able to get three or four days out of it. You can also freeze it just as you would other baked goods. Here is one good option and here is another one.

More Irish Recipes and food for St. Patrick’s Day

Looking to make a few more Irish goodies or looking for some options for St. Patrick’s Day? Try some of these!

  • Guinness Irish Stew with Braised Beef {HERE}
  • Cottage Pie {HERE}
  • Red Skinned Mashed Potatoes {HERE}
  • Reuben Slider Sandwiches {HERE}
  • Baileys Chocolate Cake {HERE}

Thank you so much for visiting today! I hope you will come back and visit again. Get the full, printable recipe for my Irish Soda Bread recipe below.

For more made-from-scratch recipes, click here.

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This Irish Soda Bread is perfect for a side dish, to eat with soup or just to eat with some butter and jam.

5 from 28 votes

Print Pin Rate

Course: Side Dish, Snack

Cuisine: Irish

Keyword: Irish soda bread, Irish soda bread recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cooling time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Author: Rachel


Irish Soda Bread Ingredients

  • 4 cups of flour
  • 1 and 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 4 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup softened butter (one stick) I use salted butter.
  • 1 egg


  • 1/4 cup salted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk


  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

  • Mix together the dry ingredients: Flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Use a whisk to make sure it is well combined.

  • Add in the wet ingredients: buttermilk, butter, egg and use a hand mixer to help combine everything.

  • Turn out the dough on a floured surface and kneed it for about 10 minutes. Dust it with flour as needed. It's done when it is about the consistency of Playdough.

  • Form dough into a loaf and put it on a cookie sheet with parchment paper. The parchment paper is going to be important to keep the bottom of the bread from over cooking.

  • Cut a large X in to the top of the dough. This is very important to help the dough cook through.

  • Add the dough to the oven for 15 minutes.

  • While the bread is cooking, make the glaze by melting butter (microwave or stovetop) over a low flame and let it rest for a few minutes. Continue to mix it on the stove top to keep it from burning.

  • Add the buttermilk to the butter and mix well. Continue to mix occasionally.

  • When the 15 minutes are done, take the bread out of the oven and and brush the glaze over the top of it. Then put it back into the oven for another 15 minutes.

  • When that 15 minutes is done, take the bread out of the oven and glaze it again. Then put it back in the oven for another 15 minutes.

  • When that 15 minutes is up, use a tooth pick and check the middle of your bread. If it comes out clean it is done. If it doesn't, glaze it again and put it back in for a final 10 minutes.

  • When done, let the bread rest for 20 minutes. Then serve with butter, jam or with a stew or soup.

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Irish Soda Bread Recipe (2024)


How do you know when Irish soda bread is done baking? ›

Cover and bake until well risen and golden, 45 minutes. Remove lid and continue baking until chestnut brown, with an internal temperature of 210°F (99°C), 12 to 15 minutes longer.

Can you over knead Irish soda bread? ›

You spent too much time kneading the dough. Baking soda starts to react and release its gas as soon as it comes into contact with the sour milk. Take too long and the gas will escape before the bread is baked.

Should Irish soda bread dough be sticky? ›

You're looking for a dough that's soft but not overly sticky or wet, and that holds together enough to make a loaf that can hold its shape on the sheet pan. If the dough is dry and crumbly, add up to 1/2 cup additional buttermilk, a tablespoon or so at a time, until it comes together.

Why does my Irish soda bread not rise? ›

Not preheating your oven long enough will mean thst it isn't hot enough to get a good rise. Make sure the oven is up to temperature before you begin mixing the dough. Using a baking stone for good bottom heat will help your bread rise, but it needs at least 45 minutes to soak up the heat of the oven.

What went wrong with my soda bread? ›

If you've ever tried Irish soda bread and not liked it, don't go running off yet! Chances are good that the bread you ate suffered from one of three common problems: improper amount of baking soda (a gross, salty-bitter taste), over cooking (a dry, chalky texture), or undercooking (a soggy, doughy center).

Why is my Irish soda bread raw in the middle? ›

Your oven is too hot if it is uncooked in the center. Try lowering the temp on your oven by 25F and extending the bake time. Don't put anything on the top of the bread to aid in browning until the last few min. of cooking, and use an instant read thermometer (target temp to pull is 190F).

Why do you put a cross in Irish soda bread? ›

The Southern Irish regions bake their loaves in a classic round fashion and cut a cross on top of the bread. This was done for superstitious reasons, as families believed a cross on top of the bread would let the fairies out or ward off evil and protect the household.

Can you leave soda bread dough overnight? ›

You don't have to wait hours or overnight for a rise, either. In fact, you don't even need to wait at all: Dough for Irish soda bread can go right into the oven after making.

Is Irish soda bread supposed to be hard? ›

Irish Soda Bread is the easiest bread you'll make – no proofing or kneading required and the dough comes together in 5 minutes. Soda bread has a soft and tender crumb with a Biscuit-like texture.

Why is my soda bread gummy? ›

What would make soda bread chewy or gummy? Too much liquid added, or it hasn't been baked enough. It should go on the top shelf of the oven and it should be baked for at least 30-35 minutes.

Is Irish soda bread better warm or cold? ›

Although soda bread is ideal for serving at room temperature, it is better to serve it warm. The thick and cakey texture of the bread and warm temperature brings out its hearty flavors. If you can't have it fresh from the over at least have it toasted.

What is good to put on Irish soda bread? ›

This versatile bread works for any meal, but Irish soda bread is a natural for breakfast, whether simply spread with (Irish) butter and jam or alongside that hearty fry-up known as a full Irish breakfast. It's also wonderful with a cup of tea in the afternoon or as a late-night snack.

What's the difference between Irish bread and Irish soda bread? ›

Irish brown bread has a deep, nutty flavor because of its wheat flour and wheat bran while soda bread uses only white flour. Soda bread is slightly sweet and more scone-like while Irish brown bread is more savory with a tender interior.

Should Irish soda bread be toasted? ›

Many people enjoy Irish soda bread with a generous spread of butter, which melts into the warm bread, making it even more delicious. However, you can also enjoy Irish soda bread at room temperature or even toasted. It can be sliced and toasted for breakfast or served alongside soups and stews.

Why did my soda bread turn yellow? ›

Without enough acid to neutralize the soda, the bread will develop a jaundiced, yellow hue and will give off a bitter metallic wang that hangs in your nose and throat. Not appetizing at all, that wang. If you've had soda bread with too little acid it's understandable if you've lost interest.

At what internal temperature is Irish soda bread done? ›

Bake the bread for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean; the interior of the bread will measure 200°F to 210° on an instant-read thermometer. Remove the bread from the oven, loosen its edges, and after 5 minutes turn it out onto a rack to cool.

Is Irish soda bread supposed to be dry? ›

Irish Soda Bread is a dense bread, similar to a scone, but can easily become dry if overmixed. Quickly add the wet ingredients to a well you've made in the dry ingredients, and mix with your hands or a dough hook until it just comes together.

Why is my Irish soda bread sticky? ›

Your dough can become sticky when you add too much water or the flour isn't suitable for the type of dough you are making. Over proofing or fermenting the dough can also result in the gluten structure weakening causing sticky dough.

How long can soda bread sit before baking? ›

(Some recipes call for yeast and kneading, but know this isn't required.) You don't have to wait hours or overnight for a rise, either. In fact, you don't even need to wait at all: Dough for Irish soda bread can go right into the oven after making.


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