Irish Soda Bread

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Our favorite Irish Soda Bread can be whipped together in a matter of minutes and doesn’t require any rising time (no yeast!). Add in some raisins or sunflower seeds for a tasty addition or leave them out for plain soda bread.

This Irish Soda Bread is not only easy to make, but it’s also very quick to whip together — in fact, there is no rising time needed. We add everything into a large bowl and mix it together with a wooden spoon and/or spatula (no hand or stand mixers required!) 

If you’re looking for a yeasted bread check out our White Bread recipe, Honey Whole Wheat Bread recipe, or our delicious Dinner Rolls

Image of a slice of the Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread Recipe

When we put up a poll on Instagram asking how you all feel about raisins in bread, the majority was against the addition. While I don’t like raisins anywhere near my Oatmeal Cookies, they are ridiculously tasty in a good bread! And while I’d love to convince you all to give it a go, I respect that it’s a deal breaker for so many people. But with that said, don’t discount this Irish Soda Bread recipe just yet, because there are loads of different options you can use in place of the raisins!

VARIATIONS

  • Leave out the raisins and prepare the bread as is (plain white no-yeast bread!).
  • Add some seeds — mix through about 1/3 up to 1/2 cup of poppy seeds, sunflower seeds, or sesame seeds into the dough and then sprinkle another tablespoon on top before baking.
  • Brush the top of the bread with buttermilk and sprinkle with old-fashioned oats.

Irish Soda Bread FAQs

1What is Irish Soda Bread?

An Irish Soda Bread is a variety of quick bread (yes, like zucchini bread or banana bread!) that does not have any yeast and doesn’t require rising time.

The bread rises from the gasses produced in a chemical interaction between the acids of the dough (buttermilk) and the baking agents (baking powder and baking soda). This results in a lovely rise without any yeast!

2Is Irish Soda Bread a Dessert?

I wouldn’t classify it as a dessert, but with the raisins in it, it is sweeter than your typical yeasted white bread!

3How To Serve Irish Soda Bread

Cut it into slices and serve it warmed! We like it served with some room temperature butter and jam (or a citrus marmalade).

It’s also great served as a dipping accompaniment to a hearty stew or soup!

4What does Irish Soda Bread taste like?

This bread has an overall mild flavor with a buttery richness and a subtle sweetness from the raisins. The flavor is most similar to a biscuit.

While we love this bread plain, it is definitely next level served with butter or jam — it’s not necessarily intended to be eaten on its own.

5What makes Irish Soda Bread different?

The texture of this bread is different from yeasted breads.

Texturally this bread has a crisp golden crust with a dense, tender, and moist-like interior.

The bread has a much tighter crumb and a softer texture than your typical sandwich bread.

6Why do they call it Irish Soda Bread?

In the United States, “Irish Soda Bread” is typically a white bread made with eggs, butter, and studded with raisins. The “soda” comes from using baking soda as a leavening agent instead of yeast.

7What is Irish Soda Bread similar to?

The texture and flavor is most reminiscent of a biscuit (US) or scone (UK). We think this bread tastes very similar to American drop biscuits.

8What is Irish Soda Bread called?

In the North of Ireland, they call their soda bread “bread farl.” The bread is cut into pieces and baked on a griddle.

Process shots-- images of the melted butter and buttermilk being mixed together and then in a separate bowl the egg and buttermilk being mixed together

How To Make Irish Soda Bread

Remember the “secret” preparation method for creating these amazing Drop Biscuits?

Quick re-cap: Most drop biscuits use cold cubed butter and a food processor or pastry blender to cut the butter into the biscuits. But instead, we actually melt the butter. This would normally be bad for the texture, but we form new butter clumps by mixing in cold buttermilk. When the cold buttermilk hits the melted butter, it forms small clumps (see the photo above). Those clumps will imbue the wonderful texture that results from pockets of butter without the extra work. (Thanks to Cooks Illustrated for teaching me this cool trick!)

We use this method again in this Irish Soda Bread Recipe — we mix hot melted butter with cold buttermilk and get perfect clumps of butter. This not only helps the bread rise, but it will also give it a great texture. And, it’s SO much easier than cutting in cold butter!

Process shots of Irish Soda Bread-- images of the wet and the dry ingredients being mixed together

Irish Soda Bread Recipe Tips

  • Adding flour to the dough: Humidity, altitude, and temperature can all affect how much flour you’ll need. Aim to add only enough flour to be able to manage the dough, because the wetter/stickier the dough the more moist (and tasty!) the bread will be. On the flip side, if it is too wet and sticky to manage, it will spread too much/not have enough structure.
  • Cut an “X” in the loaf before baking. This helps to ensure the middle is cooked through. In southern Irish regions, the cross was added for superstitious reasons — families believed the cross would let the fairies out or ward off evil and protect their homes! (PS: That’s how the term ‘hot cross buns’ originated: from the superstitious cross put on the loaves!)
  • Let baked bread stand. Once you remove it from the oven, allow time for the bread to stand on the sheet pan for about 5-10 minutes and then on a wire cooling rack for at least 30 minutes. The residual heat and steam ensure the inside is fully baked through. As tempting as it is to cut in, don’t rush it because you’ll likely end up with a slightly doughy center.

Process shots-- images of the dough being rolled into a ball and it all being baked and cooled

How To Serve Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread has a delicious flavor and is unbeatable served warm! That said, it really comes to life with the toppings. Here are our favorite ways to enjoy this bread:
  • Slice a piece while the bread is still hot and spread on a thick layer of room temperature butter. If the butter is unsalted, add a pinch of salt on top.
  • Add a citrus marmalade or berry jam. If the bread isn’t fresh out of the oven, toast a slice first.
  • Make a sandwich with it! Add your favorite cheese and meat or prepare an open-faced sandwich with toasted bread and cheese!
  • Use for French toast. Top with plenty of vanilla sauce, pancake syrup or blueberry syrup.
  • Dunk in some soup or a hearty stew — here’s a list of 30 or our favorite soup recipes. We especially love this Irish Soda Bread dunked in this Minestrone SoupInstant Pot Beef Stew, or this gnocchi-filled Crockpot Beef Stew.,

Image of a slice of Irish soda bread ready to be eaten

STORAGE

Storing Irish Soda Bread

Truly, this bread is the very best fresh out of the oven (the same day it is made), but it does store fine. Since there aren’t preservatives in this homemade bread, it won’t last as long as store-bought bread, but it probably won’t be around as long, either!

Store leftover bread at room temperature in a cool dry place for up to 3 days, preferably in a container that allows some ventilation so the bread can “breathe.” Heat and humidity can cause bread to mold. I also don’t recommend storing it in the refrigerator, as it turns stale quickly. (The dry air in the fridge will speed up that process.)To keep the bread soft, store it in an airtight plastic bag after it has completely cooled.

For any bread that is leftover after 2-3 days, I recommend storing it in the freezer, where it will keep fresh for up to 3 months. Slice it before freezing, and then take out one or two slices at a time, as you need them. Transfer slices straight from the freezer to the toaster or thaw at room temperature.

QUICK TIP

Irish Soda Bread is notoriously crumbly, so cut long slices in half down the middle and then toast the bread first for more stability.

Use Leftover Buttermilk In One Of These Recipes:

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Irish Soda Bread

5 from 1 vote
Our favorite Irish Soda Bread can be whipped together in a matter of minutes and doesn't require any rising time (no yeast!). Add in some raisins or sunflower seeds for a tasty addition or leave them out for a plain soda bread.
Print Recipe

Irish Soda Bread

5 from 1 vote
Our favorite Irish Soda Bread can be whipped together in a matter of minutes and doesn't require any rising time (no yeast!). Add in some raisins or sunflower seeds for a tasty addition or leave them out for a plain soda bread.
Course Appetizer, Bread, Breakfast, Brunch, lunch, Snack
Cuisine Vegetarian
Keyword Irish Soda Bread
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Cooling Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 55 minutes
Servings 12 slices (1 loaf of bread)
Calories 338kcal
Cost $5.78

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1-3/4 cups buttermilk separated (Note 1)
  • 1 large egg
  • 4-1/2 cups (618g) white all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting (Note 2)
  • 3 tablespoons (45g) white granulated sugar
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 cup (140g) soft (fresh) raisins

Instructions

  • PREP: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper or a silpat liner OR line a 5-quart cast-iron pot with parchment paper. Set aside. Melt butter in a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl.
  • LIQUIDS: Take the butter from the microwave and pour in 1 cup (237g) cold buttermilk. Stir with a fork and set aside for about 5 minutes. In another medium-sized bowl add the remaining 3/4 cup (176g) buttermilk and the large egg. Whisk together until smooth and set aside.
  • DRY INGREDIENTS: Add 4-1/2 cups flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1-1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 cup raisins to a very large bowl. Whisk together until combined. Make a well in the middle of the bowl and pour in the buttermilk + egg mixture.
    Stir the butter and buttermilk mixture again, stirring until small clumps form (we want this mixture as clumpy as possible!). Use a spatula to scrape every bit of this mixture on top.
  • MIX: Use a strong spatula or wooden spoon to mix ingredients until just combined and no streaks of flour remain. Be careful to not overmix or over-work the dough. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons extra flour onto a clean work surface. Scrape out all of the dough right onto the flour and sprinkle with 2 more tablespoons of flour. Gently knead the bread, about 6-8 times to bring everything together into a wide and smooth ball.
  • BAKE: Gently transfer ball to the prepared baking sheet or pot and pat it down to about 1-1/2 inches in height. Use a sharp serrated knife to cut an "X" across the surface about 1/4-inch deep. Bake for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, do not open the oven, but reduce the heat to 400 degrees F and bake for another 20-30 minutes or until the base sounds hollow when tapped in the middle (25 mins in my oven).
  • COOL: Remove tray from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before carefully transferring to a wire cooling rack. Let bread cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing into it (the steam is still cooking the bread!) -- Note 3.

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Buttermilk: While it would seem like any milk will work here, we need the acidity from the buttermilk to counteract the baking soda and powder and create the rise in the bread. Real buttermilk is a must!
Note 2: Flour: When measuring flour for this bread, get an exact weight using a food scale or spoon and level the flour. If you press a measuring cup into a container and push flour into the cup, you’ll end up with way too much flour, spoon the flour into the cup and level off the top of the measuring cup with the back of a table knife. Aim to add only enough flour to be able to manage the dough because the wetter/stickier the dough the more moist (and tasty!) the bread will be. On the flip side, if the dough is too wet and sticky to manage, it will spread too much/not have enough structure.
Note 3: Cooling Time: Once you remove the bread from the oven, allow time for the bread to stand on the sheet pan for about 5-10 minutes and then on a wire cooling rack for at least 30 minutes -- this rest time is just as important as the bake time! The residual heat and steam ensure the inside is fully baked through. As tempting as it is to cut in, don't rush it because you'll likely end up with a slightly doughy center.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 338kcal | Carbohydrates: 55.9g | Protein: 7.9g | Fat: 9.8g | Cholesterol: 39.8mg | Sodium: 153.4mg | Fiber: 1.9g | Sugar: 13.2g

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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