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Traditional Irish Soda Bread Recipe

Traditional Irish Soda Bread can be mixed up in five minutes with 4 simple ingredients, flour, soda, buttermilk and salt.  Baked to a tender crumb inside with a slightly crunchy edge shell.  Easily personalized with your favorite ingredients (nuts, fruits, chocolate)

Irish Soda Bread up close showing crunchy golden crust color

With St Patricks Day coming up I like to make an Irish Soda Bread Recipe.  It can be made in no time and can easily adapt the soda bread recipe to make it just the way whoever I’m making it for likes it.  It makes a good loaf that is easily brought to pot lucks, or as a gift for a neighbor.

Each loaf when finished has a tender crumb inside with a slightly crunchy edge.  It makes great sandwiches although it does tend to be very filling so we usually only use one slice when making a sandwich.  Its best served right after cooling after baking.  Butter is a nice topping, but its fine alone with no topping at all.

What is Traditional Irish Soda Bread?

Irish soda bread is a simple bread made with just four ingredients.  Buttermilk, flour, salt and baking soda.

Soda bread came from Ireland and was born out of poverty.  At the time it became popular because it had only four ingredients that were readily available and affordable.

The flour available in Ireland  was made from the crops grown there from wheat that made soft flours (think pastry and cake type flours and a lower gluten content.) Because of this flour soda bread only needed the soda to allow the bread to rise.

Historically there is a cross cut onto the top and some historical accounts say that this was done in Irish Monastary’s to have the loaf be blessed.

How to make Soda Bread
four ingredients make the dough of basic Irish soda bread

Irish Soda Bread Shaped into a loaf for baking

Making soda bread is very easy.  There is no kneading you need only put the ingredients in a bowl and stir. When you are stirring it will come together very quickly.  You don’t want to ever work it or it will be tough so you will stir just until the dough is all wet and mixed together but not smooth and shiny.  In the photo above you can see the dough is combined; its wet and no leftover flour is seen, but it’s still a little craggy not smooth and shiny in texture.  

At this point, you can put it out on a floured surface and your hands will form it easily into a loaf.  Once it’s in a loaf form you can place it on the sheet you’re baking on.  You’ll need to cut an “X” or a cross into the top of the loaf.  While history says this was for “blessing the bread” in actuality it is to allow the loaf to open up and expand easily and aids in making sure the center of the loaf bake completely an not have a raw center.

All that is left at this point is to bake your loaf.  I highly suggest you flip your pan at about halfway through.  This helps with even baking and accounts for any hot spots in your oven.  You will also need to be very patient and allow the loaf to cool for a good half hour after removing it from the oven.

The loaf continues to bake while it is resting.  You don’t want a raw piece when you get to the middle of the loaf.

Slice of soda bread with melting butter on top .

Customization and Substitutions for an Irish Soda Bread Recipe

Do you have to use buttermilk?  You can sub 1/2 cup yogurt and 1/2 cup milk for buttermilk.  The flavor will be slightly different, but it won’t be very noticeable.  I haven’t tried it (but I’m going to very soon and I’ll report back) but you can also use Irish stout.  Any beer will work, its the yeast in the beer that you need to have to react with the soda in the bread to have it rise.

How can you customize your soda bread?

Add-ins are done at the last minute before making the bread into a loaf.  Items that you can use are as follows:

  • dried fruits such a cranberries and apricots
  • raisins
  • nuts, such as walnuts and pecans
  • seeds such as sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds
  • chocolate chips (you can mix the kinds maybe combine white and dark in the same loaf)
  • m & m’s or any chopped up candies
Irish Soda Bread loaves cooling before serving with fresh butter.

When customizing your loaf the possibilities are endless.  You can also put in a mix of any of the above.  The recipe included can withstand about 1 -1/2 cups of any add-in for each loaf.  

Pin this recipe to your St Patricks Day Board or your Food Gifts board. You can also follow me on Facebook here for more easy recipes for entertaining!  (Facebook not your thing….. thats ok too!  I have you covered with a mailing list on this page where it says “join the west via midwest community!”  )

Looking for other easy recipes for giving to your neighbors or taking for a potluck!  Madi from Mildly Meandering has some amazing Palmier Cookies here! Or be sure and check out these for  Cranberry Orange Bread Tropical Cookies and Million Calorie bars!

More Irish recipes you might enjoy!

Yield: 12 slices

Traditional Irish Soda Bread (easy customizable!)

Traditional Irish Soda Bread can be mixed up in five minutes with 4 simple ingredients, flour, soda, buttermilk and salt.  Baked to a tender crumb inside with slightly crunchy edge shell.  Easily personalized with your favorite ingredients (nuts, fruits, chocolate)

Traditional Irish Soda Bread can be mixed up in five minutes with 4 simple ingredients, flour, soda, buttermilk and salt.  Baked to a tender crumb inside with slightly crunchy edge shell.  Easily personalized with your favorite ingredients (nuts, fruits, chocolate)

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes


  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup dried cranberries or raisins, (optional add in)
  • 1 cup walnuts, (optional add in)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips, (optional add in)


  1. Mix together flour, baking soda and salt.
  2. Add buttermilk and stir vigorously until dough comes together. Dont over work it.  The dough will be craggy.  Meaning the flour is totally absorbed and the dough is wet, but it isnt shiny and stretchy.
  3. Add fruit, nuts, or whatever you wish to add in.
  4. Turn dough out on a lightly floured bowl work surface and knead gently for one minute.  Do not overwork.
  5. Pat dough into a disc and place on a greased sheet pan or a pan lined with parchment paper.
  6. Slash the top of the loaf to resemble a cross.
  7. Bake at 375° for about 50 minutes.  Cover with foil for the first 20 minutes to prevent over browning.  Flip pan once during baking to avoid any hotspots in your oven.
  8. Allow to cool before slicing.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

12 slices

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 176Cholesterol: 4mgSodium: 424mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 5g
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Alyssa | Flaxseeds & Fairytales

Sunday 11th of March 2018

Yum! This looks delicious! I've only had Irish soda bread a few times a long time ago, but I remember loving it. I can't believe it's so easy to make!

Unfortunately, I was diagnosed with a severe gluten allergy and can no longer enjoy recipes like this one. Do you think this would be possible to make with a gluten-free baking mix (like Bob Red Mill's 1 to 1)? I might give it a try for St. Patrick's Day! I'll let you know how it turns out. Thanks for sharing!


Sunday 11th of March 2018

Hi Alyssa-- Unfortunately I know there are so many variations of GF flours Im not sure if that one will work. If you do try it I would love to hear how the Bob's works out. However, if you'd like to try a tried and tested gf recipe my friend Michelle at My Gluten Free kitchen has a GF Soda bread recipe. Here is the link to the direct recipe. Thanks for stopping by! ~michele

Denay DeGuzman

Tuesday 6th of March 2018

I'd been searching for the perfect Irish Soda Bread Recipe, and I found it right here on your lovely blog! This recipe turned out just as you described. My kitchen smelled fabulous as it was baking. I'm planning on making this yummy bread a second time for St. Patrick's Day!


Wednesday 7th of March 2018

Now you have me wanting to make soda bread right now! Youre so right, it does make the house smell so warm and welcoming! Im so glad you enjoyed it! ~m

Claire | Sprinkles and Sprouts

Tuesday 6th of March 2018

OH that crackly crispy crust is calling my name!! I want to rip a piece off, spread it thickly with salted butter and munch away! I am loving the option to add dried fruit to would make it perfect as an afternoon tea bread - Still with salted butter ;-)


Tuesday 6th of March 2018

A girl after my own heart! Always with salted butter! :) ~m

Kathy McDaniel

Friday 2nd of March 2018

I love soda bread! Such a simple recipe and so good. I'm pinning this to make it later!

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