This classic Irish Soda bread recipe couldn’t be simpler! Made with real, wholesome ingredients, and an easy to shape loaf I just know you are going to love it. I love making this Irish soda bread with raisins for St. Patrick’s day and I know you will too!
Get out the butter friend, because you’re gonna need it for this Irish soda bread recipe. What can I say? I am just in love with this recipe. Maybe because it doesn’t require any yeast. Or that it’s super quick to make. And also uses pretty basic pantry ingredients. Basically all the best reasons and why you should be running to your kitchen like NOW.
My Irish soda bread recipe is made with a little bit of sugar, so it has a touch of sweetness and is perfect for slathering with that butter you took out. Or maybe some jam? And even though it has a hint of sweetness I still think this would be great for sopping up a hearty Guinness beef stew, if that’s your thing.
Or hey, I’ll make the bread. You make the stew. And I’ll be right over. Ok but first let’s talk about this bread a bit shall we?
Is Irish Soda Bread Really Irish?
Turns out soda bread did not originate from Ireland, but it is most closely associated with coming from there because it was adopted due to increased poverty and hunger during the potato famine.
And traditional Irish Soda bread would not include any add-ins like I used such as raisins. And a traditional recipe would be very simple – flour, leavening agent, salt, and buttermilk.
Then there is the cross cut on top. Some source say the cross is made in the top to ward off the Devil and protect the household. (source: Abigail’s bakery). Others say it’s so that the bread can be divided easily. It’s practical magic if there ever was if you ask me!
Irish Soda Bread Ingredients
- All-purpose flour – I used just regular all purpose flour for best texture. For best results I suggest weighing your flour with a scale. If you do not own a scale, then make sure to give this post a read on How To Measure Flour.
- Baking soda – This will react with the buttermilk in the bread to help provide balanced acid-base reaction and proper rise.
- Baking powder– This will also be used to help make the bread rise. Make sure your leavening agents are fresh and not expired. You can read more here about Baking Powder vs. Baking Soda.
- Salt – Salt is always needed to help balance all the flavors. I love kosher salt as I think it has a more pure salt taste than regular table salt. You can read more here about The Role Of Salt In Baking.
- Unsalted butter – I used unsalted butter, but if you only have salted butter than you want to reduce the salt in the recipe. Make sure it’s softened so it incorporated into the dough easily. You can read more here about Unsalted Butter Vs. Salted Butter In Baking.
- Buttermilk – I love the flavor that buttermilk gives to the bread! You can always make your own How To Make Homemade Buttermilk. It won’t have quite the same results but will do just fine. However, regular milk won’t as it won’t react the same with the baking soda.
- Egg – You need one large egg, at room temperature to help bind the dough together and add richness, and to help tenderize. You can add your egg to a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes before starting.
- Raisins – These are optional, but usually added. I have also added in the past orange zest. Or swapped out the raisins for caraway seeds. Or try adding cheese instead (when I do this I omit the sugar)
How To Make This Irish Soda Bread
Making Irish soda bread is really no hard than making any quick bread recipe really. Like banana bread. It’s all about using a leavening agent. And of course not overmixing.
Start by pre-heating your oven to 375°F degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
And you can make this bread in your stand mixer all in one bowl. After you have measured all your dry ingredients into the bowl.
You want to add softened butter to the dry ingredients. I cut mine up into tablespoons so it mixes in easier. You want the butter to be broken down into pea-sized amounts.
Pro Tip: If you forgot to take the butter out early (I do this all the time, so I hear ya) then here are 3 fast ways to soften your butter.
Once your butter has been incorporated, then add in your buttermilk and egg. Buttermilk has to give the bread such great flavor and moisture. If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, then you can make your own buttermilk at home.
Now here is where you can have some fun. You can add in raisins like I did, which is pretty traditional. Or try caraway seeds. Even orange zest! I tried them all. My favorite combination was the raisins and orange zest, but this time I kept it simple and just added raisins. But do what works for you!
And that’s it. You just need to simply pat the dough into a round onto a cookie sheet with parchment paper or into a cast iron skillet. The cast iron skillet method will cause the bread to spread a little less.
With a serrated knife, cut an “x” into the top of the bread.
You can brush the top with a little bit more buttermilk or a sprinkle of sugar for a bit more sweetness.
Tips For Making Irish Soda Bread
- Soften your butter. Make sure your butter is softened so that it can be easily incorporated into the dough. You can let the butter sit on the counter for 3o minutes to an hour, cubed, for it to soften quickly. Here are 3 more ways to soften your butter quickly.
- Careful Measuring. Be sure to measure your flour correctly. Too much flour will result in a dense bread. I recommend first by stirring the flour before you start to measure. Then scoop the flour into your cup with a spoon and level off with a flat edge.
- Do not overmix. Because this is essentially a quick bread, meaning it’s leavened with baking soda and baking powder too much mixing can result in too much gluten being formed. And too much gluten will result in an overly chewy bread.
Can I Use Whole Wheat Flour?
I have made a whole wheat version of this bread to make a bit heartier. You can check out the Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread Recipe And healthier I guess. Win win right? I used half whole wheat flour and half all purpose flour for the best texture.
How Long Does Irish Soda Bread Last?
Irish soda bread can dry out quickly. So unless you are eating right away (which is what I recommend! With a bit of butter) then you want to wrap it up in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. It will stay fresh this way for 3-4 days.
The bread can also be frozen for 2-3 months.
Do I have to add raisins?
You absolutely don’t! Try caraway seeds instead for a fun twist or cheddar cheese. When I make a savory version I always omit the sugar.
More St. Patrick’s Day Recipes
- Chocolate Guinness Cake,
- Mint Oreo Stuffed Bailey’s Cupcakes
- Chocolate Baileys Macarons
- Thin Mint Cupcakes
- Mint Oreo Brownies
To Make This Recipe You Will Need:
If you want to become a better baker, then enroll in my Ultimate Baking Bootcamp class! Enroll here!
Irish Soda Bread
- Cookie sheet
- silicone baking mat
- cast iron skillet
- 4 cups (480 grams) all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick, 113 g) unsalted butter softened, cut into tablespoons
- 1 cup (240 grams) buttermilk room temperature
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 1 cup (150 g) raisins
- Pre-heat oven to 375oF degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Or you can bake this in a 10- inch cast iron skillet (which will cause the bread to spread less.) Or an 8 or 9 inch cake pan would also work.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer with paddle attachment, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt. Mix on low to combine. Add in the butter and mix to combine. Butter should be in pea-sized amounts and mixture should be crumbly. Add the buttermilk and egg and stir to combine.
- Add in the raisins. You may need to stir this in by hand with a spatula. Do not overmix.
- Turn the dough onto your cookie sheet and shape into a ball. Pat down slightly into about a 8-9 inch circle. Brush the top with more buttermilk or a sprinkle of sugar (optional). Using a serrated knife, cut an "X" across the top of the bread. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until golden brown and internal temperature of 190oF. Cool on a cooling rack.
- Tools: Stand Mixer | Spatula | Cookie Sheet | Silicone baking mat
- Storage: I wrap mine in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to a week. Just make sure it's cooled completely. Or you can freeze for longer (for this I will double wrap it, and then tinfoil layer or plastic bag) and freeze for up to 3 months.
- Buttermilk substitution: You can make a DIY buttermilk that will work for this bread.
- Whole wheat flour substitution: I always recommend substituting only 1/2 of the AP flour for whole wheat flour for best texture. I have made a whole wheat version of this bread to make a bit heartier. You can check out the Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread Recipe.
- Raisins: You can omit these if you want or try adding 1-2 tablespoons of caraway seeds, or 1 cup of cheddar cheese, or fresh herbs. For a savory loaf, I omit the sugar.