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There is nothing better than a loaf of Irish Soda Bread fresh out of the oven. Made with baking soda, buttermilk and raisins, this is a quick and easy bread recipe you will love!
So happy to be sharing this Irish Soda Bread recipe with you all today! I married an Irish man (my last name is Brennan after all!) so every St. Patrick’s day, we’ve started making Irish Beef Stew, Mashed Potatoes and this Irish Soda Bread! It’s a quick bread raised with baking soda and baked to golden brown perfection. It’s slightly sweet because of the raisins and truly delicious fresh out of the oven with lots of butter! Make this bread friends, it’s amazing.
But first, what is Irish soda bread?
Irish Soda Bread is a type of bread that is leavened by baking soda instead of traditional yeast (hence the ‘soda’ in the name). Originally soda bread popped up in North America and was made by Native Americans however, it is part of deep Irish traditions surrounding St. Patrick’s day too!
The Irish made their version when they didn’t have access to better ingredients for bread. Traditionally Irish Soda Bread was made because of a people’s hardship, but thank goodness because without them, we wouldn’t have THIS delicious recipe.
Okay, let’s move on from this history lesson and get into making this bread!
Irish Soda Bread Ingredients
Start by gathering up these ingredients for Irish Soda Bread. You should already have most of these on hand, they are pantry staples.
- All-Purpose Flour – I use unbleached, but bleached is fine, too!
- Granulated Sugar – for a hint of sweetness.
- Baking Soda – this is our leavening agent.
- Salt – to balance out all of the flavors.
- Butter – use cold, cubed butter for best results.
- Egg – this is used for structure since baking soda is slightly weaker than yeast when it comes to bread.
- Buttermilk – this is an essential ingredient to help activate the baking soda. More on that below.
- Raisins – this is an optional ingredient but it’s so tasty. Consider replacing with another type of dried fruit of your choice.
The secret for the best Irish soda bread
The secret for the best Irish Soda Bread is the buttermilk. It is essential to the bread’s flavor, texture and rise by adding fats, moisture, and by reacting with the baking soda for an optimal rise. Seriously, if you don’t have buttermilk, go out and buy some.
If you don’t have buttermilk in your fridge, make your own by stirring plain milk with a little white vinegar or lemon juice. This recipe calls for 1 3/4 cups of buttermilk but if you’re using this substitution trick, use 1 1/2 cups milk and stir with 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Let it sit for a couple of minutes to sour before using. (I use 1/4 cup less milk because it’s not as thick as buttermilk.)
Tips and Tricks
Here are a few tips and tricks to remember or to refer back to when making Irish Soda Bread.
- Don’t Overwork: overworking your dough could lead to it not rising correctly or being too tough. Since this is a quick rise soda bread, you don’t need to knead it like yeasted doughs. It’s meant to be soft and crumbly.
- Score the Top: scoring the top of the dough ball with an X is not only tradition but it also has a purpose. The X on top helps the middle of the bread cook evenly with the rest of the outside.
- Baking Pan: you can bake this bread in a variety of different baking containers. Whether that be a baking sheet, a baking pan or a cast-iron skillet. I just opted for a plain old cookie sheet, but anything will do!
How to make Irish Soda Bread
Follow these easy steps to make the best Irish Soda Bread. For full details and exact recipe measurements, check out the recipe card below.
- Preheat oven. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large bowl whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Work the butter into the dry mixture until butter is the size of small peas.
- Pour in buttermilk all at once and incorporate until just combined. The dough will be very wet! Stir in raisins.
- Flour clean work surface well with flour and dump the dough into the center. Sprinkle with more flour and work into a circular loaf. Transfer to the baking sheet. Score an “X” over top of the loaf using a very sharp knife.
- Bake until browned and thoroughly baked. Cool before slicing and serving.
How to Serve
Irish Soda Bread can be served with either savory or sweet spreads. Butter is always a delicious classic that compliments any flavor combo you are going for.
This bread can also be served alongside soups and stews for a comforting and filling meal.
After the loaf has baked and cooled completely freeze Irish Soda Bread for up to 3 months. Be sure to wrap tightly and store in a freezer-safe container.
Defrost in the fridge overnight then reheat as desired (warm it up or toast it).
More Bread Recipes to Try!
- EASY Homemade Bread Recipe
- Hasselback Homemade Garlic Bread Recipe
- Potato Rolls
- Seriously *the best* Cornbread Recipe
Be sure to check out my other bread recipes while you’re at it.
The printable recipe card is below, enjoy!
Irish Soda Bread
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large bowl whisk flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry cutter/blender, work butter into the dry mixture until butter is the size of small peas.
- Pour in buttermilk all at once and incorporate until just combined. Dough will be very wet! Stir in raisins.
- Flour clean work surface well with flour and dump dough into the center. Sprinkle with more flour and work into a circular loaf. Transfer to baking sheet. Score an "X" over top of the loaf using a very sharp knife.
- Bake 35-45 minutes or until browned and thoroughly baked. Cool 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving.