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Easy Traditional Irish Soda Bread Recipe

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If you love freshly baked bread, traditional Irish soda bread is a must-try. This hearty bread has a golden-brown crust with a soft, tender crumb, and is the easiest bread you’ll make!

Traditional soda bread requires no rising time, a few basic ingredients and takes only 55 minutes to come together. The best part – while quick and easy, it doesn’t lack any flavor! This St. Patrick’s Day favorite has an almost biscuit like texture and pairs beautiful with cold butter or a hearty stew.

Irish soda bread on bread board with butter.

Why You’ll Love this Easy Soda Bread Recipe

This Irish soda bread recipe requires only 4 ingredients and will help you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day the right way! It’s also a fun recipe to bake with kids because it’s quick and easy to make. Kids can easily help shape the round loaf, as it’s supposed to have a bit of craggy crust anyways. Plus, no yeast is required, which drastically cuts down on the prep time.

However, the real secret to this classic family recipe is buttermilk. Buttermilk chemically reacts with the baking soda to provide the homemade bread’s leavening. It also happens to add delicious flavor!

If you’re baking for St. Patrick’s Day, you’ll also love our Brownie Bites with Buttercream Frosting.

Round soda dough loaf on marble.

Sliced Irish soda bread on bread board.

Traditional Irish Soda Bread Ingredients

Flour: This recipe calls for all-purpose flour and not whole-wheat flour. Traditionally, the Irish used soft wheat flour which is somewhat similar to cake flour and is low in gluten.

Buttermilk: This is a necessary ingredient because the acid in the room temperature buttermilk activates the baking soda which makes the bread rise. Here’s a good substitute if you don’t have buttermilk: Mix milk with white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice. You can also use plain yogurt mixed with regular milk.

Baking soda: It is also known as Sodium Bicarbonate, Bicarbonate of Soda, bi carb, or bread soda in Ireland. It was and still is used as a leavening agent instead of yeast. When making Soda Bread be sure to use baking soda, NOT baking powder.

Salt: Salt adds flavor to the bread.

Ingredients, including flour, baking soda, buttermilk and salt.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I add a little sugar to traditional soda bread?

You certainly can, but traditional Irish soda bread doesn’t have sugar in it and is not meant to be sweet or airy.

How long does Irish soda bread last?

Soda bread can dry out quickly. It’s best when freshly baked or toasted. You can store it tightly wrapped for about 2-3 days or freeze it for up to 2 months.

Sliced traditional Irish soda bread on bread board.

Why do the Irish put a cross on top of the loaf and poke it with a sharp knife?

Depending on who you talk to, the cross is meant to bless the bread or let the divel (devil) out. Poking it in all four sections is to create holes so that the fairies can escape from it.

Irish soda bread served with butter.

Can you bake Irish soda bread with gluten-free flour?

You certainly can! Traditionally the Irish used soft wheat flour which was low in gluten so in a way soda bread is designed for low gluten flour.

Can I add other ingredients to soda bread?

Soda bread is so versatile. You can add whisky-soaked raisins, caraway seeds, jalapeños, rosemary, cheese, dried cherries, sultanas, dates, butter, or sugar.

Irish soda bread on marble counter for St. Patrick's Day.

Sliced soda bread.

Can you prepare the dough earlier and then bake it later?

I wouldn’t recommend that. It’s best to bake the bread immediately after kneading because the baking soda is most active and will ensure that the bread will rise well.

Can I use a salt substitute for this recipe?

Absolutely.

Will doubling the baking soda make the soda bread rise more?

Unfortunately, it won’t. It will only give the bread a metallic taste.

Soda bread on a marble counter with shamrock decorations.

How do I keep the crust from getting too hard?

Wrapping Irish soda bread in a damp tea towel for about an hour after baking will prevent its crust from getting too hard.

Can I divide the dough so I can make smaller loaves?

You certainly can! Especially if you plan on giving some to your neighbors and friends for St. Patrick’s Day. The baking time will be less though, so keep a close eye on the bread.

Uncut soda bread on bread board.

Tools Needed to Make Irish Soda Bread

Baking sheet, cast iron skillet, or Dutch oven
Parchment paper
Measuring cup
Measuring spoon
Mixing bowl
Wire rack
Serrated knife or sharp knife
Wooden spoon

Soda bread loaf on marble.

Soda bread cut and served on bread board.

How to Make No Yeast Irish Soda Bread

Step 1
Preheat your oven temperature to 400° F.

Step 2
Mix together all your dry ingredients: white flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.

Dry ingredients in glass bowl.

Step 3
Create a well in the middle of the flour mixture. Pour into it the buttermilk or whole milk mixed with vinegar or lime juice.

Dry ingredients in a glass bowl with well in the middle.Buttermilk and dry ingredients in a glass bowl.

Step 4
Mix the Irish soda bread dough using your hands or a wooden spoon until the dough comes together.

Irish soda bread dough in glass bowl.

Step 5
Sprinkle flour over your work surface and transfer the dough onto it.

Step 6
Knead the dough lightly. Don’t over-knead your dough. Over kneading will result in a very dense loaf.

Step 7
Shape the dough into a ball and flatten the top.

Irish soda bread round on marble.

Step 8
Let the divel (devil) out by cutting a deep cross onto the top of the bread. The cut should be 1 inch deep, and it ensures the bread bakes evenly inside.

Irish soda bread with cross cut in the middle.

Step 9
Poke the bread a few times with the tip of your knife for good luck and to let the fairies out of the bread.

Irish soda bread with knife puncturing dough.Irish soda bread dough on marble.

Step 10
Transfer the loaf onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and then bake in the middle rack for 40-45 Minutes. The parchment paper keeps the bread from sticking to the baking sheet.

If your soda bread looks like it’s browning too fast in the oven, cover it loosely with aluminum foil and then lower the heat to 350 degrees.

Soda bread dough on pan with parchment paper.

Step 11
Check on your loaf about 30 minutes into the bake, just to make sure it doesn’t over-brown.

Step 12
Your soda bread is ready when you pierce it with a toothpick and it comes out clean. You can also tap the bottom of the loaf. If you hear a hollow sound, then that’s a good sign that it’s ready.

Let the homemade bread you just made cool completely before serving. Serve your traditional Irish Soda Bread with a bowl of hearty Irish stew or slather its tender crumb with a slice of Irish butter.

Enjoy! If you try this recipe, please come back to share using my 5-star rating in the comments below!

More Classic Recipes

Chocolate Cranberry Sourdough Bread
Mini Brownie Bites with Buttercream Frosting
The Best Chocolate Chunk Cookies

 

Easy Traditional Irish Soda Bread

5 from 2 votes
Serves | 12 servings
Celebrate St. Patrick's Day the right way with this easy, traditional Irish Soda Bread recipe! Soda bread uses just 4 ingredients and is the world's best no yeast bread. This is a fun recipe to bake with kids because it's really quick to make.
Prep15 mins
Cook40 mins
Total 55 mins

Ingredients
  

Instructions
 

  • Preheat your oven temperature to 400° F.
  • Mix together all your dry ingredients: white flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
  • Create a well in the middle of the flour mixture. Pour into it the buttermilk or whole milk mixed with vinegar or lime juice.
  • Mix the Irish soda bread dough using your hands or a wooden spoon until the dough comes together.
  • Sprinkle flour over your work surface and transfer the dough onto it.
  • Knead the dough lightly. Don't over-knead your dough. Overkneading will result in a very dense loaf.
  • Shape the dough into a ball and flatten the top.
  • Let the divel (devil) out by cutting a deep cross onto the top of the bread. The cut should be 1 inch deep and it ensures the bread bakes evenly inside.
  • Poke the bread a few times with the tip of your knife for good luck and also to let the fairies out of the bread.
  • Transfer the loaf onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and then bake in the middle rack for 40-45 Minutes. The parchment paper keeps the bread from sticking to the baking sheet.
    If your soda bread looks like it's browning too fast in the oven, cover it loosely with aluminum foil and then lower the heat to 350 degrees.
  • Check on your loaf about 30 minutes into the bake, just to make sure it doesn't over-brown.
  • Your soda bread is ready when you pierce it with a toothpick and it comes out clean. You can also tap the bottom of the loaf. If you hear a hollow sound, then that's a good sign that it’s ready.
    Let the homemade bread cool completely before serving.

Notes

Serving suggestions: Serve your traditional Irish Soda Bread with a bowl of Irish stew or slather its tender crumb with a slice of Irish butter.
For extra flavor: Add whisky-soaked raisins, caraway seeds, jalapenos, rosemary, cheese, dried cherries, sultanas, dates, butter, or sugar.
Buttermilk subsitution: Mix milk with white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice. You can also use plain yogurt mixed with regular milk.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice, Calories: 180kcal (9%), Carbohydrates: 34g (11%), Protein: 6g (12%), Fat: 2g (3%), Saturated Fat: 1g (6%), Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 5mg (2%), Sodium: 384mg (17%), Potassium: 105mg (3%), Fiber: 1g (4%), Sugar: 2g (2%), Vitamin A: 74IU (1%), Calcium: 58mg (6%), Iron: 2mg (11%)
Course | Bread
Cuisine | American,Irish
Did You Make This?I'd love to see it! Follow @PrettyDomesticated on Instagram, take a photo and tag it with #prettydomesticated.
© Pretty Domesticated

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