Don’t miss out on a loaf of this Traditional Irish Soda Bread this St. Patrick’s Day! With just a handful of ingredients, this is a quick and easy homemade bread anyone can master.
I think Irish Soda Bread is about my favorite bread to bake at home.
Maybe because it doesn’t have yeast and doesn’t need to rise, so I can make it with less than an hour to spare before dinner.
Or maybe because it’s so delicious, I could devour the entire warm loaf by myself, ha!
What is Irish Soda Bread?
So, how does it even work to bake a bread without yeast, and in such a short amount of time?
Well, the secret lies behind what soda bread actually is.
I know there’s lots of recipes with eggs, sugar, raisins… out there, but that’s not what actually goes into an authentic Irish soda bread recipe.
Mine just has 4 ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda and buttermilk. OK, 5 if you’re going to use half whole wheat flour and half white flour.
So in short, it’s a quick bread you can serve both with a hearty soup or with butter and jam – super versatile, easy and absolutely delicious.
Traditional Irish Soda Bread Recipe
What is Irish soda bread made of?
I already gave you the ingredients for this bread above, but it’s such a short list you might just as well see them again:
- baking soda
Yes, it really is that simple. You can make it with all white flour, or (my preferred method) turn it into a whole wheat Irish soda bread by using half whole wheat flour.
I do not recommend making a 100% whole wheat soda bread, as it tends to turn out somewhat dense and heavy.
How do you make Irish Soda Bread?
This is a very easy recipe, but there are definitely a few tricks to getting it just right:
The dough handling
Normally, you’d knead a bread dough thoroughly, probably in your stand mixer. Right?
Well, not this one. This one should be handled as little as possible or you’ll knock out all the air that makes this bread rise.
Stir the buttermilk into the dry ingredients with your fingers just until they come together. Turn out the dough onto a lined and floured baking sheet, gather it into a ball and lightly knead 4-5 times before shaping it into a slightly flat circle.
That’s all the dough handling you need to do! It takes less than 5 minutes. Win!
The cross cut
Did you know one of the most crucial steps in making soda bread is the way you slash it before baking?
Since it’s a very close-textured dough, it’s difficult for the heat to get all the way through it. UNLESS you cross cut it really well.
This is no time to be gentle – your unbaked bread should end up looking like a four leaf clover, with a cross cut that divides it into four sections.
You really DO need to cut almost all the way through the bread, or it will not bake right in the middle. I like using my dough scraper for this!
I have this exact one from Amazon. (FYI, this is an affiliate link and I earn a commission for purchases made after clicking through.)
How do you know when soda bread is done?
Tap the bottom of the bread – if it sounds hollow, your bread is done!
How do you keep Irish soda bread fresh?
Soda bread tends to dry out quickly, and it’s best served on the day you made it.
If you want to store leftovers for a day or two, wrap it into a clean kitchen towel and toast before serving.
Can I freeze Irish soda bread?
Yes, you can. I don’t do it often because it bakes so quickly, but it’s a great way to make ahead some tasty food.
Wrap well and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost on the counter and either toast sliced or reheat the loaf in the oven at 325°F for 10-15 minutes.
How do you eat traditional Irish soda bread?
Since this is neither sweet nor savory, it goes well with a lot of dishes. Some of our favorite ways to eat it:
- toasted with butter and jam
- as an open-faced cheese sandwich
- with a hearty soup or stew – instant pot Irish stew or slow cooker Irish stew would be perfect!
More Easy Homemade Bread Recipes:
Traditional Irish Soda Bread
- 4 cups flour either all white OR half white, half whole wheat
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1.5 cups buttermilk or a little more, if dough seems dry
- Prep: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat OR with baking parchment and generously flour it.
- Mix dry ingredients: Add flour, salt and baking soda to a large mixing bowl. Stir well.
- Make dough: Slowly pour in the buttermilk while stirring with your fingers, until you have a sticky dough. Turn it out on the prepared baking sheet and knead it 4-5 times. Shape into a slightly flat circle.
- Finish and bake: Sprinkle the top of the bread with flour. Make two deep incisions crosswise through the entire bread (it should look like a four-leaf clover, do cut almost through the bread!). Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden in color and hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cool on a rack before serving warm.