Made with 8 simple ingredients, this Irish soda bread recipe is quick, easy, and delicious. Serve it warm with butter, jam, or a bowl of soup or stew!
This Irish soda bread recipe is the quickest, easiest way I know to make a great loaf of bread at home. It calls for 8 basic ingredients, and you can mix up the dough and get it into the oven in under 20 minutes—no rising required! It bakes up with a crisp, golden brown crust and a tender, buttery interior that’s studded with sweet dried currants. Make it for St. Patrick’s Day this weekend…and then, keep making it! This Irish soda bread recipe is way too simple and way too good to just be a once-a-year treat.
What is soda bread?
But first thing’s first! What is soda bread, anyway? This Irish quick bread gets its name from the fact that its leavening agent is baking soda, not yeast. In its simplest form, it consists of four ingredients: flour, buttermilk, baking soda, and salt. My recipe, along with many other American soda bread recipes, takes it in a slightly sweeter, richer direction by adding butter, sugar, eggs, and currants or raisins. Caraway seeds are also a common addition, though I’ve omitted them here.
Enjoy Irish soda bread alongside your St. Patrick’s Day feast of corned beef and cabbage (or my cabbage soup!), or serve it warm with a slather of butter and/or jam.
Irish Soda Bread Recipe Ingredients
Here’s what you’ll need to make this Irish soda bread recipe:
- Baking soda, of course! It leavens the bread.
- All-purpose flour – Spoon and level it to avoid packing too much into your measuring cup. If you prefer to weigh your flour, you’ll need 438g, plus more for kneading the dough.
- Buttermilk – It adds moisture to the loaf, but that’s not all! Its acidity is crucial for activating the baking soda, helping the bread to rise.
- An egg – It adds extra rise and richness.
- Butter – It gives the bread a yummy buttery flavor.
- Cane sugar and dried currants – They add sweetness to the loaf. No currants handy? Raisins work too!
- And sea salt – To make all the flavors pop!
Find the complete recipe with measurements below.
How to Make Irish Soda Bread
As bread recipes go, this Irish soda bread couldn’t be simpler! Here’s how to make it:
First, whisk together the buttermilk and egg. To save myself a dish, I like to combine them in the liquid measuring cup that I use to measure the buttermilk.
Next, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk thoroughly to evenly incorporate the baking soda with the flour.
Cut the butter into small cubes and add it to flour mixture. Toss to coat it in the flour, then use your hands to work it into the dry ingredients until it’s in roughly pea-sized pieces. Mix in the currants.
Then, add the buttermilk mixture. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk and egg. Stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until the wet and dry ingredients come together into a shaggy dough.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead to form it into a ball. It should be soft, but not too sticky.
If it’s very sticky, work in a bit more flour. If it’s dry, knead in a little more buttermilk.
Then, bake! Transfer the dough ball to a parchment-lined sheet pan (a cast-iron skillet works too!) and use a sharp knife to score the top with a 1/2-inch-deep cross. This allows heat to access the middle of the loaf. Pop the loaf into a 400°F oven and bake until golden brown, 45 to 50 minutes. You’ll know the loaf is ready if it makes a hollow sound when you tap the bottom.
Let the soda bread cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring it to a wire rack to continue cooling. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!
- Currants like to clump. Make sure to break them up before you add them to the flour mixture. If the currants are clumped together when they go into the dough, they’ll be clumped together in the loaf!
- Score the top with a cross. It gives Irish soda bread its signature look and helps the loaf cook through in the middle.
- Foil is your friend. Is your Irish soda bread getting too dark before the middle has cooked through? Tent the loaf with a sheet of aluminum foil and continue to bake.
- No buttermilk? No problem. Though I like this recipe best when it’s made with buttermilk, you can use a buttermilk substitute if necessary. Squeeze 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice into the bottom of a liquid measuring cup. Then, fill the cup with regular milk or unsweetened almond milk to the 1 1/3 cup line. Let stand for 5 minutes before proceeding with the recipe.
- Freeze it. Irish soda bread dries out QUICK. Enjoy some fresh on the day that it’s baked, and then slice the rest and stash it in the freezer. The frozen slices toast up beautifully and are delicious with a slather of butter or jam!
More Favorite Bread Recipes
If you love this Irish soda bread, try one of these easy homemade bread recipes next:
- No-Knead Bread
- Rosemary Focaccia
- Homemade Pita Bread
- Jalapeño Cornbread
- Homemade Cornbread
- Healthy Banana Bread
- Chocolate Zucchini Bread
- Pumpkin Bread
Irish Soda Bread
- 1⅓ cups buttermilk*
- 1 large egg
- 3½ cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled (438g), plus more for kneading
- 2 tablespoons cane sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
- Scant 1 cup dried currants or raisins
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the cubed butter and toss to coat. Use your hands to work the butter into the flour mixture until it is in roughly pea-sized pieces. Add the currants and stir to coat in the flour.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the buttermilk mixture. Stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead to form it into a ball. The dough should be soft but not too sticky. If it is very sticky, knead in a bit more flour. If it feels dry, add a bit more buttermilk.
- Transfer the dough ball to the baking sheet and use a sharp knife to score the top with a ½-inch-deep cross. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the loaf is golden brown and it makes a hollow sound when you tap the bottom. If it is browning too quickly before it is cooked through, tent it with foil and continue to bake.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to continue cooling.
Aha! Now I know!
I only use buttermilk in baking, so buying it would be a waste. I do keep powdered buttermilk on hand and it’s been a real godsend. It’s always there, easy to mix, and so much better than adding lemon or vinegar to regular milk. Thicker and creamier and giving the perfect taste. I’ve tried various Irish soda bread recipes over the year and will be giving this one a try later this week.
Hi Linda, thanks for the tip about powdered buttermilk!
I *love* buttermilk (or Kefir) on oatmeal and other whole grain cereals. But then, I love oatmeal in general. I am making this with half white whole wheat–will see how it works.
This looks delicious, do you happen to know of any substitutes to make it gluten-free? Thanks!
Hi Danele, a GF all-purpose blend like Bob’s might work, but we haven’t tried it.