Searching for the best Irish soda bread recipe? Look no further! This authentic recipe comes straight from Ireland. So easy to make with just 4 ingredients.

Irish soda bread, sliced and served on a wooden board.

I’m so excited March is finally here! It means I can finally start sharing all my best St. Patrick’s Day recipes!

Today’s is super-special, because as you may know, I just returned from a fabulous trip to Ireland, where I learned all about Irish baking, straight from the experts! I’m so thrilled to be sharing this authentic Irish soda bread recipe with you!

If you are looking for some really fun St. Patty’s Day foods, be sure to check out my Shamrock Shake Macarons, Pot of Gold Cupcakes, and Rainbow Fruity Pebble Cake.

But today we are going more for that authentic Irish vibe, and this recipe couldn’t be more so.

I learned it at the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Cork, Ireland. I have always wanted to go there, so it was truly a “pinch me” kind of moment! It really felt like a dream come true to learn real Irish baking from none other than Darina Allen herself. Such an incredible privilege!

She taught us that soda bread is so easy to make from just 4 simple ingredients, and it comes together in just a few minutes. If you’re craving homemade bread but you don’t have time for a big fuss, this is the recipe for you!

It bakes up crusty on the outside, with a soft, fluffy interior. The flavor is quite basic, but perfectly balanced.

You can jazz it up with interesting add-ins if you’d like (more on that later), but as it is it makes a perfect loaf that you’ll love to eat (with real Irish butter!) for breakfast or as an appetizer or side dish to your meal.

Soda bread sliced and served with butter on a wooden board, with a text overlay above that reads "Irish Soda Bread."

WHAT IS SODA BREAD?

Irish soda bread is an easy quick bread recipe that’s made with just 4 ingredients.

It’s much faster than most other bread recipes, because it does not contain any yeast. Soda bread is leavened with just baking soda, so you don’t have to wait a long time for it to rise.

You can whip up this homemade bread in less than an hour and have warm, freshly baked bread on the dinner table for your family in no time at all.

HOW TO MAKE AUTHENTIC IRISH SODA BREAD

To make this easy recipe, start by whisking flour, baking soda, and salt together in a big bowl.

Dry ingredients for making Irish soda bread, in a large glass mixing bowl.

Next, you’re going to add in buttermilk. The exact amount can vary based on the humidity in your kitchen on any given day, so you’ll want to start with a smaller amount and work your way up as needed.

Adding buttermilk to soda bread.

I really think there isn’t any good substitute for real buttermilk in this recipe. If you search around, you’ll see that it’s possible to sour your own milk by adding lemon juice or white vinegar to regular milk, but in my experience that type of substitute only works well when there are lots of other ingredients (like in chocolate cake, for example). With a recipe as simple as this, where there are only 4 ingredients, I think the buttermilk takes on a lot more importance.

It’s definitely worth seeking out real buttermilk if you want to make this, and if you can get your hands on whole milk buttermilk, by all means do it. It’s thicker and richer tasting, and I can find it easily in the dairy section of my regular local supermarket.

Once you’ve added about 1 1/4 cups of buttermilk, begin mixing the dough with your clean hands. This is the way we were taught by the chefs at Ballymaloe! They taught us to make a “claw” with our fingers and mix the dough gently by hand.

Making Irish soda bread dough with your hands.

You can get a better idea of what this looks like by viewing the video in the recipe card below.

If your dough seems really dry, add more buttermilk, a little at a time, until it gathers into a big, sticky ball.

Forming Irish soda bread dough into a ball.

Clean your hands and transfer the dough to a baking sheet.

Transferring Irish soda bread dough to a baking sheet.

Then dust your hands with flour and pat the dough into a circle that’s about 1 1/2-inches thick.

Shaping Irish soda bread into a round loaf.

Flour the blade of your knife, and score the bread in a criss-cross pattern. This is traditional for Irish soda bread! It helps the loaf to rise evenly in the oven.

Scoring Irish soda bread in a criss-cross pattern.

Last but not least, use the tip of your knife to puncture a slit in each of the 4 quarters. This is so important! My teacher at Ballymaloe explained that you have to do this in order to let the faeries out!

Piercing Irish soda bread with the tip of a knife.

Bake the bread at a very high temperature initially (450 degrees F; this is not a typo!), then turn the oven down and finish baking at a slightly lower temp. This will really help the bread to rise nice and fluffy!

You’ll know your soda bread is done baking when it’s golden and crusty, and it makes a hollow sound when you tap it with the tips of your fingers.

HOW TO SERVE IT

There is truly nothing better than warm bread, fresh from the oven! Feel free to cut into this bread straight away.

I like it just as-is, smeared with imported Irish butter (it truly is worlds better!), and maybe a little homemade jam.

But it can also be baked with a few handfuls of just about any kind of mix-in you can imagine! Here are a few ideas:

  • Raisins, dried currants, or sultanas (aka: golden raisins)
  • Shredded cheese (a sharp Irish cheddar would be especially nice)
  • Herbs, such as chives, rosemary, or thyme
  • Roasted garlic or caramelized onions
  • Nuts and/or seeds, such as pistachios, walnuts, caraway seeds, or sunflower seeds

Really you could get as creative as you’d like!

Overhead image of Irish soda bread recipe, prepared and served on a board with a green striped cloth.

IS SODA BREAD HEALTHY?

There’s lots of specific info in the recipe card below, but I can tell you that it is not gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, or vegan.

However it is vegetarian and egg-free, and it does not have any yeast.

And just to clear up any possible confusion, this is not the same as sourdough bread.

CAN THIS BE MADE AHEAD?

While this bread can certainly be made a few days ahead, you probably won’t need to do that since it’s so quick to make.

But if you’re really pinched for time, it will keep for about 4 to 5 days at room temperature. Just be sure to wrap it tightly so it doesn’t become stale or dried out.

Irish soda bread can be re-warmed in a low oven (170 degrees F). Wrap it in foil first, and heat it gently until it’s warmed through.

CAN YOU FREEZE IRISH SODA BREAD

Wrap this loaf up tightly in plastic wrap, then slip it into a freezer bag. It will last in the freezer for several months. Just thaw it at room temperature, and re-warm it as noted above.

Irish soda bread recipe from Ireland, served on a wooden board with a black-handled knife.

If you’d like to see more of what I experienced on my recent trip to Ireland, check out the “Ireland” highlight on my Instagram!

And be sure to enter Williams Sonoma’s sweepstakes to win an Ireland trip of your own! Here’s the link: FREE Trip to Ireland.

Also if you happen to be in the Philadelphia area, I’d love to see you at the Authentic Ireland Cooking Class I’m teaching this weekend! Here’s where to register: Irish Baking Class.

And here are few more of my favorite authentic Irish recipes:

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Irish Soda Bread
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
55 mins
 

Searching for the best Irish soda bread recipe? Look no further! This authentic recipe comes straight from Ireland. So easy to make with just 4 ingredients.

Course: Appetizer, Breakfast, Brunch, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Irish
Keyword: best Irish soda bread recipe, Irish soda bread, Irish soda bread recipe, Irish soda bread recipe from Ireland, soda bread
Servings: 16
Calories: 128 kcal
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

  2. Place the flour, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

  3. Add about 1 1/4 cups of the buttermilk to the flour mixture, working it into a shaggy dough with clean hands.

  4. If the dough seems too dry, add more buttermilk until a sticky dough is formed.

  5. Knead the dough a few times (being careful not to overwork it), then transfer it to a baking sheet and pat it to a thickness of about 1 1/2-inches.

  6. Score the dough in a criss-cross pattern with a floured knife, and puncture each of the 4 quarters with the tip of the knife.

  7. Bake the soda bread for 15 minutes at 450 degrees, then turn the oven temperature down to 400 degrees and bake for another 25 minutes.

  8. Turn the bread upside down and continue to bake at 400 degrees for another 5 minutes.

  9. Tap the loaf with your fingertips- it should make a hollow sound and be golden brown and crusty.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

*There is really no good substitute for buttermilk in Irish soda bread.  Try to use whole milk buttermilk if you can find it. 

Nutrition Facts
Irish Soda Bread
Amount Per Serving
Calories 128 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Cholesterol 2mg1%
Sodium 131mg6%
Potassium 64mg2%
Carbohydrates 25g8%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 37IU1%
Calcium 31mg3%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Best Irish Soda Bread

Best Irish Soda Bread

Best Irish Soda Bread