Easy Irish Soda Bread

This recipe for Easy Irish Soda Bread makes a hearty round loaf with a crunchy crust and soft interior. Using just five ingredients, it offers a taste of Ireland’s culinary heritage in every slice.

Easy Irish Soda Bread

Over the course of a few years, I’ve been on a mission to find the perfect Irish Soda Bread recipe. Both for my blog and personal enjoyment. At first, I tried recipes that were enriched with butter and eggs. But despite my efforts (and careful handling) the bread often turned out too dense or rubbery inside. It wasn’t until I pared down the ingredients that I saw real improvement. With just a handful of pantry staples, the bread turned out tender and moist. The best recipe had been there all along. Because the truly authentic and traditional Irish Soda Bread recipes the ones that sustained and preserved an entire nation use only a few basic ingredients.

The bread is a cherished staple of Irish cuisine. Born out of necessity during lean times, it’s practically a metaphor for the Irish people’s resourcefulness and resilience. This Easy Irish Soda Bread stems from the most traditional recipe, requiring just five basic ingredients. Or six, if you include raisins or currants.

Easy Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread History

Historically, Ireland faced periods of hardship, particularly during the 19th century, marked by poverty, famine, and economic instability. Yeast was scarce and if available, expensive. Before I started researching in earnest, I wondered why the Irish people didn’t use brewer’s yeast like medieval Europe did. Because beer making was booming during that time! (Guinness was a massive brewery around the time of the Great Potato Famine, exporting beer throughout the world.) But commercialized production of brewer’s yeast made it an unsuitable leaven, and it wasn’t accessible to the average household. Instead, baking soda was favored because it was easier to find and inexpensive. This made it a practical choice for everyday baking. During these times, traditional Irish Soda Bread became a staple food for many families due to its simplicity, affordability, and ability to nourish.

The Simplest Ingredients

With just five basic ingredients, this recipe is incredibly easy to make. But the first order of business is to preheat your oven to 450°F. The bread comes together quickly and the oven needs to be ready to receive the freshly formed loaf.

Sift together the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Now, be aware that sugar is a modern addition to this bread but we’re only using a little bit. This aids in developing a well-browned crusty crust during baking. And since we’re using a modern oven and not baking it in hot coals, I think it’s an acceptable concession. It also adds flavor and helps activate the baking soda. Along with the acid in the buttermilk, this gives the bread proper rise.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour the buttermilk into the center. Stir briefly until the ingredients are just moistened. Watch the video at the end of this blog post that shows my stirring method. I mostly prod the mixture and turn it over until everything is moistened, which is less than 30 seconds, as to not overdevelop the gluten.

Add Raisins or Currants

At this stage, add the raisins or currants, if using. This is also a more modern addition that Irish families often add to their bread. Other mix-ins could include caraway seeds and herbs. Stir together until a thick, slightly sticky dough forms. Stir in the additions. Which takes about 10 more seconds.

Shape the Dough

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and very gently – and very briefly – knead it together a few times until it all sticks together (about 3-4 turns). Pat it into a ball. Score a cross about 1″ deep in the center of the bread using a serrated knife or a very sharp chef’s knife.

Here’s a plain version without the raisins. Which is slightly easier to score and makes a cleaner cut because there’s no raisins to drag the knife through.

Easy Irish Soda Bread

Bake at a High Temperature

When first testing Irish Soda Bread recipes, the baking temperatures varied wildly from recipe to recipe. I’ve found that a higher temperature gets the job done effectively. It helps the bread to rise quickly, pushing apart the score marks in order to bake evenly throughout the entire loaf.

Once the bread is formed and scored, transfer it to a parchment-lined baking sheet and immediately get it into the oven. Why the hurry? When the buttermilk is added to the dry ingredients, the lactic acid activates the baking soda. The reaction releases carbon dioxide gas which is the sole leaven in this bread – so, time’s a ticking!

Bake the for 40-45 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the exterior is brown, craggy and split at the score, and the bread is well-risen. Tap your knuckles on the bottom, and if it sounds hollow, it’s done. Then transfer it to a cooling rack.

Easy Irish Soda Bread

Serving Suggestions for Irish Soda Bread

This bread pairs with all kinds of dishes, sweet and savory. And it really requires no special green-wearing holiday to enjoy it. Here are a few ways I like to eat it.

  • Soup or Stew: Serve on the side of a bowl of soup or stew. The bread’s dense crumb is ideal for soaking up broth or sauces.
  • Cheese Board: Build a board of Irish cheeses such as Dubliner sharp cheddar, Emerald Irish brie, and Somerdale Claddagh blue cheese. Serve toasted slices of Irish soda bread as an accompaniment instead of crackers.
  • Irish Pub Fare: Pair the soda bread with classic pub fare such as shepherd’s pie or bangers and mash. The hearty nature of the bread definitely belongs in the same ‘comfort food’ family as these dishes.
  • Corned Beef and Cabbage: This bread is perfect alongside a traditional St. Patrick’s Day feast of corned beef and cabbage. Its subtle sweetness compliments the savory meat and cabbage dish.
  • Irish Tea Time: Enjoy Irish Soda Bread smeared with creamy Irish butter and your favorite jam or marmalade. Lemon curd and traditional clotted cream also go well with the bread’s dense crumb and tangy buttermilk flavor. Serve it alongside your favorite brewed tea.

Easy Irish Soda Bread
Easy Irish Soda Bread

It seems a little crazy that something so simple can be so delicious. I firmly believe that the best version of Irish Soda Bread is the easiest. The absence of extraneous ingredients in the dough such as eggs and butter actually makes this bread more tender!

Related recipe: 3 Ingredient Butter Me Not Muffins

Easy Irish Soda Bread

Heather Baird
This Easy Irish Soda Bread recipe is straightforward in preparation with very simple ingredients. It makes a rustic, hearty round with a crunchy crust and soft interior. This versatile bread pairs well with a variety of dishes, both sweet and savory. Serve it with corned beef and cabbage, or simply topped with Irish butter.
Raisins or currants are a more modern addition to this bread, but they are delicious. Although completely optional.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Bread, Breakfast
Cuisine Irish
Servings 10 slices


  • large baking sheet
  • parchment paper
  • serrated knife


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup raisins or currants optional


  • Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Sift together the flour, soda, salt, and sugar over a large mixing bowl. Whisk together until well combined.
  • Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients; pour in the buttermilk. Mix together using a rubber spatula for about 30 seconds, until the mixture forms a shaggy dough. Don’t overwork the dough – overmixing can make the interior rubbery. Add the raisins and mix in quickly, about 10 seconds more.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead briefly until the dough sticks together, about 3-4 turns. Form the dough into a ball. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet.
  • Score a cross in the top of the loaf using a large serrated knife, or a sharp chef’s knife, to about 1” depth. Immediately transfer it to the preheated oven.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the bread is split at the cross, and the crust is craggy and well browned. The loaf should be well risen and have a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom with your knuckles.
  • Let bread cool slightly before slicing; serve warm. Use a serrated knife and sawing motions to slice the bread without flattening the crumb. Or, allow the bread to cool completely before slicing. Store airtight.


What to expect: Irish Soda Bread is a quick bread that is dense in crumb, but should be soft and moist regardless. This recipe results in a truly crusty loaf with a soft interior. It has a buttermilk tang that compliments a variety of savory foods. Although, I love slices of this bread with butter and jam. 
Spoon and Sweep: Use this method of measuring flour. Spoon flour into the measuring cup until it overflows, then sweep the top flat with a knife or other flat kitchen tool. Don’t scoop directly from the bag; this could pack the flour down and result in a dry loaf.
Avoid working the dough too much: It’s so easy to overdevelop the gluten in this dough by over-kneading or handling it too much. Mix the dry and wet ingredients together quickly until just moistened. This usually takes less than a minute.
Don’t skip the cross: Scoring the bread is essential to this particular recipe, so that the bread splits when it rises and which helps the middle bake through. However, there’s more to it in Irish culture. Most Irish people believe you must bless the bread by putting a cross on it, to ward away evil. Can’t hurt, I say.
Buttermilk substitute: For this recipe, place two tablespoons of white or cider vinegar in a large 4-cup capacity measure. Fill the cup to the 2 cup mark with whole milk and stir together. Use as a replacement for buttermilk in this recipe. While this isn’t going to produce the same tangy flavor and fluffy texture in this bread, in the name of resourcefulness – it will work.
The Crust: This bread develops a very crusty, shatter-y, well browned crust. For me, that’s the whole point of this bread, to contrast the soft interior. However, if you’re someone who likes a softer crust, you can place the warm loaf in a bowl and cover with a tea towel. When the loaf is completely cool, the crust will be softened and somewhat easier to slice.
Keyword all purpose flour, baking soda, buttermilk, easy recipe, fine grain salt, historical recipe, Irish cuisine, Irish Soda Bread, no butter, no eggs
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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23 days ago

5 stars
First time to make it and it was sooo easy! Good, too! Will make it again!!

16 days ago

5 stars
Made this bread first time last night and it was super easy and came out so good, I loved it!!!! 💘😍. Making another one tonight!!! 😄

12 days ago

I’m prone to seizure so I couldn’t watch your video because of the flashing on the sides. Maybe you could turn your camera to landscape?