This Irish soda bread is a light and tender loaf studded with plenty of raisins and baked to golden brown perfection. A super easy quick bread recipe that pairs well with so many different main course options!

When I’m looking for a hearty bread to go alongside a chicken stew or a slow roasted prime rib, I often turn to this simple yet satisfying Irish soda bread. It has the perfect blend of sweet and savory flavors.

Irish soda bread baked in a cast iron skillet.

Whether it’s St. Patrick’s Day or just any old weeknight during the cold weather months, you can often find me whipping up a loaf of Irish soda bread. I love when it bakes up with that perfect texture that just calls out for butter and jam! There’s no kneading, no yeast, no rising, and you can have fresh, hot bread on your table in no time!

Irish Soda Bread Ingredients

To make Irish soda bread you will need flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, raisins, butter, buttermilk, an egg and cooking spray.

Flour, sugar, butter, baking powder and raisins in a mixing bowl.

How do you make Irish soda bread?

This recipe starts with flour, sugar, baking soda and salt, which are stirred together with a spoon or a whisk in a large bowl. Cubes of cold butter are cut into the flour mixture until coarse crumbs form. The next step is to stir in a healthy amount of raisins for a touch of sweetness. Finally, add buttermilk and egg and stir until a stiff dough forms. The dough gets shaped into a round, then goes into a pan or cast iron skillet. Score the top of the bread with a sharp knife, then bake it until it has a golden brown crust. Serve it with butter and jam or enjoy it with hearty soups or stews.

A bowl of buttermilk bread dough.

Tips for the perfect loaf

  • I use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the dough. If you don’t have a pastry blender, two forks will do the job.
  • If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can make your own. Combine 2 cups of milk with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Let the milk sit for about 10 minutes or until the mixture looks curdled, then proceed with the recipe.
  • The dough will be sticky and soft. Use flour on your hands and on your work surface as needed to keep the dough from sticking and to form a nicely shaped loaf.
A shaped loaf of soda bread in a skillet.

RECIPE FAQS

How long will soda bread stay fresh?

Soda bread is best the same day you bake it, but it stays fresh for up to 3 days at room temperature in an airtight container. It can also be frozen for up to 2 months. Freeze the bread in individual slices or as a whole loaf. Let the bread thaw at room temperature, then serve. You can also reheat it in a toaster, an oven or with a few seconds in a microwave to get that fresh baked taste!

What is Irish soda bread?

Soda bread is a quick bread that always contains four basic ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt and buttermilk. Other ingredients are often added to enhance the flavor of the bread, such as sugar, butter, eggs, raisins and citrus. The bread is shaped into a loaf, then scored with an X pattern and baked until golden brown.

Why is soda bread popular in Ireland?

Soda bread originally became popular back in the days when baking soda became available for use in home kitchens. Baking soda was relatively inexpensive and had a long shelf life, so many households kept it on hand so that they could make their own bread. Furthermore, buttermilk was a very common ingredient at the time, which is why it is featured in soda bread recipes from today and from years ago.

Should Irish soda bread be served warm?

I prefer Irish soda bread served warm. It is fantastic hot out of the oven, but you can also reheat in a toaster, an oven or in a microwave.

Is Irish Soda Bread good for you?

Irish soda bread is a good option for a bread with simple, wholesome ingredients. While it does contain butter and sugar, it is lower fat than some breads and is yeast free.

A slice of Irish soda bread with butter spread on it.

Flavor variations

  • Whole Wheat: For a whole wheat version of the bread, simply use half all purpose flour and half whole wheat flour.
  • Citrus: For citrus version of the bread, try adding a tablespoon of grated lemon zest or orange zest.
  • Savory: Try a savory soda bread by omitting the raisins and cutting the sugar to 3 tablespoons. You can even add a some chopped rosemary leaves or some caraway seeds.
  • Currants: Another common alteration is to swap out the raisins for dried currants.

Whether you’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day or simply looking for an easy homemade bread recipe, this soda bread is sure to be a hit!

More St. Patrick’s Day recipes you’ll enjoy

Irish Soda Bread Video

5 from 39 votes

Irish Soda Bread

AuthorSara Welch
Irish soda bread baked in a cast iron skillet.
This Irish soda bread is a light and tender loaf studded with plenty of raisins and baked to golden brown perfection. A super easy quick bread recipe that pairs well with so many different main course options!
Time
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Irish
Serves 12

Ingredients 

  • 4 cups all purpose flour plus more for dusting the work surface
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups raisins
  • 1/4 cup butter cold, cut into small pieces
  • 1 3/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • cooking spray

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 9 inch round pan with cooking spray.
  • Place the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Stir to combine.
  • Add the butter to the bowl, and use a pastry blender or two forks to cut the butter into the flour mixture until coarse crumbs form.
  • Stir the raisins into the flour mixture.
  • Add the buttermilk and egg to the flour mixture and stir until a stiff dough forms.
  • Place the dough on a floured flat surface. Coat your hands in flour and shape the dough into a ball. The dough will be sticky.
  • Transfer the ball of dough to the prepared pan. Use a sharp knife to cut an X into the top of the loaf.
  • Bake for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
  • Cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes, then slice and serve.

Notes

  1. I use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the dough. If you don’t have a pastry blender, two forks will do the job.
  2. If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can make your own. Combine 2 cups of milk with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Let the milk sit for about 10 minutes or until the mixture looks curdled, then proceed with the recipe.
  3. The dough will be sticky and soft. Use flour on your hands and on your work surface as needed to keep the dough from sticking and to form a nicely shaped loaf.

Nutrition

Calories: 273kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 28mg | Sodium: 366mg | Potassium: 222mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 196IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 54mg | Iron: 2mg

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Comments

  1. We made this for St Patrick’s Day and the kids loved it! The dough was soooo sticky! We made our own buttermilk, before I use it should I just mix it well and only pour in the called for amount? The recipe for making your own it only by the full cup

  2. 5 stars
    Dough is super sticky. I ended up using a bench scraper to mix into a ball and that helped a lot. Also my loaf took an extra 20 minutes to cook. Otherwise it was great!

    1. You can make your own buttermilk by mixing together 1 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar

  3. It says the dough will be sticky, but nothing about the end consistency one should have before placing it in the oven? Should it stay sticky once it goes in, or do you add flour until it’s not?

    1. You want to be careful not to add too much flour or the bread can come out dry. It should be slightly tacky, but not so sticky that it’s all over your fingers as you shape it. I hope this helps!

  4. Would this still work if I were to make it savoury with say, garlic and rosemary instead of the raisins?

  5. 5 stars
    WOW! Your bread looks and sounds amazing. I am in love with raisin-loaded bread loafs. I will make it for sure. Maybe even tomorrow:)

  6. 5 stars
    Your soda bread looks so delicious. I never tried baking this bread yet, and I think it’s time for me to try. 🙂

  7. 5 stars
    I make Irish Soda Bread every St Patty’s day. Everyone loves it. This recipe will be on our table March 17th. Thank you.

  8. 5 stars
    I made this bread over the weekend and it was delicious! I can’t wait to make it again for St. Patrick’s Day!

  9. 5 stars
    St. Patrick’s Day will be here before we know it and this will be the perfect addition to our day. However, I would eat these all year long.