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Irish Soda Bread Recipe

This Irish Soda Bread recipe is a good side for corned beef and cabbage or Shepherd’s Pie. And you don’t have to wait until St. Patrick’s Day to make it.

For more ideas, check out all of our recipes.

A loaf of soda bread on a pizza stone with the words "Irish Soda Bread" digitally written on top.

I really like Irish Soda Bread, despite the fact that I usually only make it on St. Patrick’s Day. I should, honesty, make this traditional Irish Soda Bread recipe more often because it’s a really good food to have for breakfast.

Slice it, toast it, lather it in butter, and you’re good to go.

There’s something about that butter on top that really makes this. Go with the Irish butter tubs from the grocery store, instead of a hard stick of butter, and you won’t regret it.

Two quarters of a sourdough loaf of bread in a bowl with the words "Homemade Bread Recipes" digitally written on top.

This isn’t the only bread recipe on Drugstore Divas. For more, check out all of our Homemade Bread Recipes.

Irish Soda Bread Recipe

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Irish Soda Bread Ingredients:

How To Make Irish Soda Bread:

Pre-heat the oven to 375 F.

Dry ingredients in a stand mixer bowl.

Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt the bowl of your stand mixer.

Dry ingredients in a stand mixer bowl.

Add the oil, milk, and lemon juice to the bowl. Mix on low until all the ingredients are combined.

Bread dough and raisins in a stand mixer bowl.

Fold in the raisins.

Raw Irish Soda bread on a counter.

Remove the dough from the bowl and put it on a floured surface. Flour your hands and kneed the dough.

Kneed it, fold it over itself, turn it a quarter turn, and continue the process until a dough forms and all the ingredients are incorporated.

Raw Irish Soda bread on a cookie sheet.

Shape it into a ball and cut your design (usually a cross) into the top. Use a knife to cut the design at least 1-inch deep.

Put the Irish Soda Bread dough ball on a cookie sheet and bake it for 40 to 45 minutes.

Cooked Irish Soda bread on a cookie sheet.

Irish Soda Bread: Frequently Asked Questions

How do you get a crunchy outside on Irish Soda Bread?

If you want to give the Irish Soda Bread a nice crunch on the outside, pre-heat the oven with an empty cake pan on the lower rack. Let it heat at temperature for 20 minutes.

When the dough is ready, put the cookie sheet with the dough on the top rack and pour a cup of water into the cake pan. Quickly close the door. Steam will form and will give the bread a nice crunch on the outside while keeping the inside soft.

Does Irish Soda Bread need buttermilk?

Nope. Actually our Irish Soda Bread recipe doesn’t call for buttermilk. Instead, we use a buttermilk substitute.

What can you use as a buttermilk substitute?

If you don’t have buttermilk, or don’t want to buy a whole container for the one cup in this Irish Soda Bread recipe, you can make an easy swap.

Use one cup of milk and add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.

The acidity of the buttermilk mixes with the baking powder to give the Irish Soda Bread a tender, airy texture. If you use regular milk, it will be really dense.

What’s good too is the baking powder cuts any sour taste from the buttermilk, so you don’t have to worry about that.

Honestly, I never have buttermilk at home. So I always use this milk/lemon juice substitute and the Irish Soda Bread comes out great. So of course, I had to write the recipe this way. Actually, this is the way that my mom makes it, and this is her recipe, so I had to keep it buttermilk-free.

If you do want to use buttermilk in this recipe, substitute it for the milk and lemon juice (so don’t add any lemon juice if you’re using buttermilk).

Why is these a cross in the top of the Irish Soda Bread?

A true Irish Soda Bread has a cross cut into the top of it. As legend goes, it wards off the Devil and breaking the Irish Soda Bread easily into quarters symbolizes the breaking of the bread that Jesus and his disciples did.

Ireland is very Catholic, and although the Irish didn’t invent Irish Soda Bread, they did make it popular. So calling it a cross instead of an x makes sense.

I don’t cut a cross in mine, mostly because I’m usually serving it to a lot of people at once. So I actually make a crosshatch pattern on top because that’s easier to cut and serve.

Is Irish Soda Bread actually Irish?

Yes and no.

The concept for what we now call Irish Soda Bread was started in the United States by European settlers. They used sodium bicarbonate as a leavening agent instead of yeast.

In Ireland, “bread soda” (which we would call baking soda) was used as a leavening agent to make this. And that’s where the name Irish Soda Bread came from. It’s from the bread soda, or baking soda, that can be used in the recipe — not from actual soda like a soft drink (although you can make no yeast breads using soft drinks).

Just to make matters confusing, we actually use baking powder, not baking soda, in our Irish Soda Bread.

What does Irish Soda Bread taste like?

Irish Soda Bread is meant to be a bread side dish or breakfast. It’s not a dessert bread, so it shouldn’t be sweet. It should be more like a biscuit.

Yes, there’s sugar in the recipe, but that’s to help it rise more than sweetening it.

I have had some versions of Irish Soda Bread that’s super sweet, more like a cinnamon raisin bread sans the cinnamon. That’s not how a traditional Irish Soda Bread should taste.

Can you toast Irish Soda Bread?

Irish Soda Bread, in my opinion, is best served toasted with a pat of Irish butter. You can also add a little jam or marmalade to it too.

Since it’s a hearty bread, it can hold up to toasting and buttering. It’s not a crumbly dessert bread that will flake under the weight of the toaster.

Shepherd's Pie.

What do you serve with Irish Soda Bread?

Irish Soda Bread is a great breakfast, served with a slab of Irish butter. But you can also serve it on the side of some of these delicious Irish recipes:

Fried fish with mushy peas and tarter sauce on a plate with the words "Tasty Irish And Green Food For St. Patrick's Day" digitally written above it.

More Irish Recipes:

If you’re looking for more Irish Recipes, check out our list of Tasty Irish & Green Food For St. Patrick’s Day.

Yield: 1 Loaf

Irish Soda Bread

Traditional Irish Soda Bread is the perfect side for corned beef and cabbage or Shepherd's Pie.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1.5 cups raisins

Instructions

    1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 F.
    2. Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt the bowl of your stand mixer. Add the oil, raisins, milk, and lemon juice to the bowl. Mix on low until all the ingredients are combined.
    3. Remove the dough from the bowl and put it on a floured surface. Flour your hands and kneed until a dough forms and all the ingredients are incorporated. Shape it into a ball and cut your design (usually a cross) into the top. Use a knife to cut the design at least 1-inch deep.
    4. Put the Irish Soda Bread dough ball on a cookie sheet and bake it for 40 to 45 minutes.

Nutrition Information

Yield

12

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 220Total Fat 3gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 2mgSodium 312mgCarbohydrates 45gFiber 2gSugar 16gProtein 5g

Would you make Irish Soda Bread recipe for St. Patrick’s Day? Let us know in the comments.

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