Irish Soda Bread

Big, fluffy Irish Soda Bread is a no-knead and no rise bread recipe. Easy to make and perfect for St. Patrick’s Day or any day of the week!

Bread is pretty much a staple at any meal at our house. From the basics like Beer Bread and Cheesy Garlic Bread to simple homemade bread recipes like this Irish Soda Bread, there is always fresh bread to be had.

Baked Irish soda bread

IRISH SODA BREAD RECIPE

I’m not Irish. Perhaps that’s why I never heard of Irish Soda Bread until last year. I started seeing it on Pinterest, and I was intrigued because I liked its rustic look and the fact that you didn’t have to knead it or wait for it to rise. When I made some and was shocked at how high it got, even though there was no yeast and only one teaspoon of baking powder and one teaspoon of baking soda! Just look at this huge piece of bread!

This bread is actually more like a REALLY big biscuit. However, the recipe uses a lot less butter than traditional biscuits. But don’t worry–the fat content is made up with buttermilk and sour cream.

WHY DO THEY CALL IT IRISH SODA BREAD?

Irish Soda Bread is a traditional bread from Ireland, from a time when much of the country was poor. Only the most basic of ingredients were available so they would add or soured milk and baking soda to flour. The acidic milk would react with the baking soda, much like yeast, causing it to bubble and oxidize, therefore causing the bread to rise.

In the recipe below you’ll see it varies a bit from the original, traditional 4 ingredient recipe. We add sour cream and an egg for moisture, and a little sugar for sweetness.

A round loaf of irish soda bread.

IRISH SODA BREAD RECIPE TIPS

  • If you don’t have buttermilk, you can substitute a mixture of milk and either lemon juice or white vinegar. Just put one tablespoon of either lemon juice or white vinegar in a 1-cup measuring cup and fill the rest with milk. I used skim milk, but you could use any kind.
  • If you don’t have sour cream, you can substitute plain Greek yogurt.
  • Before baking, the bread dough should look like shaggy biscuit dough and be quite sticky.
  • Bake in a round 9-inch cast iron or cake pan. This will make your loaf perfectly round and beautiful.
  • This bread absolutely needs raisins. If you make it without the raisins, it will lack sweetness. (I tried substituting semi-sweet chocolate chips one time, and it just didn’t taste right).
  • After you put it in your baking pan, cut a large “x” in the top. Cut fairly deep. This will allow heat to get into the center of the bread so it can cook evenly.

HOW DO YOU EAT IRISH SODA BREAD?

I am so surprised at how easy and quick this recipe is to whip up. It needs to bake for 50 minutes, so you can make it first, pop it in the oven, then get to work on the rest of dinner. You’ll have hot, delicious bread that pairs wonderfully with any Irish dish (like beef stew or corned beef and cabbage). It’s also great for breakfast. Irish Soda Bread is best when fresh, so you’ll want to eat this bread within two days.

Give it a try today; you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy and tasty it is.

A large slice of Irish soda bread with raisins

Other bread recipes you’ll love:

For more quick bread recipes, try these!

Try our favorite St. Patrick’s Day recipes, too!

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A close up of a piece of Irish soda bread

Irish Soda Bread

Big, fluffy Irish Soda Bread is no-knead and no rise! Easy to make and perfect for Saint Patrick's Day or any day of the week!
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 50 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Irish
Servings 1 loaf (feeds up to 16)

Ingredients
  

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons butter softened
  • 1 cup buttermilk plus more if necessary
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 large egg whisked
  • 3 cups raisins

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Spray a 9-inch cast iron pan or cake pan with baking spray. Set aside.
  • Add flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda to a large bowl. Gently stir until everything is mixed.
  • Add the softened butter and use a pastry cutter or two knives in a criss-cross fashion to cut the butter into the flour mixture. When butter is sufficiently cut in, the mixture should look crumbly with no big lumps.
  • Using a wooden spoon, push the flour mixture to the sides of the bowl, leaving a well in the middle. Pour in the buttermilk, sour cream, and whisked egg. Gently fold all the ingredients together until everything is moistened. When only a little dry flour remains visible, stir in the raisins. If the mixture looks too dry and crumbly, add in a little more buttermilk. Be careful not to overwork the dough. You want to stir it as little as possible. The dough should be sticky and look shaggy.
  • Pour the dough into your prepared baking pan. Sprinkle about one tablespoon (or more) of flour over the top and gently press the dough down so it fills the sides of the pan.
  • Cut a large cross in the top of the dough. Be sure to cut deeply so that heat can get into the center of the bread.
  • Bake for 50 minutes. After removing from the oven, let the bread cool for about 10 minutes before removing from the pan. 

Notes

Irish Soda Bread recipe photo of a loaf of bread with text Irish Soda Bread photo with text

Melissa Howell

Melissa loves inventing new ice cream flavors and helping people declutter and organize their homes. You can see her organizing e-course HERE.

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Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your lovely recipe. I made it as written but only made 1/2 the recipe (only 2 of us). It was perfect. Loved the flavor and texture of the bread. It was lovely with the yellow raisins that I used. I’ll be making this again.

  2. Hi, any idea how this would hold up in high altitude? I know what to do for cakes but I have a feeling bread is different.

  3. This is the recipe my mom used which was passed down from my grandmother. I still use my grandmother’s cast iron pan.