Baker Bettie

Simple Irish Soda Bread

This Irish soda bread recipe results in a simple rustic bread made with very few ingredients. Traditional Irish soda bread relies on baking soda as the rising agent and is made without yeast, resulting in a bread that can be quickly mixed and baked immediately. Pin it for Later »

Baked Irish soda bread in dutch oven

Irish Soda Bread Recipe Overview

Skill Level: Beginner | Techniques Used: Cutting in Fat

Irish soda bread is a very easy type of bread that is made with baking soda as the leavening agent instead of yeast. The traditional bread consists of only flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk. This modern version also includes butter, which is cut into the flour mixture, to add more tenderness and richness to the bread.

Buttermilk is a key ingredient in soda bread due to its acidic properties. The lactic acid present in buttermilk reacts with the alkaline properties of the baking soda to create carbon dioxide, rising the bread.

History of Irish Soda Bread

Irish soda bread first came to be in the early 1800s when baking soda first became available in Ireland. Most flour available in Ireland at the time was made from soft wheat (meaning it had a low protein content). Soft wheat does not work well to make yeast breads, but it works beautifully for chemically leavened bread.

Soda bread gained huge popularity during the potato famine, which started in 1845. Due to the lack of potatoes, which were a major food source in Ireland, soda bread became an easy, inexpensive, and filling staple on the Irish table.

Everyday Irish soda bread, like this one, was very simple without any add-ins. Versions of soda bread that include dried fruit, nuts, or other additional ingredients were only made for celebrations. However, this base recipe can easily be the template for endless soda bread variations.

Irish soda bread with butter and salt

Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

  • Because soda bread is leavened with baking soda, you want to minimize the gluten formation in the bread. Stir the ingredients together just until the flour is moistened, but do not knead the bread the way you would a yeast bread.
  • A dutch oven is truly the best vessel to bake this bread in. If you do not own a dutch oven, the bread can be baked on a sheet pan or in a skillet, however it won’t achieve quite the rise that it gets when baked with a lid on.
  • The texture of this bread is a bit like a scone. It is best eaten the same day it is made, however, leftovers can be toasted to refresh them for a few days after.
  • This recipe can be used as a base recipe to create different flavor variations. Sugar and currants could be added to create a traditional tea cake style soda bread that is served at celebrations. You could also add fresh herbs or cheese to make a savory variation.

Ingredient Functions

  • Flour is the main structure of the bread. There are many variations of soda bread, some made with whole wheat flour, some made with white flour, or a combination of the two.
  • Baking Soda is the leavening agent for this bread.
  • Salt flavors the bread.
  • Butter adds some richness and helps keep the bread tender.
  • Buttermilk is the moisture for this bread and its acidic properties activate the baking soda to make the bread rise.
Simple Irish Soda Bread

Simple Irish Soda Bread

Yield: 8 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

This is a very basic Irish soda bread made with only 5 ingredients. Irish soda bread is an easy quick bread that is made without yeast and is leavened with baking soda. 


  • 3 cups (12.75 oz, 357 gr) all-purpose flour (Or a combination of whole wheat & all-purpose flour)
  • 1 1/2 tsp Morton kosher salt or table salt (use 1 TBSP if using Diamond kosher)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz, 56 gr) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
  • 1 1/3 cup - 1 2/3 cup (316 ml - 393 ml) buttermilk, cold


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 F (232 C). Line a 4 or 5 quart dutch oven with parchment paper. If you do not own a dutch oven, you can bake this on a sheet pan or in a skillet, but it will not rise quite as much as it will if you use an enclosed environment.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda until thoroughly combined. Add the pieces of cold butter into the bowl and use a pastry blender or a fork to cut the butter through the flour mixture.
  3. Add the buttermilk in slowly and use a rubber spatula to stir until a soft dough forms. You want the mixture to be a very soft dough that is almost on the verge of becoming a thick batter. Different varieties of flour are more absorbent than others, so this is why a range of liquid is listed.
  4. Once you have the desired consistency, transfer the dough into the prepared dutch oven and use the spatula to roughly shape it into a disk. Use a sharp knife, or a bench scraper, to score an X into the dough. You want to cut very deep, almost all the way to the bottom of the dough.
  5. Put the lid on the dutch oven and put it in the oven. Bake at 450 F (232 C) for 35 minutes. Remove the lid of the dutch oven and bake for another 10-12 minutes until the top is a deep golden brown.
  6. Serve with butter and salt. This bread is best eaten the day of.

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Nutrition Information:

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 222

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32 comments on “Simple Irish Soda Bread”

  1. Can’t wait to make this when we celebrate St Patrick’s Day (early, this Friday!). Love your No Knead Skillet Bread. My daughter and I make that recipe all the time!

  2. Hi Bettie, we loved it. Our guests devoured it. Crisp on the outside, and soft on the inside. Not one bite left. Some people had 3-4 pieces! Another keeper! 5 stars (new comment so I could leave a rating!)

  3. Hello! Ive tried other sour bread recipes before, after being able to eat it while traveling around Ireland. Yours was the only one to replicate that amazing flavor! I used 2 cups of wholewheat to 1 of plain flour and followed the recipe as written and it turned out great! I’m so happy I can finally have a piece of Irish sour bread whenever I want. Thank you!!

  4. question:  my dutch oven is 7 quart.  what kind of allowance should i make?  thanks – can’t wait to make this!

  5. I just put it in the oven about 5 minutes ago. Is the dough supposed to be on the sticky side? I didn’t want to add more flour.

    • Hi Maggie! Yes, it will be sticky!

      • It would be great if some time you could post a picture or video of the dough consistency. I just took mine out of the oven this afternoon and haven’t tried it yet, but the dough consistency caused me some trepidation as well.

  6. Did you preheat the dutch oven while the oven was heating? Or just place the dough into an unheated pan?

  7. This was the worst thing I have ever baked. Followed exact directions. No taste and after even baking longer than called for it still seemed unbaked. 

    • Hi Marlene! I’m so sorry to hear that you had issues with this bread! Since this is a tested recipe I’d love to help you troubleshoot. It sounds like possibly your oven is not heating up to temp. Do you by chance have an oven thermometer to check if your oven is actually reaching the set temperature? This is a common issue with ovens.

  8. I can’t have dairy or yeast.  I would love to try this bread being there is no yeast in it. Would it turn out if I substituted vegan butter and canned full-fat coconut milk?

  9. I don’t have high hopes for what I just put in the oven… the next time you make this could you take pictures of what the dough looked like when you were satisfied with it? I have no idea what soft or hard bread dough looks or feels like, so I just guessed. Sticky mess, not very uniform in texture. And the x just disappeared at the same time as the dough tried desperately to suck the knife into it. I manually separated the sections to keep the x there. Pretty sure I failed this, but I should have suspected it! I’ve never made any bread before, lol.

  10. Hi Bettie,
    Does the buttermilk need to be at room temperature or can I use it straight from the fridge?

    • Hi Renata, the recipe specifies cold for the butter and milk because it is what will help the bread rise and give it a flaky texture. You are essentially making one large biscuit. Anytime you cut fat into flour you want cold fat and cold liquid. Hope that helps!

  11. This is the 4th recipe I’ve tried and this recipe I s the winner! Baked the bread in a covered casserole dish. Delicious. 

  12. Can this be made gluren free?

  13. What can I substitute buttermilk with if I can’t find it especially during this lockdown times

    • Hi Ruby,

      Someone commented above about using Canned coconut Milk instead of buttermilk and the author said that was ok, just to add a tablespoon of acid (vinegar or lemon juice) to measuring cup and then fill to one cup with coconut milk…I’m guessing regular milk or even almond/soy milk would be fine as long as the tablespoon of acid is included 

  14. Hello from Michigan!
    So on lockdown I can’t get flour here! Ugh 
    I have 1 bag left of Self Rising Flour. 
    Do you have an equivalent or tweek to make this Irish Soda Bread?
    I’m excited to try it! I’m just not familiar with self rising flour! I just took it because it was the only bag of flour left!
    I knew I could probably find quick bread recipes to use it in. But I really want to try yours!
    Thanks so much!
    Stay well!

    • Hi there! You can make this with the self rising flour. You will just leave out the baking soda and reduce the salt to 1/2 tsp. Because you are using self rising flour, you can use either regular milk or buttermilk. Buttermilk isn’t required because the baking soda isn’t in it, rather it will have baking powder from the flour.

  15. My son and his family are gluten free. How does this work with gluten free 1:1 flour. It is expensive so I had to try and waste the flour. I love your site. I just found it.

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