Classic Irish Soda Bread

Classic Irish Soda Bread - Takes less than 10 minutes to mix together! Grab a slice warm from the oven and slather it in butter for St. Patrick's Day breakfast!
This Irish Soda Bread takes less than 10 minutes to mix together and comes out of the oven with a wonderfully crisp crust. Grab a slice warm from the oven and slather it in butter!

Classic Irish Soda Bread - Takes less than 10 minutes to mix together! Grab a slice warm from the oven and slather it in butter for St. Patrick's Day breakfast!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Are you wearing green today? Drinking a shamrock shake? Eating corned beef and cabbage? Or are you saving your celebration for this weekend? If you do nothing else, I implore you to make this super easy Irish soda bread recipe!

I’ve made a ton of variations on traditional Irish soda bread over the years – scones, brown bread, whiskey soda bread with Irish whiskey butter, and rye soda bread – however, this original classic version continues to be my absolute favorite. It bakes up with a fabulous crisp crust and a light, tender crumb. It’s the perfect vehicle for slathering on embarrassing amounts of Kerrygold butter.

Classic Irish Soda Bread - Takes less than 10 minutes to mix together! Grab a slice warm from the oven and slather it in butter for St. Patrick's Day breakfast!

Have you ever read about the history of Irish soda bread? So interesting!

It came about as a result of Ireland not producing grain with a high enough protein content to work successfully with yeast. However, the lower protein content resulted in a softer flour that worked exceptionally well with baking soda and together could product a beautiful rise. I was always under the impression that Irish soda bread contained raisins or some sort of dried fruit and caraway seeds, but from what I’ve read, this is an Americanized version of the bread and traditionally it only included four ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk.

Classic Irish Soda Bread - Takes less than 10 minutes to mix together! Grab a slice warm from the oven and slather it in butter for St. Patrick's Day breakfast!

This bread could not be any easier to whip up, so hurry – get into the kitchen and you’ll have a warm loaf of bread ready for you to devour in an hour. One bowl, a whisk, a fork, and some light elbow grease is all you need. I love the rustic nature of the bread and how hearty it tastes. If you have a cast iron skillet, by all means, use that to make this bread! The crust comes out substantially crisper, which I just love. If not, you can use a regular baking sheet with parchment paper and it will still be fabulous, but the cast iron definitely works some magic on this bread!

Would you think less of me if I told you that my husband and I polished off half of this Irish soda bread for lunch? It’s seriously irresistible. I love eating it plain, or with loads of butter. Leftover pieces are great popped in the toaster oven at 350 degrees F – the outside gets nice and crisp, and the inside remains soft and warm.

Have a great St. Patrick’s Day!

Classic Irish Soda Bread - Takes less than 10 minutes to mix together! Grab a slice warm from the oven and slather it in butter for St. Patrick's Day breakfast!

Classic Irish Soda Bread - Takes less than 10 minutes to mix together! Grab a slice warm from the oven and slather it in butter for St. Patrick's Day breakfast!

Classic Irish Soda Bread

Yield: 1 loaf

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 to 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

This Irish Soda Bread takes less than 10 minutes to mix together and comes out of the oven with a wonderfully crisp crust. Grab a slice warm from the oven and slather it in butter!


3 cups (425 grams) all-purpose flour
1 cup (113 grams) cake flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1½ teaspoons cream of tartar
1½ teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1½ cups (355 ml) buttermilk

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted


1. Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Work the softened butter into the dry ingredients with a fork or your fingertips until the texture resembles coarse crumbs.

3. Add the buttermilk and stir with a fork just until the dough begins to come together. Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead just until the dough becomes cohesive and bumpy, 12 to 14 turns. (Do not knead until the dough is smooth, or the bread will turn out tough.)

4. Pat the dough into a round about 6 inches in diameter and 2 inches high; place on a parchment-lined baking sheet or in a 12-inch cast iron skillet. Score the dough by cutting a cross shape on the top of the loaf.

5. Bake until the loaf is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, or the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees F on an instead-read thermometer, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the loaf from the oven and brush the surface with the melted butter. Cool to room temperature before slicing, about 30 to 40 minutes. Leftovers should be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.

(Recipe from Baking Illustrated)

This recipe was originally published on March 18, 2009.


50 Responses to “Classic Irish Soda Bread”

  1. Jillian on March 18, 2009 at 1:18 am

    Hi Chelle,

    I love making soda bread. I make it a couple times a year at least! It’s really good with stews that are chock full of veggies or with maple syrup on it.

    I’ve never heard of brushing melted butter on the loaf once it comes out of the oven. I always just sprinkle some sugar on the top before I bake it.

    Also: if you don’t have a thermometer or a skewer (but really who doesn’t?) you can check to see if the loaf is done by turning it over and tapping the bottom. If it makes the “thwunk thwunk” sound, like a ripe watermelon, it’s done. =] That’s my favorite way to check.

    Happy baking, and happy St. Patrick’s day!


  2. Joelen on March 18, 2009 at 8:11 am

    Looks delicious and I’m loving the beautiful crust!


  3. Maria on March 18, 2009 at 8:50 am

    Hope you enjoyed the holiday! The bread looks yummy!


  4. claire on March 18, 2009 at 9:24 am

    your bread looks really nice and fluffy! this st. patrick’s day got my interest in irish soda bread all perked up. i’m going to have to try it, soon…


  5. Tracey on March 18, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Looks great! Nice job. I had never made one or tasted it either before yesterday. I think we used a very similar recipe too.


  6. Claire Mason on March 18, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Yours looks like it turned out lovely. My grandma (who’s Irish) includes just a little bit of caraway seeds, and that gives it a kind of rye bread-y taste. So good.
    I share your guilt. Whenever it’s around, I can’t resist it either.


  7. Nicole on March 18, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    Yum! this looks delicious. I have had Irish Soda Bread a couple times at an Irish pub but you’re right… I think it may have had some raisins of which I could do without. Yours looks great. I will have to try it soon especially since there is no rise time!


  8. Elyse on March 18, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    What a great occasion to learn about your Irish history! Your bread looks fabulous, and the evolution is quite interesting. Happy belated St. Patty’s Day!


  9. MarthaAndMe on March 19, 2009 at 7:20 am

    I love soda bread. This year I made my family recipe and Martha Stewart’s for a taste-off. Both were good. You can see them here:
    I love the color of yours and it looks like sliced nicely without crumbling!


  10. Amber on March 19, 2009 at 7:44 am

    Your bread looks delicious! I’ll have to add it to my list of breads to make. 🙂


  11. Mick on August 30, 2009 at 1:44 am

    I’m a total sucker for soda bread. Thanks for the recipe! I’ll def. try it.


  12. nicole on March 13, 2010 at 9:59 am

    I made Irish soda bread for the first time last year and loved it! I can’t wait to make it again this week!


  13. Randall on March 20, 2010 at 6:53 am

    Take nothing but ancestors, leave nothing but records.


  14. Jarrett on March 3, 2011 at 11:50 am

    For years I’ve made the soda bread from Sarah Leah Chase’s “Cold Weather Cooking” (a must-have book for one who lives in Minnesota). Her little truc is that it calls for golden raisins plumped in Irish whiskey. It makes for nice surprise. So if you ever do want to add dried fruit, give that a try. Speaking of try, I definitely will be giving this Back to the Basics version a try. It looks and sounds wonderful.The addition of the cake flour must make for a wonderful crumb.


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  16. Tamara on March 11, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    I made Irish soda bread a few years ago only because I didn’t have a bread maker and wanted homemade bread. 🙂 The bread was great! I am thinking about making it again this year, but adding raisins.


  17. Chelsea on March 12, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    Hello! I’m making this recipe tomorrow, but I was wondering if I would be able to split what is supposed to be this one loaf, to form two smaller loaves. Do you think this would work well without affecting the bread? I’m guessing I would just have to cook them for less time. I’m planning on making this tomorrow, so I hope you respond! Thank you SO much! Love your site! 😀


    • Michelle on March 14th, 2011 at 12:07 am

      Hi Chelsea, Yes you can definitely make two smaller loaves and, as you said, reduce the baking time. Enjoy the bread!


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  19. Debbie on March 15, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    I’ve been baking up a storm with your recipes and they’ve never failed me!!! My friends are hosting a St. Patty’s day party and I was hoping to make something a day or two before the party. Is it possible to make this awesome bread a day or two before, if so what is the best way of storing? Thanks so much!


    • Michelle on March 15th, 2011 at 7:45 pm

      Hi Debbie, I have found that this bread is definitely best the day it is made. However, if you are really crunched for time, you could make it a day ahead and store it in a paper bag, then pop it back in the oven at 350 for about 10 minutes to warm it up before serving.


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  21. Kathleen on November 12, 2011 at 3:08 am

    My parents were from Galway and my mother was famous for her Irish bread over here (Boston and Maine). She died almost twenty years ago and people still rave about it! She did put raisins in it and sometimes added caraway seeds, but they can be left out. She didn’t really measure, just sort of eyeballed the ingredients, but since I’ve taken over and I don’t make it every day like she did, I measure a little more. You don’t have to be exact as it’s very forgiving.

    She used 4 cups all-purpose flour (I use unbleached), 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tsp each of baking powder, baking soda, and salt (all sifter together). She then cut in 1/4 cup butter with her fingers. She added about a cup of raisins at this point. She added a lightly beaten egg to the buttermilk (about 1 1/2 cups or more), then added that as needed to the flour mixture with her hands (which was why everything in the kitchen always had a glob of dough on it!) until all the flour was wet. She kneaded a little flour into it just until it didn’t stick to her floured hands (better to be too wet than too dry) then formed it into a ball. It went into a greased and floured cast iron pan (10 inch) and was flattened slightly.

    Before she cut the cross into it, she coated the top with a slightly beaten egg yolk, then it went into a 350 degree oven for about an hour. Mine is always done in an hour. It is best just to take it out, turn it over, and thump it to see if it sounds hollow to know if it’s done. The yolk wash turns the crust a beautiful golden brown color which contrasts with the white of the cross. The more recipes for Irish bread out there, the merrier! (I’m still going to try yours.)


    • Michelle on November 12th, 2011 at 10:52 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing your mom’s recipe! I can’t wait to try it!


  22. Elizabeth Healy on March 7, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    Oh my. I just had this for dinner with butter and jam! Delish!


  23. Mel on July 23, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    I am not sure how this happened, but there are recipes all over the web which call themselves Irish soda bread, but they really aren’t. This recipe does look very good, and I am sure it tastes awesome, like all your other recipes. However, it is not Irish soda bread! The only ingredients in Irish soda bread are all purpose flour, baking soda, salt and buttermilk. It was created as a cheap, but filling food for farmers in Ireland. It should not have sugar, butter or any other ‘expensive’ additions.


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  27. Jocelyn on March 17, 2014 at 1:43 am

    This is a very nice Irish soda bread. It went wonderfully with our St. Patrick’s Day soup. I will be making it again. Thanks so much.


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  29. Branden on January 14, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    Here in Ireland it would be very unusual to have white soda bread. It is almost always made with a mixture of half AP flour and half wholemeal flour. cake flour is almost imposible to get here. It is also quite common to sprinkle some oatmeal on top of the bread before it goes into the oven. The adition of an egg to the dough also makes for a more moist bread. If you are making it again this St. Patrick’s day give that a try and should get a fairly authentic “brown bread” as it’s called. Allso the bread that you discribe with dried fruit does exist here, it is usaly lightly sweetened and refered to as cake. People would typicly slather it with butter and wash it down with tea. It is often even made with stout. Try looking up “porter cake”


    • Branden on January 14th, 2015 at 3:28 pm

      Also do by all means put butter into it, contrary to what the person above commented butter is and has been for thousands of years a staple of the irish diet. It has never been considered a luxury ingrediant, in fact during hard times butter and milk might have been the only fat and protien that a family on a small farm could afford.


  30. jyllzie on March 10, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    oh how your photography skills have improved since 2009!!!! 🙂


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  32. Alice on March 17, 2016 at 7:21 am

    It looks delicious ! I would like to eat it : D


  33. Rachel on March 17, 2016 at 10:29 am

    I was just thinking this morning that it would be an appropriate time to update your Irish Soda Bread photos! I made this yesterday and it was one of THE best breads I’ve ever made! It’s so much better than when I bought one from the store. My husband called it ‘cracker bread’ which I think fits, the outside pieces are crunchy like crackers and it’s so addicting! Enjoying a piece with jam while I drink my morning cup of Joe and I know I’ll have a piece with butter later today. Thank you!


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  36. Michelle on March 17, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    I have been thinking about trying Irish Soda Bread to go with the colcannon I’m making for supper this evening. How do you think this would bake up if placed in a baking cloche? A cast iron skillet its one kitchen “tool” I do not own :/ Also, I recently heard that toasting sliced Irish soda bread in the oven makes it very similar to biscotti and is delicious with a cup of hot tea or coffee. Have you tried that? Happy St Patrick’s Day!


    • Paul Eggermann on March 17th, 2016 at 12:27 pm

      You can just bake it on a sheet pan. No big deal. If you toast leftovers They will be very good but i doubt they will get as hard as a biscotti, unless you burn the heck out of them. Toasted leftovers with lots of butter! YUM!


    • Michelle on March 20th, 2016 at 9:31 pm

      Hi Michelle, I’m not sure, I’ve done it in a cast iron skillet and on a baking sheet with parchment. I reheated mine in the toaster oven at 350 degrees and it did get nice and crisp, but nowhere near biscotti. If you did it at a higher temperature, you might get that!


  37. Paul Eggermann on March 17, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    Thanks for dredging up an old memory. WAY back in the late 1940’s my brother and I would come home from school, mix up a soda bread and had eaten half of it well before dinner. We did it the way Mom did and never had a written recipe. She was from Kilkenny and could cook anything! Anyone who says the Irish can’t cook never met the likes of her. Butter was scarce in those days so we used lard in the mix. We had real milk then which probably made a difference. We often put caraway seeds in but never raisins. We also never had cake flour or cream of tartar either.

    I have purchased bakery soda breads in recent years and they are not even close to the real thing. Your recipe sounds delicious but all you really need is flour, salt, sugar shortening or butter and caraway seeds if you like.


  38. KC on March 17, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    I am curious what the addition of cake flour to this batter does? I actually have some cake flour I bought on sale because I’ve always wanted to use it – I am curious what’s different about it. But I am curious what it adds/gives to your Irish bread batter. I haven’t had soda bread in a long time and sometimes when I’ve purchased in the store it’s terribly “dense” and overall too dry. I am curious if the cake flour adds some softness to it. If you had time to let me know, I’d be grateful!

    PS Your little boy is a darling!!!!!!!!!! Lucky you!!!!!!!


    • Pam C. on March 17th, 2016 at 1:19 pm

      Your soda bread looks and sounds wonderful. Over the years I’ve had many different recipes, most with raisins, with and without caraway seeds. I find that I prefer a bit of sweetness in the bread. I made a recipe one time and on a whim, added some honey. It was delicious! I wish I still had that recipe. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


    • Michelle on March 20th, 2016 at 9:37 pm

      Hi KC, Aw, thank you! 🙂 Cake flour has a lower protein content than all-purpose flour, which helps to give baked goods a softer, more tender crumb.


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  40. Sarah Smith on March 19, 2016 at 6:33 am

    This is wonderful bread Turned out perfectly – easiest recipe and best results so far!Most Helpful!!!
    Thank you!


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