This easy Irish soda bread requires only 5 minutes of hands-on time to stir together flour, salt, sugar, baking soda, one egg, buttermilk, and butter. It emerges from the oven with the perfect crumb. No yeast used! Ready in 1-hour. Video guidance below! ☘️☘️☘️☘️

A cast iron skillet with freshly baked Irish soda bread.

I was all set to complicate Irish soda bread by making a yeasted version when I started looking into its history and discovered that the soda — the baking soda — is perhaps the most traditional part of the bread, much more so than butter, sugar, eggs and raisins, in fact, which likely entered the equation when the bread crossed the pond.

Inspired by that article, I made a traditional loaf of soda bread with flour, salt, buttermilk, and baking soda, leaving out the yeast. And while it was perfectly edible, I found myself missing the richness of eggs and sugar —missing the scone-like texture created by the addition of butter…what can I say, I’m American!

And so here, I’ve added a bit of the riches back in: one egg, one tablespoon of sugar, and a couple of tablespoons of melted butter, which produces a loaf that resembles a giant biscuit, especially delicious toasted and slathered with softened butter and marmalade.

No yeast? No problem! If you like easy bread recipes, look no further.

This post is organized as follows:

Irish Soda Bread, Two Ways

There are two recipes below, one that calls for 100% all-purpose flour and one that calls for a mix of whole wheat, all-purpose, and wheat germ, the latter of which produces a slightly denser but no less delicious, chewy, tangy loaf. Each dough takes about 5 minutes to mix together and each will be ready about an hour later.

Can I use Sourdough Discard in this Irish Soda Bread Recipe?

Yes! To do so, replace 50 grams of the flour and 50 grams of the buttermilk with 100 grams of discarded sourdough starter. See notes in the recipe box for precise proportions. I made a video of how use sourdough discard in this Irish Soda Bread recipe here:

Here’s another favorite sourdough discard recipe: Sourdough Flour Tortillas.

Do I have to use a Cast Iron Skillet?

No. Any oven-safe, 8- to 9-inch baking dish (such as a pie plate) will work here. A shallow dish is best to allow air to circulate. You could even use a rimmed sheet pan.

Homemade Buttermilk

In quick bread recipes (and others) that call for baking soda, some sort of acid is required to react with the baking soda to allow it to leaven the bread — this is why the buttermilk is essential. Can’t find buttermilk or don’t have it on hand? Make it yourself! Here’s how to make 1.75 cups of buttermilk for this recipe:

  1. Place 2 tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice in a 2-cup liquid measure.
  2. Fill cup with milk (2% or whole is best) until it reaches the 1.75-cup line.
  3. Let stand for five to 10 minutes. Stir. Use as directed.

Here’s another favorite quick bread recipe that calls for both buttermilk and baking soda: Mrs. Myers’s Banana Bread.

Irish Soda Bread in 4 Simple Steps

  • 1. Whisk together the dry ingredients.
A bowl with dry ingredients for Irish soda bread plus a whisk.
  • 2. Add the wet ingredients: a mix of buttermilk, melted butter, and egg.
A bowl of mixed Irish soda bread dough.
  • 3. Form into a ball using floured hands, transfer to a cast iron skillet (or other similarly sized baking vessel), and score:
A cast iron skillet of shaped Irish soda bread, scored.
  • 4. Bake until golden.
Just-baked Irish soda bread in a cast iron skillet.
Just baked Irish soda bread in a cast iron skillet, sideview.

When cool enough to handle, slice it up.

Overhead shot of a loaf of Irish soda bread, sliced.

Slather with butter or orange marmalade.

A plate of Irish soda bread slathered with orange marmalade.

Love this Argyle Cheese Farmer buttermilk:

A quart of Argyle cheese farmer buttermilk.

This is the soda bread when made with a mix of all-purpose and whole wheat flour as well as wheat germ:

A cast iron skillet of just-baked whole wheat Irish soda bread.

Whole grain soda bread, sliced:

A crumb shot of whole wheat Irish soda bread.
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A cast iron skillet of just-baked Irish soda bread.

Super Simple Irish Soda Bread


  • Author: Alexandra Stafford
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 1 loaf
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Description

Inspired by Simply Recipes 

This easy Irish soda bread requires only 5 minutes of hands-on time to stir together flour, salt, sugar, baking soda, one egg, buttermilk, and butter. It emerges from the oven with the perfect crumb. No yeast used! Ready in 1-hour. Video guidance below! ☘️☘️☘️☘️

If you want to use whole grain flour in your soda bread, see the notes below the recipe.

If you need to make the buttermilk from scratch:

  1. Place 2 tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice in a 2-cup liquid measure.
  2. Fill cup with milk (2% or whole is best) until it reaches the 1.75-cup line.
  3. Let stand for five to 10 minutes. Stir. 

If you want to use sourdough discard in place of some of the flour/liquid, you can use 100 grams of sourdough discard, 460 grams of flour, 12 grams salt, 13 grams sugar, 5 grams baking soda, 1 egg, 360 grams buttermilk, 2 tablespoons melted butter.  Follow the same method outlined in the directions. Watch the video here for guidance.


Ingredients

For the Irish Soda Bread:

  • 4 cups (510 g) all-purpose flour, see notes above for making it whole grain
  • 2 teaspoons (12 g) kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon (13 g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) baking soda
  • 1 cup dried currants, optional (I never use currants)
  • 1 egg
  • 1¾ cups (410 g) buttermilk, see notes above
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

For finishing:

  • room temperature butter
  • flour 

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, baking soda, and currants (if using).
  2. In a medium bowl, beat the egg and buttermilk. Add the melted butter and stir to combine. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until combined. Mixture will be sticky. Grease a 9- or 10-inch cast iron skillet (or other similarly sized vessel) with softened butter. Set aside.
  3. Lightly flour your hands and sprinkle a little flour over the sticky dough ball. Use your hands to scrape the dough from the sides of the bowl and to quickly shape the mass into a ball, kneading lightly if necessary. Transfer to prepared skillet. Sprinkle with a teensy bit more flour. Use a sharp knife to make an X across the top of the dough ball. Place in oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until lightly golden and bottom sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from oven, transfer to cooling rack, and let cool for 15 minutes before slicing.
  4. To store Irish soda bread, tuck it into an airtight bag (such as a ziplock) or an airtight vessel. You can store it at room temperature for about 3-4 days or freeze it for up to 2-3 months.

Notes

For Whole Wheat Irish Soda, Use These Proportions:

  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: Irish

Keywords: soda bread, St. Patrick’s Day, Irish, buttermilk