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Traditional Irish Soda Bread

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Traditional Irish Soda Bread is a delicious dense, unleavened bread made with flour, buttermilk, salt, sugar and baking soda. Scrumptious served warm right out of the oven with butter and your favorite jam or honey!

As many of you know, we have a culturally diverse family thanks to the gift of adoption. Our middle son is mainly Irish. Last year I wanted to honor his heritage.

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Traditional Irish Soda Bread

So for St. Patrick’s Day I made a thick delicious Irish Stew similar to my  Slow Cooker Beef Stew and I baked my very first loaf of Irish Soda Bread! It was an instant family favorite. 

I was a little skeptical how this bread would turn out? However… I was pleasantly surprised what a beautiful loaf of bread it produces and how delicious it is! (As President of the Carb Lovers of World…I can attest it has a solid 10 ranking in the bread category!)

If you’re a biscuit lover, and who isn’t, you’ll love this bread! My son-in-law declared it better than homemade biscuits…and he L.O.V.E.S. biscuits! Everyone around the dinner table nodded in agreement…at the time, our mouths were full with thick slices of this scrumptious Irish bread, nodding was all we could manage!

Slices of traditional Irish Soda Bread

I make this bread year round since discovering how yummy it is, and how easy it is to prepare! It’s perfect with a healthy slathering of room temperature butter and your favorite jam or honey. In fact I’m making it this weekend.

Let’s Talk Traditional Irish Soda Bread

I love a recipe with a rich heritage! Recipes that are not only indicative of a specific culture, but also represent a period of struggle, always touch my heart.  I believe deeply that it’s important to carry on the traditions of our cultures and history.

Irish Soda Bread is made with the most basic of ingredients. Which stands to reason since it was introduced  around the time of the Irish Potato Famine of 1845-1849. Although there seems to be some discrepancy on who exactly created the first “soda bread”.  I’m sticking with the Irish on this one! 

True Irish bread is not like the American version which is studded with raisins and caraway seeds. The American version is made with greater amounts of sugar and baked in a loaf pan.  It’s more of a “tea cake”. This recipe is true to the original Irish Soda bread. 

How To Make Irish Soda Soda Bread with Buttermilk

Before beginning, adjust oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 400° degrees.

In a large bowl, add 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup cake flour, 3 Tablespoons sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar and 1 1/2 teaspoon salt.

TIP: The cake flour in this recipe is what makes it stand apart from other Irish bread recipes. Cake flour only contains about 8% – 9% protein. Lower protein means less gluten and helps add a “softness” to this bread. In other words…it produces a more “tender” loaf of bread. 

dry ingredients added in a bowl

Using a wire whisk blend the dry ingredients together. Whisking replaces “sifting” and breaks up any lumps.

Whisking dry ingredients together

Add two tablespoons of unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces. Cut the butter into the flour using your hands. That’s right…dig right in there and blend the butter and flour together until it is completely incorporated creating a super fine crumb. I do this by sifting and gently rubbing the butter into the flour mixture. (Honestly this is the most relaxing therapy and it’s free!)

butter added to flour mixture

Once you have “cut” the butter into the flour, make a well in the center of the mixture. In other words…keep playing in the flour. (Sorry I couldn’t resist that comment!)

a well in the middle of the flour mixture

Add 1 3/4 cups plus 2 Tablespoons buttermilk into the well that you made in the center of the flour mixture. 

buttermilk added to dry ingredients

Using a rubber spatula begin stirring in the center of the buttermilk. The baking soda will cause the mixture to bubble. This reaction is exactly what you want when making a “non-yeast” bread. 

stirring in buttermilk

Continue to stir until a soft dough forms and gathers in a loose ball. Don’t worry if the dough doesn’t completely come together. 

Irish Soda Bread Dough in a bowl

Gather the dough up and turn out on a lightly  floured surface and gently knead 6-8 times until dough gathers together. It will not be totally smooth and that’s okay! It’s not supposed to be. 

dough on flour surface

Form the dough into a 6 inch round. Place the dough carefully onto a parchment lined cast iron pan or  parchment lined baking sheet.

Irish Soda Bread Dough Ball

Use a sharp knife to cut an “x” into the top of the dough about a half inch deep. 

Why the “x” on the top of the bread? There are two different legends, one is that it was to the let the devil out, the other…which I prefer, is to let the fairies out! I’m sticking with magic! 

cutting an "x" into the top of the dough

Place in preheated oven and bake for 35-45 minutes or until center is no longer doughy and the top is golden brown. 

I love the beautiful nooks and crannies on the top of this bread! It’s so rustic. Brush the top with 1 Tablespoon melted butter.

Traditional Irish Soda Bread baked

You can cut the bread in wedges, or slices….either work. I like to slice the loaf in half and then cut each half into 1 inch thick slices. This bread is perfect with stews, soups, and more. 

Irish Soda Bread out of the Oven

It’s best fresh out of the oven, warm and tender. It reheats beautifully too! 

slices of bread buttered

Keep in mind the texture of this bread is more dense than that of a yeast bread. It’s similar to a biscuit, scone, or muffin. 

Yeast bread is a new born baby or teenager with perfectly smooth skin…Irish Soda Bread is the bread of the geriatric set! A few wrinkles here and there, but smart enough to cling to the good stuff…like butter and jam. It has substance…something you can sink your teeth into! A delicious golden crust and a tender moist inside! 

Here are few of my other favorite bread recipes that work well for meals at your Nest. 

Favorite Bread Recipes 

As always, thanks so much for stopping by and visiting today! I hope you’ll give this fantastic Soda Bread recipe a try! It so quick, easy, and delicious! 

Happy Nesting!

Signature and photo for Norine
Yield: 16 servings

Traditional Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread out of the Oven

Traditional Irish Soda Bread is a delicious dense, unleavened bread made with flour, buttermilk, salt, sugar and baking soda. Scrumptious served warm right out of the oven with butter and your favorite jam or honey!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
  • 1 3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1 Tablespoon melted butter


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat over to 400 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cake flour, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Cut in 2 Tablespoons of cold butter cut into chunks and add to flour mixture. Using a pastry blender, or your clean hands, work the butter into the dry ingredients until it is completely incorporated creating a super fine crumb.
  3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add buttermilk. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, mix the ingredients together by stirring from the center outward until a dough forms.
  4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and pat together to form a 6 inch round. Place dough onto parchment lined cast iron skillet or baking sheet. Using a sharp knife cut a small "x" into the top of the bread dough.
  5. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until center is no longer doughy and the top is golden brown. Remove from oven and brush with 1 Tablespoon of melted butter. Slice and serve.

Nutrition Information:


16 servings

Serving Size:

1 slice

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 150Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 349mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 4g

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St. Patrick's Day Recipes • The Fresh Cooky

Thursday 12th of March 2020

[…] humble opinion, a must have St. Patrick’s Day recipe is bread, like my friend Norine’s Irish Soda Bread! Perfect to sop up the deliciousness from a cottage pie or bangers and […]

Chocolate Cupcakes with Mint Filling - Life, Love, and Good Food

Monday 9th of March 2020

[…] Irish Soda Bread — This delicious dense, unleavened bread by my friend Norine at Norine’s Nest is scrumptious served warm right out of the oven with butter and your favorite jam or honey! […]

Tasia ~ two sugar bugs

Sunday 1st of March 2020

Thank you for the great recipe Norine!! My dough came out much looser than yours and hardly held together (most likely all the kid interruptions and the phone ringing while I was mixing this up caused me to mis-measure something?). I had to use my bench scraper to move it to my Dutch oven and was a bit worried about the results, but it came out absolutely delicious!! I will definitely make it again.

Tuesday 3rd of March 2020

Hi Tasia! Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. I know how busy life can be so this means a lot to me. I'm so glad this bread came out good. You could maybe cut back on the buttermilk next time. Leave out the extra Tablespoons? I am glad it worked regardless and that you and your tribe enjoyed it. Thanks again for visiting and for making this recipe! You're awesome! Norine

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