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Irish Brown Bread

I love Irish Brown Bread even more than the traditional white soda bread with raisins. It’s hearty and savory because it’s made with whole wheat flour. A smear of butter and some marmalade turns brown soda bread into the perfect breakfast treat.

Irish Brown Bread on a cutting board

Recipe Ingredients

  • Whole wheat flour
  • Unbleached all purpose flour 
  • Salt
  • Granulated sugar
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Butter 
  • Egg
  • Buttermilk

How to make Irish Brown Bread:

  • Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Cut in the butter then add the wet ingredients all at once.
  • Mix the dough with a wooden spoon or spatula until it looks “shaggy”.
  • Turn the dough out onto a floured surface to finish kneading.
  • Knead the dough to form a ball and transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet.
  • Cutting a deep “x” helps the dough rise evenly and creates the iconic shape of the baked loaf.
  • Brush the loaf with buttermilk and bake.

Tips for making Traditional Irish Brown Bread

  • This dough is so easy to make you don’t need a mixer. Mixing by hand helps ensure that you won’t over work and toughen the dough. 
  • The dough can be a little sticky. If your hands get coated with the sticky dough don’t try to wash it off with water, it’ll just get stickier and leave a mess in the sink. Dip your hands into the flour bin to coat them. Holding your hands over the trash can, rub them together vigorously and the sticky dough will come off easily.
  • Cutting a deep X in the top of the loaf before it goes in the oven ensures that it will rise evenly without splitting in random places.

FAQs about Irish Brown Bread

What is Irish brown bread made of?

Irish Brown Bread is very similar to Irish Soda Bread. Brown bread is made with whole grain wheat flour, baking soda, butter and buttermilk.

What is the difference between Irish soda bread and Irish brown bread?

Irish Soda Bread is made with white flour and brown bread is the made with whole wheat flour. Soda bread usually has raisins and brown bread does not.

How is Irish Brown Bread served?

Brown Bread is often served with a traditional Irish breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage and black pudding. Serve brown bread with plenty of butter.

If you keep a sourdough starter, you can make Sourdough Irish Soda Bread or Sourdough Irish Brown Bread with your discard. 

Irish Brown Bread

Looking for more Irish inspired recipes?

If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.

a slice of irish brown bread with butter on a plate
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4.78 from 9 reviews

Irish Brown Bread Recipe

I love Irish Brown Bread even more than the traditional white soda bread with raisins. It’s hearty and savory because it’s made with whole wheat flour.
Prep Time45 minutes
Bake Time20 minutes
Total Time1 hour 5 minutes
24 servings


  • 10 ounces whole wheat flour (2 cups)
  • 5 ounces all purpose flour (1 cup)
  • ½ ounces granulated sugar (1 tablespoon)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ounces unsalted butter (2 tablespoons, room temp)
  • 1 egg
  • 12 ounces buttermilk (1 ½ cups)


  • Preheat oven to 375 °F. Line a ½ sheet pan with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Add the butter and work in with your fingers until fully incorporated and there are no lumps larger than a pea.
    10 ounces whole wheat flour, 5 ounces all purpose flour, ½ ounces granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon baking soda, 1 ounces unsalted butter
  • Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Combine the egg and buttermilk and pour into the well. Mix gently with a wooden spoon until most of the buttermilk is incorporated. If the dough is very, very dry you can add a little more buttermilk.
    1 egg, 12 ounces buttermilk
  • Turn onto a floured surface and knead about 15-20 times until combined. Form the dough into a large round ball. Place the dough onto the parchment lined sheet pan and flatten the top a bit.
  • Using a sharp knife or a single edge razor blade cut a ½-¾" deep X shape across the top of the loaf. Brush the top of the loaf with buttermilk. Bake for 40-50 minutes until it is golden brown.
  • To check if it's done, turn the loaf over and tap the bottom. It should have a hollow sound. You can also use a probe thermometer to check for an internal temperature of about 200 °F.


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I use King Arthur whole wheat flour and unbleached all purpose flour.


Serving: 1slice | Calories: 84kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.5g | Trans Fat: 0.04g | Cholesterol: 11mg | Sodium: 155mg | Potassium: 71mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 64IU | Calcium: 32mg | Iron: 1mg
Have you tried this recipe?Mention @eileen.bakingsense or tag #bakingsense!
Recipe Rating

Ida M

Friday 26th of August 2022

I never have bothered with recipe reviews or comments. Good or bad. But I made myself do this to say what a great recipe this is! Easy. Accurate. And the bread is completely yummy. Thanks for sharing it!

Sue Macfarlane

Tuesday 10th of March 2015

Looks great and can't wait to try this.. Thanks Eileen...

Eileen Gray

Tuesday 10th of March 2015

Thanks Sue. I hope you enjoy it. Let me know if you have any questions.