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Irish Soda Bread with Raisins

Would it be St. Patrick’s day without Irish Soda Bread? Not in my house! Put on the kettle and enjoy a slice of this buttermilk-enriched, raisin-filled traditional Irish Soda Bread with a hot cup of tea.

a loaf of Irish soda bread with raisins on a wooden board with a green background

Traditional Irish Soda Bread is so easy to make

Even if you’re a little reluctant to make your own bread, soda bread is so easy you should give it a try–and homemade soda bread is so much better than what you’ll find in a typical grocery store.

Why is soda bread so easy to make? Because it’s a “quick bread”. Quick breads are “quick” because they get their lift from a chemical leavener (in this case baking soda) instead of yeast. As soon as the bread is mixed it’s ready to bake. 

With no yeast or fussy fermentation, no rolling or cutting, soda bread is even easier to make than muffins or biscuits.

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

Scroll through the step by step photos to see how to make Irish Soda Bread:

A bowl of flour with a whisk in the bowl.

Whisk together the dry ingredients.

Pour buttermilk into flour to make irish soda bread

Add the buttermilk all at once.

a bowl of irish soda bread dough

Start mixing with a spoon, then turn the dough out onto a floured surface and finish mixing by hand.

Tips for making this Traditional Irish Soda Bread Recipe 

  • This dough is so easy to make I don’t even use a mixer. Mixing by hand helps ensure that you won’t over work and toughen the dough and it comes together in mere minutes. 
  • You can make a substitute for buttermilk by adding a tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to a cup of whole milk. Let it thicken for 10 minutes before using.
  • Another option for buttermilk is buttermilk powder, which will keep for months in the pantry. Buttermilk does have a special flavor so I think it’s worth getting the real thing, if possible.
  • 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.
  • If the raisins on the surface of the dough burn in the oven, just pick them off (careful, they’re hot) when the bread comes out of the oven.
  • The recipe can be divided into two smaller loaves instead of one large loaf. Adjust the baking time for smaller loaves.
  • If raisins are your thing you can leave them out or replace them with dried cranberries, cherries or your favorite dried fruit.
  • Soda Bread is best the day that it is baked. Leftovers can be frozen, then defrosting and reheated.
  • One of my favorite ways to eat day-old soda bread is to generously butter a slice of bread then toast in on a griddle until it’s golden brown. Topped with a little jam, it’s heavenly.

slices of Irish soda bread with raisins on a striped tea towel

slices of irish soda bread with butter and orange marmalade on a white plate

All you need is a little creamery butter and maybe a dollop of Blood Orange Marmalade for the perfect teatime treat.

Personally, I don’t know why you’d only bake soda bread once a year. It’s so easy to make and so tasty it should be enjoyed year-round.

If you love this recipe please consider giving it five stars.

Irish Soda Bread with Raisins
A closeup shot of three slices of Irish soda bread with raisins. One slice has butter and orange marmalade on top.

Irish Soda Bread

Yield: 1 large loaf or 2 smaller loaves
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Even if you’re a little reluctant to make your own bread, soda bread is so easy you should give it a try–and homemade soda bread is so much better than what you’ll find in a typical grocery store. With no yeast or fussy fermentation, no rolling or cutting, soda bread is even easier to make than muffins or biscuits.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups (1 lb 4 oz 570g) unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz, 28g) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons (1.5 oz, 45g) butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (6 oz, 170g) raisins
  • 2 cups (16 oz, 500ml) buttermilk, plus more for brushing

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F convection or 375°F regular. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. Sift or whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder and baking soda. Use your hands to work the butter into the dry ingredients until there are no pieces larger than the size of a pea. Toss the raisins with the dry ingredients.
  3. Add the buttermilk all at once and mix until the dry ingredients are almost incorporated. The dough may seem dry at this point but it will come together.
  4. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead about 15-20 times to form a smooth ball. Place the loaf onto the prepared baking sheet. Use your hands to flatten the ball slightly. Use a sharp knife to cut a 1/2"-3/4" deep X into the top of the loaf. Brush the loaf with buttermilk.
  5. Bake until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom or the middle of the loaf is about 190°F, 45 minutes to an hour.

Notes

This recipe makes one large or two smaller loaves. If you split the dough into two smaller loaves adjust the baking time accordingly. The recipe can also be halved to make one smaller loaf.

The bread is best the day it's made, but will keep several days at room temperature. It will keep in the freezer for 1-2 months.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

sourdough bread still warm from the wood oven
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a slice of irish soda bread with butter and marmalade
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St. Patrick's Day Recipes

Julianne

Tuesday 17th of September 2019

I don't have buttermilk at the moment but have whole milk. Could I substitute the whole milk in place of the buttermilk?

Eileen Gray

Tuesday 17th of September 2019

Yes. Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or white vinegar to 2 cups of whole milk. Let it sit for 10 minutes to let it thicken.

Emily

Friday 15th of March 2019

Hello,

What are your thoughts about using bread flour with this recipe?!

Eileen

Friday 15th of March 2019

I think it would make the bread too chewy. I would stick with all purpose flour.

Kathryn

Thursday 7th of February 2019

Hi, this recipe looks amazing and just what I was loolking for. one question. Salted or unsatled butter.. Thanks.

Eileen

Thursday 7th of February 2019

I always use unsalted butter. But, since there's really a small amount of butter in the recipe, you can use salted butter without adjusting the salt in the recipe. No need to go out and buy special butter if you've got salted butter on hand. Enjoy!

Trina Gray

Sunday 18th of March 2018

I found a gem when I tried this recipe. Quick and easy. I substitute cheddar cheese for the sultanas and enjoy it with soup. This will be my go to recipe from now on. :-)

Eileen Gray

Monday 19th of March 2018

Thanks! I made 2 loaves of this bread for St. Patrick's day. It's always a hit. I've never tried it with cheddar, but I will now. Thanks for the great idea!

tibbs

Sunday 25th of February 2018

It always amazes me the people will ask for instructional information in recipes despite the fact that ALL the instructions are clearly stated within the recipe preparation steps.

Eileen Fink

Sunday 17th of March 2019

So! people may need clarification, or re-wording.. Please let's not get snarky over someones enthusiasm! Sheesh! Top of der mornin to yer.! ☘