The best versions of this quick bread are crusty on the outside with a buttery, tender crumb - almost like a giant biscuit. Some people use buttermilk and some use sweet milk - buttermilk is used in this recipe.
❤️ Why you'll love this recipe
This easy, crusty Irish soda bread is the best for hearty stew and soup meals because the crust gives a satisfying crunch while the crumb soaks up broth without getting soggy.
There's no waiting for it to rise or long baking times - and it's versatile enough to be a little sweet or just buttery or even a little savory.
If you really want your Irish soda bread to taste authentic try using half whole wheat flour in this recipe.
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For this recipe you'll need:
Note: This is an overview of the instructions. The full instructions are in the green recipe card below.
Crusty, tender, buttery, and tangy all at the same time, this easy buttermilk quick bread is delicious! You'll need about 55 minutes to make it.
- Blend the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and grate the ice cold butter into them, stirring often with a fork to keep the butter shreds from sticking together. You want them to be totally covered in flour. If the butter starts to soften put it in the freezer for a few minutes.
- Whisk the egg and buttermilk together until well blended then add to the dry ingredients, stirring quickly and gently. Don't overmix!
- Mix the dough gently until it holds together - it will have a crumbly shaggy look. Turn it out onto a lightly floured countertop and pat it into a round. Slash and X in the top. I like to sprinkle the top with sugar if it's being served for brunch.
- Bake at 425F for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the finished loaf from the oven when it is golden brown and crusty - a toothpick inserted in the center will come out with just a few crumbs clinging to it. Let it cool for 10 minutes or so before serving.
Since this easy Irish soda bread dries out very quickly keep it wrapped tightly with plastic wrap for up to 3 days at room temperature - no need to refrigerate.
This buttery quick bread freezes very well! Wrap it tightly and put it in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw and reheat before serving.
Thaw if it's been frozen. Unwrap the bread and reheat it on a heavy baking sheet in a 325F oven for 10 minutes.
- Add a cup of raisins or dried cranberries.
- Use half whole wheat flour.
- Add a tablespoon or so of orange zest.
- Stir in shredded Cheddar with the butter - and omit the sugar.
💭 Tips for success
Expert tip: Although most recipes call for cutting in the butter I like to grate it because the long strands make the bread bake up flakier and even more buttery.
- For best results keep all of the ingredients very cold. If the butter starts to warm up put it AND the bowl of flour in the freezer for a few minutes.
- Don't overwork the dough. Just gently shape it into a round.
- Bake the loaf on a baking sheet or in a heavy iron skillet. The skillet will give it a crispier crust.
- Make your own buttermilk with these methods!
👩🏻🍳 Frequently asked questions
Here are the questions I am most frequently asked about this recipe.
It tastes a lot like a big, buttery biscuit!
What you spread on it depends on the meal and your preferences! Butter, jam, jelly, or honey are delicious for breakfast or brunch. For dinner add butter, a slice of cheese, or use it plain to sop up gravy and broth.
Yep - it sure is! It dates from the early 1800s and was made with just four baking ingredients - flour, baking soda, sour milk, and salt. Since families lived in farmhouses with only open hearths for cooking this easy bread was developed to easily cook on cast iron skillets or pots over the fire.
Tradition has it that before baking, a cross is cut on the top with a knife, to ward off the devil and protect the household. On a more practical note it also helps the bread to rise and bake evenly.
You can substitute 1 ⅓ cups milk that has 1 ½ tablespoons of white vinegar or lemon juice added if you don't have buttermilk. Apple cider vinegar works, too. Just stir the vinegar in to the milk and let stand for 5 minutes before using.
📚 Related recipes
Whether you're celebrating St. Patrick's Day or enjoying a quiet afternoon at home these recipes will have you singing Irish ballads in no time.
📞 The last word
I make all kinds of bread - yeast breads, quick breads, rolls, muffins - you name it and I've tried making it. One of my favorite types of bread to make out of all of them is a fat, crusty loaf of Irish Soda bread.
When I think of Ireland I think of countryside full of lush green grass spotted with sheep, winding roads, small villages with ancient, whitewashed houses... and lots of hearty country food.
I think of soups and stews served with big chunks of soda bread, warm from the oven with butter melting and soaking into the crevices.
If it's not that way please don't enlighten me.
If you click on the number of servings in the recipe card you can adjust the measurements up or down for the exact number of servings you need. Don't forget that you can click on "add to collection" to save it to your own, private recipe box!
If you love this recipe please give it 5 stars! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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- Preheat the oven to 425F.
- Prepare a large baking sheet by spraying with non-stick cooking spray or lining it with parchment paper. You can also use a greased, cast iron skillet.
- Blend the all-purpose flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl.
- Using the large side of a grater, grate the butter into the dry ingredients, stirring often to coat the shreds of butter.
- Blend the egg with the buttermilk.
- Pour into the dry ingredient mixture and stir lightly with a fork.
- Turn the sticky dough out on a lightly floured work surface and gently form into a round that holds together.
- Cut a deep cross or an X in the top.
- Place the dough ball on the prepared sheet pan or cast iron skillet.
- Bake for 40 minutes.
- Remove when a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few clinging crumbs and the top is crusty and golden brown.
- Keep all of the ingredients very cold. If the butter starts to warm up put it AND the bowl of flour in the freezer for a few minutes.
- Don't over work the dough. Just gently shape it into a round.
- Bake it on a baking sheet or in a heavy iron skillet. The skillet will give the Irish soda bread a crispier crust.
- Make your own buttermilk with these methods!
- You can add up to 1 cup raisins or dried cranberries if you like.
- You can use half whole wheat flour for a delicious variation.
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First published March 6, 2019. Last updated December 28, 2021 to add tips and variations.