Traditional 4-ingredient Irish Soda Bread is the best, easy recipe to make from scratch. A dense, crusty, hearty bread with a delicious tang. Gluten free option too!
Do you only make a savory soda bread for St. Patrick’s day? I try and find any reason to make bread; and simple, crusty breads slathered with soft Irish butter make me swoon!
We love homemade, from-scratch, delicious whole foods; we love breads, especially quick breads; you might try this Cheddar Bay Biscuit Bread, Beer Bread (similar to soda bread) or these yummy Beer Bread Popovers.
Irish Soda Bread Recipe from Ireland
I have mentioned before, I am not sure I have a speck of Irish in me, but I sure can appreciate their delicious traditional foods! And now you can too!
A simple 4 ingredient authentic recipe that I have had in my recipe box for years, and honestly, I re-discovered it recently when I was cleaning out my cookbook cupboard.
Why you will LOVE 4 Ingredient Irish Soda Bread
- 4 INGREDIENTS | Hello easy! Other than the buttermilk, I am pretty confident you might have the other 3 ingredients in your pantry.
- 10 MINUTE PREP | Seriously, it’s whisk, pour, stir, mix, shape, score, bake!
- GLUTEN FREE OPTION | For my readers and family who are gluten free, you are welcome!
- WARM BREAD | Who doesn’t love fresh baked, warm soda bread?
Is Irish Soda Bread really Irish?
While steeped in tradition and history, I have read in several places that while the Irish have made this unleavened, hearty, dense bread famous. It was the Native American’s who originally started baking with pearl ash, a natural form of soda, the Irish later adopted the practice.
While you will see many recipes containing raisins or currents, sugar, eggs and butter; these are actually variations on the original 4 ingredient Irish soda bread.
I wanted a simple, traditional savory soda bread recipe. This no yeast, unleavened, dense and crusty bread gets its beautiful rise from the reaction between the baking soda and the buttermilk.
- ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR | I used organic, unbleached all-purpose flour (also known as plain flour in the UK)
- Original recipes many times used oat flour and soft wheat flour, you might try experimenting with other flours, see notes below.
- KOSHER SALT |the flavor of the ages, table salt may be used, but I prefer in recipes like this the flavor of kosher salt.
- BAKING SODA | Wouldn’t be “soda” bread without the baking soda! Make sure it is fresh! Test if you need to:
- Place about 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda in a small bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of plain vinegar. You should see pretty vigorous bubbling. If there are only a few bubbles or no bubbles at all, then it’s time to replace your baking soda.
- BUTTERMILK | Normally I would tell you if you do not have buttermilk to make your own (see below), but in this instance the thicker, rich, sour, cultured buttermilk is best. I love whole milk buttermilk, but could not find it after three stores!
How to Make Savory Soda Bread
All you need is a large bowl, clean hands and 10 minutes of time.
- Whisk together dry ingredients (all purpose flour, salt and soda) in a large bowl (glass or ceramic are preferable, they won’t react with the acidity in the dough)
- Make a small well in the center and pour in buttermilk.
- Using a sturdy wooden spoon stir until a shaggy dough forms.
- With clean hands, gently work the mixture into a sticky dough, incorporating all of the dry ingredients. You might need a little more buttermilk.
- Transfer the dough to a piece of parchment paper and pat the dough into a round disc, about 1 ½ – 2 inches in thickness.
- Using a sharp knife dipped in flour, score the dough in a cross pattern, then puncture each of the quarters with the tip of a knife.
- Melt a couple teaspoons of butter by placing a cast iron skillet (<– my favorite!) in preheated oven for a few minutes, swirl around to coat bottom of pan. OR place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet sprinkled with a little flour.
- Place savory soda bread dough into pan and bake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees F, then TURN THE TEMPERATURE DOWN to 400 degrees F and bake for 25 additional minutes.
Maybe this part of an old wives tale, I could not find a “reason” for this step, but in my research, I read about doing this in numerous posts and cookbooks.
- After baking for 25 minutes, turn it upside down (carefully) and bake for 5 more minutes. Tapping on the bottom should yield a hollow sound.
How to make Gluten Free Soda Bread
Since I have so many friends, family and readers that are gluten free when possible, I like to give the option to create a gluten free version of the recipe. My suggestions are below:
- Replace all of the flour with gluten free all purpose (1:1 cup for cup) flour.
- Or try a combination of GF AP Flour and GF Oat Flour, maybe a 3:1 ratio.
High Altitude Adjustments
Great news! I made no adjustments for high altitude for this traditional Irish soda bread recipe!
Frequently Asked Questions
Superstitions claim that cutting a cross on the top of your soda bread keeps the evil spirits out. In the 19th century, it was believed that a cross slashed atop your bread let the devil out while the bread baked.
It was also believed that the symbolism can be interpreted as blessing the bread and giving thanks, I like that one better!
A more practical reason is it allow the bread to bake faster and evenly.
No, unlike traditional yeast breads, you want to treat Irish soda bread with kid gloves to so speak, you may need to gently fold a few times to get it to come together, but not a traditional knead.
If a softer crust is desired, allow to cool for 5-10 minutes then wrap in a clean tea towel, or brush with melted butter when it comes out of the oven.
My favorite way, warm and slathered in a good Irish butter, like Kerrygold. It is also delicious with a slice of sharp cheddar cheese. And of course used to sop up the juices from hearty soups and stews.
You sure can! But then it is actually called Spotted Dog or Spotted Dick bread and no longer a soda bread. Try adding ¼- ½ cup of currents or raisins to the dough.
What to serve with Soda bread!
My favorite part, this bread goes with so many delicious recipes, here are a few that will have you dancing an Irish jig!
But this savory soda bread is not just for St. Patrick’s day, it is delicious anytime of the year!
- Traditional Bangers and Mash | a fancy way of saying sausages and mashed potatoes.
- Best Skillet Shepherd’s Pie | Traditional, simple, and the best!
- Beef Stew | a savory, slow cooked beef stew is perfect for this bread!
- Shepherd’s Pie | another delicious, hearty Irish recipe.
- Bread & Butter Pot Roast | it’s the bread and butter part!
- St. Patrick’s Day Recipes | be sure to browse my post with loads of St. Paddy’s day recipes.
- Irish Mule | you might want to wash it all down with this delicious cocktail.
- Guinness Chocolate Cake | a dense, rich chocolate cake with Irish Cream Buttercream
- Milk Stout Fudge Brownies | seriously, amazing!
Sure hope you enjoyed this little walk down a bit of history, if you make this traditional Irish soda bread recipe, please rate and comment below!
Like this recipe?
Don’t forget to give it a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️star rating in the recipe below!
Traditional 4 ingredient Irish Soda Bread is the best easy recipe to make from scratch. A dense, crusty, hearty bread recipe from Ireland. Gluten free option too!
- 4 cups all-purpose flour | I used organic unbleached all purpose flour, see notes for Gluten Free
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda | see post for how to make sure it is fresh
- 1 ½ cups buttermilk* | I used low-fat buttermilk, but would have preferred whole buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 450°F, prep a 10 inch or larger cast iron skillet with a little oil or melted butter or place a piece of parchment paper on a bakign sheet.
- Whisk together dry ingredients (all purpose flour, salt and soda) in a large bowl (glass or ceramic are preferable, they won't react with the acidity in the dough)
Make a small well in the center and pour in buttermilk.
- Using a sturdy wooden spoon stir until a shaggy dough forms.
With clean hands, gently work the mixture into a sticky dough, incorporating all of the dry ingredients. You might need a little more buttermilk.
- Transfer the dough to a piece of parchment paper and pat the dough into a round disc, about 1 ½ - 2 inches in thickness.
Using a sharp knife dipped in flour, score the dough in a cross pattern, then puncture each of the quarters with the tip of a knife.
- Melt a couple teaspoons of butter by placing a cast iron skillet (Place savory soda bread dough into pan and bake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees F, then TURN THE TEMPERATURE DOWN to 400 degrees F and bake for 25 additional minutes.
- Maybe this part of an old wives tale, I could not find a "reason" for this step, but after baking for 25 minutes, turn it upside down (carefully) and bake for 5 more minutes. Tapping on the bottom should yield a hollow sound. Let rest 5-10 minutes before slicing and serve in wedges, slathered with Irish butter!
Normally if you are out of buttermilk, I tell you to make your own (1 tablespoon lemon juice to 1 cup milk, stir and let sit 5-10 minuites) however; it is not quite as sour or as thick as real buttermilk, so I woud suggest for this recipe to use real buttermilk. Plus I like whole milk buttermilk if you can find it, I went to three stores and could only find lowfat.
GLUTEN FREE SODA BREAD
Replace all of the flour with gluten free all purpose (1:1 cup for cup) flour. Or try a combination of GF AP Flour and GF Oat Flour, maybe a 3:1 ratio.
HIGH ALTITUDE INSTRUCTIONS: No adjustments necessary for high altitude.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 123Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 183mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 4g
The nutritional information is estimated and may not be entirely accurate, at times it pulls information for suggestions and options which may increase calories, etc. Nutritional information will change based on used ingredients, quantities used, etc.