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Easy Traditional Irish Soda Bread Recipe (4 Ingredients)

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You are going to love the simplicity of this 4-ingredient Authentic Irish Soda Bread! A traditional Irish soda bread that is an easy from scratch recipe. A dense, crusty, hearty quick bread with a delicious tang. Gluten-free option too!

I try and find any reason to make Soda bread, not just on St Patrick’s day; and simple, crusty breads slathered with soft Irish butter make me swoon! This 4 ingredient Irish Soda bread is delicious with Baked Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe!

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, made with 4 ingredients. Traditional Irish recipe.

Irish Soda Bread Recipe from Ireland

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 this 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?
Irish soda bread with wedge removed, buttered with Irish butter.

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.

Simple Ingredients

Ingredients, directions and nutritional information in the printable recipe card at the end of the post.

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 using basic ingredients. This no yeast, unleavened, dense and crusty bread gets its beautiful bread rise from the chemical reaction between the baking soda and the buttermilk.

  • All-purpose Flour – I used organic, unbleached all-purpose white flour (also known as plain flour in the UK). Original recipes many times used oat flour and soft whole 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, if using table salt, use a little less.
  • Baking Soda | Wouldn’t be “soda” bread without the baking soda! This is your leavening agent. See tips below for making sure it’s fresh.
  • 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. In a pinch, make homemade buttermilk, which is sour milk. Let it sit out for 30 minutes to come to room temperature.
Ingredient shot for 4 ingredient Irish soda bread, L-R all purpose flour, buttermilk, kosher salt and baking soda

How to make sure your baking soda is fresh

Baking soda, also called bicarbonate of soda can lose its rising ability over time. Add a few tablespoons of vinegar to a bowl, add a teaspoon of baking soda, it should fizz immediately if it’s fresh, if not, time to buy a new box.

How to Make Savory Soda Bread

All you need is a large mixing 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.

How to make homemade buttermilk (sour milk)

Place 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice into a 1 cup liquid measuring cup, add desired milk (regular or plant-based). Stir and allow to sit for 7-10 minutes until milk has soured.

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 or a lightly floured surface and pat the dough into a round loaf, 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 the soft dough into the prepared 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.

Allow to cool for 15 minutes before diving in, use a serrated knife to cut wedges of bread.

Loaf of traditional Irish soda bread.

How to make Gluten-Free Irish 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.
  • Increase buttermilk up to 2 cups, GF flours tend to soak up a bit more liquid.

Variations & Substitutions

  • Many varieties include currents or raisins. Add up to ½ cup.
  • Add a sprinkle of caraway seeds to the top of the loaf.
  • Make it a little sweet, by adding a little orange zest to the traditional ingredients.
Loaf of soda bread with wedge removed, Irish butter in background.


Store cooled, baked bread in an airtight container on the counter up to 5 days. In the fridge up to 7 days.

Can you freeze Irish Soda Bread

Yes! This bread freezes beautifully! Make sure that the bread is completely cooled, then wrap the bread well in plastic wrap, then place in airtight freezer baggie. Or cut into wedges and thaw individually. Freeze up to 3 months. Thaw on counter or in fridge overnight.

High Altitude Irish Soda Bread

Great news! I made no adjustments for high altitude for this traditional Irish soda bread recipe!

Irish soda bread on wooden cutting board, with Irish butter behind.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is there a cross cut on the top of the bread?

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.

Does soda bread need to be kneaded?

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.

What if I want a softer crust?

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.

What do you eat with Authentic Irish Soda bread?

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.

Can I add currents or raisins to traditional soda bread?

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.

Irish soda bread on cutting board with wedge removed.

What to serve with Authentic Irish Soda bread!

But this savory soda bread is not just for St. Patrick’s day, it is delicious anytime of the year!

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!

Pin for How to Make 4 Ingredient Authentic Irish Soda Bread with top down image of loaf of soda bread with wedge removed and butter in background.

I hope you loved this authentic Irish soda bread recipe — if you did, would you share your creation on InstagramFacebook and Pinterest? And be sure to comment below!

Like this recipe?
Don’t forget to give it a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ star rating and comment below the recipe!

Kathleen Pope, The Fresh Cooky.

About Kathleen Pope

Recipe Innovator | Food Photographer | Food Writer

Hi, I’m Kathleen Pope. Here at The Fresh Cooky you will find easy, mostly from-scratch, trusted recipes for all occasions. From speedy dinners to tasty desserts, with easy step-by-step instructions. I am here to help teach you how to make mouthwatering recipes without spending hours in the kitchen. Read more about Kathleen here.

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  1. 5 stars
    I confess I was not a bread maker but this recipe looked so easy, I had to try it! Really happy with the result. I guess I’m a bread makers after all!

    1. So sorry about that Laura, especially using gluten free flour, you will need to add more buttermilk, up to about 2 cups. While I mentioned that in the post, I have updated the recipe card to reflect that. Sorry you had a poor experience though.