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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 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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 Authentic Irish Soda bread!
- 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!
- 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!
- Lucky Charms Bars
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!
Like this recipe?
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Easy Traditional Irish Soda Bread
- 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, whole or 2%, or homemade 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 baking 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 (<– my favorite!) in preheated oven for a few minutes, swirl around to coat bottom of pan. 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!
✱ Kathleen’s Tips
Gluten-free flours tend to absorb a bit more liquid, you might need to add up to 2 cups buttermilk. HIGH ALTITUDE INSTRUCTIONS: No adjustments necessary for high altitude.
The Fresh Cooky is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is only an estimate. We recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator if you need to verify any information.
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.