Irish Soda Bread Recipe

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A classic Irish soda bread recipe with recipe variations to make brown soda bread and fruit soda bread.


450g plain white flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
350-400ml buttermilk
Flour for dusting the loaf


1. Preheat the oven to 230C/450F/Gas 8. Flour a baking tray.

2. Sift the dry ingredients together. Add half the buttermilk and stir with a wooden spoon. Add the rest of the buttermilk bit by bit using clean fingertips to draw the flour into the liquid until you have a soft dough – you may not use all the buttermilk. The dough should be moist and sticky. Flour a board or clean table with lots of flour and place the dough on it. Shape it gently into a round loaf and turn over and pat the other side gently to shape it (never use a rolling pin). Lift the loaf gently onto the floured baking tray. Cut a cross in the loaf to let the steam out (in Ireland we say it’s to let the fairies out!). Dust the top of the soda bread lightly with flour.

3. Bake the soda bread for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 200C/400F/Gas 6 and bake for another 30 minutes. Check to see if it is done by tapping the bottom of the bread, it should sound hollow. If not bake for another 5 minutes and check again.

Recipe Variation

– BROWN SODA BREAD RECIPE: To make a wholewheat soda bread substitute the plain flour with half wholewheat and half plain flour (eg 225g of each instead of using 450g of plain flour).

– Add a handful of sultanas to the dry ingredients for fruit soda bread.

Notes on Irish Soda Bread

– Don’t add all the milk in one go as you may not need all of it.

– The reason that you make a cross in the top of the loaf before you bake it is to allow the heat to get through to the centre of the bread and cook the middle. It was also a way of ‘blessing’ the bread before it went in the oven and it lets the fairies out.

– Irish soda bread is a classic Irish recipe. However, you’ll find some recipes that use caraway seeds – this is not a spice that is used often in Ireland.

– Soda bread is made either with wholewheat flour (in which case it is called Brown Soda Bread) or white flour (in which case it is called White Soda bread);

– This bread was traditionally made and cooked on the top of the cooker – in modern homes,  it is baked in the oven.

This recipe has been triple-tested in the gréatfood test kitchen.

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