Irish Soda Bread

Aunt Nancys Traditional Irish Soda Bread

In Ireland, we’re incredibly fortunate to have access to great food and even better produce. Growing up, I was surrounded by strong women who taught me how to make everything from fresh ingredients, so I ate delicious meals every night. For a family of 5, that’s pretty remarkable!

One of the best things you can do for your children is to teach them how to cook and start by making bread from one of Nancy’s Irish recipes. And so, with my Aunt Nancy’s permission, I will share her best Irish soda bread recipe with you.

Traditional Irish soda bread has a distinctive appearance, but do you recognize what it is? The mark on top of the lightly floured surface is an X. It comes from the tradition of baking the cake before saying a prayer. Also, you prick each end of Irish soda bread with a fork to release any evil spirits inside.

Why Buttermilk

Buttermilk is key to this recipe and making great Irish soda bread. The main reason is the buttermilk reacts chemically with the baking soda to make the homemade bread rise. The buttermilk adds a cracking flavour to your bread. Some may be worried about tasting the acidity of buttermilk, but once it’s baked, you can’t taste it.

What Is Irish Soda Bread

Tradi­tional Irish bread is traditionally baked at home by families every day across Ireland. It has a nice crunchy golden brown exterior, a soft interior, and a delicious taste.

A Healthy and hearty bread; it requires no yeast no resting, and so making it is an extremely quick bread. Making it quickly results in a better loaf and moist bread. 

What You Need To Make Irish Soda Bread

  • Measuring cups, a sharp knife, and a whisk
  • A Wooden spoon
  • Large bowl
  • Jug
  • Pan (ideally a cast iron pan)
  • Wire rack
  • Aluminum foil

How to Make Traditional Irish Soda Bread

It’s so easy to make traditional Irish soda bread that it’s almost too good to pass up! With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to whip up some homemade Irish brown soda bread for yourself and your family.

And don’t have any cold milk? No worries! An Easy buttermilk Substitute using almond milk and coconut milk is an excellent alternative to milk (although you’ll have to add Lemon juice to help the flour mixture to rise) and I’ve included the full directions for both recipes, along with my favourite substitutions, down below.

  • Put the wholemeal flour, salt, and baking soda in a large mixing bowl. Using your fingers, rub the cold, unsalted butter into the flour mixture until the mixture looks like bread crumbs.
  • Whisk the eggs and buttermilk together in a bowl.
  • Put most of the liquid from the jug into the container.
  • Using your hands, mix the ingredients until they form a loose, soft, but not too sticky dough.
  • Form the dough into a ball on a floured surface.
  • Lay the bread out flat on a baking sheet and poke 4 small slits at the bottom of each corner.
  • Make sure there’s enough liquid left in the jug for the glaze. Then use the remaining liquid to brush onto the loaf and sprinkle with rolled oat flour.
  • Bake at 425°F (220°C) for 15 min., then turn down to 400°F (200°C) for an additional 30 min.
  • Let cool on a cooling rack.

Nancys Top Tips For Making Irish Soda Bread

  • Make sure your bowl is big enough to stir your dough easily without making it too difficult to handle.
  • Before mixing up your dough, always measure out your baking powder/soda correctly. There are two very important reasons why this matters:
  • If you use too much salt, your baked goods will turn green (maybe good for St. Patricks Day). Seriously, they give them a greenish hue on their insides.
  • Baked goods made from too much sodium bicarbonate (baker’s yeast) may develop an undesirable sour taste. So keep in mind “less is more” when using baker’s yeast.
  • To keep the wholewheat flour fresh, place them in the fridge. Over time, the oil from the whole wheat flour can become rancid, so place them in the fridge to avoid spoilage. You know your fridge better than anyone else.
  • To avoid burning your dough, don’t open the oven when the dough has risen for the first time.

Mum’s Traditional Irish Soda Bread Recipe (Brown Bread)


  • 1 3/4 cups (265g/ 9oz) whole wheat flour (fine or coarsely ground)
  • 1 3/4 cups (265g/9oz) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons (30g/1oz) butter (cold)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ⅔ cups (13floz/370ml)buttermilk*
  • 1 tablespoons oats


  • Preheat the oven to 425°F (215°C).
  • Wash and dry your hands. Pat the dough into a tidy shape and flip over gently, then pat it into a round about 4cm (1 and 1/2 inches) thick. Gently transfer to a floured baking tray. Cut a deep cross into the loaf and prick the centre of each quarter to ‘let the fairies out.
  • Combine the flaxseed meal, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Add the almond milk and mix well. Add the butter and combine with your fingers until it forms small clumps.
  • Whisk the eggs and buttermilk together in a bowl.
  • Using the fingers of one hand, stiff and outstretched like a claw, stir from the centre to the edge of the bowl in concentric circles. The dough should be softish but not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, turns to a well-floured work surface.
  • Mix the ingredients into a smooth dough with an open palm. Once the mixture has come together, add more water if necessary.
  • On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough into an approximately 12-inch square (30 cm x 30 cm).
  • Put them on a greased cookie sheet.
  • To score the loaf of French toast, bless it with a deep cross at the four corners. Poke a hole in each corner to let out the fairylings so they won’t curse the loaf.
  • Brush some buttermilk onto the bread and sprinkle rolled oatmeal on top.
  • Bake at 350º F (180º C) for 20 minutes, then turn down to 325º F (160º C), and bake for another 25 minutes. When done, the bread will be firm but not hard. Remove from the pan and let stand until completely cooled.

Recipe Notes

5 PointsPlus Points *For every Cup of Buttermilk needed mix 1 cup of regular milk with 2 tablespoons of Lemon juice or white vinegar. Mix and let it stand for a minimum of 30 minutes before using.