Traditional Irish Soda Bread Recipe

This is a day late, but most assuredly not a dollar short.  Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day, the one day of the year when everybody is Irish.

There’s one thing about St. Patrick’s Day 2012 that kind of rankles me.  How come none of the myriad cable channels bothered to broadcast the “ultimate” Irish movie—even though the lead character is decidedly non-Irish—John Wayne’s, 1952 classic “The Quiet Man”?

I cooked up the traditional St. Patrick’s dinner yesterday—corned beef and cabbage.  And, I even made Traditional Irish Soda Bread—dense and flavorful.

corn beef and cabbage and soda bread

Cheap Bastid's St. Patrick's Day "Feast"

Like so many of my adventures in cooking, I started out by doing some research into several different recipes on the internet and found some interesting information about what traditional Irish soda bread is—and what it isn’t.

According to the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread (, soda bread never contains raisins, eggs, baking powder, sugar, shortening and certainly not yeast.  Well, that should make it pretty simple.  And it is.

Traditional Irish Soda Bread loaf

The first recipe for traditional Irish soda bread was published by “Farmer’s Magazine” in London in 1836, after the potato famine led to massive migration.  Soda bread recipes came to America with latter day immigrants.  Interesting.  But, let’s get to the baking.

Recipe: Traditional Irish Soda Breadsoda bread

Summary: Not just for St. Patrick’s Day, this traditional Irish Soda Bread is dense and flavorful and rustic. Enjoy it especially with soups and stews.


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt (any salt works but sea salt adds extra cruch)
  • 1 ¾ cups buttermilk (or 2 tablespoons white vinegar and 1 ¾ cups milk)


  • Get out a big mixing bowl and your cake pans (if you don’t have a 9” pan, use an 8” pan; if you don’t have round cake pans, get out a baking sheet so you can plop the bread on that).pour buttermilk into dry ingredients
  • If you’re adding vinegar to milk do this first and let it rest about 10 minutes.
  • Turn oven on to 425
  • Grease and flour the cake pan
  • Put the dry ingredients in the bowl—flour, baking soda and salt—mix together to combine.
  • Make a well in the center and add the buttermilk.
  • Stir together until it makes a sticky dough. If it’s too wet, add a bit more flour; too dry add a bit more milk.
  • Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently—don’t overknead the dough; a minute will be just soda bread dough
  • Make a rounded mound of dough and put into the cake pan or onto the baking sheet. Cut a cross with a sharp, greased knife about ½ inch deep across the top of the loaf.
  • If using a cake pan, put another pan on top.
  • Put in the 425 oven for 30 minutes then remove the “lid” pan and let the loaf bake for another 10-15 minutes until the loaf is golden.
  • Remove from oven, let it cool a bit and you’re ready to soda bread dough in oven

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time: 50 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 6

Culinary tradition: Irish

My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)

irish soda bread broken

Enjoy this Traditional Irish Soda Bread.  It’s dense and flavorful.  Break the “quarters” that you’ve cut into the top so that you can slice or break pieces off to slather with butter and eat.

The Cheap Bastid Test:  Well, 4 cups of flour cost maybe half a dollar and the other ingredients add maybe an quarter.  So I made this bread for about $.75.  It was $2.50 at the bakery at the grocery store.  And the added bonus is that it filled our apartment with a wonderful aroma.

And that’s the Cheap Bastid Way:  Eat Good. Eat Cheap. Be Grateful!

About Walter Blevins

My wife started to call me Cheap Bastid a while back because I enjoyed coming up with dinners that cost next to nothing--and making them taste good. Yeah, I love to cook. And I love to cook good food cheap. I'm not a chef and I'm definitely not anything close to a gourmet. I'm just a home cook who grew up in a home where cooking was from scratch and was a little bit Midwest and a little bit country. That's because my Mom was from Michigan and my Dad was from Kentucky. I started sharing recipes when my daughter called me in 2006 and asked for my recipe for Swiss Steak. That year for Christmas I put together a cookbook for my 2 kids called "Dad's Everyday Cookbook and Kitchen Survival Guide". And I heard back that they both use it regularly. It was full of basic recipes that I had cooked for them when they were growing up. I work hard at creating recipes that are original and creative and inexpensive. You won't find a foo-foo foodie approach to my recipes and style. I believe that it's OK for food to go up the side of a plate. Food is for eating--it doesn't have to be pretty. And I write about my cooking and my recipes so that I can share them. I hope you enjoy these posts. Leave me a comment--that you liked something or that you didn't, it doesn't matter. I'd love to hear from you.
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4 Responses to Traditional Irish Soda Bread Recipe

  1. Heidi Banerjee says:

    I found your recipe,wrote it down on a sheet of paper.
    The buttermilk bread has probably a better taste.Since it is sunday night,I have no bread in the house,but I have baking soda,flour and milk…and I have sea salt.
    I’ll be coming back to your blog as I love the Irish.
    I very much like your attempt at cooking good and cheap.
    The St Patricks day dish looks delicious.

    • Walter Blevins says:

      I “make” my buttermilk whenever I do biscuits or when I made the Irish Soda Bread. It’s simple if you’ve got vinegar. Just add a couple of tablespoons of vinegar to your milk and let is sit for about 10 minutes. You wouldn’t want to drink this but it works in exactly the same way as “regular” buttermilk when used for baking.

  2. Mike Shields says:

    Excellent post Walt. I’m going to have to give that bread a try.

    • Walter Blevins says:

      Mike, thanks for reading and commenting. I’ve been working on breadmaking and this particular bread is really easy to make without having to make a sponge or knead it until you develop the gluten or proof it. It has some rise to it from the baking powder but it’s dense. It’s also pretty tasty. So thanks again and I hope you enjoy the bread.

Comments are closed.