Want to bake authentic Irish soda bread like a pro? This family favorite recipe from my good friend Margaret is easy, delicious, and perfect for St. Patrick’s Day or any day!

There’s nothing quite like a warm slice of homemade Irish soda bread, especially when it comes with a story. My dear friend Margaret, who has mastered the art of cozy comfort food, bakes the absolute BEST one I’ve ever tasted.

For years, I’ve begged her to share her secret recipe, and today, folks, you’re in luck! Get ready to bring a taste of Ireland straight to your kitchen with Margaret’s Marvelous Irish Soda Bread Recipe! It’s easy to make and so good! Wait until you try it!

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What is Soda Bread?

Irish soda bread is a beloved traditional soda bread recipe from the Emerald Isle. Unlike many breads, it doesn’t rely on yeast for leavening. Instead, it uses a magical combination of buttermilk and baking soda to create a rise. This quick bread is known for its dense crumb that is a complementary contrast to its crisp, crusty exterior.

While its exact origins are debated, some believe Irish soda bread emerged as a food of necessity during times of hardship, using readily available ingredients like flour and buttermilk.

My family LOVES Irish soda bread. Although I’m Italian, my husband is the 6 of 7 kids in a huge Irish family, so we are all about good times, family, and lots of yummy soda bread in my house. So every time Margaret brings us a batch of her recipe it is gone before I can even set it on the counter!

Irish soda bread on a cooling rack with kerrygold butter

Why Make Margaret’s Soda Bread Recipe?

Here’s why you should ditch the store-bought stuff and whip up a loaf of Margaret’s soda bread recipe instead.

  • Easy to Make: Compared to traditional yeast breads that require hours of rising, this soda bread recipe comes together in a flash! No waiting for the dough to rise – mix, knead, bake, and enjoy warm bread in under an hour.
  • Pantry Staples You Already Have on Hand: This recipe is all about accessibility. Forget fancy ingredients – you’ll likely have everything you need in your pantry already: flour, buttermilk, baking soda, and a pinch of salt.
  • Texture & Flavor: Margaret’s soda bread boasts a textural contrast. Each bite offers a satisfyingly moist, dense crumb that gives way to a beautiful crust. The subtle tang from the buttermilk perfectly complements the wheaty flavor, making this bread a true crowd-pleaser. Which is why we all rave about this recipe!
irish soda bread recipe close up

A Little Bit About One of My Besties, Margaret

If you met Margaret, you’d feel like you’ve known her all your life. She is a wonderful friend, who’s always there for you, with a smile (and a batch of her yummy soda bread recipe!)

We met about 20 years ago when our daughters were in Kindergarten together and have been great friends ever since. She’s not only a great friend and good cook, but she’s also a crazy talented artist as she paints beautiful landscapes and pet portraits. Margaret has been featured in several art exhibits, has a gallery online, and really, is one of the best people I know. You can check out her art gallery here.

blogger stacy ling and margaret compton at her art show

How to Make Margaret’s Marvelous Irish Soda Bread Recipe

This recipe is so good and simple to make. It complements a St Patrick’s Day party or dinner but also works great for other meals, a quick snack, or a thoughtful gift. Here’s how to make it!

Ingredients to Make Irish Soda Bread Recipe

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for currants
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch diced
  • 1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
  • 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 cup dried currants
  • Kerrygold butter
  • raisins
  • Use a cast iron pan – it makes all the difference!
making margaret's marvelous irish soda bread

Directions for Making Margaret’s Marvelous Irish Soda Bread Recipe

  1. Put on your favorite Irish music.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  3. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.
  4. With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the currants with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.
  5. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.
  6. Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Irish Music Recommendations

Margaret highly recommends listening to lively Irish music while you are making this soda bread recipe. It will lift your spirits and set the tone while you bake this quick, easy, and delicious recipe.

  • The Wind That Shakes the Barley/The Reel with the Beryl – The Chieftans
  • Galway Girl – Ed Sheeran
  • The Rocky Road to Dublin – The High Kings
Whipping up a batch of irish soda bread with my kitchenaid mixer

Irish Soda Bread FAQs

Do You Need to Use Kerrygold Butter?

Margert recommends using Kerrygold Butter for two reasons.

  1. All the butter comes from grass-fed cows and is free of growth hormones.
  2. The unsalted Kerrygold has a higher butterfat content that is great for baking.

In addition to the above, I also think it tastes best with the bread when you serve it too.

Do I Need to Use a Cast Iron Pan When Making Margaret’s Irish Soda Bread?

A cast iron skillet offers some advantages over a regular skillet for baking Irish soda bread:

  • Crispy Crust: Cast iron retains heat exceptionally well, which can lead to a more even bake and a crispier crust on your soda bread. This is because the preheated cast iron sears the dough upon contact, promoting browning and a delightful texture.
  • Heat Retention: Regular skillets can fluctuate in temperature more easily. Cast iron’s heat retention helps maintain a consistent baking environment throughout the process, contributing to a more reliable rise and overall bake.

Traditionally, Irish soda bread was baked in pots or on griddles that provided similar heat distribution to cast iron.

While cast iron has benefits, you can still bake delicious soda bread in a regular oven-safe skillet or baking sheet. The key is ensuring even heat distribution and proper preheating for optimal results.

irish soda bread recipe in cast iron skillet before baking

What is Special About Soda Bread?

Soda bread stands out from the crowd with its unique leavening process and humble origins. Unlike most breads that rely on finicky yeast, soda bread uses a simple combination of buttermilk and baking soda for lift.

This reaction creates a dense crumb with a delightful chew, perfectly contrasted by a crisp and crusty exterior. Traditionally crafted with just flour, buttermilk, baking soda, and salt, soda bread became a staple food in Ireland during times of hardship.

Despite its simplicity, soda bread offers endless versatility. From the classic version to variations studded with raisins, caraway seeds, or fresh herbs, there’s a perfect soda bread for every taste and occasion.

Why Don’t You Knead Soda Bread?

Forget the extensive kneading! Unlike yeast breads that rely on gluten development for lift, soda bread takes a different approach. Here, the leavening magic comes from the reaction between baking soda and buttermilk.

Extensive kneading, which creates gluten strands in yeast breads, would actually be detrimental here. We want a denser, chewier crumb in soda bread, and over-kneading would lead to a tough, unpleasant texture.

Additionally, too much kneading can deflate the dough by releasing precious air bubbles before they can set the bread’s structure. So, for perfect soda bread, a gentle mix and a few folds are all you need to achieve the ideal rise and texture.

margaret's marvelous irish soda bread close up
margaret's marvelous irish soda bread close up

Margaret’s Marvelous Irish Soda Bread Recipe

Stacy Ling
Want to bake authentic Irish soda bread like a pro? This family favorite recipe from my good friend Margaret is easy, delicious, and perfect for St. Patrick's Day or any day!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Irish
Servings 8 Servings
Calories 440 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour plus extra for currants
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 4 tbsp butter Kerrygold cut into 1/2-inch diced
  • 1 ¾ cups buttermilk shaken
  • 1 XL egg slightly beaten
  • 1 tsp orange zest grated
  • 1 cup dried currants
  • raisins

Instructions
 

  • Put on your favorite Irish music.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  • Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
    Whipping up a batch of irish soda bread with my kitchenaid mixer
  • Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.
  • With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup.
  • With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the currants with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.
  • Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf.
  • Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife.
    irish soda bread recipe in cast iron skillet before baking
  • Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.
    irish soda bread in the oven baking
  • Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
    Irish soda bread on a cooling rack with kerrygold butter
  • Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!
    margaret's marvelous irish soda bread close up

Nutrition

Calories: 440kcalCarbohydrates: 84gProtein: 9gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 21mgSodium: 687mgPotassium: 430mgFiber: 4gSugar: 20gVitamin A: 276IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 93mgIron: 4mg
Keyword irish soda bread, soda bread recipe
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

More About Making Irish Soda Bread Recipes

Thanks so much to one of my besties, Margaret, who shared her incredibly delicious Irish soda bread recipe with us today. We’ve been enjoying it for years and I know you are going to love this one! If you make it, please let me know in the comments how you enjoyed it!

Have you ever made an Irish soda bread recipe before? How do you like to make yours? I would love to know more in the comments below.

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And… If you’re catching up on blog posts you may have missed, be sure to sign-up to get my newest posts via email to stay up to date with everything that’s happening here on the blog and more.

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