Follow These Tips for Making (and Enjoying) Irish Soda Bread

This light-but-hearty staple has more going on than meets the eye.

In This Article
View All
In This Article

Irish soda bread is a blessing for people who like their food easy—with no sacrifice in quality. Irish foods (like stew and bread) are all about simplicity. And the flour-based delicacies of the emerald isle are one category of Irish cuisine that really shines.

Bake up a bit of history in your own kitchen with some Irish soda bread. But before you get to kneading, read on for some great baking tips and suggestions on the best ways to enjoy a slice of soda bread.

What Is Soda Bread?

One of the most impressive things about baking soda bread is the speed. Soda bread gets its name from baking soda, which, added in the right amount, creates levity without the use and wait of yeast. (Some recipes call for yeast and kneading, but know this isn't required.)

You don't have to wait hours or overnight for a rise, either. In fact, you don't even need to wait at all: Dough for Irish soda bread can go right into the oven after making. Given the short time to mix ingredients, you can have a warm loaf on the table in under an hour.


Not only can Irish soda bread be made in a short time, but it has also been around for a relatively short period. Baking soda was invented in 1846, meaning that, like the potato (which filtered across the Old World from the New), soda bread is a somewhat new development seen in the broader context of food history. Even so, it has been embedded in the Irish and Irish American consciousnesses for many generations and has traveled far beyond.

Irish Soda Bread Baking Tips

When making soda bread at home, keep a few things in mind. Check out these tips to make the perfect loaf.

Add The Right Amount of Baking Soda

First, as the name of the bread suggests, baking soda is key. You'll want to be precise in how much you use. Winging an eyeballed measurement is a surefire way of dooming a batch of bread.

Baking is like a science. You can't add more or less of an ingredient and expect good results. Every ingredient in an Irish soda recipe has a purpose, so follow your recipe's directions carefully, especially when it comes to baking soda.

Measure Your Milk Carefully

Managing soda bread right also means being precise with the recipe's milk. The majority of soda bread recipes will call for milk or buttermilk. Using a dairy product other than the one specified in a given recipe could throw the whole equation out of balance.

While baking a good soda bread is easy, baking a great one is harder. The key is getting the hang of how baking soda creates the rise and crumb you want. Baking soda needs acidity to trigger rising. (Think of how baking soda fizzes like crazy when added to vinegar.) Milk provides this acidity, which is crucial to the bread's formation.

How to Enjoy Soda Bread

St Patrick's Day Snacks for Kids: Mini Irish Soda Bread
Dawn Perry

Not sure how to take your soda bread to the next level? Take a look at these tasty ideas.

  • If you're unwrapping a room-temperature package from the grocery, a very light toasting can help a slice find new life.
  • Jams are great on top. The sweetness goes well with the toothsome texture of the bread.
  • Slather on some rich Irish butter, which has a higher fat and lower water count than American butter. Translation: It's decadent and delicious.
  • If you're baking your Irish Soda bread from scratch, try eating it fresh from the oven. A hot wedge of soda bread might not need any toppings at all.

How to Store Irish Soda Bread

If you don't eat all of your Irish soda bread in one sitting, congratulations. You have some leftovers for another day. But what is the best way to store this bread? Tightly wrap your leftover bread and place it in an airtight container. There's no need to refrigerate.

As for how long soda bread lasts: Irish soda bread tends to dry out faster than other breads. The bread will be good for 3-4 days or up to three months if frozen.

Baking vs. Buying

Either works. You can buy soda bread from grocery stores, especially around St. Patrick's Day. Unlike the highly complex Italian bread panettone, soda bread doesn't require a grandmaster to make. Standard commercial and grocery store bakers can knock out loaves just fine. And so can you in your kitchen.


There are many varieties of soda bread.

  • Some have white flour, some wheat, and some both.
  • Some can be a little sweet.
  • Some can even contain herbs from the garden or dry fruit.

The shapes of soda bread vary, though most are round, and they can be scored in many different ways. In Ireland, they're often scored with a simple cross.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles