Breads & Doughs

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

4.67 from 744 votes
My Mum’s Traditional Irish Soda Bread is full of warmth and flavor and is a simple quick bread that is a must for your upcoming St. Patrick's Day, but also perfect for any time of the year!
Traditional Irish Soda Bread resting on a cloth.

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Hi Bold Bakers!

WHY YOU WILL LOVE THIS RECIPE My mum’s Traditional Irish Soda Bread is beautiful, hearty and healthy with a lovely wheat flavor but no need for yeast or proofing!  Attached to it are such great memories that transport me right back to a time at home Ireland! 

IMPORTANT NOTE: This recipe was updated and improved on 3/12/23, to include clearer definition (of BROWN BREAD), answers to FAQ (why dense or bitter, vegan and dairy-free options) and Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips.

In Ireland, we are extremely fortunate to have access to some of the best produce in the world, from butter, eggs, oats, and much more. I was very lucky to have an incredible Mum who showed me how to cook. She made everything from scratch every day. For a family of seven, that’s pretty incredible. 

My mum says one of the greatest gifts you can give a child is to teach them how to cook. This is one of the main reasons why I’m here today to pass on what I know. With my mum’s permission, I’m allowed to share her recipe for Traditional Irish Soda Bread with you. 

Traditional Irish Soda Bread has a particular look, but do you know what it is? The marking on top is a cross. It comes from blessing the bread before baking. Also, you poke a hole in each corner of the loaf with a sharp knife to release the fairies that can curse your bread if not released. 

Top-down view of my mum's traditional Irish soda bread after baking, next to butter and a knife.

Table of Content

What Is Traditional Irish Soda Bread

Traditional Irish Soda Bread  (AKA Traditional Irish Brown Bread) is made in homes every day all over Ireland. It has a beautiful crust, a close crumb, and a lovely wheat flavor.

Hearty and healthy, Irish Soda Bread doesn’t require yeast and no resting so it is incredibly fast to whip up. And the faster you make it the better the bread will be. It is what’s considered a quick bread.

Tools You Need


  • Whole wheat flour: Whole wheat flour is what makes this Irish Soda Bread hearty and healthy. Whole wheat flour is made by grinding the entire wheat kernel with the bran (packed with fiber and nutrients), the germ , and the endosperm intact.
  • All-purpose flour: All-purpose flour cooperates with whole wheat flour to make sure the bread still has descent rise and the result is not overly dense.
  • Salt: Salt brings out all the flavors!
  • Baking soda: Baking soda is a chemical leavener that will help soda bread rise.
  • Butter: COLD butter will create air pockets to make soda bread rise slightly lighter.
  • Egg: An egg enriches the dough (optional). You can also check out my Egg Substitute Chart for alternatives.
  • Buttermilk: Buttermilk provides acid to react with baking soda to make the bread rise and to tenderize gluten to make the bread soft.
  • Oats: Oats add texture and give the bread a beautiful finish.

A close-up of the top of my Irish Soda Bread loaf.

How to Make Irish Soda Bread

Making Irish Soda Bread can be as rewarding as it is easy. And with St. Patrick’s Day coming up, it’s the perfect way to ring in the holiday while we’re all at home and not at the pub.

And don’t have buttermilk? No problem! You can just as easily make your own with our Homemade Buttermilk recipe. You can also find my easy Buttermilk Substitute recipe as a great addition to this recipe and many others (Don’t forget the full written recipe, with measurements, down below).

  1. In a large bowl, mix the flours, salt, and baking soda. With your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles bread crumbs.
  2. In a jug, whisk the egg and buttermilk together.
  3. Pour most of the contents of the jug into the bowl.
  4. Use your hands to bring the flour and the liquid into a loose, soft, and not too sticky dough.
  5. Bring the dough together into a round on a floured surface.
  6. Place on a baking sheet and score the bread with a deep cross on top, while also poking four holes into the corners of the bread.
  7. Use the leftover contents of the jug to glaze the bread and dust the top with rolled oats.
  8. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, before turning down to 400 degrees for another 30 minutes.
  9. Let cool on a wire rack.

Traditional Irish Soda Bread FAQs

Why is my soda bread dense? 

Over mixing toughens gluten. Bring all wet and dry ingredients together gently with an open hand JUST until it starts to form a ball (add more liquid accordingly to gather all dry bits).

Why is my my soda bread bitter and dark?

Extra leavening agent-baking soda will make soda bread bitter and dark. Put 1 LEVEL teaspoon of baking soda in your palm and break part any lumps using the back of your measuring spoon.

How can I make vegan/dairy-free soda bread? 

For the best result, use vegan baking butter. And you can easily make dairy-free buttermilk using plant-based milk of your choice following my How to Make Buttermilk Substitute recipe.

Notes On Buttermilk

Buttermilk is a must in this recipe and can’t be left out. The main reason is the buttermilk chemically reacts with the baking soda to make the bread rise. The buttermilk adds a lovely flavor to your bread. Some people worry about tasting the acid buttermilk but once it’s baked you can’t taste it at all. 

Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips For Making Irish Soda Bread

  • Use a large enough bowl so you have space to mix your dough, which will reduce the chances of you over-mixing and toughening your bread. 
  • Always level your teaspoon of baking soda before adding it to your ingredients. There are two very good reasons for this that can make or break your bread: 
  • Too much baking soda will tint your bread green! Seriously, it gives your bread a greenish hue on the inside.
  • Too much baking soda can give your bread a very acidic taste which can be quite unpleasant, so remember less is more with the baking soda. 
  • Keep the whole wheat flour fresh by placing it in the freezer. The oils in the flour can turn rancid over time so just freeze it and use it when you’re in need. Your freezer may be an ice queen, but she’s always got your back.
  • For a beautiful, crispy crust refrain from opening the door while baking. I know how tempting it is, but believe me your bread won’t burn.

Slices of my Irish Soda Bread recipe next to a partially-cut loaf.

Don’t miss more of my Irish recipes.

And don’t forget to buy my new book Bigger Bolder Baking Every Day: Easy Recipes to Bake Through a Busy Week!

Full (and printable) recipe below!

IMPORTANT NOTE: This recipe was updated and improved on 3/12/23, to include clearer definition (of BROWN BREAD), answers to FAQ (why dense or bitter, vegan and dairy-free options) and Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips.

Watch The Recipe Video!

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

4.67 from 744 votes
Learn how to make my mum's Traditional Irish Soda Bread recipe which is such a simple quick bread you can make for St. Patrick's Day or any time of the year!
Author: Patricia Stafford
Servings: 6 people
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Learn how to make my mum's Traditional Irish Soda Bread recipe which is such a simple quick bread you can make for St. Patrick's Day or any time of the year!
Author: Patricia Stafford
Servings: 6 people


  • 1 ¾ cups (260 g/9 oz) whole wheat flour (fine ground)
  • 1 ¾ cups (260 g/9 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons (28 g/1 oz) cold butter, cubed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 ⅔ cups (13 fl oz/370 ml) buttermilk*
  • 1 tablespoons rolled oats


  • Preheat the oven to 425°F (215°C). Line a baking tray with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Mix together the flours, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Add the butter and rub it into the flour mixture with your fingertips until it resembles course bread crumbs.
  • In a separate jug, whisk the egg and buttermilk together (see note on how to make Buttermilk below)
  • Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid, hold a little back.
  • Using an open hand bring the flour and liquid together to a loose dough. The dough should be quite soft, but not too sticky. You will know then if it needs more of the liquids. (Flour in different places reacts differently to added liquid).
  • Turn onto a floured work surface and gently bring the dough together into a round, about 1 1/2 inches (4cm) thick and 8 inches by 8 inches.
  • Place on the baking sheet and score the bread by blessing it with a deep cross on top (see video). Poke a hole in the 4 corners of the bread to release the fairies and stop them from cursing your beautiful bread.
  • Glaze the bread with the leftover bit of buttermilk in your jug and scatter the oats on top.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, then turn down the oven to 400°F (200°C) and bake for 30 minutes more. When done, the loaf will sound slightly hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove from the baking sheet and place on a wire rack to cool.
  • Once cooled, slice the bread and enjoy with butter. Store leftovers covered at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Recipe Notes

6 SmarPoints
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.
Nutrition Facts
Mum's Traditional Irish Soda Bread Recipe (Brown Bread)
Amount Per Serving (8 g)
Calories 183 Calories from Fat 36
% Daily Value*
Fat 4g6%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Cholesterol 33mg11%
Sodium 583mg25%
Carbohydrates 28g9%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 7g14%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


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Urooj Fatima
Urooj Fatima
4 years ago

Thanks. It’s the easiest bread to make, great recipe.. The best thing about your videos and blog recipes is, that you don’t miss to give small tips and tricks. Like “glazing with leftover buttermilk” 🙂 it really shows that you know the decorum of cooking very well. Thanks to your mom specially for being too generous to let you share her recipe with us.

4 years ago

Thank you so much! Living abroad is hard for irish who love their home cooking and miss their mammies. I had tried many irish soda bread recipes but none have come close to the authenticity of this. The smell of home almost brought tears to my eyes.
Keep up the good work!

4 years ago

Hi Gemma, over here we make “buttermilk” by combining Indian yoghurt and water and churning it quickly for less than a minute, can this be considered a replacement for the buttermilk in this recipe?

4 years ago

This morning I made this bread. The process followed the video perfectly. The end piece was crunchy crusted and good. Piece #2 was chewy and wholesome. We toasted #3 and loved it with honey or blackberry jam. My husband declared this recipe “a keeper!” Thanks, Gemma. I think I will try the white soda bread recipe also.

4 years ago

can i use strong white bread flour and wholemeal bread flour for making irish brown soda bread or is it better just to use plain wholemeal and white flour. Thanks. Ruth

Divya SA
4 years ago

Hi, is it possible to make this without the egg?

3 years ago

I have been experimenting Gemma’s brown soda bread since I learnt this recipe. For the latest, I added in za’atar (a middle east spice) in addition to the usual nuts and dried fruits. I eat it with humus and butter spread.
I used homemade buttermilk, made with sour carambola (averrhoa belimbi).

Meena Makkar
Meena Makkar
4 years ago

It’s a great recipe.I guess my bread did not rise as much as it should HV done. I used cold milk for the buttermilk.Is that the reason?Also we thought it’s a little dense .pls help

Poojani Weerakkody
3 years ago

I have uploaded three photos for the competition. This bread is a really simple no-knead bread and this is the first bread that I made in my life and that first bread came into a very good result and made a very good dinner for my family. My mom really loved it. And thank you ma’am Gemma to share this recipe with us. And also tell your mom, ma’am Patricia Stafford that a bold baker thanked her for sharing that recipe with us …………….😊

4 years ago

Hi, can I use natural buttermilk for the bread? Thank you.

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About Us

Meet Gemma

About Us

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, a cookbook author, and the creator of Bigger Bolder Baking. I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere with my trusted and tested recipes and baking tips. You may have seen one of my 500+ videos on YouTube & TikTok or as a guest judge on Nailed It! on Netflix or the Best Baker in America on Food Network. No matter your skills, my Bold Baking Team & I want to be your #1 go-to baking authority.


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