Baked Irish soda bread with butter and jam
Baked Goods

Basic Brown Irish Soda Bread Recipe

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Last updated on October 12th, 2021 at 03:10 pm

I am not always the biggest bread person. Though I do like sourdough and my mom’s dinner roll recipe. My wife, on the other hand, loves bread and can’t get enough. But we had a bit of a role reversal the first time we tried brown soda bread. I was in love and she was a bit more indifferent. So of course I had to go out and find out how to make my own Irish soda bread recipe.

At the time, my wife and I both worked for an airline so we had the opportunity to fly for very cheap. We would typically try to go on a bigger anniversary trip every year. And one year we decided our destination would be Ireland. It was beautiful and green and we were able to make some memories that will last a lifetime.

Jam and butter on a slice of Irish soda bread

While traveling we sampled a lot of different food from around the country. We rented a car and I drove us hundreds of miles. While dining at one of the pubs we had stumbled into, brown bread came out with one of our meals. I gave it a try and thoroughly enjoyed it. Maybe it was my Irish roots (shoutout to Grandma Peterson!). It was hearty, had some great texture, and nuanced flavor.

I never really forgot that bread and logged it away as something that I would try to make someday. So after a few years of waiting, I finally got down to it and made this brown Irish soda bread recipe. Just in time to celebrate Saint Patrick’s day.

So What is Irish Soda Bread?

Soda bread does not involve pouring some Coke into flour and making bread. The name comes from the use of baking soda as the leavening agent (what helps the bread rise). When combined with some form of acid – buttermilk with lactic acid in this case – it will form carbon dioxide. Similar to the science experiment combining baking soda and vinegar. But don’t worry, your bread won’t be exploding. It is a much less violent reaction.

Soda bread is a quick bread, meaning it comes together quickly and doesn’t need time to sit and rise. You actually want to get the bread into the oven very quickly after mixing it together so that the carbon dioxide is still active. Another benefit of soda bread is the lack of kneading. Just a small bit of kneading is needed to get the dough to come together. But much more than that and you actually risk making the dough tough and dense. So quick is an accurate description.

You will want to eat the bread within a few days of baking – maybe another reason that it is called a quick bread. Much longer and it starts to get kind of hard because of how dense the bread is.

Making the Soda Bread

The general steps to make this Irish soda bread recipe are quite simple. Mix the dry ingredients, mix the wet ingredient, mix wet and dry together, shape the loaf, and bake. No rise times where you just have to walk away and wait.

Sliced brown soda bread loaf

My loaf came out kind of ugly looking but tasting delicious. Many times soda breads are done as flatter, round loaves that are scored on top before cooking. I think this may be due to how they tend to cook and may work better than using a loaf pan. So give it a try and tell me how it works.

The recipe calls for whole wheat flour. Preferably from a red wheat variety. I used Bob’s Red Mill stone-ground whole wheat flour for this recipe and would definitely recommend this to others. It helps to give it the color, texture, and flavor that you want from a good soda bread.

The most difficult part of the whole recipe, in my opinion, is deciding when to take the bread out of the oven. It might mostly stem from the fact that I don’t tend to do a lot of baking. I had a full-on Great British Bake Off moment, where I sat directly in front of the stove and waiting to take the loaf out at the perfect moment. So, crank up the oven, get out the baking soda, and get to baking.

Basic Brown Irish Soda Bread

Recipe by Marc PetersonCourse: BreadDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time


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This brown Irish soda bread recipe is hearty and full of texture with a nuanced flavor that can be made in an hour, start to finish


  • 4 cups whole wheat flour (620g)

  • 1 teaspoon salt (6g)

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (5g)

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (5g)

  • 2 cups buttermilk (500g)

  • 2 tablespoons molasses (45g)


  • Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C)
  • In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder
  • In a separate bowl, stir together the buttermilk and molasses
  • Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour and stir until it is fully combined, kneading for a few minutes as needed until just combined and there is no extra flour in the bottom of the bowl
  • Either place the dough into a loaf pan or shape the dough into a round loaf and score the top
  • Bake for 40 to 50 mins until a skewer comes out clean from the center or you reach an internal temp of 180°F (80°C)

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