Irish soda bread is a St. Patrick’s Day tradition, but it didn’t just originate as a holiday treat. Soda bread was actually a peasant’s bread, named for its use of baking soda instead of yeast as a leavening agent. The use of baking soda means that the dough rises faster, making it easier to make than a traditional yeast bread, which usually requires a significant amount of rising time. In addition, soda bread is made with very simple ingredients which were easy for poor Irish families to obtain. Since most families did not have ovens, the bread was baked on a griddle on the hearth, giving it a hard crust and a soft, dense middle. The bread was marked with a cross on the top which, in addition to helping the bread to rise, was also intended to ward off evil spirits.

Traditional soda breads would have used dried currants, but raisins are an easy and affordable replacement. Enjoy this Irish soda bread recipe this St. Patrick’s Day!

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 50 minutes

Total time: 1 hour

Makes 2 loaves


–          4 cups all-purpose flour

–          1 tbsp baking powder

–          ¾ tsp baking soda

–          1 tsp salt

–          1 cup raisins

–          2 cups buttermilk


  1.       Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, lightly grease a baking sheet with cooking spray or line it with parchment paper. Set this aside for later use.
  2.       In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with the paddle attachment. Mix on low for about one minute.
  3.       With the mixer still running, incorporate the raisins and buttermilk, alternating between the two. (I started with the raisins, then added the buttermilk, and repeated that process two more times.) Mix until a soft dough is formed, then stop the mixer, being careful not to over-mix.
  4.       On a well floured surface, knead the dough minimally for one minute. Next, divide it into two sections shaped into rounds, and place on the baking sheet. With a knife, cut an “x” about ¼ in. deep in the top of each loaf.
  5.       Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6.       Enjoy your soda bread! Bread will keep for 2-3 days.


*original recipe edited from

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