Irish Brown Soda Bread Recipe

Whoever said that raisins don't have a place in a baked good, clearly haven't tried Irish soda bread. This soft, savory features sweet little pops of raisins — something that recipe developer Jessica Morone is a big fan of. "The bread is savory, but the raisins give it a pop of sweetness in every bite, and while I normally don't like the crust on bread, brushing the loaf with butter before baking it gives it a crisp buttery crust that is really delightful," she describes.

Another perk of Irish soda bread is that there's no resting time required, as there is no yeast that needs time to rise. After some light kneading, you'll pop the bread right into the oven, so you don't have to plan ahead to whip up a batch. In fact, if you bake pretty regularly, you likely already have many of the ingredients right in your pantry. This is a great recipe for beginners and seasoned bread connoisseurs alike, and Morone herself notes that "There aren't too many mistakes you can make with this one." 

Gather the ingredients for Irish soda bread

You'll need two types of flour to make this bread — all-purpose and whole wheat flour. You'll also need a bit of dark brown sugar, something that Morone notes is a unique addition. "While Americans tend to put sugar in their Irish Soda Bread, Irish people would never do that," she explains, "but the brown sugar in this recipe really balances out the flavors of the bread, and makes it a little sweeter than it would be otherwise, which is nice."

To round out the Irish soda bread ingredients, you'll need baking soda, salt, buttermilk, raisins, and melted butter. You may also want some butter or jam on hand when it's time to slice and serve.

Mix and lightly knead the dough

Get your oven preheating to 400 F. Then, grab a large bowl, and whisk together both flours, the brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour in the buttermilk, then stir until everything is just combined — keep in mind that you won't have a totally cohesive dough at this point. Finally, mix the raisins into the dough. 

Use your hands to lightly knead the dough, just until it comes together enough to shape into a domed ball. "One thing to watch out for is over-working the bread dough before baking it," Morone explains. "The less kneading you do to it, the softer the bread will be."

Bake the bread

Use some of the melted butter to grease a 9-inch cast-iron skillet, then transfer the dough ball to the skillet. Cut an X or cross-like shape on the top of the dough, but only cut about ⅓ of the way into the dough. Brush the remaining melted butter over the top of the bread, then place it in the oven to bake for about 40 minutes. You'll know that the bread is done baking when the crust is golden brown, and when you tap on the bread, it should feel hollow inside. 

Slice and serve this Irish soda bread

Once out of the oven, allow the bread to cool completely before slicing into it. When you do serve it, Morone recommends topping off each slice with some butter or jam. "This bread is great to serve for breakfast, a snack, or with a meal," she says. "I like toasting it, and just putting butter on it, but besides butter and jam, you could also put things like peanut butter or Nutella on it." Thanks to the raisins providing a touch of sweetness with each bite, you can also enjoy this bread as-is.

Irish Soda Bread Recipe
4.6 from 52 ratings
Our Irish brown soda bread recipe is studded with sweet raisins to create a baked good that is anything but crumbly and bland.
Prep Time
Cook Time
bread loaf in cast-iron skillet
Total time: 50 minutes
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
Optional Ingredients
  • butter, for serving
  • jam, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. In a large bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt.
  2. Create a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, and pour in the buttermilk. Stir until combined, then mix the raisins into the dough.
  3. Use your hands to lightly knead the dough, and shape it into a domed ball, making sure not to overmix.
  4. Lightly brush the bottom of a 9-inch cast iron skillet with some of the melted butter. Then, place the dough ball into the skillet. Use a knife to cut about a ⅓ of the way through the dough in an X formation. Brush the top of the loaf with the remaining melted butter.
  5. Bake the bread until the crust is golden, and the loaf is hollow when tapped, about 40 minutes. Allow the bread to cool completely, then slice and serve with butter or jam.
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