Simple Soda Bread for St. Patrick's Day

Simple Soda Bread for St. Patrick’s Day

In case you haven’t noticed, tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day.  And despite the fact that the Irish aren’t exactly known for their cuisine (corned beef isn’t really an Irish dish–that’s an American invention, though favored by the Irish in America),  they do have some highlights.

I don’t do a lot of Irish cooking because it seems that a very large percentage of the Irish cookbooks I have seem to favor Guinness, stout or whiskey and I don’t drink.  I also don’t cook with alcohol (other than extracts).

irish soda bread for st. patricks day

First, a few things to know about soda bread:

  • It doesn’t have raisins or other fruit in it–by Irish definition, that would make it cake.
  • It doesn’t have sugar or honey or any other sweetener.
  • It doesn’t have yeast.
  • It doesn’t have eggs.
  • And it definitely doesn’t have Guinness, stout, ale or whiskey.


Soda bread is a very simple quick bread.  It has only a very few ingredients, which makes sense considering the economic status of the Irish countryside in the 19th century.  It became a staple of the Irish diet in the mid-1800’s when baking soda became available and worked well with the “soft” wheat of Ireland.


Irish Soda Bread


  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Sift dry ingredients into a mixing bowl, then add the milk, mixing to form a firm, but not too stiff, dough.  Knead lightly on a floured board and form into a slightly flattened round.  Cut a deep cross in the top and brush the top with milk.

Place on a lightly greased and floured baking sheet and bake in the center of the oven at 425 for 30-40 minutes.  The loaf is done when it’s golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the base.

Cool on a wire cooling rack.  If it is too crusty, wrap in a barely damp towel.  Eat within a day or two.


soda bread for st. patricks day

Be sure to check our recipe for Blarney Stones.  Definitely not Irish, but delicious and adorable–and green!

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  1. Fun! I’m going to do this tomorrow. Thanks for sharing it. I didn’t know these little Irish facts you share. I guess although my ancestry has some Irish in it, I’m Irish-illiterate. Thank you for educating me. My children, most of them, have Irish names, so I’d better get smarter about Irish things, I guess.

    1. There are a lot of misconceptions about the Irish and Irish heritage. I have lots of Irish in my family tree–and kiddos with Irish names, too, so we want to make sure they are learning their heritage.