Real Irish Soda Bread Recipe

Scone, schmone. Soda bread started out as crusty Irish hearth bread. Photographs and video: Vicky Wasik

Why It Works

  • Low-protein all-purpose flour allows for plenty of buttermilk without excessive gluten formation, so the bread is chewy but tender—never tough.
  • An extra 1/8 teaspoon baking soda is the most reliable way to mimic the casual, rounded teaspoon measurements more common in days of yore, ensuring that the buttermilk's acidity is fully spent, for a fluffy loaf with a subtle pretzel-like flavor.
  • Sifting improves distribution of the soda while aerating the flour, making it easier to incorporate the buttermilk without any lumps.
  • Buttermilk has the perfect viscosity and pH for this recipe, so steer clear of DIY alternatives (and trust me, I've tried them all).

Once upon a time, soda bread was baked over hot coals in a covered skillet, trapping steam from the dough to produce a wonderfully crusty loaf of bread—a setup anyone can re-create in a Dutch oven. Teamed up with low-protein all-purpose flour and volatile baking soda, buttermilk hits the sweet spot of gluten and carbon dioxide formation, creating a moist and fluffy loaf of soda bread that's chewy and crusty all at once.

Recipe Facts

Active: 2 mins
Total: 2 hrs
Serves: 10 to 12 servings
Makes: 1 loaf

Rate & Comment


  • 15 ounces all-purpose flour, such as Gold Medal (3 cups; 425g)

  • 1 3/4 teaspoons (7g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use the same weight or half as much by volume

  • 1 1/8 teaspoons (6g) baking soda (see note)

  • 18 ounces low-fat cultured buttermilk (2 1/4 cups; 510g), well shaken


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 450°F (230°C) at least 15 minutes in advance. Roughly cover the bottom of a deep 10-inch cast iron or enameled Dutch oven with a sheet of parchment paper; no need to trim.

  2. Combine flour, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl and whisk a full minute to combine. Stir in buttermilk with a flexible spatula until dough is fully moistened and no pockets of flour remain. For extra-fluffy results, stop folding as soon as dough comes together. For extra-chewy results, fold dough about 20 seconds more. Scrape sticky dough into prepared Dutch oven and smooth with a spatula into a rough boule-like shape. Score deeply into quarters with a sharp knife or razor, cleaning the blade between each slice.

  3. Cover and bake until well risen and golden, 45 minutes. Remove lid and continue baking until chestnut brown, with an internal temperature of 210°F (99°C), 12 to 15 minutes longer. Invert onto a wire rack, discard parchment, turn right side up, and cool until crumb has set, about 30 minutes. Cut thick slices to accompany hearty soups and stews, or slice thinly for sandwiches. (This will be easier if bread is allowed to cool 2 hours more.) Store up to 24 hours in an airtight container and toast to freshen bread before serving.

Special equipment

10-inch cast iron or enameled Dutch oven, wire rack


For extra-fluffy bread with a craggy crust and a coarse, open grain (perfect for soaking up stews and sauces), handle the dough as briefly as possible. For an extra-chewy loaf with a glossy crust and a fine, even crumb (great for thinly sliced sandwich bread), stir and fold the dough about 20 seconds more.

Unless your digital scale is exquisitely sensitive, measure the baking soda by volume; even an extra gram can produce an unpleasantly soapy loaf of bread.

This Recipe Appears In

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
146 Calories
1g Fat
29g Carbs
5g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 10 to 12
Amount per serving
Calories 146
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 2mg 1%
Sodium 444mg 19%
Total Carbohydrate 29g 11%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 5g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 55mg 4%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 102mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)