Irish Brown Soda Bread

Irish Brown Soda Bread traditionally has just four ingredients. This recipe includes a couple extra ingredients, giving it a little more flavor and a great texture.

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I returned from a trip to Ireland enamored with the Irish brown bread that I was served all over the country. It has a dense crumb and a delicately sweet taste that is hard to resist. The brown soda bread that I enjoyed in Ireland wasn’t anything at all like the “Irish soda bread” I have seen in the United States with it’s white crumb and raisins, so I did a little research to learn more about the origins of true Irish soda bread. I discovered that traditionally, Irish soda bread has just four ingredients: whole wheat flour, salt, baking soda and buttermilk. It’s an extraordinarily easy quick bread. My recipe for Irish brown soda bread uses both whole wheat flour and all purpose flour, and I’ve added two more ingredients to the mix: butter for a little tenderness and molasses to enhance the naturally sweet flavor of the bread. Don’t misunderstand me, however. This is not a sweet bread for dessert. No – it’s a perfect dense bread that is perfect for a hearty sandwich, or alongside a bowl of Guinness Stew, or just a part of a good Irish breakfast of eggs, sausages and potatoes.

Irish Brown Soda Bread on a cutting board with a few slices already sliced out of it.

Because a little goes a long way with this dense loaf of bread, I like to bake it in a long, narrow loaf pan so that each cross section is a nicer, smaller size. If you choose to make this in a regular 1-pound loaf pan, it will be a different shape to the images above, and may take just a few extra minutes to bake.

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Irish Brown Soda Bread

  • Prep Time: 15 m
  • Cook Time: 40 m
  • Total Time: 55 m
  • Servings:


  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 14 ounces buttermilk 1¾ cup
  • cups whole wheat flour
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • teaspoons salt
  • teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons butter


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400ºF.
  2. Add the molasses to the buttermilk and whisk to dissolve. Set aside.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Pinch the butter into the dry ingredients until you can no longer see it and it has almost blended into the flours. Add the buttermilk and molasses to the bowl and stir to combine all the ingredients, until you can no longer see streaks of dry white flour and a dough has come together.
  4. Transfer the dough to a loaf pan and press it down into the corners of the pan with your fingers.
  5. Bake at 400ºF for 35 to 40 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and let the bread cool on a baking rack. Slice, butter and enjoy.
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Comments (22)Post a Reply

  1. Just returned from Ireland & Scotland & loved this bread! Haven’t made it yet – will soon then post comments. Thanks for sharing this. Love the newsletter!

  2. 5 stars
    Great recipe! I’ve made it three times
    and it turnEs out perfectly each time. My family and friends love it.

  3. Fantastic recipie! Just made it and it tastes like the bread I had on a trip to Ireland a few years ago. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Yes, oat flour should work, although the texture will be different. I’ve made it with a mix of wheat flour and oat flour, but never 100% oat flour. Let me know how it turns out.

    1. Sure, Moira. I think you could give that a try. It’s easier to substitute ap flour for whole wheat, but harder the other way around. Start by adding only some of the buttermilk to the mixture because different flours absorb liquids differently. You may need less or you may need more.

    1. Hi Donna. I think you’ll be fine with the ingredients as written in that size loaf pan – thinner and longer than a regular loaf. It might just be a more shallow loaf. If you’re worried, I would do a 1.5 recipe. As always, make sure to check the loaf for doneness at the end of baking by inserting a toothpick into the center – it should come out clean.

  4. One of the other comments asked about the water temperature….now I’m confused. I don’t see water in the ingredient listing. My batter turned out very dry and stiff, BUT I was out of a-p flour and used bread flour, so I’m going to try again with a-p flour. But maybe I was missing the ingredient of water?

    1. Hi Linda. I often get comments on recipes that don’t necessarily refer to the recipe. 😄 There is no water in this recipe and yes, the batter is very stiff. Take a look at the video to see if yours looked the same. Bread flour will absorb more liquid than AP flour, so give it a try with the AP. No water. 😉

  5. 5 stars
    This bread is amazing!!! I found out in the fall that I am allergic to yeast. Since then I have been on a journey to discover an amazing bread that I can use for sandwiches and as a side for stews and soup. This is the closest to yeasted bread and it’s delicious!! Thank you!!!

  6. 5 stars
    I love the slightly crunchy crust and the tender interior. I adjusted the amount of buttermilk due to the humidity or lack there of when I was baking it.

    Enjoying it slathered in Irish butter with Irish tea.

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