Irish Soda Bread with Buttermilk and Raisins

Irish Soda Bread with Buttermilk and Raisins is a favorite St. Patrick’s Day tradition at our house. Soft and tender on the inside, with a hint of sweetness, the buttermilk delivers a subtle tang that is absolutely delicious.

Irish Soda Bread in a Cast Iron Skillet

Apart from Shepherd’s Pie and Irish Lamb Stew, soda bread is a classic tradition leading up to St. Patrick’s Day.

Closeup view of Irish Soda Bread on a White Background

History of Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread was first created in the late 1830s when the first iteration of baking soda was introduced to the United Kingdom. 

During the Great Potato Famine, access to ingredients to make bread became difficult. The inspiration for Irish Soda Bread was born from a necessity for inexpensive, easily obtainable ingredients. Traditional soda bread ingredients were “soft” wheat flour, baking soda, salt, and soured milk.

Loaf of Irish Soda Bread in Skillet with Green Cloth


St. Patrick’s Day in the United States

According to Census data, there are 39.6 million Americans who claim Irish heritage including five million who say they are of Scots-Irish heritage.

That number is almost seven times larger than the entire population of Ireland (6.3 million). After German, Irish is the most common ancestry of Americans with the bulk of those claiming Irish ancestry residing along the eastern seaboard (Irish Central).

So whether you can claim the green or not, according to the National Retail Federation, says half of all Americans celebrate St. Patrick’s Day each year.

Lucky me– and lucky you! We’re in great company. It’s a big deal at our house as we claim Irish descent, on nearly every branch of our family tree. And celebrate, we do!

Closeup slice of Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread with Buttermilk and Raisins

While this soda bread recipe is a slight departure from the traditional, this is the one my family always requests. For a truly traditional soda bread, view my Traditional Irish Brown Soda Bread recipe.

Irish Soda Bread with Buttermilk and Raisins |

Ingredients for Soda Bread Recipe

This simple-to-make bread is perfectly delicious with Emerald Isle comfort food or Irish Pub food. And one I make all spring long. 

Gather these ingredients:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Granulated sugar
  • Baking soda and baking powder
  • Salt
  • Cold butter
  • Buttermilk
  • Raisins

Slice of Irish Soda Bread with Buttermilk and Raisins

Closeup view of Irish Soda Bread on a White Background

Irish Soda Bread with Buttermilk and Raisins

Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Irish Soda Bread, a national heritage… and a Wilson family favorite. Whether it be St. Patrick’s Day or any spring day. A delicious twist on the traditional Irish Soda Bread.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup raisins


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet or cast-iron skillet with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the butter until it resembles coarse pea-sized crumbs. Add the buttermilk and mix just until it begins to come together. Add additional buttermilk if necessary until a soft dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, sprinkle the raisins over the top, and knead a few times to incorporate.
  3. Pat the dough into a 6 to 7-inch circle. With a floured knife, cut an “x” into the dough, about 1/2 inch deep. Transfer the dough to the parchment-lined baking sheet or cast-iron skillet.
  4. Bake the Irish Soda Bread for 35 to 45 minutes or until the bread is a beautiful golden brown. Transfer the soda bread to a rack to cool completely before slicing.


Serving Ideas

I like to cut the loaf into wedges and served with a pat of Irish butter and a drizzle of honey.

It's also delicious sliced and toasted the next day. Or -- make a second loaf for just that reason!

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 274Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 524mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 1gSugar: 11gProtein: 6g

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19 thoughts on “Irish Soda Bread with Buttermilk and Raisins

  1. andrew

    what is the recepe for this in a bread machine

    1. Hi Andrew! I’ve not made or tested this recipe in a bread machine. It’s on my list, though!

  2. Anonymous

    This is not soda bread but it is currant bread. In ireland we have soda bread which consists of flour baking powder little sugar and buttermilk. If u add raisins currants or mixed fruit it is called currant bread.

  3. This soda bread looks delicious. The texture of the bread looks perfect. Thanks for a great recipe.

  4. Cindy Crosson

    Hi ,Stephanie,I just copied down the recipe for Irish soda bread ,you forgot to add the baking powder to the dry ingredients. Can’t wait to make this I made soda bread in the past and this recipe is much easier.

    1. Ugh! Thanks, Cindy. Have corrected the instructions — I think this recipe is super easy too. It just never fails — plus, I think it’s a nice balance of flavor and simplicity. There are rarely any leftovers!

  5. PattiAnn

    Just made this to accompany a bowl of beans made in IP. It tastes great but a little crumbly. I did sub out AP flour for Whole Wheat Pasty Flour. Only one tab sugar. I think I will add a little more buttermilk next time.
    I’m in Central Oregon, dry & hot today, 4000 ft.
    Thanks for recipe

    1. Stephanie Wilson

      Hi PattiAnn! I’ve not tested this recipe with Whole Wheat pastry flour — so glad to hear the results, and thank you for posting. I’ve also had to adjust the buttermilk on dry, warm days. You’re in one of my favorite spots! We’ve spent so many July days in Sunriver and Bend!

  6. Sue

    If I leave out the sugar will that adversely affect the bread?

    1. Stephanie Wilson

      Hi Sue! Because the sugar is limited in quantity, I don’t believe removing it will affect the texture. In fact, our Traditional Brown Soda Bread recipe has no sugar added, and it’s delicious too.

  7. Ricki

    Making it right now but the larger version is definitely taking longer than 30 minutes to bake. Going on 50 minutes now. Suggested bake time? An hour?

    1. Stephanie Wilson

      We’re on the same wavelength. I’m also making another batch as we speak/write. My oven tends to run warm, so it could take longer to bake. Today, it took 35 minutes for the larger one to bake. It changes with our humidity, and it’s pouring outside. I would love to know how long it took in your oven so I could update the notes! Thanks so much for letting me know!

      1. Ricki

        Hey! Well it took about 60 to 65 minutes to be fully done. It was wonderfully moist inside!

        1. Stephanie Wilson

          I’m so glad!! Mine has never taken so long to bake but I’m glad it was moist. I had intended to freeze what I baked last week – but it didn’t last. I will be baking more this week ??! Thanks for the update!

  8. Stacey @ The Sugar Coated Cottage

    I remember soda bread from when I was a kid and I love it! This looks much better though, I don’t remember ours looking so crusty and pretty! And of course you can’t go wrong with raisins! Pinned. Take care.

    1. Stephanie Wilson

      Our son’s favorite part of St. Patrick’s Day is always the soda bread. He’s in college now and is still reminding me not to forget to make “the” soda bread. Which is always the one with raisins! Thanks so much!

  9. judy di

    quite possibly the best soda bread i have ever eaten, my husband and kids love it, really!

    1. Stephanie Wilson

      You made my day!! Thanks. We had a few pieces leftover from last night and it was tasty toasted this morning with a drizzle of honey!

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