Delicious Irish soda bread recipe – step by step guide

Ireland is known for a lot of things – the stunning countryside, famous writers like Oscar Wilde and James Joyce, and its iconic beers. However, it’s hard to think of anything more associated with the Emerald Isle than Irish soda bread.

Soda bread has a long history in Ireland, with mention of it dating as far back as 1836. It was typically made with just four ingredients – flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk. Since then, people have put their own spin on the recipe – some adding raisins or caraway seeds for sweetness and texture.

Today, I want to share with you my favorite version of this beloved classic – Sheila’s Irish Soda Bread Recipe. Passed down from my nana Sheila and her secret recipe available only on St. Patrick’s Day, this bread is a true labor of love that will bring you all the luck of the Irish.

Why make traditional Irish soda bread when there are so many other types of bread out there? For one thing, it’s incredibly easy to make since it doesn’t require any yeast or lengthy rise times. Plus, when done right, it has a deliciously tender crumb and subtle tang from the buttermilk that pairs perfectly with salty butter or a bowl of hearty soup.

So if you’re looking to channel your inner leprechaun and bring a bit of Ireland into your kitchen, look no further than Sheila’s Irish Soda Bread Recipe. Trust me, it will make you feel like you’re standing on the Cliffs of Moher with every bite.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Sheila's Irish Soda Bread
Sheila’s Irish Soda Bread

Are you looking for a delicious and easy bread recipe that is perfect for St. Patrick’s Day or any day of the year? Look no further than Sheila’s Irish Soda Bread Recipe! This traditional Irish soda bread has been passed down through generations from Nana Sheila, and it’s now my go-to when I want a warm and hearty bread to share with friends and family.

What sets this soda bread recipe apart is its simplicity. You don’t need any special equipment or advanced baking skills to make it. All you need are a few staple ingredients such as all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, sour cream, eggs, raisins, and caraway seeds. With just a few simple steps, you’ll have a loaf of delicious brown bread that tastes great with butter or served alongside corned beef and cabbage.

Another reason to love this recipe is its versatility. While traditional Irish soda bread tends to be on the plain side, this version features sweet raisins that add a burst of flavor to every bite. If you’re not a fan of raisins, simply leave them out or substitute them with your favorite ingredient such as cranberries or chocolate chips.

Lastly, this Irish soda bread recipe is perfect for both beginners and experienced bakers alike. The dough rises quickly thanks to the baking soda and buttermilk combination which eliminates the need for yeast or long proofing times. Once your dough is ready, it only takes about an hour in the oven to achieve that classic brown crust.

So why not give Sheila’s Irish Soda Bread Recipe a try? It’s an easy and delicious way to bring a bit of Ireland into your home and bring luck to any occasion.

Ingredient List

 A slice of tradition straight from the Emerald Isle
A slice of tradition straight from the Emerald Isle

Let me give you a rundown of the ingredients that you’ll need to get started on making Sheila’s Irish Soda Bread. This recipe is easy to follow, and the ingredients are ones that you most likely already have in your pantry.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of raisins
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons of caraway seeds

Make sure you have all these ingredients ready before you start baking.

The Recipe How-To

 Enjoy the hearty taste of Ireland with every slice
Enjoy the hearty taste of Ireland with every slice

Now that you have your ingredients ready, it’s time to prepare Sheila’s Irish Soda Bread recipe. Follow these easy steps and in no time, you’ll have a delicious bread the whole family will enjoy.

Step 1: Prepare the Oven

Preheat your oven to 375°F.

Step 2: Mix Dry Ingredients

In a large bowl, combine 3 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, and 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Then add a ½ cup of raisins and 1 tablespoon of caraway seeds.

Step 3: Mix Wet Ingredients

In another bowl, whisk together 2 eggs with a cup of sour cream. Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredient bowl and mix it all together.

Step 4: Knead the Dough

Now it’s time to get your hands in there! Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead it for a couple of minutes until it forms a ball.

Step 5: Place Dough in Pan

Place the ball of dough on top of parchment paper in your desired bread pan (round or square). Slice an “x” on the top center of the dough with a sharp knife.

Step 6: Let it Rise

Set aside bread dough for about 10 minutes to let it rise. If you want, sprinkle some caraway seeds on top for added flavor.

Step 7: Bake!

Bake at 375°F for around 45-50 minutes until golden brown on top. Check if the bread is done by inserting a toothpick into the center, if it comes out clean then take it out of the oven. Allow bread to cool for about ten minutes before slicing.

Step 8 Serve and Enjoy!

Serve warm with some unsalted butter and enjoy!

Pro Tip: For a crunchy crust, brush the top with some melted butter before baking.

Now you know how to make a traditional Irish Soda Bread to impress your friends and family on St. Patrick’s Day. This recipe is simple, quick, and delicious!

Substitutions and Variations

 The perfect bread for a cozy afternoon indoors
The perfect bread for a cozy afternoon indoors

Now, let’s talk about how you can switch things up with this Irish Soda Bread recipe. Don’t be afraid to get creative with it and make it your own!

First, if you aren’t a fan of caraway seeds or raisins, feel free to leave them out. The bread will still come out delicious without them. You could even try adding in other types of seeds or dried fruit for a unique twist.

If you don’t have sour cream on hand, you can use buttermilk instead. It will give the bread a slightly tangier flavor but will still come out great.

For a dairy-free option, you can substitute the sour cream and eggs with vegan alternatives such as plant-based yogurt and flaxseed eggs.

If you don’t have all-purpose flour, you can use self-rising flour in place of it. However, make sure to adjust the amount of baking powder and salt accordingly to avoid any over-leavening of the dough.

Another variation is to add in some herbs like rosemary or thyme for a savory twist. You could also sprinkle some grated cheese on top for added flavor.

Lastly, if you want to make mini versions of this Irish Soda Bread recipe, simply shape the dough into smaller rounds or even muffins for bite-sized servings. It’s a great option for parties or sharing with friends!

Remember, the possibilities are endless with this traditional Irish soda bread recipe from Sheila. So have fun experimenting and finding your new favorite variation!

Serving and Pairing

 Break bread with your loved ones and relive old memories
Break bread with your loved ones and relive old memories

When it comes to serving Sheila’s Irish Soda Bread, there are a few ways to enjoy it. One classic way is to enjoy this delicious bread just as it is, sliced and served with a pat of unsalted butter or some jam. The bread tastes great when toasted, and the flavors of the caraway seeds and raisins really come alive.

Sheila’s Irish Soda Bread also pairs well with some traditional Irish dishes such as Colcannon or corned beef and cabbage. If you’re feeling adventurous, try making Donal Skehan’s recipe for Colcannon which is a mashed potato dish that goes well with the hearty flavor of the bread.

For beverages, I recommend serving this bread alongside your favorite hot cup of tea or a glass of cold milk. Alternatively, why not try pairing it with a pint of Guinness or another dark beer? The richness of the bread will complement the flavors in these drinks perfectly.

In summary, serving Sheila’s Irish Soda Bread is versatile – it can be enjoyed on its own or paired with some traditional Irish dishes or your favorite beverages. Adding in some recipes that complement the rich flavor can bring out that authentic Irish taste and make your St. Patrick’s Day even more special!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 The warm, comforting aroma of freshly baked soda bread
The warm, comforting aroma of freshly baked soda bread

Once you’ve made your Sheila’s Irish Soda Bread, you might find yourself with leftovers or want to make the bread ahead of time. The good news is that this bread stores well and can be reheated easily.

To store your Irish soda bread, wrap it tightly in aluminum foil or plastic wrap and place it in an airtight container. The bread will last for up to 3 days at room temperature or up to 1 week in the refrigerator.

When you’re ready to reheat your bread, preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C) and unwrap the bread. Place it on a baking sheet and cover with foil. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until heated through. For a crispier crust, remove the foil for the last 5 minutes of baking.

If you have frozen leftover Irish soda bread, remove it from the freezer and let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Once thawed, follow the reheating instructions above.

Pro tip: If you’re looking to make-ahead your batter, prepare the dough as instructed in section 4 but do not bake. Wrap your dough ball tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for up to one month. When ready to bake, thaw for several hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding with step four of the recipe.

Sheila’s Irish Soda Bread is perfect for a St Patrick’s Day celebration, but don’t let leftovers go to waste! With these tips for storing and reheating, you can enjoy this traditional Irish bread long after the festivities are over.

Tips for Perfect Results

 The best companion for a hot cup of tea on a chilly day
The best companion for a hot cup of tea on a chilly day

When it comes to baking Sheila’s Irish Soda Bread, there are a few tips and tricks that can help ensure the perfect loaf every time. As someone who has made this bread numerous times, there are certain steps I always take to guarantee success in the kitchen. Here are some of my top tips for baking the perfect Irish Soda Bread:

1. Don’t overmix the dough: Overworking the dough can make it tough and dry. Mix the ingredients until they just come together, and then knead it briefly to shape into a round.

2. Use cold ingredients: Make sure your buttermilk, eggs, and sour cream are fridge-cold when making the dough. Cold ingredients help create a flakier texture in the finished bread.

3. Let the bread cool completely: Although it’s tempting to slice into warm bread fresh out of the oven, you’ll get better results if you wait for it to cool completely before cutting into it.

4. Add optional ingredients: While the traditional recipe calls for caraway seeds or raisins, feel free to experiment with other options like dried cranberries or chopped nuts for added texture and flavor.

5. Substitute buttermilk if needed: If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup of milk and let it sit for 5 minutes before using as a substitute.

By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to an impressive and delicious loaf of Sheila’s Irish Soda Bread. It’s said that this bread is meant to bring luck to those who bake it – so take heart in knowing that you’re following in a long-standing tradition of hearty and delicious St. Patrick’s Day fare!


Now that we have gone through the recipe steps in detail, you might still have some burning questions about making Sheila’s Irish Soda Bread. Fear not, for I have put together a list of some common queries to help guide you through any doubts or concerns that may arise.

Is there a difference between soda bread and Irish soda bread?

When it comes to preparing a true Irish soda bread, the key lies in what ingredients you leave out. In the United States, soda breads typically include caraway seeds and raisins, while in Ireland these extra ingredients are absent from the recipe.

What is traditional Irish soda bread made of?

Irish soda bread is a classic bread recipe consisting of basic ingredients such as flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk. The combination of buttermilk’s acidity and baking soda’s base creates a chemical reaction that causes the bread to rise. This reaction is responsible for giving the bread its recognizable name of “soda bread.”

What is the key ingredient in Irish soda bread that makes it different from other breads?

Soda bread’s distinctive texture is due to the chemical reaction between sour milk and baking soda, producing tiny carbon dioxide bubbles in the dough. The shape of the bread reflects its cultural heritage.

Why did my Irish soda bread fall apart?

There are instances where traditional soda bread turns out crumbly, which could be attributed to the imbalance of ingredients. Overuse of flour and insufficient buttermilk may lead to this outcome. It’s recommended to carefully measure the flour by spooning and leveling it.

Why is my Irish soda bread hard?

When it comes to making no yeast bread, avoid over kneading as it can lead to a tough and compact texture. A soft and fluffy crumb can be achieved by kneading the dough for a shorter period of time. Moreover, don’t forget to score the bread before baking to cook it evenly. It is a crucial step that should not be overlooked.

Why do you put a cross on Irish soda bread?

In the 19th century, it was customary to cut a cross on top of soda bread before baking it. This practice was believed to have religious significance as the cross was symbolic of blessings and gratitude. Furthermore, it was believed that cutting the cross helped to keep evil spirits away during the baking process.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, this Sheila’s Irish Soda Bread Recipe is a must-try for bread lovers and anyone looking to add some traditional Irish flavors to their St. Patrick’s Day feast. With its simple ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions, even a novice baker can create the perfect loaf. The addition of caraway seeds and raisins gives this traditional bread a unique twist that will leave you wanting more. And if that’s not enough, the rich flavor of the sour cream and eggs makes this bread taste great with just a little butter.

So why not bring a little luck of the Irish into your baking routine with this delicious recipe? It’s perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and pairs well with everything from hearty stews to colcannon. Plus, with its versatility and ability to hold up well during storage, you’ll be able to enjoy it long after St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone.

So what are you waiting for? Gather your ingredients, preheat your oven, and get ready to bake like nana Sheila herself. Trust me; this bread will become a new favorite in your household just like it has been in mine!

Sheila's Irish Soda Bread

Sheila’s Irish Soda Bread Recipe

Growing up in an Irish household, I have had the pleasure of tasting many a soda bread. It seems like every woman had her own recipe, and I have tasted them all. Some are brown and some are white, some have raisins and caraways, some have only one or neither, some are cakey and some are bready, some are round and some are oblong. This recipe uses sour cream instead of the traditional buttermilk, and is on the "cakey" side. You can bake them in either a 8x4-inch loaf pan or an 8-inch round pan.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Irish
Keyword < 4 Hours, Breads, Easy, European, Healthy, Quick Breads, St. Patrick's Day, Weeknight
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings 2 loaves
Calories 2085kcal


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 16 ounces sour cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 tablespoons caraway seeds (optional)


  • Combine sugar, baking soda, baking powder, flour and salt in a large bowl. Stir in eggs and sour cream, then add raisins and caraway seeds. Pour into two greased and lightly floured 8x4-inch loaf pans or 8-inch round pans.
  • Bake at 325 degrees F for approximately 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the bread comes out clean.


Serving: 1503g | Calories: 2085kcal | Carbohydrates: 356.7g | Protein: 42.4g | Fat: 57.1g | Saturated Fat: 30.3g | Cholesterol: 403.4mg | Sodium: 1885.6mg | Fiber: 9.4g | Sugar: 152g

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