Irish Soda Bread Recipe (Quick Bread with Raisins)

Irish soda bread with raisins on dark brown wooden cutting board with orange napkin in background
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Posted On: March 8, 2023
Last updated: March 17th, 2024

Every St. Patrick’s Day, many people reach for a traditional Irish Soda Bread as part of their meal. I used to buy Irish soda bread this time of the year at my favorite natural food store till I finally made it myself and realized how easy it was to make. Irish Soda Bread pairs well with steaks, corned beef, and other tasty dishes. Discover why Irish Soda Bread with raisins is the perfect St. Patrick’s Day treat. Even if you’re not a great baker, it’s hard to mess up this quick bread. With the right ingredients, time, and technique, anyone can make delicious Irish Soda Bread with raisins.

Uncut Loaf of soda bread with raisins on green and orange napkins on a serving tray with raisins scattered
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Origins of Irish Soda Bread

As with any ethnic recipes, I always like learning about the history of traditional recipes. From my research, it seems like there are mixed versions of the origin of Irish soda bread. Some articles say that Native Americans were the first to create Irish soda bread, but I’ve also read that It was actually created in U.K. in the early 1800s. I’m honestly not sure which version to believe. One thing I did read that coincided was that the Irish adopted soda bread due to financial hardship. This was an inexpensive bread to make with accessible ingredients like “soft” wheat flour, soured milk and sodium bicarbonate, i.e. baking soda.

The Irish soda bread we know in the United States today though is nothing like Irish soda bread of Ireland. In Ireland, some Irish make a brown soda bread with whole wheat flour that is actually called “farl.” It’s cut into quarters and cooked in a cast iron pan. All versions of soda bread contain baking soda, hence “soda” in the name. The baking soda in conjunction with some form of “soured milk” like buttermilk acts as a leavening agent.

Overtop view of bread with cross in center over orange and green napkins
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Irish Superstition

One piece of history I found to be written about over and over is in regards to a cross being sliced across the top of the loaf. According to Irish superstition, if you score the top of the dough with a sharp knife in the shape of a deep cross, it wards off evil spirits, some Irish call them fairies. If you make a deep cut in the dough, and open it up a bit, it allows more of those spirits to escape.

Adding Raisins to Soda Bread

Raisins are not a traditional ingredient of Irish soda bread, but it is in the Americanized version, such as this one. Adding raisins to this version of Irish soda bread adds a touch of sweetness that we’ve become accustomed to in the country. Some people also like to add dried currants but sometimes they’re a little bit harder to come by.

Side view of bread with raisins with slice cut with bread smeared on top on wooden cutting board
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How to Make Irish Soda Bread

This is a very easy non-yeast bread you can make in less than an hour. It will quickly become a family favorite! This whole recipe can be made in your stand mixer, using the paddle attachment and a clean spot on the counter.

Start by adding all of your dry ingredients to the mixer’s bowl. Then add the cold butter and mix until it’s all well incorporated. In a separate bowl or large measuring cup add your buttermilk, eggs and zest and whisk with a fork. Mix until there are no more dry spots and it’s quite sticky.

6 steps shown to make Irish soda bread with raisins
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No Knead, Round & Bake

Transfer the sticky dough to a well floured counter and don’t knead it, but gather the dough and roll it till it stops sticking. There should be enough flour on your counter, but if not, just sprinkle a little on. Then place it onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet, dutch oven, cast iron skillet or medium baking dish, shaped into a semi-flat ball. Use a sharp knife to make a large X on the top. Bake it in a pre-heated oven at 375F for 40-45 minutes.

Check it with a toothpick for doneness and it also should sound hollow if you knock on the bread. Let the bread cool on a wire rack. If you want to enjoy it while it’s still warm, use a serrated knife after 10-15 minutes and cut yourself a nice warm slice and add a little butter. It’s heaven in your mouth!

Irish Soda Bread with Raisins, sliced off side and slice buttered with bread knife, butter and green and orange napkins and buttermilk in background
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Variations for Irish Soda Bread

This recipe makes a tender white soda bread with a slight sweetness, but you can exclude the raisins if you like. It just won’t be the same fabulous bread that makes this great recipe stand out. Dried currants are also an option, as are caraway seeds, but not everyone likes the seeds. The orange zest is optional, but it’s an addition that I think is quite nice.

Ingredients shown for Irish Soda Bread: all-purpose flour, sugar, baking soda, kosher salt, butter, buttermilk, orange zest, raisins
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Irish Soda Bread Ingredients

  • Flour– I use all-purpose unbleached flour
  • Baking Soda– sodium bicarbonate
  • Sugar– standard granulated sugar
  • Kosher salt– I like to use coarse kosher or sea salt.
  • Buttermilk– If you do not have buttermilk, you can make your own buttermilk with regular dairy milk (whole preferably) and lemon juice. Add 1 1/2 Tablespoons of lemon juice to a 2-cup measuring cup. Add enough milk just up to the 1 1/2 cup line and let it sit for 15 minutes and voila, you have your buttermilk alternative ready to use.
  • Egg– just 1 whole egg.
  • Raisins– I like to use plump dark raisins without added sugar for this recipe, but any kind of preferred raisins are fine. Or if you prefer dried currants, you can use those as well.
  • Orange zest– this is not traditional and can be optional, but I just think it’s a nice added touch.
Bread loaf with raisins with slice cut off and buttered, orange and green napkins and buttermilk in background
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If you’re looking for the perfect St. Patrick’s Day recipe, then give this easy Irish Soda Bread recipe a try! Share your experiences in the comments below.

You will feel LUCKY if you make this bread!

Irish soda bread with raisins on dark brown wooden cutting board with orange napkin in background
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Irish Soda Bread Recipe (Quick Bread with Raisins)

This is a very easy bread to make for St. Patrick's Day or any time of year really.  Enjoy it with a potato soup or a delicious Irish stew.  Or just slather on some grass-fed Irish butter, warm it up and enjoy it as a quick breakfast bread on the go. 
5 from 10 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Bread
Cuisine American, Irish
Servings 12
Calories 210 kcal


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour plus 1 Tbsp for raisins
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt or sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter cold, cut into cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp orange zest optional, but a nice touch
  • 1 cup raisins


  • Preheat oven to 375F.
  • Line baking sheet with parchment paper and place paddle attachment on stand mixer.
  • Add flour, sugar, baking soda and salt to bowl of a stand mixer and mix with attachment.
  •  Add cold cubed butter to dry ingredients and mix about 2 minutes, or until butter is well distributed, less than pea sized in the flour.
  • Add buttermilk to a small bowl or measuring cup with egg and orange zest and use a fork to whisk it well.
  • Add buttermilk mixture to your mixer and run on low speed till all wet, do not over-mix.
  • Sprinkle a little less than a Tablespoon of flour on your raisins and stir them to fully coat them.
  • Fold the raisins into the dough. (The dough will be very sticky and wet at this point)
  • Transfer the sticky dough onto a generously floured counter and just gently roll it into a ball, swiping some flour from the side onto it, just until it stops sticking to your hands.   Sprinkle just a touch of flour if it’s still sticky and then form it into a round ball and flatten slightly.
  • Place the dough on the parchment paper lined sheet pan and cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife.
  • Bake for 40 minutes, or until internal temperature in the center is 200 deg. F. The loaf sounds hollow when you tap on the bottom of it.
  • Cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes and then you may enjoy it or set aside to fully cool.
  • Serve warm, cut into slices with butter or at room temperature.



Keep the bread wrapped in plastic wrap or a bread bag and enjoy up to 5 days at room temperature. 

Nutrition Disclaimer:

The nutritional information provided is only an estimate based on a third party nutritional plugin. Different online calculators may give different results depending on their own sources. The estimates may also change based on the ingredients you use. If you have dietary restrictions and need to accurately calculate the nutrition of this recipe, Whole Made Living recommends consulting a professional nutritionist.


Serving: 1sliceCalories: 210kcalCarbohydrates: 38gProtein: 5gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 24mgSodium: 423mgPotassium: 180mgFiber: 2gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 157IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 46mgIron: 2mg
Keyword bread, Irish, Kid Friendly, raisins, st. patrick’s day
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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  • 5 stars
    Made today, it is delicious and easy, I didn’t have raisins so used dried cranberries which with orange zest, absolute perfection. I love the citrus zest, wonder if you’ve tried lemon or lime, I have a family member who dislikes anything orange tasting. I’ll be making this often!

    • Awesome Cindy! I made 2 loaves yesterday for my family, with 4 guys in the house it disappears fast! I love the use of cranberries and I do think any citrus zest is great, it can never be bad. Glad you enjoyed it and it was easy for you.

  • 5 stars
    Excited to try. Do you think it could be made into two smaller loaves to give as gifts? Would the bake time change?

    • Jennifer, the bake time would definitely change if you’re halving the loaves, but I could not tell you by how much because I’ve never done it. You would definitely have to shorten the time and test it with the toothpick. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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