Irish Soda Bread Baking and Eating Tips (2024)

Irish soda bread is a blessing for people who like their food easy—with no sacrifice in quality. Irish foods (like stew and bread) are all about simplicity. And the flour-based delicacies of the emerald isle are one category of Irish cuisine that really shines.

Bake up a bit of history in your own kitchen with some Irish soda bread. But before you get to kneading, read on for some great baking tips and suggestions on the best ways to enjoy a slice of soda bread.

What Is Soda Bread?

One of the most impressive things about baking soda bread is the speed. Soda bread gets its name from baking soda, which, added in the right amount, creates levity without the use and wait of yeast. (Some recipes call for yeast and kneading, but know this isn't required.)

You don't have to wait hours or overnight for a rise, either. In fact, you don't even need to wait at all: Dough for Irish soda bread can go right into the oven after making. Given the short time to mix ingredients, you can have a warm loaf on the table in under an hour.


Not only can Irish soda bread be made in a short time, but it has also been around for a relatively short period. Baking soda was invented in 1846, meaning that, like the potato (which filtered across the Old World from the New), soda bread is a somewhat new development seen in the broader context of food history. Even so, it has been embedded in the Irish and Irish American consciousnesses for many generations and has traveled far beyond.

What Does Irish Soda Bread Taste Like?

That depends on which type of soda bread you make. The very traditional Irish version features whole wheat, buttermilk, baking soda, and salt—and tastes a bit like a marriage between a biscuit and a loaf of bread. But the most popular version here in the U.S. generally uses all-purpose flour, add butter and eggs, and studs it with raisins and caraway seeds for a sweeter bread.

Is Irish Soda Bread Healthy?

The ingredients matter. A soda bread made with whole wheat flour, dried fruit, and nuts will be a healthier choice.

Irish Soda Bread Baking Tips

When making soda bread at home, keep a few things in mind. Check out these tips to make the perfect loaf of the classic Irish treat.

Add The Right Amount of Baking Soda

First, as the name of the bread suggests, baking soda is key. You'll want to be precise in how much you use. Winging an eyeballed measurement is a surefire way of dooming a batch of bread.

Baking is like a science. You can't add more or less of an ingredient and expect good results. Every ingredient in an Irish soda recipe has a purpose, so follow your recipe's directions carefully, especially when it comes to baking soda.

Washing Soda vs. Baking Soda: What's the Difference and Which Is Better for Laundry?

Measure Your Milk Carefully

Managing soda bread right also means being precise with the recipe's milk. The majority of soda bread recipes will call for milk or buttermilk. Using a dairy product other than the one specified in a given recipe could throw the whole equation out of balance.

While baking a good soda bread is easy, baking a great one is harder. The key is getting the hang of how baking soda creates the rise and crumb you want. Baking soda needs acidity to trigger rising. (Think of how baking soda fizzes a bunch when added to vinegar.) Milk provides this acidity, which is crucial to the bread's formation.

How to Enjoy Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread Baking and Eating Tips (1)

Not sure how to take your soda bread to the next level? Take a look at these tasty ideas.

  • If you're unwrapping a room-temperature package from the grocery, a very light toasting can help a slice find new life.
  • Jams are great on top. The sweetness goes well with the toothsome texture of the bread.
  • Slather on some rich Irish butter, which has a higher fat and lower water count than American butter. Translation: It's decadent and delicious.
  • If you're baking your Irish soda bread from scratch, try eating it fresh from the oven. A hot wedge of soda bread might not need any toppings at all.

Try It: Mini Irish Soda Bread

How to Store Irish Soda Bread

If you don't eat all of your Irish soda bread in one sitting, congratulations. You have some leftovers for another day. But what is the best way to store this bread? Tightly wrap your leftover bread and place it in an airtight container. There's no need to refrigerate.

As for how long soda bread lasts: Irish soda bread tends to dry out faster than other breads. The bread will be good for 3-4 days or up to three months if frozen.

Baking vs. Buying

Either works. You can buy soda bread from grocery stores, especially around St. Patrick's Day. Unlike the highly complex Italian bread panettone, soda bread doesn't require a grandmaster to make. Standard commercial and grocery store bakers can knock out loaves just fine. And so can you in your kitchen.

5 Mistakes You're Making With Your Bread Maker


There are many varieties of soda bread.

  • Some have white flour, some wheat, and some both.
  • Some can be a little sweet.
  • Some can even contain herbs from the garden or dry fruit.

The shapes of soda bread vary, though most are round, and they can be scored in many different ways. In Ireland, they're often scored with a simple cross.

What's the Difference Between Whole Wheat, Whole Grain, and Multigrain Bread?

Irish Soda Bread Baking and Eating Tips (2024)


What's the best way to eat Irish soda bread? ›

How to Eat Irish Soda Bread. This versatile bread works for any meal, but Irish soda bread is a natural for breakfast, whether simply spread with (Irish) butter and jam or alongside that hearty fry-up known as a full Irish breakfast. It's also wonderful with a cup of tea in the afternoon or as a late-night snack.

Do you eat Irish soda bread hot or cold? ›

Serving the Irish Soda Bread

Although soda bread is ideal for serving at room temperature, it is better to serve it warm. The thick and cakey texture of the bread and warm temperature brings out its hearty flavors. If you can't have it fresh from the over at least have it toasted.

How do you know when Irish soda bread is done baking? ›

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.

Do you have to refrigerate Irish soda bread? ›

Tightly wrap your leftover bread and place it in an airtight container. There's no need to refrigerate. As for how long soda bread lasts: Irish soda bread tends to dry out faster than other breads. The bread will be good for 3-4 days or up to three months if frozen.

How do you eat traditional Irish soda bread? ›

The slices are delicious simply spread with butter, jam, or marmalade. This bread can be toasted, too. Soda bread can be paired with any meal of the day. You can even bake it without the raisins to make a loaf to serve with savory dishes like soup, meat dishes, or to use for sandwiches.

How do people eat soda bread? ›

The method of cooking soda bread is very quick, and it was usually made every two to three days and eaten with the main meal. The traditional way to eat soda bread is to break off a piece, split it and slather it in butter.

Why is my Irish soda bread gummy? ›

And finally, don't immediately cut into the Fast Irish Soda bread when you pull it out of the oven. Although this bread is best served warm, cutting into it too quickly will turn the bread gummy.

Why is my Irish soda bread doughy? ›

Chances are good that the bread you ate suffered from one of three common problems: improper amount of baking soda (a gross, salty-bitter taste), over cooking (a dry, chalky texture), or undercooking (a soggy, doughy center).

Why is my Irish soda bread chewy? ›

You spent too much time kneading the dough. Baking soda starts to react and release its gas as soon as it comes into contact with the sour milk. Take too long and the gas will escape before the bread is baked. Kneading will also cause chewy gluten to form.

What to pair with Irish soda bread? ›

What to pair with your favorite Irish soda bread recipe
  1. Partner with blue cheese. Try a room temperature Cashel Blue from South Tipperary, Ireland or an English Stilton. ...
  2. Serve with citrus. Orange marmalade works well with cake-y bread textures. ...
  3. Butter it up. ...
  4. Make a stew. ...
  5. Build a sandwich.
Mar 5, 2014

Should Irish soda bread dough be sticky? ›

Note that the dough will be a little sticky, and quite shaggy (a little like a shortcake biscuit dough). You want to work it just enough so the flour is just moistened and the dough just barely comes together. Shaggy is good. If you over-work the dough the bread will end up tough.

Is Irish soda bread better the next day? ›

Both are as good toasted the next day as they are fresh from the oven. The worst versions of soda bread are dry, with the unpleasantly metallic taste of excess baking soda. But the best versions of soda bread are moist and light, soft and delicate, like a giant loaf of the best scone you've ever had.

What is the best thing to eat with soda bread? ›

Fruit: Eat it plain with a cup of your favorite sliced fruit. Cheese: Make a cheese board, and serve the bread alongside a variety of soft and hard cheeses. Soup: This bread makes a great dunking companion for your favorite hearty soup. Sandwiches: Use slices of Irish soda bread to make sandwiches.

Is Irish soda bread served with dinner? ›

I'll usually make 3-4 loaves at a time for our annual St. Paddy's Day dinner because it goes fast! It's best served with Irish Butter and orange marmalade and is just as good for breakfast as it is for dinner alongside Jim's shepherd's pie, corned beef and cabbage, or Guinness stew!

Does Irish soda bread taste good? ›

This produces a rather dense bread that's absolutely delicious slathered in butter (particularly Irish butter, and perhaps with some jam). Even more so than yeasted breads, Irish soda bread doesn't have an especially long shelf life — it's best enjoyed the day it's made.

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