World’s Best Irish Soda Bread Recipe

A lot of Irish soda bread has the consistency of a cinder block and half the flavor. It’s no wonder so many people fled the Emerald Isle.

Today I will share with you a family secret. I’ve been cleared by the keepers of this recipe to to divulge its contents in the interest of improving the state of Irish soda bread in America — and thus enhancing its reputation and standing in the world of baked goods.

This recipe came here with the Curtains of County Cork as they braved the cold Atlantic to seek a better life in America. I now present it to you as my gift. Some of you are saying, “That sounds like a lot of blarney.”

Please. Do you think I just make this stuff up?

This world is a random place full of twists and turns where things can go wrong in an instant. There are no guarantees — but I guarantee people will ask you for this recipe after they try it.


20 thoughts on “World’s Best Irish Soda Bread Recipe

  1. Not all ISB has raisins, and “real” ISB includes wheat flour, since in Ireland in the 1800’s the poor people did not have much white flour or raisins. Also, they used baking soda, because they had no yeast.
    I challenge Rob to the title of “World’s Best” with my grandmother’s recipe.


    A Recipe brought to America from Bessbrook, Ireland by Sarah Swan Stewart Jackson when she migrated to Greenwich, NY in 1910 with 2 small children to be with her husband William George Jackson

    2 tbsp butter
    1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar
    1 egg
    1 3/4 cup buttermilk
    2 tsp baking soda
    1 cup wheat flour
    1 1/2 cups white flour
    1/2 tsp salt

    dissolve baking soda in buttermilk
    combine all ingredients
    place in bread pan
    bake one hour at 350 degrees

    (notes – I prefer using a bundt style pan, and coat it with Crisco and sprinkled flour so it does not stick. Also, I use 1/3 cup sugar, and bake only 55 minutes)

  2. Hmmm…sounds similar to mine except for the sour creme and extra egg. I also add more or less caraway seeds depending on the who will be eating it. I also omit raisins unless someone requests it. It seems less traditional with raisins.

    I also brush egg yolk on the outside of it to give it a golden crustier crust. It’s good.

    I may have to experiment with yours…you certainly haven’t steered us wrong considering the masterpiece that is your Thanksgiving sweet potato crunch. And I will also try George’s recipe because I can’t resist!

  3. Since my mother was a Donovan from county Cork, I have been looking for a REAL Irish Bread recipe to go along with my traditional Corned Beef and Cabbage w/boiled white potatoes St. Pat’s day meal for friends and family!

    Gunna try it and see!!

    good luck to ME and my guests!!

  4. I made a recipe for “traditional” ISB, looked in the bowl at the dry mess it created, promptly threw it away and came looking for another recipe. I know nothing of what ingredients used to be used, but this recipe is fabulous!

  5. Ok – You win. This recipe yielded a bread that beats my prize winning Irish Soda Bread. I made your bread at noon today and it didn’t make it to dinner. The plate is empty. I will have to make it again – mañana. How about a back story on Aunt Nora.

  6. Tried this tonight and it was surely the World’s Best Soda Bread. I substituted plain nonfat yogurt for the sour cream with splendid results. Truly a great find. Thanks.

  7. I have a theory that true ISB is dry & unsweet like “true” cornbread. Back in the day, access to sugar and possibly even milk would have been minimal, so I suspect it could have really just been wheat flour, water, salt, baking soda. and maybe an egg.
    This having been said, my modern palate loves the richness of all these ingredients – so I made this tonight, and my fiancee (who asked me to heat up rye bread too since he “doesn’t like soda bread”) ate 3 pieces. Cheers to modern cooking!

  8. Made it. Loved it. Devoured it! I subbed in dried cranberries for the raisins as my kids don’t dig raisins and love the cranberries. It was delish!!

  9. Thanks to everyone who read this, but especially those who actually tried the recipe. Michelle, that’s a great twist with the cranberries; I’ll definitely try that.

  10. I just mixed the recipe together and upped the ingredients by .5 (I assume you meant to up everything by one-half) and the dough came out rather sticky – not real ‘kneadable’ if you know what I mean. I couldn’t really make an ‘X’ in the top – the dough sort of melded back together . . Is the dough supposed to be a little wet?

  11. Jane: not a problem — it’s going to be sticky. Son’t worry about the ‘X’.

    Or… wet your hands and smooth down the top after you put it in the pan. Then you can carve the ‘X’.

  12. I had never tasted ISB until we recently ate at the Colonial Tavern, an Irish Pub in Fredericksburg, VA. They served it with raspberry butter before our meal. It was wonderful as was the meal. It did not have raisins or carraway seeds in it so when I found your recipe online, I chose to omit those. Aunt Nora’s recipe tasted exactly like the Pub’s. I made it for breakfast this morning and not liking my attempt at raspberry butter, served it with just butter and strawberry preserves. The 4 of us finished off both loaves. My husband loved the mildly sweet flavor and the course yet moist texture. I used bread flour vs. all purpose and used my mixer just enough to combine the ingredients, then finished it with light hand kneeding. It was sticky but I resisted the urge to add flour and handle it. I divided evenly into 2 round mounds and placed in 9″ greased pans, pressing a long bread knife into it to form the X. With a fast oven, I baked only 30 minutes, just when the tops began to lighly tan and it was firm to touch. I immediately wrapped the loaves in clean kitchen towels after removal. 15 minutes later, we were in heaven. Thank you for sharing the recipe. I will make this again and again.

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