Easy Soda Bread

$0.66 recipe / $0.08 serving
by Monti - Budget Bytes
4.57 from 32 votes
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When I couldn’t afford a $4 loaf of bread on my $10-a-day food budget, I turned to soda bread. I would make a loaf every morning, slice it, and top it with scrambled eggs, mashed avocado, or butter. I’d serve it as a partner in crime with simple salads and soups. I even used it on an episode of MasterChef (I competed on Season 3), and Gordon Ramsay loved it. This recipe is very easy to put together and incredibly budget-friendly. Get ready to put this one in heavy rotation!

What’s Special About Soda Bread?

Soda bread is a quick bread with a hard outer crust and a dense, tight crumb. Quick breads are leavened with baking powder or soda instead of yeast. So, if you’ve had a muffin, cornbread, biscuits, or banana bread, you’ve had quick bread. Soda bread is leavened with baking soda, which gives it its namesake.

What You Need

You need just 4 ingredients to make soda bread: flour, baking soda, a little salt, and buttermilk. The baking soda reacts with the acidity of the buttermilk, creating tiny bubbles in the dough, giving soda bread its signature texture. You don’t even need to knead it. It’s so easy that I could make it with a two-year-old at my knees screaming for Yo Gabba Gabba. (If you are currently sharing space with a two-year-old, my thoughts and prayers are with you. #neveragain)

Why Don’t You Need To Knead It?

You knead bread to develop gluten strands, rubberband-like proteins that help bread rise. They create a net that traps all of the gas developed by bread made with yeast. Because soda bread is not yeasted bread, kneading it just makes it dense and hard. To develop its trademark soft crumb, you touch the dough as little as possible while shaping it. If you prefer a chewier kneaded bread texture but don’t want to put in all that work, try our easy No-Knead Bread recipe.

Where Does This Recipe Come From?

Many cultures worldwide make some form of soda bread, and it is thought to have been created by Native Americans. However, the most commonly known recipe is for Irish soda bread. It became a popular recipe in Ireland during the famine when bread had to be made from cheap ingredients: soft wheat flour, salt, baking soda, and sour milk.

What Else Can I Add To Soda Bread?

Traditionally, Irish soda bread is just four ingredients. But Irish Americans add currants or caraway seeds to the dough. You can also add a few teaspoons of citrus zest or your favorite fresh herbs. For a fun twist, try it with Everything Bagel seasoning. It’s truly a blank canvas, so don’t be scared to experiment with your favorite flavors.

What To Serve With Soda Bread

Soda bread is perfect for sopping up that last bit of sauce or stew. For a perfect pairing, check out these recipes.

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Easy Soda Bread

4.57 from 32 votes
This Easy Soda Bread recipe is budget-friendly, and endlessly adaptable. It's also a stone-cold stunner. It got props from Gordon Ramsay!
Overhead shot of baked easy soda bread sliced and buttered on parchment.
Servings 8 slices
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 30 minutes
Total 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour ($0.27)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda ($0.01)
  • 1/2 tsp salt ($0.06)
  • 1 cup buttermilk* ($0.32)

Instructions 

  • Set a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat it to 450°F. Mix the flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl until they are fully incorporated.
  • Form a well in the center of the flour mixture and fill the well with the buttermilk.
  • Use a fork to incorporate the flour into the buttermilk little by little until a thick batter forms. Use your hands to incorporate the final bits of flour and gently shape the batter into a dough. Do not overwork the dough.
  • Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and gently shape it into a round 6 inches in diameter and about 1 1/2 inches thick.
  • Place the dough in a Dutch oven or cast iron skillet. Use a sharp knife to cut a large x into the top of the dough.
  • Bake for 10 minutes at 450°F. Then lower the oven temperature to 400°F and continue baking until the bread is golden brown and crusty on the outside, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool.

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Notes

*If you don’t have buttermilk, simply take a cup of milk and add one tablespoon of vinegar to it to create your own buttermilk. I usually use distilled white, but any vinegar will do. You can also use citrus juice.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 132kcalCarbohydrates: 25gProtein: 4gFat: 1gSodium: 246mgFiber: 1g
Read our full nutrition disclaimer here.
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How to Make Easy Soda Bread – Step by Step Photos

Set a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat to 450°F. Mix the 2 cups of flour, the 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, and the 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a large bowl until they are fully incorporated.

Form a well in the center of the flour mixture and fill the well with the buttermilk.

Use a fork to incorporate the flour into the buttermilk little by little until a thick batter forms. Use your hands to incorporate the final bits of flour and gently shape the batter into a dough. Do not overwork the dough.

Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and gently shape it into a round 6 inches in diameter and about 1 1/2 inches thick.

Place the loaf in a Dutch oven or cast iron skillet. Use a sharp knife to cut a large x into the top of the dough.

Bake for 10 minutes at 450°F. Then lower the oven temperature to 400°F and continue baking until the bread is golden brown and crusty on the outside, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool.

Overhead shot of baked easy soda bread sliced on parchment.

Enjoy the warm, cozy soda bread with a thick smear of butter and your favorite bowl of soup!

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Comments

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  1. This is literally a biscuit, not a soda bread. You need the soda and acid to combine to create a chemical leavening, which this doesn’t seem to have going on

  2. Just pulled it from the oven and it’s Perfect! Next time I will add fresh garlic cloves.

  3. My husband and I love this recipe! He grew up in Europe and he said it’s very nostalgic for him.

    I do have a question though. I’ve made this bread three times and every time, the dough gets very, very dry and crumbly, unlike your picture. Like, it barely holds together in some places. Do you think I’m overworking the dough? I feel like if I work it any less, it won’t even be a loaf because so much of it is falling apart. I have to sort of mush it backwards together again for it to have any shape. TIA!

    1. It’s possible that you might need a touch more liquid! Some flour brands are dryer than others, so it can definitely vary bag to bag and make a dryer dough.

  4. Made this to go with our Irish stew this past weekend. Did the milk and vinegar sub for buttermilk and my family DEMOLISHED it. I bought buttermilk powder to try next time as I have a feeling this will get made a lot here now.

  5. Used whole wheat flour but otherwise followed recipe exactly and it turned out perfectly. Yummy!

  6. This was tasty, but I just have a question about the ingredients- what makes this different from a biscuit? The ingredients and steps are the same. Is it just a matter of ratios of each one?

    1. Good eye! Basically, yes! The ingredients are very similar, except this is good for slicing, etc.

  7. Great recipe! Had just enough ingredients for a small loaf. Used a baking sheet n some parchment. It didn’t brown much on top but I tapped it and it sounded right. So thanks for the great recipe, it was perfect

  8. I made this for St. Patrick’s Day dinner, following the photo instructions and it was a great success! My family and I loved it! I have a history of messing up recipes, even easy ones, and this was foolproof.

  9. Just made this bread, having guest so tripped recipe and the three loafs came out perfectly! And if my Irish relatives (from Ireland) approve, it’s a great recipe!

  10. I gave this try. It smelled great but it completely stuck to the Dutch oven. Was there supposed to be something sprinkled on the bottom of the pot before placing the dough inside? I’ll definitely try it again but will put parchment paper or something down first.

  11. Just tried this recipe – which calls for 2 cup all purpose flour while all other recipes I found called for 3. My batter was too thin, quite stringy and in no why resembled what bread dough should look like. I did have to use the distilled white vinegar with 2 % fat milk in lieu of buttermilk but wondered if my recipe is a misprint or if I should have added baking soda to the liquid mixture first. I like the 3 ingredients. I make about 2 or 3 loaves of bread weekly – one whole wheat/white in the bread maker , one pumpkin or spice for my husbands daily breakfast bread and a pound /quick bread dessert bread. Found myself without bagels for my husband’s disabled son’s breakfast, so was delighted to find this simple and quick recipe. I added a bit of flour as was trying to form into ball, and the 450 down to 400 in my countertop oven was evidently too drying…so first try was a batch only the chef could love! Please advise how I can make it work. Thanks.

    1. Hi linda! No misprint here! You do add the baking soda with the dry ingredients. This bread is pretty different than a dough that you may be used to working with, in that you don’t have to knead it and it’s naturally a stickier dough. A lot of times the brand of flour effects the product a lot as well. If you’re using a “cheaper” flour you may need to add more than a more name brand flour. You might want to play with your proportions a bit until you get a consistency that looks like the process photo. For you, it might be 2 1/2 cups flour and 3/4 cup milk, etc. I hope that helps! :)

      1. We only tested in the dutch oven, but other readers have commented that they baked it on a baking sheet and it turned out wonderful!

  12. Followed the recipe, even the buttermilk mixture. It came out great and tastes really good!!! This is the first ever bread recipe I’ve tried that worked the first time I baked it.