Easy Soda Bread

$0.66 recipe / $0.08 serving
by Monti - Budget Bytes
4.84 from 6 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.

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.

Easy Soda Bread

4.84 from 6 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 mins
Cook 30 mins
Total 40 mins

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.

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

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
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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!

Check Out These Other Easy Bread Recipes:

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  1. Monti, do you think this would work with whole wheat flour? Has anyone tried making it with that?

    1. Hi, Nicole! I think it would be delicious with whole wheat flour. I have not made it with whole wheat. However, if you use a scale to weigh out ingredients, a word to the wise. For best results, substitute whole wheat for white flour by volume, not by weight. Whole wheat flour weighs less than white flour; it’s also able to absorb more liquid. So by using the same amount of whole wheat flour (by volume) as white flour, you can make up somewhat for white flour’s heavier per-cup weight — which in turn will help compensate for whole wheat’s higher absorption. XOXO -Monti

  2. This is a game changer! Whipped this up to serve with some white chicken chili tonight, and it turned out perfect. To quote my husband, “wait, you made this??”. My one year old is also a big fan :) 

    1. Danger (my kiddo) used to gobble up this soda bread all day long when he was a toddler. So stoked you made it! xoxo -Monti

  3. Just wanted to say I love seeing Monti in the comments answering questions. Will definitely be trying this one out! Thanks for sharing.

  4. I made this earlier this week and really enjoyed it! The flavor was excellent and

    it couldn’t have been easier. I will say that I didn’t get as much of a rise as I had hoped to based on the photo — I used buttermilk that had been frozen, so not sure if that might have impacted the end result. Overall, this is a tasty recipe and I’ll certainly make it again.

    1. Thanks, RObin! If you didn’t get a great rise, you should check your baking soda to see if it’s still working well. XOXO -Monti

  5. Simple and delicous. Served it with BudgetBytes’s Zuppa Toscana. This will be my go-to for homemade bread in the future.

  6. Can I add a sweetener, like honey or sugar, to make this *taste* a bit closer to sandwich-style bread?

      1. Thanks! Do I need to reduce the amount of milk to adjust for the additional “liquid” being added?

  7. Long time reader, how is it I am first learning that Beth was on MasterChef (season 3)? It was mentioned in this recipe write-up. Is there a summary posted somewhere of the experience?

    1. Hi! We are expanding the team at Budget Bytes. If you look at who authored the post, it will say who the recipe is from. My name’s Monti, and I’m the new senior food editor for Budget Bytes. I wrote the recipe, and I was on Masterchef season 3. XOXO -Monti

  8. This looks amazing (and easy!) Looking forward to trying it this weekend when the temperature dips. Quick q – do you know if a baked loaf will freeze well? I may double the recipe if so. Thanks for all y’all do — you have no idea how inspired your site has made me to be more creative in the kitchen! 

    1. That’s a great question, Kris. I have never had leftovers to freeze or meal-prepped a loaf, so I can’t say definitively. But I don’t see why it wouldn’t freeze well. Thanks for making it! XOXO -Monti

  9. Will this work with any gluten-free flour as a substitute?  Almond, rice, or an all-purpose?  Thanks 

    1. Hi Heather, I haven’t made it with gluten-free flour, so I can’t tell you from experience. But I don’t see why not. If you try it, let me know your results! XOXO -Monti

  10. It’s currently 47°F where I live in Alberta, Canada 🇨🇦, so definitely time for soup & this bread! Question though – do you prepare the pan in any way, or suggest putting the loaf on a piece of parchment paper? Thanks!

  11. What if I don’t have a Dutch oven or cast iron skillet?

    Can I use a regular bread loaf pan? Or a round Pyrex dish?

    Something/anything else to bake it in? I’d really like to try this recipe.

    Thanks very much!

    1. Use a sheet pan! Metal is best, but anything (including a pie pan) will work. XOXO -Monti

    2. A metal cake tin also works well if you have one.  

      I used a cake tin that is 8 inch in diameter and 2.5 inches deep when trying out Monti’s soda bread recipe and it worked perfectly.   

      1. Woot! Use what you’ve got! Love that. Thanks for sharing Denise. XOXO -Monti

  12. Do you have to preheat the pot before you put the bread in.  I know other bread recipes have you put the Dutch oven in the oven while you preheat the oven.