Easy Soda Bread

$0.66 recipe / $0.08 serving
by Monti - Budget Bytes
4.91 from 10 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.

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Easy Soda Bread

4.91 from 10 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.

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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
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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. Yum! I did have to adjust the flour to milk ratio a bit. I’m a beginner baker, so I’m not sure what was making the dough so batter-like, but I found that 2 1/2 cups flour and 3/4 cup milk worked better for me. Maybe because of the elevation? Or humidity? Anyways, it was delicious with soup!

    1. It is definitely a sticky dough. And you did the exact right thing by adding more flour. I just made it for the Today Show a few days ago, and the recipe I have been using for ten years came out batter-like as well. I used the same ingredients, and the same measurements, and on the second run, it came out perfect. Beats me. Sometimes baking can be fickle as all get out. XOXO -Monti

  2. Delicious and insanely easy! I’ve made it both as written and with half whole wheat, half AP flour – both are delicious, but the half/half wins for me! Great recipe and very easy to play around with!

  3. I used a crockpot as my dutch oven, and I’m not sure what I did wrong because the center of the bread wasn’t as crumby as I was hoping. Should I adjust the timing or the temperature?

    1. Hi Helen- Take the loaf out of the oven and use your hand to “knock” on the top of the loaf. If it sounds hollow, the loaf is ready. If it doesn’t sound hollow, it means it hasn’t cooked through, and you should keep it in the oven for a few more minutes. XOXO -Monti

  4. I’ve never made soda bread before and I can’t believe how easy and delicious this was! I’d add a little more salt next time because I use kosher salt which isn’t as salty. The crumb on this bread was so great! My days of buying bread maybe over!