Irish Soda Bread

This Irish soda bread is very close to traditional with the exception of using pantry-friendly yogurt instead of buttermilk. It also includes whole-wheat flour and walnuts and has incredible flavor, keeps well, and goes with everything from soup to jam. Here’s how to make it.

A loaf of Irish soda bread on a brown plate with a chunk cut out and smeared with butter.

This Irish soda bread has a moist, nutty wheatiness with a dense, a subtle sweetness, and crunchy crust. It has bags more flavor than normal bread and is lovely on its own but also goes perfectly with cheese, soup, marmalade…we could go on. Plus, it’s incredibly easy to make and seems to keep for a week without becoming stale or dry.–Wild at Heart

Irish Soda Bread with Walnuts

  • Quick Glance
  • (4)
  • 15 M
  • 1 H, 30 M
  • Makes 1 loaf
5/5 - 4 reviews
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Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and lightly oil either a baking sheet (if you prefer to make a free-form, traditional round loaf) or a loaf pan (if you’d rather a more contemporary rectangular loaf).

Blitz half the walnuts in a food processor until you have a coarse powder. Chop the remaining walnuts into largish chunks.

Place all the walnuts in a large bowl, add the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt, and mix well to ensure the baking soda is evenly dispersed.

Stir in 2 cups yogurt and gently combine, mixing first with a whisk or wooden spoon and then switching to your hands, until a soft dough forms. The dough will be a shaggy mess, but bring the ingredients together as best you can, being careful not to knead the dough as this bread benefits from being handled as little as possible.

Tester tip: Different yogurts have different moisture contents. We found that depending on the yogurt used, you may need to work the dough a little more than you expect or you may even need to add a few tablespoons or even up to 1/2 cup more yogurt.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface. If you’re going to bake it in a loaf tin, form the bread into a log shape and drop it into the tin. If you’re going to bake it in the traditional round, form it into a ball, place it on the oiled baking sheet, and score a deep cross into the top using a sharp knife.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the loaf is well risen and browned. Let the bread cool on a wire rack for about 30 minutes—if, that is, you can manage to keep your hands off it for that long. Originally published March 12, 2014.

Print RecipeBuy the The Hedgerow Cookbook cookbook

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

Everything I love about this recipe is right there in the intro. It's crazy easy to make and delivers "moist, nutty wheatiness with a dense crumb and crunchy crust.” I baked it in the evening and we enjoyed it for breakfast the next morning—and for a couple of days after that. We tried it with butter, peanut butter, honey, and sharp Cheddar.

The most surprising aspect of this loaf is how moist it is, considering the fact that it doesn’t have any fat other than the yogurt (I used 2%) and walnuts. The flavor is pure, nutty whole-wheat goodness and deep, rich walnuts. I would love to try the recipe again with some chopped prunes mixed in.

I halved the recipe and noticed that the dough needed an additional 1/4 cup yogurt to be properly moistened, but this might be due to the type of yogurt I used. Brands vary when it comes to moisture content.

Wow, is this bread good. And—dare I say it?—it might even be good for you. I love the combination of whole-wheat flour, coarsely ground walnuts, and coarsely chopped walnuts. The result is nutty and, thanks to the yogurt, incredibly moist.

I used low-fat yogurt and didn’t notice anything lacking. Please don’t be tempted to add another tablespoon or two of brown sugar. The bread shouldn’t be too sweet. And it’s true—the bread lasts for days without becoming dry or tasting stale. It’s divine plain or slathered with lightly salted butter or homemade jam. And don’t get me started on how great it is toasted. Please, please, please make this bread!


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  1. Just made this bread and it is delicious! I grind my own flour, a mix of hard white, spelt, and kamut berries not so finely ground. Used buttermilk as its always on hand, whereas yogurt isn’t. Baked one in a cast iron loaf pan and the other as a boule on parchment covered cookie sheet, and both turned out great. Am wondering if it would work as well if I soaked the buttermilk and flour together first (as in Peter Reinhart’s “Whole Grain Breads”, to neutralize the phytic acid, then proceed with the recipe? Thank you for all the great recipes.

    1. Carolyn, so happy it turned out well!! We didn’t test it with soaking the flour, so we can’t say for sure. But if you try, do let us know. Curious cooks want to know!

  2. Delicious, hearty, and yes, moist – a real winner. We keep full fat Greek yogurt, so that’s what I used and it worked just fine (I had to add a little extra because it’s a denser yogurt). We don’t prefer walnuts so I ground up pecans instead and they added a richness (and protein) that was lovely. We enjoyed this satisfying loaf many ways for a couple of days. Thanks!

  3. As an Irish person living in Ireland, I’m really interested in your addition of walnuts to this recipe, not something I’ve ever seen before in a brown soda bread recipe (although I may try it myself). My mother and grandmother only ever used buttermilk, I, on the other hand, have used plain yogurt with a splash of milk occasionally if I have forgotten to buy buttermilk 🙂 My mother-in-law omits the sugar and adds a tablespoon of golden syrup to her bread, which is beautiful by the way! I was taught to tap the bottom of the bread to tell if it’s fully baked, looking for a hollow sound when tapped and then while cooling the bread, wrap in a clean tea towel upside down on a cooling rack for a softer crust. Greetings from Ireland and your website is an excellent resource that I will return to time and time again.

    1. Hi Rosy, buttermilk or sour cream can usually be substituted for yogurt in baking recipes. That being said, we only used yogurt when testing the recipe so can’t guarantee the outcome. Please let us know how the buttermilk substitution turns out.

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