Brown Soda Bread

This brown soda bread is an authentic Irish classic and made with everyday ingredients including flour, oats, eggs, and buttermilk. The molasses is optional. We think of knowing how to make it as sorta like an Irish birthright. It’s authentic and traditional and quick and easy.

An unsliced loaf of brown soda bread with a knife resting beside it

There are about as many different recipes for brown soda bread as there are families in Ireland. We fancy this one for its lovely texture, sturdy crust, and nutty taste. Same goes for everyone who’s tried it and its accompanying feeling that this bread is a birthright, no matter your heritage. Because we guarantee you’re going to feel Irish when you try a slice.–Renee Schettler

How do I avoid crumbly soda bread?

The absence of yeast means that this won’t be an elastic dough. Instead, what you’ll end up with is much closer to a batter than a dough. When you’re mixing the dough, it’s gonna be sticky. Really sticky. Just take a deep breath and keeping mixing—and don’t add more flour. An undermixed dough will get you a craggy crust if that’s your thing, but with a little more elbow grease, your loaf will achieve a higher rise and less of a crumbly texture. So our advice is to continue stirring until you have no obvious streaks of ingredients left.

Brown Soda Bread

  • Quick Glance
  • (2)
  • 10 M
  • 1 H, 30 M
  • Makes 12 rolls or one (9-inch | 23-cm) loaf
5/5 - 2 reviews
Print RecipeBuy the Kevin Dundon's Modern Irish Food cookbook

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Special Equipment: 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan or 12-cup muffin tin



Preheat the oven to 325ºF (160ºC) if making a loaf and 350°F (180°C) if making rolls. Lightly oil a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan or 12-cup muffin tin.

Toss the flours, baking soda, salt, and oats in a large bowl and mix well.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with the oil. If a sweeter, darker bread is desired, add the 2 tablespoons molasses. Gently stir the wet mixture into the dry mixture. Then gently stir in the buttermilk. The mixture may be sticky.

If making a single loaf, turn the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top with a wet spoon. Sprinkle some seeds or oats across the top, if desired, and then bake for 1 hour. After the hour has elapsed, remove the bread from the pan. If a crustier loaf of bread is desired, transfer the loaf to a baking sheet, return it to the oven, and bake for 20 minutes more. If making multiple rolls, spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin tin and bake for 15 to 25 minutes.

Allow the loaf or rolls to cool on a wire rack before serving. The brown soda bread is best when served with a schmear of butter, honey, preserves, or any combination thereof. It will keep at room temperature for up to 5 days and in the freezer for up to 3 months. Originally published March 14, 2015.

Print RecipeBuy the Kevin Dundon's Modern Irish Food cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Recipe Testers' Reviews

A super easy and tasty quick bread. Just mix everything together and bake. That's all!

I followed the recipe as written, added some more sunflower seeds and flax meal to the batter, and it turned out excellent. Heavy and moist with a nice texture. This brown soda bread was perfect toasted with some butter and honey. Will make it again!

Okay, I seriously LOVED this brown soda bread recipe. Like, LOVED it. A lot. I've made brown soda bread before, and it's always come out as hard as a rock, so this was a revelation for me. It was soft and lovely and stayed fresh for days, and it's so easy to make!

I used buttermilk, and yes, the consistency was sloppy when I added in the buttermilk. The bread was not ready to remove from the pan at 1 hour, although on further reflection, this might've been because I didn't oil the pan enough, seeing as it stuck in one corner, and I had to pry it out.

I kept the loaf wrapped tightly in foil for 4 days, and it stayed fresh, but sadly on day 5, it started to get a little mold around the edges. I ate the bread with butter, with butter and jam, with butter and honey, by itself, with cheese, with butter and Vegemite (Hey, I AM Australian!), with tomatoes, and with smashed avocado. I loved it so much that I want to teach my boys' cooking club how to make this because every kid should know how to make some sort of bread from scratch.


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  1. 5 stars
    I love this recipe as is. I also love it with a mix of golden raisins and currants, and most recently, with chopped apples.

  2. It looks like you made several slits on the top of the loaf before baking, but I don’t see this mentioned in the directions.

    1. You are right, Karen, it does look like that. You could try to score it, however, I think this batter is going to be too wet to allow you to score it before baking.

  3. One more question. I love this recipe. Can I add sourdough starter, fed or discard, and if so, what adjustment would I have to make?

    Your recipes are great. Thank you!

    1. Thanks, Lee! We’re so pleased you’re enjoying the recipes. We’ve never tried swapping in sourdough starter or discard here so we really can’t say how it would turn out. Since it’s not intended to be a yeast or starter-risen bread, you’d really only be adding the starter (or discard) for flavor. If you wanted to try, I’d suggest reducing the total weight of flour and buttermilk by the amount of sourdough you add. I’d definitely start small, maybe 50 grams total (add 50 g starter and reduce the flour by 25 grams, and buttermilk by 25 grams, assuming you have a 100% hydration starter). If you try this, do let us know how it turns out!

  4. Just made 2 loaves of the Brown Soda Bread. I made it with the molasses and can’t imagine leaving that out. I also buttered the tins well to ensure easy removal of the loaves. They came out quite easily. I tried it with honey butter and it was everything you would expect out of a good soda bread. We will be having it with Sunday dinner. My sister is making corned beef and cabbage, not my fave, hence the bread for my 4 nephews and myself!!! LOL!! I will be making it for a get together on Monday too, and would love to add in some chopped apricots. I was going to add them in today, but they were way to expensive at the store. I work tomorrow, at Costco, and hope we sell them there so I can add some in. I suspect that burst of intense sweetness will go quite well with the bread.

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