Irish-American Soda Bread

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soda bread

Known in Ireland as a Spotted Dog or Railway Cake, traditional Irish Soda bread is a simple table bread leavened with baking soda, generously “spotted” with currants and caraway seeds. This Irish-American version is a touch sweet — not quite dessert but definitely somewhere in between cake and bread. Serve it as you would cornbread: for breakfast, a snack or side dish.

Begin by generously greasing a cast iron skillet with butter. This is not the time for PAM. Butter gives the bread a deliciously crisp and golden crust. Don’t worry if you don’t have a cast iron skillet — you can use two 8-inch cake pans.

Next, mix your dry ingredients together in a bowl, and then stir in the currants.

In another bowl, combine the melted butter, buttermilk and eggs.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry.

Toss in the caraway seeds (or feel free to leave them out if you don’t like them).

Gently fold the mixture together until just combined. A light hand ensures the bread will be tender.

Transfer the batter to the prepared skillet or pans and smooth with a rubber spatula.

Dot the top with butter. I know it looks like a lot but there’s only only two tablespoons in the batter, so it’s not that bad…

Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the top is golden and slightly puffed. Cool slightly and then cut into wedges and serve. This bread is best served fresh out of the oven, but also stays wonderfully moist if wrapped in an airtight container.


Recipe modestly adapted from The Silver Palette New Basics Cookbook by Sheila Lukins and Julie Rosso

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Irish Soda Bread

Servings: One large 10-inch loaf or two small 8-inch loaves
Total Time: 1 Hour


  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • 1-3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups dried currants
  • 1-3/4 cups buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and set the oven rack in the middle position.
  2. Smear 1 tablespoon of the butter evenly over the bottom and sides of a 10-inch cast iron skillet. Line the bottom of the pan with a circle of wax or parchment paper (see note). Alternatively, you can use two 8-inch nonstick cake pans.
  3. Whisk the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the currants and toss well to coat.
  4. Melt two tablespoons of the butter and let cool.
  5. Combine the melted butter, buttermilk and eggs and whisk until well combined. Add this to the dry ingredients, along with the caraway seeds, and then fold with a rubber spatula until just combined. Do not overmix.
  6. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan(s) and smooth the top gently with a rubber spatula. Dot the top with the remaining two tablespoons of butter.
  7. Place the pan(s) in the oven and bake until the bread is puffed and golden brown, 40-50 minutes. Cool in the pan(s) and then cut into wedges and serve warm, or transfer the bread to a wire rack to continue cooling. This bread is best served fresh out of the oven, but keeps well if stored in an airtight container.
  8. Note: My cast iron pan is well seasoned so I did not bother lining it with wax or parchment paper, and the bread did did not stick at all. Lining the pans is not necessary if using nonstick cake pans.
  9. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The bread can be frozen for up to 3 months. Once it’s completely cooled, wrap it securely in plastic wrap and place in the freezer. To reheat, wrap the bread in aluminum foil and warm it in a 350°F oven until hot.

Reviews & Comments

  • Nowhere near St. Patrick’s Day, but I made this today just for the heck of it. So easy! Looked perfect (used cast iron pan) and tasted amazing. Love the currants. I’m definitely making this again!

    • — Carol on June 19, 2018
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  • I didn’t know what to expect but we really love this bread. It worked really well in my cast iron frying pan and enjoy it both warm and cold. I will make this often.

    My changes to make it dairy-free: used only 2 tbsp. olive oil in the batter, omitted the other uses for butter and used cashew beverage with lemon juice instead of buttermilk.

    I did use only 2 tsp. of caraway seeds as it is not a flavor that I enjoy. This was perfect for us.

    • — Ty on March 26, 2018
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    • i forgot my rating

      • — Ty on April 23, 2018
      • Reply
  • What size is the cast iron pan for the
    soda bread?

    • — Carol on February 23, 2016
    • Reply
    • Hi Carol, That’s a 10-inch skillet.

      • — Jenn on February 24, 2016
      • Reply
  • In looking at the photos, your batter appears thick like a bread batter, mine was thin. It cooked ok more cake like than bread. It tasted fine.

    • — johnnie patronis on December 14, 2015
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  • Instead of caraway seeds, my grandmother used chopped walnuts…delicious!

    • — Sue on March 16, 2015
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  • This soda bread is so delicious! The flavor is wonderful. My family, especially my Irish husband, loves this recipe. Thank you Jenn! I’ve made many of your recipes and they are all wonderful!

    • — Pauline on February 1, 2014
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  • Made this last St. Patrick’s day and it was out of this world!

  • Easy to cook. Easy to Travel with. Easy to eat.
    Perfect for the camping trip.
    Will make a great addition to St. Patty dinner coming up. Thanks

    • — Elly on March 12, 2013
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  • I like to take bread recipes and make buns when I can – I took this recipe and tweaked it a bit with a recent NYT Soda Bread Buns recipe to create something new, tasty, and individually portioned. Thanks Jen!

    • — Angela on March 11, 2013
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  • This was so easy and versatile! It was moist and gone within minutes! We used to live near an Irish Bakery that was my go to for soda bread. We have moved so I was looking to make my own. The Bakery’s was a sweeter version, but with a few modifications this recipe was different, but just as yummy. Thank you!

    • — Bridget on March 10, 2013
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  • I made this bread with craisins and my kids loved it for breakfast and snack. Delicious!

  • Just what I was looking for. Most interesting soda-bread recipe I’ve found!

    • — Charlene Wheeler on March 9, 2013
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  • Awesome and so tasty! I wouldn’t change a thing!

    • — Grace on March 9, 2013
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  • Love this, looks easier to make

    • — Sandi Goldberg on January 17, 2013
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  • […] know we had Oven-Braised Beef Roast as our main dish for St. Patrick’s Day.  This delicious Irish-American Soda Bread from Jenn at Once Upon a Chefwas a wonderful side to […]

  • The last step of my mom’s soda bread, is to use a pastry brush and brush on cold milk as soon as the bread comes out of the oven. It gives the top a beautiful glossy finish.

    • — Karen O on June 24, 2012
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  • Another bake sale, another batch of Irish Soda Bread. If I didn’t know better I’d say the recipe had an addicting chemical. Folks can’t get enough!

    • — Debb V on June 20, 2012
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  • i made this on st patricks day to go with my corned beef and cabbage. yum. love it with the currants

    • — teri pastorino on June 20, 2012
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  • I’m Irish – just found my way to your website via Pinterest and really enjoying it. This looks like a good variation, although personally I’ll probably stick with our traditional flour, buttermilk, bread soda, raisins, sugar one (no eggs, butter or caraway seeds), simply because it’s traditional but this looks good.

    If you wanted to make it more authentic, you could knead quickly and shape into a dome shape, then cut a cross deeply into the top, place on a floured board and bake. Great site!

    • — Maria on June 8, 2012
    • Reply
  • I made this for St. Pattys Day for the first time and everyone loved it. I made it recently and tried dried cranberries, it worked very well too.

    • — darlaBE on May 19, 2012
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  • Can’t wait to try this recipe! Iv’e got the list made and am going shopping tomorrow.

    • — Lisa Ballantyne on May 15, 2012
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  • A little past St. Patty’s Day, but I like the addition of currants! I’ve only had soda bread with and without raisins, so I’ll have to give this a try.

    • — Cynthia on May 15, 2012
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  • I only make soda bread this time of year but will not wait until next year to make this again. This bread was delicious and will definitely be making it again real soon.

    • — Kathleen on March 22, 2012
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  • I knew this looked familiar when I saw it! I have made this from the New Basics cookbook. It is quite yummy. I am already into my second batch. I am not Irish, but love the food. Thank you again for another great recipe to make and share.

    • — Karen on March 16, 2012
    • Reply
  • Ohhh those currants are such a wonderful addition! I think currants are less overpowering than raisins. Looks delish I’m sure your family enjoyed!

  • I was going to try a different recipe this year for a soda bread. But this looks much better, so I will be making this one instead—thanks!!!!

    • — Maggie on March 16, 2012
    • Reply

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