Grandma's Sweet Irish Soda Bread Recipe

Soft and sweet Irish soda bread made with buttermilk. This recipe is straight from Grandma's recipe tin.
sweet irish soda bread

This sweet Irish soda bread recipe is soft and tender on the inside with a golden crunchy crust on the outside

Sweet Irish soda bread is the perfect treat to make for Saint Patrick’s day. Forget the green desserts, your guests will LOVE this authentic sweet bread served warm and slathered with lots of butter!

sweet irish soda bread

What is sweet Irish soda bread?

Sweet Irish soda bread is a little different than Authentic Irish soda bread which is made with only four ingredients. Soft pastry or cake flour, buttermilk, salt, and baking soda. This simple bread is made to be served as part of a meal like a hearty Irish stew. 

Sweet Irish soda bread has more ingredients like eggs, butter, sugar, dried fruits and seeds added so it’s more of a dessert served on its own. 

closeup of sweet irish soda bread in a cast iron pan

This sweet Irish soda bread recipe is straight from Grandma’s recipe tin. Not my Grandma, my producer, Emily’s Grandma! Cool huh! Nothing like recipes handed down through the generations. I feel like they always just taste better! 

“My mom has made this Irish soda bread every St. Patrick’s Day since I can remember. We love eating it with corned beef and cabbage or Irish stew. This recipe has been passed down from my great grandmother, whose family lived in Ireland and immigrated to America.”

 

But when Emily brought this sweet Irish soda bread over that she and her mom made, I was sold! SO GOOD! Soft and tender, a little sweet and a great crunchy crust. Toasted with a little butter and I was in heaven. 

So here is Grandma’s Irish soda bread, posted with permission 🙂 

Irish soda bread in a cast iron pan surrounded by ingredients on a wooden backdrop

What do you need to make sweet Irish soda bread?

Sweet Irish soda bread has a few more ingredients in it than traditional Irish soda bread. Eggs, butter, sugar, buttermilk, salt, flour, baking soda, and baking powder make this bread so light, it’s almost like a scone. 

sweet irish soda bread ingredients

The only other thing you really need to make sweet Irish soda bread is a cast iron pan or dutch oven. The heavy metal really gives the bread that beautiful crusty crust that makes it so delicious! 

This is not 100% necessary but a cheese grater is going to really be helpful. Use a cheese grater to work your cold butter into the flour mixture so it doesn’t get warm. Cold butter is very important for tender Irish soda bread. 

Irish soda bread with cross cut on top

How do you make sweet Irish soda bread?

Making sweet Irish soda bread could not be easier. Just five easy steps!

  1. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar in a bowl
  2. Grate your cold butter and add to the flour mixture. Add in your currents and caraway seeds. Rub the butter into the flour mixture with your hands until crumbly. 
  3. Blend your buttermilk with your eggs and add to the mixture 
  4. Stir until you get a sticky ball then fold the dough over 7-8 times to incorporate into a ball. 
  5. Dust the surface with some flour then slice a cross on top (for the fairies) and bake!

Irish soda bread in dutch oven

How long does Irish soda bread last?

Sweet Irish soda bread is meant to be enjoyed the day it is baked but it will keep at room temperature for up to two days. After that, it starts to dry out. 

You can also freeze Irish soda bread. Just defrost and warm in the oven before serving. 

sliced irish soda bread on wooden cutting board

Is Irish soda bread healthy?

There are a lot of versions of Irish soda bread out there that stem from the original four-ingredient recipe. This sweet version would not be considered healthy but there is whole wheat Irish soda bread that is considered very healthy because it doesn’t have any butter, eggs, or sugar and has whole wheat flour which is great for digestion. 

Want more Irish recipes? Check these out!

Traditional Irish soda bread
Green velvet cake
Bailey’s Irish cream cake
Guinness beer cake

Did You Make This Recipe?Leave a rating and tell me how it went!
sweet irish soda bread

Grandma's Sweet Irish Soda Bread Recipe

Soft and sweet Irish soda bread made with buttermilk. This recipe is straight from Grandma's recipe tin.
5 from 4 votes
Print Rate
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr
Serves: 12 people
Calories: 304kcal

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces (454 g) all purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons (3 teaspoons) baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 7 ounces (198 g) granulated sugar
  • 4 ounces (114 g) currents or raisins
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seed optional
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • 8 ounces (227 g) buttermilk room temperature
  • 4 ounces (114 g) unsalted butter cold
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter for greasing pans

Equipment

  • Cast iron pan or dutch oven
  • Cheese grater

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350° F
  • Lightly grease cast iron pan with unsalted butter
  • Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in a medium bowl
  • Grate your cold butter into the dry ingredients
  • Sprinkle in caraway seeds and currants (or raisins). Mix together to combine.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and buttermilk.
  • Add buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients and mix with a spoon (or your hand) until the dry ingredients are moistened.
  • Place the dough on your workbench and fold 7-8 and shape it into a ball. Do not over-work the bread or it will be tough.
  • Dust the surface generously with flour and use a sharp knife to cut an x on top to allow the dough to spread and rise evenly.
  • Place the dough into the cast iron pan.
  • Bake for 1 hour and the top is golden brown or the internal temperature reads 190º-200ºF

Notes

You can substitute buttermilk for regular milk plus 2 Tablespoons of white vinegar added
You can also use powdered buttermilk with water
For the best possible results, read through the blog post and recipe to avoid common mistakes.
Use a scale to weigh your ingredients (including liquids) unless otherwise instructed (Tablespoons, teaspoons, pinch etc). Metric measurements are available in the recipe card. Scaled ingredients are much more accurate than using cups and help ensure the success of your recipe. 
Metric measurements (grams) are available by clicking the small box under the ingredients in the recipe card labeled “metric”
Practice Mise en Place (everything in it's place). Measure out your ingredients ahead of time and have them ready before you start mixing to reduce the chances of accidentally leaving something out.
Try to use the same ingredients as the recipe calls for. If you must make a substitution, be aware that the recipe may not come out the same. I try to list substitutions where possible.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 304kcal (15%) | Carbohydrates: 47g (16%) | Protein: 6g (12%) | Fat: 11g (17%) | Saturated Fat: 6g (30%) | Cholesterol: 60mg (20%) | Sodium: 156mg (7%) | Potassium: 180mg (5%) | Fiber: 1g (4%) | Sugar: 18g (20%) | Vitamin A: 348IU (7%) | Calcium: 78mg (8%) | Iron: 2mg (11%)