This gluten free Irish soda bread is the perfect accompaniment to your St. Patrick’s Day dinner. It’s so quick to make and is best eaten warm, slathered with salted Irish butter!
I never was much of a traditionalist when it came to St. Patrick’s Day dinner. I am part Irish, but when I was growing up I either didn’t like Irish food or had never really had it. Things like corned beef and cabbage and Irish soda bread never really struck me as something yummy.
But as I grew up, my taste buds changed and I became a much more diverse eater, trying new things constantly and, for the most part, loving them. One of those was corned beef. Now, I could eat corned beef all the time (my favorite sandwich is a reuben).
A few years ago I had my parents over for St. Patrick’s Day dinner and made my first gluten free Irish soda bread. It was a recipe I found that was already gluten free so I didn’t have to modify it. All I remember about it was how dry it was.
So this year I vowed I would find a recipe for a gluten-FULL Irish soda bread and then work my magic and make it gluten free. After trying several recipes, I settled on one from the New York Times. It’s a recipe written by Darina Allen, who happens to be the owner of the famous Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland. What better recipe than one made by a true Irish chef?
What is Irish Soda Bread?
Irish soda bread is a quick bread made with baking soda as the leavener. Apparently back in tough economic times, baking soda was used instead of yeast to make bread in many Irish homes as yeast was expensive. It was a way to still have good daily bread without breaking the bank.
In my research I found that traditional Irish soda bread contains no currants or raisins at all. In fact, purists say real Irish soda bread should only contain four ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk.
This bread isn’t a spongy, lofty style bread. It’s a dense bread, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t soft or every bit as good, just different. Think beer bread in texture, soft and dense with a crunchy crust. I served it to both my husband and son, who absolutely loved it, as did I!!
How To Make This Bread Gluten Free
When I test new recipes, I always start with the very basics and go from there. So if traditional soda bread contains only four ingredients, that’s what I started with, substituting my gluten free bread flour blend for the all-purpose flour. Check.
Then came the baking soda. Gluten free baking always requires more help than non-gluten free baking when it comes to leavening. I bumped up the amount of baking soda just a teeny tiny bit. Check.
The third ingredient, salt, was a no brainer. I try not to mess with the salt amounts when converting gluten filled recipes into gluten free. So that stayed the same. Check.
Finally we get to my favorite ingredient in this bread, buttermilk. In my opinion, NOTHING holds a candle to true whole-fat buttermilk. There are, of course, ways of making buttermilk when you don’t have any on hand (milk with vinegar or lemon juice added). But if you can get whole-fat buttermilk (not that low-fat or fat-free stuff), your recipe will thank you! It’s so thick and rich and when you think about it, the fat in the buttermilk is the ONLY fat in this recipe. So you really need the good stuff.
Almost every time I convert recipes to gluten free, I increase the liquid. The reason for this is gluten free flours tend to soak up more liquid, thereby making the final product dry. So adding anywhere from a few tablespoons to 1/4 cup more liquid combats the dryness without altering the recipe’s integrity. Check.
Mixing the Dough
Here’s the great news about this bread–it’s so easy, even my husband could make it!! (FYI–he’s not a baker AT ALL!). You can whip this up in literally about 3 minutes, put it on a baking sheet and shape it in about 1 minute, and have it in the oven in less than 5! How’s that for easy????
Start by whisking my gluten free bread flour blend, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour buttermilk into the well.
Stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until a soft dough forms. Dump it out onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Using floured hands and a bit more sprinkled on top, shape it into a round about 2-3 inches thick.
Taking a sharp knife, cut a large X into the top of the dough.
Pop it in a 450-degree F oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn down the temperature to 400 degrees F and continue to bake for about 25 minutes more or until it makes a hollow sound when tapped.
How Long Does This Bread Keep?
Covered on the counter, this bread will keep for only 2-3 days. You can also refrigerate it for up to about a week, but if you want to keep it longer, freezing individual slices is best. Soda bread will last in the freezer for 2-3 months.
I think you’re really going to love this bread as we do! It’s so easy to make and the perfect accompaniment to any meal and can be made so quickly without any forethought.
Gluten Free Irish Soda Bread
- 3¼ cups (455 g) Kim's gluten free bread flour blend ***
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1¾-2 cups (420-480 ml) whole buttermilk (definitely not fat free, but low fat may be used)
- Preheat the oven to 450° F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk bread flour blend, salt, and baking soda together. Make a well in the middle and pour 1¾ cups (420 ml) of the buttermilk into the well. Stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until combined. If still dry, add 2 more tbsp of the buttermilk and stir again. You're looking for a sticky, tacky dough.
- Dump dough out onto lightly floured surface and sprinkle a little flour on top. Coax the dough into a large round and place it on the baking sheet. Tap it into a round about 2 inches thick and about 6-8 inches wide.
- Cut an X in the top. Brush the top with any leftover buttermilk. Bake for 15 minutes, and then turn down the heat to 400° F and bake for an additional 25 minutes. When tapped, the loaf should sound hollow.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting into slices and serving with salted butter (preferably Irish).
- Store covered on the countertop for 2 days or in the refrigerator for one week. Slices may be frozen for about 2-3 months.
Adapted from NYTimes’ Irish Soda Bread
39 thoughts on “Gluten Free Irish Soda Bread”
Hi Kim from Australia!
Do you have any gums in yr
flour mix please?
(am g/f, but react to the gums
too!) Any sub. suggestions
please? Thanks so much!!!
I DO, I’m sorry! I wish I knew how to sub for gums, but I don’t. 😔
Absolutely unbelievable that you’ve put together a recipe that is gluten free but still has an AMAZING crunchy exterior and the crumb on the inside, oh my goodness! Unheard of with gluten free! I am excited to try your other recipes. This is genius.
I’m thrilled you enjoyed it!!!
I am addicted to this recipe! I always add both rosemary and golden raisins. There’s a cranberry sauce recipe I love that has rosemary in it, and I love the way the sweet and savory work together. I slice it, and put the slices in the freezer, then toast them from frozen.
The first time I made it, I hadn’t watched the video, and rather than sticky, the dough was more like a developed bread dough. It came out perfect. The next time, after watching the video, I added more milk, and thought it was heavier. This may make a difference for people who don’t like the texture.
I also add a full tsp of table salt. Twice I’ve had only 2 1/2 or 3 cups of Kim’s flour. I subbed what was missing with a 1-1 GF flour mix, and and hoped that there would be enough of Kim’s “good stuff” for it to work. I couldn’t tell the difference, but would be afraid to sub more than one cup.
Ive made this multiple times and would say its turned out excellent half the time and undercooked and gummy the other half . I cannot determine what the difference in prep is. I use your bread flour mix, no substitutions. Do you think over mixing the dough in a mixer with a dough hook could cause the gummy interior? thanks!
Yes, definitely that would cause gumminess. Think of this more like a biscuit dough than a regular bread dough.
I made this tonight and it was fantastic! I have to say I was a little concerned when I put it in the oven, a little blob of oozy, sticky dough. What a wonderful surprise when it came out tall and springy!!!
I only made a half the recipe, which gave a beautifully proportioned loaf and was just enough to accompany our supper for four people.
I generally make a recipe exactly as written on the first try, but I dared to replace the buttermilk with leftover whey from making
some homemade ricotta earlier. I was afraid the pH wouldn’t be right, but it worked like a charm. I even brushed some on top and it browned nicely. I suspect it played a role in the general deliciousness of the bread, too 🙂
I also used your bread flour blend to make some homemade ricotta gnocchi (it was a multicultural meal, lol) and it worked perfectly.
I am delighted, and will be recommending your website to all my gluten-free friends forthwith!!!
Awe, yay!!!! I LOVE experimenting in the kitchen and it sounds like you are just like me with this (and I absolutely love the idea of using the leftover whey and I must try it next time I make ricotta). 😍
Monica, I would love to have your homemade ricotta gnocchi recipe! While in Italy I fell in love with semolina ricotta gnocchi in a reduced mushroom cream sauce, and would love to try to replicate it. The gnocchi mixture was baked in a large flat jelly roll pan, then cut into small triangles, then baked again briefly before being plated with the mushroom sauce. I have not been brave enough to try it with GF flour since eliminating gluten from my diet.
For the oven temperature, is it for a fan oven or a normal oven?
Normal oven 🙂
Love this recipe. Made several
Loads some with raise and some without and shared with family and friends. Some people did not even know it was gluten free. Have some buttermilk left. Can you make the dough and freeze it without baking first?
Sorry for spelling, using my phone. Made several loafs, some with raisins and some without
Haha! It’s okay. I could read between the lines!!
I’ve never frozen the dough, but I bet it would work just fine 🙂
This bread is SO good! I have no clue how to cook and was able to make this on my FIRST try because of Kim’s instructions and video to go along with this bread. I was stuck eating those *way* overpriced (and kinda yucky!) GF sandwich breads from the supermarket until now. This is 10x better and so much more fulfilling. I cut my slices slightly on the thick side and am going to go slather some avocado & slice some tomato to go on top. Thank you so much Kim!
Awe, thank you so much, Elizabeth, for your kind words!! I’m so glad you liked the soda bread 🙂
Not great, very wet inside dry outside needed sugar raisins and something else. It needs to be dry! Expensive bought all those ingredients and I would not make it again. Disappointing.
I’m so sorry you had problems, Phyllis! I assure you the recipe works great, so something must have been off. What flour blend did you use? Did you substitute anything within the blend or the recipe itself? I’d love to help you find success 🙂
I used King Arthur Gluten Free flour blend and my soda bread turned out great. It did take a lot longer to bake, but I live at high altitude (6700′), so that may be part of the reason why. Thanks for the recipe!
Hi there Kim! I love your recipes and have had success with them, except for your breads. I’ve tried the Italian loaf and now the Irish soda bread and neither worked for me. I follow the recipe exactly, I use your flour blend and still it isn’t working for me. My problem is that it never seems to cook fully. I even added time, and I still can’t seem to get the middle cooked. It looks cooked but when I cut it open, it’s sticky and gummy. Please help!
Oh no, Cami Sue! I’m so sorry you’re having problems with my breads. It’s unusual because my breads are my most successful recipes on the blog, so I want to get to the bottom of what’s happening and help you fix it.
Can you tell me what brands of components you are using for my bread flour blend? That will help me figure out what’s going wrong. Also, for the Irish soda bread, are you using baking soda and not baking powder? I actually made that mistake when I first made this bread and it came out super gummy and completely raw in the middle and I was stumped, until I found out I used powder instead of soda. When I made it again with the proper ingredient, it came out fully baked and so wonderfully soft.
Any information you can give me that you think would be helpful would be greatly appreciated 🙂
This bread looks fantastic, but I can’t have buttermilk. Is there any chance I could use coconut milk yogurt or other dairy free yogurt in place of the buttermilk? I have had success with this substitution in other baked goods, but don’t know if it will work in this type of recipe.
I’ve never tried it, but it’s worth a shot!
Jen, did you get a chance to try the coconut yogurt substitution? How’d it chine out?
I tried almond milk (with white wine vinegar in it to induce reaction with the soda) and it did not work. No colour, it did not rise much and it was like a brick. So I’m going to search for a specific GF, DF soda bread recipe as there must be more to it than simple substitution to make it non-dairy.
I used Aroy-D Coconut Milk with an TBSP of ACV for every cup and waited for it to thicken. I used this as a substitute for buttermilk. I also put a pan of water underneath the bread while it was baking. The inside was right and not like a brick. The outside was crusty but did not darken due to the lack of dairy.
My grandmother was an Irish immigrant. We had a lot of traditional Irish food…and she delighted in taking advantage of Americans’ love for finding any excuse for a celebration…so we totally got into the whole St. Pattie’s Day celebrations…including Irish Whiskey (though I had to wait until I was 13 and she was becoming more of a push-over for that one)…lol.
I have had Corned Beef and Cabbage every year for the last 50 years. It’s one of my favorite “holiday meals”. I was so glad to see this recipe, as I really LOVE Irish Soda Bread! Once again, you have made me hopeful for a good traditional holiday meal with my new limitations. I will be test-baking this week. Yeah, I know it is way before March…but you can’t eat too much GOOD Irish Soda Bread.
Now, can you kindly give me a gluten free recipe for Carrigaline Whiskey Pie…lol
Amen to that, Denel! I hope you like this bread. It’s a really great quick bread that everyone in my family loves.
I’ve never heard of Carrigaline whiskey pie. Sounds interesting 🙂
Wanted some hot fresh bread tonight to go with a pot of vegetable beef soup, and then I remembered you had a recipe for soda bread. Easy to mix up, quick to get ready and oh so delicious! Soft, chewy, slight tang from the buttermilk. From start to finish, a lovely bread.
And not only did you write up a great recipe, but I’d never had buttermilk anything until your biscuits! Thank you for introducing me to the joys of buttermilk!
Thanks, Gillie! I am addicted to buttermilk, especially in pancakes 🙂
Thanks so very much. I am really needing help right now as gluten free bread is approx $10 a loaf and yeast is hard to find. I have signed up for your newsletter but any extra recipes would be appreciated.
This is so good Kim!!!! Even cold its soft and delicious. I put fresh rosemary in it and the flavor is fantastic. Thank you!!!
Thanks again, Pam! You must be cranking out the baking huh? 😊
It helps with staying home. Back to work tomorrow, making kolaches for the first time.
I am going to try and make this into rolls and see what happens
Oooh, rolls sound delicious!
That looks terrific & I agree that who wants low-fat/fat free buttermilk!
Thanks, Janet! I wish all stores would sell full-fat buttermilk.