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Sourdough Irish Soda Bread

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This simple and quick sourdough Irish Soda Bread is a great recipe to use your unfed sourdough discard in. Tender and flavorful, this loaf of bread is like a quick scone.

This Sourdough Irish Soda Bread recipe is a great way to use your sourdough discard. Perfect with any soup or chili recipe!
irish soda bread with sourdough on wooden cutting board

Irish soda bread is not leavened with yeast but instead relies on baking soda and baking powder. The addition of sourdough here doesn’t have any effect on its rise, and it doesn’t need any fermentation time. This is just a quick and delicious way to use your sourdough discard! 

Traditional soda bread includes orange zest and dried currants, which produce an amazingly flavorful bread perfect for breakfast or tea time! I left those out of this loaf so it is more multi-purpose, but if you are feeling fancy, definitely add some in! You could also add in caraway seeds.

Did you know that soda bread has the “X” cut on the top so that it lets the fairies out? I don’t really know why fairies are getting into the bread dough, but apparently they need some help escaping. 

sourdough irish soda bread loaf on cutting board with two slices beside it

Other great recipes that use your sourdough discard:

  • Sourdough Naan – Sourdough naan is so easy its foolproof! Nothing is better than fresh off the griddle flatbread, and this naan recipe is exactly that! Delicious and flavorful naan is right around the corner with this great recipe!
  • Sourdough Cornbread – This  sourdough cornbread has great cornbread flavor with just a little sourdough pizzaz. Baked in a cast iron skillet, this sourdough cornbread has a crisp crust with a tender,  moist, center without being too “cake like”. 
  • Sourdough Chocolate Cake – This decadent and rich chocolate sourdough cake recipe is a showstopping dessert!
slices of sourdough irish soda bread smeared with butter and drizzled with honey

Irish soda bread made with sourdough discard

This soda bread version uses sourdough discard to give it a little extra tang in its flavor. Because this recipe is so quick (no fermentation time), this recipe is perfect to use your unfed sourdough discard in. Read more about how to feed and take care of your sourdough starter

wooden cutting board with bread knife, on it is a loaf of sourdough soda bread with some slices cut and buttered and drizzled in honey

How to make Irish soda bread with sourdough discard:

This is a very simple and easy recipe to make. Please scroll down to the recipe card below for the full recipe and directions, but here is a general overview of the process.

  1. Preheat your oven and place of parchment paper on a baking sheet and set aside.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the dry ingredients with a fork.
  3. In a separate medium mixing bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients, including the sourdough starter and the egg.
  4. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and it mostly forms a ball.
  5. Dump the ball of dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead just 2 or 3 times, until it comes together.
  6. Place the dough onto the prepared baking sheet.
  7. Using a sharp knife, cut a deep “X” into the top of the dough. You want it to go down about ⅓ of the way through the dough round.
  8. Brush with buttermilk.
  9. Bake!
  10. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before slicing and eating!
collage image showing steps to make sourdough irish soda bread

How do you serve this bread?

This bread is great in so many ways! 

Serve warm from the oven with butter and honey or jam as a snack.

You can also serve this as a side dish with a warm and comforting meal like Slow Cooker Irish Potato Soup, or easy chicken chili with apples, or even herbed steak sheet pan dinner

Its also great sliced and toasted in a sandwich! 

sourdough irish soda bread loaf on wooden cutting board

Kids in the kitchen: How your kids can help you cook.

Getting your kids in the kitchen with you is an amazing way to help kids be more interested in trying foods and confident in their own abilities. This easy bread recipe is great because it helps them learn about baking bread and they get to practice their kneading. 

This recipe is perfect for beginner sourdough bakers because it is so easy! And it is a great recipe for kids to experiment and become more comfortable with new flavors – which means they are more likely to eat it!

  • Kids aged 1-3 can help you measure out the ingredients and mix things together.
  • Kids aged 4-6 can do everything above, plus help you mix and knead the dough, shape it into a circle, and help brush the buttermilk on top.
  • Kids aged 7-10+ can help you do everything above, plus help you cut the X in the dough.

*Please note that these recommendations are generalized, and to please use your personal discretion with your child’s skill level. And always, always supervise! Read more about how to have your children help you in the kitchen.

irish soda bread slices with child's hand taking a piece

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graphic for sourdough course - reads "new to sourdough? learn the skills to impress your family and friends with your sourdough baking. Click here".
loaf of irish soda bread with sourdough discard on wooden cutting board
graphic for sourdough course - reads "new to sourdough? learn the skills to impress your family and friends with your sourdough baking. Click here".

Sourdough Irish Soda Bread

This Sourdough Irish Soda Bread recipe is a great way to use your sourdough discard. Perfect with any soup or chili recipe!
4.45 from 101 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Bread
Cuisine: Irish
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 1 loaf
Calories: 462kcal
Author: Jenni


  • 1 cup unfed sourdough starter discard
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 TBSP butter melted
  • 2-3 cups flour
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda


  • Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl whisk together the starter, egg, butter and buttermilk.
  • In a large bowl whisk together 2 cups flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix together to form a sticky dough. (if its too dry and crumbly add a little more buttermilk, if its way too sticky add some more flour. You want it sticky but not so sticky you can’t form it into a ball).
  • Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead two or three times.
  • Lightly flour the prepared baking sheet and place the ball of dough in the center.
  • Cut a deep "X" on the top (the cuts should go at least 1/3 the way through the dough).
  • Brush the top of the dough with buttermilk.
  • Bake 35-40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
  • Let cool 15 minutes before cutting.
  • Enjoy!


Note: You can add in the zest of 1 orange + 1 cup dried currants for a more sweet bread loaf. You can also add in 2 TBSP of carraway seeds (but I wouldn’t do that with the currants and zest, this is an either/or situation).


Serving: 1g | Calories: 462kcal | Carbohydrates: 89g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 555mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g


  1. The soda bread looks great. BTW, when I think back I am not sure which is better, lack of sleep when the baby could not sleep or lack of sleep waiting for the teenager to get home from a study group at a friends house.

  2. Loved hearing more Little Munchkin news – and high fives to you for finding time and energy to bake!

  3. Aaww. Hope your baby starts sleeping well soon! As for your bread, I really need to get to the kitchen and mix one up with oats. I'm missing out.

  4. Your bread looks like it came out really well! Sorry about the no sleep…

  5. pizzarossa.me says:

    That looks delicious Jenni! Sorry you're having a tough time with sleep – hope bub settles for you soon.

  6. I didn't get a good nights sleep until my kids got married!! Now they call me and tell me how tired they are because my Grandkids are up all night:) I just sit back and *smile* ~The cycle of life~ Lynn @ Turnips 2 Tangerines~

  7. I'm sorry about your rough weeks. The bread looks great nevertheless!

  8. Ooops, I should’ve written a replay first. Ignore my review though the same applies about allowing time for the yeast to soften the gluten. Can I do that and when do I add the soda?

    1. Hi Sara! You add the baking soda in the first step with the rest of the dry ingredients. Soda bread is actually a fun “quick” bread in that it mostly relies on the baking soda for the leavening. The sourdough starter here doesn’t actually do any of the work besides add some fun sourdough flavor to the bread, so no need to give it any extra time!

      1. gotcha. But how can I make it so it’s a little bit easier to digest for people with gluten intolerance? I can eat sourdough, but it needs a couple of hours to rise. Maybe just leave out baking soda? Would that then change the texture?

        1. Hey that’s such a good idea. I’m thinking of making this bread myself this weekend. I’m going to experiment. I’ll add all the ingredients to make sure they’re all mixed well but I’ll let the dough sit for a couple of hours before baking so the sourdough part can break the gluten down a bit. If anything I think it may turn out a bit fluffier but we shall see! I love experimenting.

          1. That sounds great! Let me know how it turns out!

  9. Irish tradition with soda bread is the X is to bless the bread and you poke holes in each corner to let the fairies out, so they don’t curse your bread.
    Gotta love the Irish

  10. Claire Parker says:

    How to make Dairy- free?
    Hi Jenni, LOVE this recipe, have made it a few times. I substitute the Buttermilk with a combination of Soy milk and tsp of lemon juice. What Dairy free alternatives can I swap the Butter out for? Would Olive Oil work…?

  11. D. K. Sanders says:

    I made the bread to the recipe and the tops burned with the middle still gooey after 40 min. I’m not sure how that happened. Right now I’ve turned the oven down and am baking it at 350 for another 20 min.

    It may just end up being a throw away.

  12. Loved this! A great way to use up discard and so quick and easy. I served with an Irish stew and everyone loved it 😍

  13. The consistency of my dough was too wet and after adding another 2 cups of flour was still batter like so I gave up and poured it into a loaf tin then put it in the oven and let it do it’s thing. I didn’t hold much hope for how it was going to turn out, however the end result surprised me! Soft light tender crumb with a crunchy crust but what impressed me the most was the flavor! Really yummy and you wouldn’t know there are rolled oats in there. Thank you!

  14. Jill Fisher says:

    We loved this recipe so much we wondered if dough could be shaped to fit a standard size loaf pan, for sandwich slices instead of the round shape? I realize you would only get crunchy crust on top, but how would you slash it (long skinny X and still be considered Irish?) haha What are your thoughts?

    1. I haven’t tried that, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work! You could definitely do a long skinny X down the length to “let the fairies out”! Let me know how it goes if you try it!

      1. Jill Fisher says:

        Baked in stone loaf pan and turned out wonderful, even got crispy crust all around! But, even after cooling, it crumbled some as I tried slicing top where it was slashed. Same thing happened when I baked as a round loaf. Is this expected for this bread type of bread or do I possibly need to cut back on flour?

  15. Hi looking forward to trying out this recipe. Have you ever added raisins? I tend to like my soda bread with them, just wondering if you have ever tried and if you had a suggested amount or tips? Thanks!

    1. Yes, you can definitely add raisins! Just toss in about 1 cup!

  16. The recipe looks delicious and I am planning to bake some on Wed… just curious, how did you arrive at 462 calories per serving (1/12 loaf)? Seems a bit high.

    1. The nutritional calculations are all done by the recipe card, and it cannot handle sourdough starter! Its purely an estimation, I would definitely use your own tracking if you need to track those things.

  17. Hi! I was so surprised by how good this recipe is (that’s no shade on you or your recipe! The surprise was just because my traditional Irish soda bread recipe, and even my usual go-to sourdough soda bread recipes both call for significantly more butter and sugar than yours does. I could not taste the difference, however!)

    I do have a question about the butter though. You have it going in with the wet ingredients; are we supposed to melt it first? In my other soda bread recipes, the butter gets cut in by hand with the dry ingredients, and I just can’t get it to not be in awkward chunks when I put it in with the wet ingredients for this recipe. I’ve tried grating it in, slicing it in, etc., but it just ends up clumping into big balls of butter once I stir the wet ingredients together before adding to the dry ingredients.

    Any advice/suggestions would be welcomed!

    1. Hi Devin! Yes, the butter should be melted! Thanks for bringing that to my attention, I have fixed that now!

  18. Thank you Jenni,
    I made double loaves and this is the second time I’ve made this in 2 weeks. I’m going to try caraway and grated cheddar next time. Love your recipe from Parksville on Vancouver Island BC

  19. Has anyone tried baking this bread in an air fryer?

  20. Libby Lamour says:

    I made this recipe and my dough was too sticky but the final result was still good and really tasty. I want to make it again soon and will put the wet ingredients in my large bowl first, then add my premised dry ingredients, and gradually incorporate more flour until I have the right consistency.

  21. I made the bread..doubled the recipe n made an oblong loaf..it cracked open all the way around the bottom when baking.is this normal?..n its heavy..but tastes very good..is it maybe because I mixed it in my mixer?

    1. Hi Esther! Did you make one giant loaf or two loaves? Did you make sure you cut across the top? Usually when bread loaves crack and expand weirdly during baking its because it didn’t have adequate space for the steam to escape (which is usually what we do when we slice the top of it, give the steam a way to escape). I am guessing that if you made one giant loaf, the cross on the top wasn’t enough for it since there was such a larger amount of bread.

  22. Great recipe! I’m real sensitive to gluten so I always let anything with sourdough ferment at least 24 hours prior to baking. I completed all the steps prior to putting the rounded dough in the oven and put it in the refrigerator for 24 hours. I also subbed oat milk/apple cider vinegar for the buttermilk, and used plant butter. Wonderful crumb and taste. First time eating soda bread for many years. Thanks!! Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day 🙂

4.45 from 101 votes (101 ratings without comment)

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