It's the perfect time to bake a batch of gluten-free Irish soda bread: my favorite family recipe I've modified to be gluten-free!
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About This Irish Soda Bread Recipe
St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner, and my cup of tea desperately needs a little something sweet to have with it. And this gluten-free Irish soda bread recipe is just the right choice. With raisins, caraway seeds, and a soft texture, this bread is perfect to enjoy for breakfast, as a snack, or if you need a little treat before bed!
Soda bread is unique as it is a non-yeast bread because it traditionally gets its rise from baking soda. This is my family's soda bread recipe, modified to be gluten-free after years of recipe testing and perfecting. I made this soda bread with my Dad when I was a child in my pre-celiac days.
Unfortunately, it took many years of squat soda breads that didn't rise, crumbly texture, and bakes that just didn't make the cut before I finally got to this recipe. Just take a look at what my original soda bread bakes looked like when I started baking gluten-free over a decade ago:
Once I began experimenting more with gluten-free baking, learned tips and techniques for success, and added baking powder to this recipe...Voila! The bread was much improved and I was in love! Being able to continue making it in gluten-free form that tastes JUST like my childhood is so special for me, and I hope you love it too!
And while my married name is now Fitzpatrick (hence the blog name!) and people assume that I'm Irish, I've always been proud of my Irish heritage on my father's side. I'm proud to share this beloved recipe with you so that you too can enjoy a slice of soda bread if you have celiac disease or can't eat gluten!
What You'll Need to Make Irish Soda Bread
-Gluten-Free Flour Blend: I prefer using Cup4Cup Multipurpose Blend. See notes in the next section for additional tips on this!
-Baking Soda: Just as the name suggests, the rise agent in this bread instead of yeast.
-Baking Powder: Adding baking powder will help the bread rise even more due to the lack of gluten.
-Sugar: For sweetness. Duh.
-Salt: Only a pinch.
-Caraway Seeds: Nutty flavor - and they come through in this recipe!
-Unsalted butter: Only a small amount, 3 Tablespoons, is needed for soda bread.
-Raisins: This will provide sweetness. We will soak them first, so they soften.
-Egg: 1 egg is needed in this recipe.
-Buttermilk: The ingredient that will bring the dough together and help it form into a loaf!
Gluten-Free Flour For Irish Soda Bread
Gluten-Free Flour: I use Cup4Cup multi-purpose gluten-free flour for this recipe. It is my #1 choice for cookies, pastries, and yeast-based baked goods. Cup4Cup has given me great success in the kitchen over the last eight years, helping me to create delicious croissants, empanadas, naan, chocolate chip cookies, pierogi, bagels, and more. Please note if you use a different gluten-free flour your results may vary.
Can I Make This Recipe With Almond or Coconut Flour?
I do not recommend substituting a single gluten-free flour, like almond flour or coconut flour, for my recipes. My recipes use a gluten-free flour blend, a mixture of different gluten-free grains, starches, and thickeners, to substitute for all purpose flour. Using just one of them, like almond or coconut, will not give you the same results, and will probably lead to a lot of frustration in the kitchen. For most of my recipes, you'll need a blend, like Cup4Cup, King Arthur Measure For Measure, Bob's Red Mill, or GF Jules, to name a few.
Can I Make This Soda Bread Dairy-Free?
Yes, you can. I have also made this recipe dairy-free, but the dough will not rise as much and be a bit more squat. You'll need to use a dairy-free gluten-free flour blend (Cup4Cup contains milk powder), dairy-free butter, and homemade dairy-free buttermilk.
I found the best results were to use ½ cup of whatever dairy-free milk you prefer + ½ cup of dairy-free plain yogurt. More information can be found in the recipe card below!
How To Make Irish Soda Bread
First, you'll want to soak your raisins in warm water so they get nice and plump when we add them to the batter. Then like most quickbread recipes, you'll combine the dry ingredients of your gluten-free flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and caraway seeds and whisk to combine.
Next, you'll add (or as it's called in baking, "cut") in the butter, using a pastry cutter, fork, or your hands, until the butter pieces are pea-sized.
Then you'll add the drained raisins, egg, and lastly, buttermilk and combine with a large spoon, and then the fun begins!
At this point, you want to coat your hands in gluten-free flour and begin to mix the dough by hand until it forms into a ball. There's no kneading required - as there's no yeast, but you'll want to make sure it's into a round, ball shape. Then you'll place it in a greased cake pan, brush it with buttermilk, and make an "X" with a knife so steam can escape.
The bread bakes for 60 minutes and then cools completely on a baking rack. That's it!
Tips For Success For Gluten-Free Irish Soda Bread
Spoon and Level The Gluten-Free Flour. Be sure to spoon your gluten-free flour into the measuring cup, and level off with the back of a knife for the most accurate results. Besides baking by weight, this will help you get the recipe right and prevent problems. Read this post for additional gluten-free baking tips!
Add more buttermilk as needed. Depending on how you measure your flour, the flour blend you use, and your baking skills, the consistency of the dough can vary when mixing. That's why I recommend adding additional buttermilk as needed (¼ cup at a time), until the dough becomes wet and sticky to form into a ball. You'll find more information about this in the recipe card below.
It's sticky! One thing to note about making Irish soda bread is that the dough is typically very sticky. But that's what makes it so much fun! Here's an idea of what the dough looks like when mixing (image on the left) and then after forming it into a ball and spreading buttermilk on top to bake (image on the right)
How To Serve Irish Soda Bread
I love this bread so much that I tend to just slice pieces of it throughout the day and keep snacking on it endlessly! But truly, it's wonderful with some softened butter on top, with your morning tea or coffee, or just for dessert with a glass of milk. The raisins make it sweet, the buttermilk makes it melt in your mouth, and the texture of the bread is crispy on the outside but soft on the inside. And with the extra nutty flavor of the caraway seeds, it's perfection!
This is also a great recipe to bake with someone - a family member, friend, or even with kids!
How To Store Irish Soda Bread
Irish soda bread will be kept for 3-4 days at room temperature. Be sure to keep it tightly covered in foil when not eating. It will harden as time goes on, so feel free to pop in the microwave for 10 seconds to soften.
Can I Freeze Irish Soda Bread?
Yes, you can! However, an issue with gluten-free baked goods is that they tend to dry out over time. So I recommend wrapping thoroughly in plastic wrap and foil. You can freeze for up to 3 months. To defrost, place in the refrigerator for 24 hours to defrost. You will most likely need to warm the bread in the toaster or microwave.
Looking for more St. Patrick's Day Recipes?
Make a pan of gluten-free shepherd's pie to have for dinner. You can't go wrong with potatoes, veggies, and meat!
Try this creamy potato leak soup - without the dairy! You won't be able to tell it uses coconut milk to thicken, and not heavy cream.
Whip up a batch of St. Patrick's Day themed butter cookies: made into the shape of shamrocks with green icing. Super festive!
More Gluten-Free Baking Recipes
Feel like an easy quickbread? This banana bread with walnuts hits the spot.
Looking for a savory baking recipe? Bake scones with bacon, cheddar, and chives.
Want to practice your pie making skills? Check out this gluten-free peach pie with lattice design.
Ready to take your baking skills to the next level? Try these delightful, buttery, and flaky gluten-free croissants.
Here's my family's Irish Soda Bread recipe - gluten-free and scrumptious!
If you love this recipe, please leave a comment! Thank you so much!
Gluten-Free Irish Soda Bread Recipe
- 3 cups gluten-free flour like Cup4Cup, plus more to coat your hands
- ½ cup + 2 tablespoon white sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
- 3 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
- 6 tablespoon raisins plumped (instructions below)
- 1 egg
- 1 cup buttermilk (or more)
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil or butter, to grease the pan
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 8x8 or 9x9 round cake pan with coconut oil or butter and set aside.
Place raisins in a small bowl, and cover with warm water for fifteen minutes. After they have soaked, drain the raisins and set them aside.
In a large bowl, add the gluten-free flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and caraway seeds. Whisk to combine. Slowly cut in butter, using a pastry cutter or your hands, until the butter is pea-sized. Add drained raisins, then slowly add the egg, and lastly, buttermilk and combine with a large spoon. At this point, the dough should be wet and sticky. If you find that it is dry, add ¼ cup of additional buttermilk until everything comes together into a ball easily, with no flour remnants on the bottom of the bowl.
Coat your hands with gluten-free flour (trust me) and mix the dough by hand until blended and formed into a ball. You don't need to knead this bread, as there is no yeast. You are just making sure it's formed into a ball. Once formed into a ball, place in a greased cake pan. Rinse your hands off - that dough is sticky!
Next, using a pastry brush, brush the top with more buttermilk until coated on all sides. Using a knife, make a large X in the dough across the middle, to allow for steam to escape.
Bake for 60 minutes. The bread should be perfectly golden brown. Remove from pan and cool completely on a baking rack. Cover with foil when not eating.
Be sure to use a 1:1 gluten-free flour blend to substitute for all-purpose flour. I have had success with Cup4Cup flour and Bob's Red Mill 1:1 Baking Flour (blue bag). Please note that the dough should be wet and sticky. If it isn't (and it might not be based on the flour you use) add an additional ¼ cup of buttermilk as needed until everything is moist and sticky.
Once you add the wet ingredients, the dough is very sticky, but that's what makes this recipe so much fun! Kids will love it as it lets them get their hands dirty. Have a sink nearby and a towel, too, but be sure to coat your hands with flour when you start mixing.
I did test this recipe to be both gluten and dairy-free, using Bob's Red Mill 1:1 Baking Flour, dairy-free butter from Earth Balance, and homemade dairy-free buttermilk. For 1 cup of buttermilk, use ½ cup of whatever dairy-free milk you prefer + ½ cup of dairy-free plain yogurt. Overall, the dairy-free soda bread did not rise as much - it was a lot more squat and flat than the dairy-filled version. But the taste was still great!
Irish soda bread will keep for 3-4 days at room temperature. It will harden as time goes on, so feel free to pop in the microwave for 10 seconds to soften. Put on a small pat of butter and melt it on there...so good! Enjoy!
Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 377Total Fat 10gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 48mgSodium 643mgCarbohydrates 63gFiber 2gSugar 12gProtein 9g
The nutrition information on each recipe card is provided as a courtesy and for your convenience. The data is calculated by Nutritionix. You are encouraged to make your own calculations based on your ingredients and preferred nutritional facts calculator. While I try to make sure they are accurate, I cannot guarantee the accuracy of these calculations.
Have you ever tried Irish soda bread?
Does your family make anything special for St. Patrick's Day?
Leave me a comment with your favorite Irish meals below!