A Spicy Perspective

Sweet Irish Soda Bread

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Sweet Irish Soda Bread Recipe – Two tender loaves of slightly sweet soda bread are speckled with raisins and caraway for the perfect Saint Patrick’s Day treat. Enjoy with a generous pat of butter any time of day!

Irish bread sliced on platter

Holiday Traditions

My husband and I eat at an Irish pub every Saint Patrick’s Day. The first year we did this, we ended up in a little pub in Tulsa, Oklahoma called Paddy’s.

If I remember correctly, we ate fish and chips and Irish stew. Yet what really caught my attention was the soda bread. It was moist and dense with a slight sweetness that didn’t overshadow the soda flavor and a hearty crust… I’ve been working on a comparable recipe ever since.

raisin irish soda bread recipe baked in ceramic bread pan

Sweet Loaves of Irish Soda Bread

While I like the appearance of the free-form, cross-topped, savory versions of soda bread, I prefer the sugary note and texture of “loaf pan” varieties.

The flavor of this Sweet Irish Soda Bread recipe gently balances strong, savory Irish dishes. It’s a rustic quick bread, with a surprisingly delicate and slightly sweet taste.

This is no utilitarian loaf. It’s a loaf with a sense of warmth and personality. Juicy raisins and vibrant caraway seeds make each slice a surprising treat, perfect for saying “goodbye” to winter and welcoming the spring season.

After testing numerous dry, crumbly versions, I believe I’ve finally found a winner.

This Sweet Irish Soda Bread, adapted from Brother Rick Curry’s The Secrets of Jesuit Breadmaking, is delightful and just as I remember it so many years ago.

raisin Irish soda bread flour mixture

What You Need to Make Our Sweet Irish Soda Bread Recipe

  • All-purpose flour – sifted
  • Granulated sugar
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Baking soda
  • Unsalted butter – cut into small cubes
  • Buttermilk – for a substitute you can use 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar mixed with 1 cup of regular milk for each cup of buttermilk needed
  • Egg
  • Raisins – I recommend a mixture of dark purple and golden raisins
  • Caraway seeds
  • Turbinado sugar – raw sugar for sprinkling on top; you can use brown sugar if turbinado is not available

How to Make This Perfectly Sweet Soda Bread with Raisins

The first thing you’ll want to do is soak the raisins in hot water for 15-20 minutes and then drain them well.

Soaking in hot water rehydrates the raisins, which will make them plump and perfectly juicy. Be sure to dry them thoroughly though, so you don’t add extra moisture to the soda bread batter.

Once you’ve got the raisins just right, you can make the bread with these simple steps and just one bowl:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and grease two loaf pans with butter.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the dry ingredients (everything except for the turbinado sugar). Next, use your hands to mix in the cubes of butter until the flour mixture is grainy.
  3. Stir in the drained raisins and caraway seeds.
  4. Add the buttermilk and egg to the flour mixture, and stir well until the dough resembles a thick cake batter.
  5. Equally fill the two loaf pans, and generously sprinkle the tops with the turbinado sugar.
  6. Lastly, bake the loaves for 60-70 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. They will look golden brown.

When done, allow cooling in the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to completely cool. I know it’s difficult because they will smell amazing, but wait until they are cooled before slicing!

Get the Full (Printable) Sweet Irish Soda Bread Recipe Below. Enjoy!

best sweet bread loaves with raisins

Traditional Irish Soda Bread Tips

To take it to another level, serve this Sweet Irish Soda Bread warm with rich, tangy Irish butter from a specialty food market.

Enjoy with a good cup of strong coffee for breakfast, as an afternoon snack, or a delicious, slightly sweet dessert!

NOTE: Buttermilk can have different consistencies, depending on the brand. If your dough is thicker than dense cake batter, don’t worry! Just form dough into loaves and place it in the pans. No need to add more liquid.

Slice of this Irish soda bread with raisins

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Omit the Raisins and/or Caraway Seeds?

You definitely can! Your bread won’t be quite as sweet without the raisins, but neither they nor the caraway is necessary to make this soda bread recipe.

Is it Possible to Make Just One Loaf of Bread?

Absolutely. Simply halve the recipe ingredients, and bake your one loaf for 50-60 minutes.

Half a loaf is better than none. – Irish Proverb

Can this Soda Bread be Made Gluten-Free?

Yes! Swap your favorite gluten-free flour in place of all-purpose flour. For flavor and texture, I recommend an almond or coconut-based flour instead of rice flour.

How Long Will This Bread Last?

This bread can be stored at room temperature for up to 2-3 days or in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week. You can even freeze this recipe for up to 3 months and thaw in the fridge or at room temperature. Reheat as desired.

sweet soda bread sliced for serving

Looking for More Perfectly Sweet Bread Recipes?

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Sweet Irish Soda Bread Recipe

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Sweet Irish Soda Bread – Two tender loaves of slightly sweet soda bread are speckled with raisins and caraway for the perfect Saint Patrick' Day treat.
Servings: 2 loaves



  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter two 9×5-inch bread pans. Soak the raisins in hot water for 15-20 minutes, then drain well.
  • Stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Cut the butter into cubes and mix very thoroughly with the flour, by hand, until it looks grainy. Stir in the drained raisins and caraway seeds.
  • Add the buttermilk and egg to the flour mixture. Stir well. The dough should resemble thick cake batter. Equally fill 2 loaf pans. Then sprinkle the top of each with turbinado sugar to make it shimmery.
  • Bake for 60-70 minutes. Test with a toothpick for doneness. Cool in the pans for 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.



NOTE: Buttermilk can have different consistencies, depending on the brand. If your dough is thicker than dense cake batter, don’t worry! Just shape it into loaves and place in the pans. No need to add more liquid.


Serving: 1slice, Calories: 220kcal, Carbohydrates: 40g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 20mg, Sodium: 226mg, Potassium: 233mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 8g, Vitamin A: 175IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 59mg, Iron: 1.8mg
Course: Bread, Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: Irish
Author: Sommer Collier

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51 comments on “Sweet Irish Soda Bread”

  1. Pingback: 30 Festive St. Patrick’s Day Desserts Recipes To Try - Love Food Recipes

  2. Excellent recipe! have been making a version of this for decades on St Patrick’s celebrations.  Never used the buttermilk before but it definitely makes a difference  I also added  2 eggs instead of one, my new go to recipe. Try it everyone loved it 

  3. Excellent recipe! have been making a version of this for decades on St Patrick’s celebrations.  Never used the buttermilk before but it definitely makes a difference  I also added  2 eggs instead of one, my new go to recipe. Try it everyone loved it 

  4. I didn’t know about the raisin tip of hydrating them! Thank you. I left the caraway out since I didn’t have it. Turned out delicious.

  5. This is next on my list of bread recipes to make! thank you for sharing! 

  6. We enjoyed this sweet soda bread with our afternoon tea and it was delightful! I’ll be making it again soon!

  7. LOVED this recipe!! It was so tasty and easy to make!

  8. Pingback: 30 Easy and Perfect Desserts Recipes for Saint Patrick’s Day - Love Food Recipes

  9. Wonderful tasting bread to go with our St Patty’s day meal. Cut the recipe in half and made one loaf. Only modification was to add some cherry infused dried cranberries along with the raisins. It was a big hit and we’re enjoying it today as well!

  10. Easy and amazing!

  11. First time making Irish Soda Bread and this turned out great. This will be perfect with tonight’s corned beef and cabbage! I have just one loaf pan and used my cast iron skillet for the other half of the recipe and they both turned out great. The recipe was so easy and went together quickly. I’ll be making it for more than St. Patrick’s Day! Thanks for sharing this :)

  12. I am sure this is delicious! Just a note – traditional Irish Soda Bread never mixes raisins and caraway seeds together. It’s an either or proposition. As well, the marking of a cross on the top of the loaf is an essential part of the recipe. It’s a mark of St. Patrick and “lets the faeries out”! :) I know your recipe is modified, but my family has been making this, out of Galway, for generations, and now out of Boston. We wouldn’t dream of not having the traditional version in the bread box with marmalade of jam close by! :) Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

    • My mother made one in a loaf pan with raisins, never caraway seeds and I know  she soaked them as well. I just remember it to be moist and slightly sweet. I don’t remember sugar on top either. Unfortunately I can’t find the recipe to compare although I won’t give up the search.  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!☘️

  13. I have made this recipe so many times. I omit the caraway seeds because I don’t like the flavor. I did add orange zest to this & I think it truly amps it to another level.

  14. Such a great recipe for the upcoming Irish holiday! Thanks for having a great recipe for us!

  15. This is such a tasty and easy bread recipe!

  16. I’ve been getting into baking recently (thanks COVID) and thought I’d give this recipe a shot. Made this recipe in probably 1.5 hours total for a Christmas devotional for my church with a few modifications (added sliced walnuts to mix, no caraway, topped bread with egg white/granulated sugar/orange juice glaze for the last 10-15 minutes). The result was stunning. My wife and I absolutely loved the bread, and I will be giving some to the in-laws come Christmas. 10/10 would recommend for anyone new to baking who’d like to make something festive :)

  17. I’ve been searching for a tender, moist, sweet soda bread and this exceeded mine and my husband’s expectations. I used half raisins half currants but otherwise followed the recipe. AMAZING.

  18. Yes I did   It was a success   First time Ibaked anything I’m 65 years old  I’m quite proud of myself   The recepie was very easy to  follow ! I’m Hooked  thanks!

  19. Great recipe!

  20. Brother Curry’s Isish Soda Bread is my family’s favorite. I lost my copy of the recipe do was so happy to see this.

    Thank you

  21. This is perfect with St Patty’s day coming up! Love all the Irish recipes i’m finding. this one is especially great!

  22. I love this recipe. I hope you will keep continuing to share such yummy recipes with us. T

  23. I make this every year and it’s always perfect!!!

  24. Soda bread is one of our favorites! So easy to make! Your loaves look incredible!

  25. Pingback: Bangers and Mash with Milk Stout Gravy {Sausages and Mashed Potatoes} • The Fresh Cooky

  26. This was the best soda bread ever! I omitted the caraway seeds because I dislike them, and I didn’t have turbinado, so I used light brown sugar on top. I also didn’t have buttermilk, so I made some using skim milk and lemon juice. I also cut the recipe in half to make just one loaf and baked it for an hour. Yum! So sweet and moist. Would make a great breakfast bread. I really liked this a lot.

  27. I love Irish Soda Bread! When I read your recipe I immediately thought…”what! a no-knead Irish Soda Bread?”. Well, I made it yesterday and I must say it is the best Irish Soda Bread I have ever tasted!!!! Must admit also to a couple changes….I reduced the sugar just a bit – more like 2/3 instead of 3/4 cup….I used currents instead of raisins and no need to soak them as the buttermilk plumps them just fine. That’s it. Lovely texture and the first time making this bread in a load pan but I like the idea; love the results! Thank you.

  28. Pingback: Irish Cabbage and Bacon - A Spicy Perspective

  29. I just made this recipe today for St Patrick’s Day (couldnt locate the recipe I usually use).  It was amazing, moist and sweet but not too sweet.  I had to omit the caraway seeds because I can’t eat them, but other than that, the recipe was perfect.  My family and some friends have already tried it and loved it. 

  30. Pingback: Mallorca Bread: Soft Puerto Rican Sweet Bread Rolls | The Noshery

  31. I tried your recipe yesterday and my bread turned out perfect! I used less raisins than the recipe called for because we don’t love them that much. The caraway seeds ad a delicious flavor. I will never be able to eat grocery store Irish soda bread ever again. Thank-you for a great recipe.

  32. They will love it! It’s so yummy ; ).

  33. Sounds delicious. I am going to try and make these in muffin tins. Hope they turn out well.

  34. Noticed your comment about eating at Paddy’s in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  We are from Tulsa, now in Houston.  We still feel like it is home in a lot of ways.   Do you live near Tulsa?  Just curious Sommer.  
    Thank you for your posts and Blog!

  35. Pingback: 17 St. Patrick's Day Desserts That Celebrate The Luck Of The Irish In The Sweetest Way

  36. Love it . Thank you for the recipe  :)

  37. Sorry, I just saw the liquid in the middle of the recipe.

  38. You don’t say how much or what type liquid to soak the raisins in. Clarification please.

    • This reply is six years later, but I just found this site. I’m sure others will benefit from my response when they see this. I soak my raisins in a splash, covering, of Baileys Irish Cream liqueur. Use a MW covered receptacle. Heat 10-15 seconds, then cover the dish and set 15-20 minutes. They will be sticky, but just separate with a fork. Fabulous flavor, if you like Bailey’s. Otherwise just cover with water to hydrate.

  39. Just took my loaves out, cooled them and ate a piece slathered in butter (the way I remember eating them).
    I have not had Soda Bread in more years than I can remember, great recipe!
    Thank you very much!


  40. Made this today in 4 smaller loaf pans to go with our late St Paddy’s dinner. Was loved by all. Hubby who doesn’t like raisins is raving and had several pieces. Friends took home loaves for tomorrow. Thanks

  41. getting ready to make this, but am concerned about the 2 teaspoons of baking powder for 5 cups of flour. I have a recipe that calls for 1 tablespoon to 3 cups of flour and it’s been a family fav for years now.

  42. I love this recipe. I think the buttermilk and the egg are what makes this version so fun to eat. I have used it approx. 12 times and I get lots of compliments each time. Delicious!

  43. Pingback: Sweet Irish Soda Bread — A Spicy Perspective | Really interesting recipes | Scoop.it

  44. Ok, my husband tried printing on his mac and was able to reduce the size to one page by editing out the pictures and intro. I had the print function setup this way so everyone could choose what they want to print. Try editing something out and let me know what happens. Thanks Catty!

  45. Having problems printing out recipes… could be I'm on a mac. The aren't compact enough for one page. What do you think?

  46. This looks great!