Irish Brown Bread

Irish Brown Bread is a traditional soda bread recipe made with equal parts whole wheat flour and white flour. It has incredible flavor and texture and is so easy to throw together!

A loaf of Irish brown soda bread, sliced

Irish brown bread is an ancient recipe that deserves a spot in your baking repertoire!

Soda breads are so much fun to make, especially if you’re a novice baker, because with just a bowl and a spoon you can have a satisfying bread in the oven in a matter of minutes. This hearty loaf makes a great breakfast or side to all sorts of meals. I’ve made classic soda bread with oat flour, and sometimes in scone form ~ all baking should be this easy!

a loaf of Irish brown bread, sliced, with butter

what is the difference between Irish brown bread and Irish soda bread?

Irish brown bread is a traditional version of Irish soda bread made with part, or all, whole wheat flour. It gives this already-rustic bread an even heartier taste and texture, along with all the added health benefits of cooking with whole grains. I used a mixture of white and wheat flour here to keep the bread from becoming too dense.

A slice of Irish brown bread, with butter

how does soda bread work?

Soda breads are so simple to make because they require no yeast, no rising time, and no kneading. So how does that work? The simple combination of baking soda (a basic, high ph, ingredient) and buttermilk (an acidic, low ph, ingredient) combine to form carbon dioxide bubbles in the dough, which provide lift and structure to the bread as it bakes in the oven. It’s got a denser and crumblier texture than the yeast-risen breads most of us are used to eating, but it’s no less delicious and has a simple appeal that I love.

why do we cut a cross in the top of soda bread?

Technically the cross in the dough helps the bread cook through evenly in the oven. But the superstition in Ireland is that the cross lets the fairies escape and wards off evil!

butter melting on Irish brown bread

what to serve with Irish brown bread

This versatile loaf can be eaten any time of day, here are just a few of my favorite ways to serve it.

  • For breakfast, simply toasted and served with plenty of good butter and jam
  • Alongside all sorts of soups and stews, whenever you might serve biscuits
  • For a snack with thick slices of sharp white cheddar cheese and some slices of apple
  • Round out a main dish like Dublin coddle or whiskey braised short ribs
5 from 4 votes

Irish Brown Bread

Irish Brown Bread is a traditional soda bread recipe made with equal parts whole wheat flour and white flour. It has incredible flavor and texture and is so easy to throw together!
Course bread
Cuisine Irish
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Yield 10 servings
Calories 207kcal
Author Sue Moran


  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 cups buttermilk


  • Preheat your oven to 450F.
  • In a large mixing bowl, sift together the whole wheat and all purpose flours, baking soda, salt, and brown sugar.
  • Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the buttermilk. With a spoon, or your hands, mix everything together until a sticky dough forms. You can add a small splash of extra liquid if your dough seems too dry.
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it about 4-5 times until it a bit smoother and less sticky.
  • Roughly shape the dough into a fat disk about 8 inches across. With a sharp knife, cut two slashes, about 1/4" deep, into the top of the loaf in the shape of an X. Transfer to a baking sheet.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 400F and bake for 15-20 more minutes. The bread should be puffed up, golden brown, and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom when done.
  • Allow to cool on a baking rack before slicing.

Cook’s notes

*This recipe is from Darina Allen


Calories: 207kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 390mg | Potassium: 180mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 81IU | Calcium: 68mg | Iron: 2mg
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.
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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    Keith Wade
    September 6, 2022 at 7:56 pm

    My bread seems almost raw on the inside, I followed the recipe exactly. What could be the issue

  • Reply
    March 17, 2022 at 6:06 am

    While the cross is necessary in this recipe, traditionally Irish people didn’t associate it with letting the fairies out. For them, it had Christian significance – it represented a crucifix.

  • Reply
    March 16, 2022 at 6:34 pm

    5 stars
    This is incredibly good bread! And s-o-o-o easy! Ate some slathered with butter and some with Kerry Gold cheese. This is a real keeper!

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      March 17, 2022 at 12:57 pm

      Thanks for the super speedy review Joan ~ Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

  • Reply
    March 16, 2022 at 6:53 am

    Can you use bread flour instead of all purpose? Thanks

  • Reply
    March 16, 2022 at 4:48 am

    I’ can’t have wheat can I make it with almond and or coconut flour?

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      March 16, 2022 at 1:01 pm

      I’m afraid those flours won’t provide enough structure for this bread Mary, sorry!

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