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Easy Irish Soda Bread with Cheddar

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This small loaf of Easy Irish Soda Bread with Cheddar is a quick bread recipe that does not require yeast.  Baking soda and buttermilk provide rise and moisture, while Irish cheddar cheese gives the bread another layer of flavor.  And with the perfect exterior crust, the bread is a great pairing with soups, stews, and everything in between!  

Piece of irish bread and butter

Traditional Irish Bread

Irish Soda Bread is a quick bread that does not require yeast to make it rise.  As the name implies, baking soda is a key ingredient in the bread and the yeast alternative for leavening. 

Flour, buttermilk, and salt are the remaining ingredients needed to make Irish Soda Bread.  Buttermilk reacts with the baking soda to create the rise, and salt is the simple ingredient for flavor.  However, over time, bakers have taken creative baking liberties and added other ingredients to make the bread tender and add flavor.  This recipe, for example, uses butter and cheddar cheese for additional moisture and flavor. 

History of Irish Soda Bread

Many cultures have their version of soda bread, though the origin of soda bread came from the Native Americans.  Pearl ash, which is a natural form of soda, was used as a leavening agent in bread baking.  It wasn’t until much later that European countries made bicarbonate of soda, or baking soda, a popular leavening ingredient. 

Much like a lot of traditional Irish recipes, Irish Soda Bread is extremely easy to make.  With the financial and food problems the Irish faced, bread was a viable low-cost food staple.

As for the cut on top, some say the ‘cross’ cut was to ward off evil spirits.  Others say it let the fairies out.  And while I love a good superstition, I believe these cuts serve a practical purpose and allow the bread to be baked all the way through.   

Top of a bread loaf sliced on cutting board

Easy No-Yeast Bread

Today, you may see Irish Soda Bread around St. Patrick’s Day as a way to soak up all of the whiskey and stout.  And while it may be a good hang-over cure, it may be the easiest bread recipe you can make. 

We have covered that you don’t need yeast to make this Easy Irish Soda Bread with Cheddar.  Additionally, you probably have all of the ingredients already in your pantry and refrigerator.  Flour, baking soda, buttermilk, and salt.

And if you don’t have a half-gallon of buttermilk in the fridge (I never do!), you can make your own.  All you need is milk and either vinegar or lemon juice.  Mix the two ingredients and allow the milk to sit and ‘curdle’ for about 10-15 minutes.

Homemade buttermilk ratio (for this recipe) – 3/4 milk + 2 and 1/4 teaspoons vinegar (or lemon juice).


  • All-Purpose Flour
  • Baking Soda
  • Salt 
  • Buttermilk 
  • Butter
  • Irish Cheddar Cheese 
Slice of soda bread with cheddar

Helpful Tips

  • Keep the ingredients cold – Keep the buttermilk, butter, and cheese in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  • Work fast – Another plug for having all of your ingredients ready to go.  This bread comes together quickly and you want to be just as quick to shape it and get it in the oven.  Otherwise, we may lose some efficacy of the baking soda + buttermilk-raising action.
  • Don’t overwork the dough – Overworking dough can result in a tough and chewy loaf of bread.
  • Cross cut the top of the loaf – This ensures the loaf gets baked all the way through.
  • Enjoy the day it is baked – I would say this is true for any homemade bread.  After about day 2, the bread will dry out.

In Irish tradition, this loaf of bread will be making a repeat appearance in this house.  Who can resist a bread that is ready in about 30 minutes!?  


Slice of irish soda bread on cutting board
Piece of irish soda bread and butter
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4.50 from 4 reviews

Irish Soda Bread with Cheddar

Yield: 6 Servings
This small loaf of Easy Irish Soda Bread with Cheddar is a quick bread recipe that does not require yeast.  Baking soda makes the bread rise and buttermilk keeps the bread soft.  For more flavor, we add a little butter and Irish Cheddar cheese, then bake to perfection with the ideal crusty exterior.  
Prep10 minutes
Cook30 minutes
Total40 minutes


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, grated and cold
  • 3/4 cup Irish cheddar cheese, grated and cold (or any hard cheese)
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, cold


  • If you don't have buttermilk – Add 2 and 1/4 teaspoons of vinegar or lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup. Fill the cup with milk to the 3/4 mark. Refrigerate the buttermilk for about 10 to 15 minutes, until it starts to curdle. Note – I recommend whole milk, but 2% or 1% will also work.
  • Preheat the oven to 400F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, use a wooden spoon and stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the grated butter and approximately 1/2 cup of the grated cheese, and stir to coat the pieces. Reserve the remaining cheese to sprinkle over the top of the loaf. Note – I recommend grating the cheese and butter. Grated butter distributes more evenly.
    2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, grated and cold, 3/4 cup Irish cheddar cheese, grated and cold
  • Pour the buttermilk over the top of the flour and stir with the wooden spoon – until the flour is dampened and a dough starts to form. The dough will be rough and scrappy.
    3/4 cup buttermilk, cold
  • Pour the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and working quickly, shape the dough into approximately a 5-inch ball and gently and ever so slightly flatten the top of the dough ball. Do not overwork, or knead the dough.
  • Transfer the dough loaf to the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese. Then, using a sharp knife, score the top of the dough in a deep cross (not all the way through). Note – the cheese may bake over the cuts in the top of the loaf, or may not. You will notice in my photos it did, and this is ok!
    3/4 cup Irish cheddar cheese, grated and cold
  • Bake the bread for 27 to 30 minutes, until the loaf is golden brown. Transfer the bread immediately to a wire cooling rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature. The bread is best enjoyed the day it is baked. Enjoy!
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  • Grate the Cheese and Butter – When working with cold butter, I find grating it (rather than working it in with a pastry cutter), distributes the butter better without melting it.
  • Use Cold Ingredients – Keep the refrigerated ingredients in the fridge and ready to go when needed.  
  • Work Fast – This is not a dough that can sit on the counter.  It should be mixed quickly and get into the oven immediately.  Otherwise, we run the risk of the baking soda + buttermilk reaction not working to its full potential.  Translation – flat bread.
  • Don’t Overwork – Try not to overmix or overwork the dough.  The result could be a chewy, tough bread.
  • High Altitude Bakers – No recipes adjustments are needed.  Just watch the bake time as the bread may not need the full 30 minutes.
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Irish
Author: Erin Cernich


Calories: 253kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 25mg | Sodium: 604mg | Potassium: 97mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 278IU | Calcium: 142mg | Iron: 2mg
Nutrition information is calculated by a third-party and should only be considered an estimate and not a guarantee.
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