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This whole wheat Irish soda bread is simple, hearty, and perfect for dunking into stew. It's a traditional loaf made from just a few basic ingredients. You'll be surprised at how easy it is to make, and it's ready in just under an hour!
Table of contents
Whole wheat Irish soda bread is one of the only breads we're brave enough to make because it's pretty much foolproof. There's no waiting for it to rise, no yeast to complicate things, and it always turns out great.
It's made from a few basic ingredients like whole wheat flour, baking soda, sea salt, butter, and buttermilk. Form the ingredients into a dough, score it with an ‘X', and let it bake until it's golden.
It's a simple, satisfying, and hearty loaf that pairs perfectly with soups and stews. Dip it or dunk it into beef stews or vegetable soups with a generous smear of our homemade butter.
Unlike store-bought bread that's full of preservatives, this loaf does need to be eaten the day of. You can still enjoy it the next day but it definitely needs to be warmed up in the oven first (trust us!).
Whole wheat Irish soda bread ingredients
Here's what you need to make this whole wheat Irish soda bread:
- Whole wheat flour – whole wheat flour is ground from whole grain. It has a higher protein content than all-purpose flour, as well as more fiber and nutrients. It tends to be darker in color and yields a heartier, denser bread.
- Baking soda – to help the bread rise.
- Sea salt – for flavor.
- Cold butter – cold butter gets mixed into the flour adding moisture and flavor.
- Buttermilk – you can also use two cups of milk mixed with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar.
- Flaky sea salt – for sprinkling on the top.
You'll also need an ovenproof pot with a lid, like a dutch oven.
How to make whole wheat Irish soda bread
Homemade Irish soda bread is so simple and satisfying to make. Here's how it comes together in a few simple steps:
- While your oven preheats, line a pot with parchment paper.
- Grab a large bowl and add the flour, baking soda, and sea salt.
- Use your fingers to mix the butter into the flour mixture, then make a well in the center, and pour in the buttermilk. Stir to combine then bring it all together with your hands. It will feel very sticky and heavy at this point!
- Shape it into a ball, score it with an ‘X', and place it into the pot. Sprinkle the top with sea salt and cover with a lid.
- Now, get ready for your home to be filled with the smell of freshly baked bread (this might be when you open yourself a can of Guinness)! Pop it in the oven and it will be done in less than an hour. It should sound hollow inside when you tap the bottom of it. Let it cool slightly before slicing into it. It's best enjoyed right away with a generous smear of butter!
Full recipe instructions are in the recipe card below.
How long does this bread last?
This bread is actually best eaten the day it's made. If you're going to eat it the next day, it tastes best spread with a little butter and warmed up in the oven or in a skillet.
Can I use regular all-purpose flour instead?
For a lighter loaf, you can substitute ½ of the whole wheat flour with all-purpose flour.
Irish soda bread variations
Whole wheat Irish soda bread is a flexible basic recipe with many tasty variations. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Make it sweet. Mix in a few handfuls of sultana raisins or dried currants, along with a ¼ cup of sugar to the dry ingredients.
- Make it a seedy loaf by adding a ¼ cup of caraway seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, or poppy seeds (or a mix).
- Make it savory, like this no yeast bread with herbs and cheese.
What to serve with whole wheat Irish soda bread
We can imagine generations of Irish people making this bread for their families and tucking it into a giant pot of soup or stew. That's also how we like to enjoy it, on cool weather days, when you can sit by the fireplace and enjoy the smell of fresh bread baking.
Hearty stews that taste especially great with Irish soda bread
More Irish recipes
- Cheesy Irish Cheddar Cauliflower
- Guinness Spiked Irish Chili
- Guinness Chocolate Cake with Irish Whiskey Frosting
- 4 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons cold butter
- 2 cups buttermilk (or 2 cups milk mixed with 2 tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar)
- 1 pinch flaky sea salt
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. place a piece of parchment paper into an ovenproof pot, letting the edges hang over the side of the pot. See notes.
- In a large bowl, whisk the whole wheat flour, baking soda, and sea salt.4 cups whole wheat flour, 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Add the butter and use your fingers to mix it into the flour by rubbing the pieces of butter into the flour until the butter pieces are very fine. Make a well in the center and add the buttermilk. Stir with a wooden spoon or spatula and then use your hands to bring the dough together. It will feel sticky and very heavy.2 tablespoons cold butter, 2 cups buttermilk
- Make a ball out of the dough and then press the top down slightly. Using a knife, score the top with an X 1" deep then place the dough into the pot. Top with a generous pinch of flaky sea salt and put the lid on the pot.1 pinch flaky sea salt
- Bake in the oven for 45-55 minutes, or until the loaf sounds hollow when you knock on the bottom of it. If you have an instant-read thermometer, the internal temperature should be 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Let the soda bread cool for 10 minutes before slicing and slathering it in butter and digging in. This bread is best eaten the same day it is made. Warm it in the oven if you eat it a day or two later.
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.