Easy Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread
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!
Also, try our no yeast bread with herbs and cheese with a generous smear of our homemade butter for an easy-to-make savory spin on this recipe!
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.
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.
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
Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread Recipe
If you love this recipe as much as we do, let us know with a 5-star rating!
- 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.
THANK YOU for including the ingredient amounts with each step so I don’t have to constantly scroll back and forth as I learn a step. You are the best recipe blogger of all time as far as I’m concerned.
Can you please make it so that when you click on “print this recipe” it actually takes you to a place you can print black and white simple directions. Thanks
The print button opens a printer-friendly page. You can uncheck the boxes next to images if you don’t want them. On the page, there is a print button that will open your computer’s printing options. You can choose your settings – black and white, etc. – from there.
I love this bread, it went great with lamb barley stew!
Thank you for this recipe. I made this bread, it came out good. It was very easy to make. It was a very wet dough, not sure if that’s me or that’s how it was suppose to be.
How long will it keep? Should I put in fridge after a few days?
This soda bread is definitely best eaten right away, preferable while it’s still warm.
I made this to go with tonight’s supper of vegetable beef soup with wild rice. It was truly outstanding! The flavor and texture of this bread is superb! Next time, I will try adding a bit more flour to the dough as it was extremely wet and sticky. But, it was excellent! Many thanks for this great recipe!
Can you use whole wheat pastry flour in this, do you think, Kristen?
I’m worried that the texture might be too fine …
Thanks! SO many of these supposed ‘whole wheat’ or ‘whole grain’ recipes include regular flour! (even Epicurious!)
Nice whole wheat change! Who needs eggs??? I have been told to prick the four corners after baking to let the ‘fairies’ out. Thank you!
Wonderful, thank you!! Turned out great!
I was looking for a way to switch my family recipe to whole wheat, but wasn’t sure how much extra buttermilk I’d need. This soda bread is very similar to ours, so I knew the amounts would work.
Love this simple recipe (no extras like sugar, eggs, or baking powder that ruin it for me lol)
How is one supposed to knock on the bosom of a loaf when it’s hot and still in its baking vessel?
I pick it up with a tea towel. 🙂
OMG first time making soda bread and I will never make yeast bread again. So good and smells so amazing.
Absolutely delicious, highly recommend this recipe! I did half white flour, half whole wheat flour, and I put some honey butter on top at the end for a yummy glaze 🙂 I made half a batch and it took about the same amount of time. The dough ended up being a little sticky for me to work with so I added more flour (using gloves would probably mitigate this issue). Will be making again–thank you for the recipe!
Honey butter sounds delicious!
Easy and delicious! I made a loaf to go with turkey soup and it was the perfect complement.
I’ve made this recipe so many times now and it’s a big hit! I often let the flour and buttermilk/kefir/yoghurt just sit for a few hours to make it easier to digest. Sometimes I divide it and make two smaller loaves. Perfect with pumpkin soup 🙂
That is so great to hear Trinity!!
I love Irish Soda bread and usually just make it with white flour. In trying to incorporate whole grain I tried this recipe. Followed the recipe exactly. I used white whole wheat flour which is what I had on hand. I did not enjoy this bread as much as the recipe using white flour (and I usually love anything using whole what). Wondering if the addition of a little sweetener may have improved the taste for my palate. I am also thinking of of combining whole wheat flour with some all purpose flour to see what that does to the taste and texture. This recipe did not turn out the way I thought it would
I’m sorry to hear that you weren’t a fan of the recipe.
We have a shortage of flour in NZ so can I use any flour eg.
Plain (Standard) flour or Self Raising Flour when available please.
I would opt for regular all-purpose flour if you have access to that. That is what I use in this no yeast cheese bread, which is basically this Irish soda bread but with white flour, herbs, and cheese. 🙂
If I don’t have buttermilk, can I use a little white vinegar in whole milk? Looking forward to making this!! Thanks!
You sure can! Simply mix 2 tablespoons of vinegar into the 2 cups of milk. 🙂
Hi there, can I add sugar to this recipe because when I made it, it came out well but it was a little unsweet. How much do you recommend I add?
Yes, this isn’t a sweet bread recipe. Most sweet bread recipes call for 3-4 tablespoons of sugar so you could try adding that amount. 🙂
I am using curd with water the bread came out harder on the outside but still moist inside. I used half the quantities and baked in an otg for 25 minutes. Does the cooking time change if the quantity is changed or is it because of the otg?
I’m not familiar with baking in an otg so I can’t say. I do know that if you half the recipe to make a small loaf you will still need to bake it for almost as long as the recipe states. I’m working on a half-loaf recipe at the moment so stay tuned!
Very good! I love that it’s 100% whole wheat. I baked this in an 8 inch cast iron for probably 75 minutes and it came out perfectly. I added 3/4 cup golden raisins and sprinkled the top with raw sugar. Thanks for the recipe!
Nice call on the raisins! Yum!
Made it today to go with the ham and potato soup that I made yesterday. Perfect!
So happy to hear you enjoyed it!
What a beautiful looking loaf! Thanks for the recipe.
Thank you so much!!