Marilyn o’reilly’s Irish Soda Bread

I have no idea who Marilyn O’Reilly is, but she has an Irish name, so she must know what she’s doing, right?

I have been making this recipe every year since 2006 when I had this infatuation with the Food Network….(most likely because I was deep into child care and going completely crazy). I couldn’t tell you why I chose this recipe in the first place, but I have never made any other kind. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?

My family loves it. I really should make it more often.

Irish Soda Bread is actually a crumbly, quick bread made with very simple ingredients that most people have in their cupboard and cooler. No yeast required. Traditionally, irish folk would make this bread every couple of days and eat it with their main meal of the day. It is shaped into a round loaf and using a knife, is marked with a cross on top to ward off the devil and keep the home safe.

Soda Bread does require buttermilk but I NEVER have it in my fridge. Instead, I make my own “buttermilk” by adding 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice to 1 Cup of regular milk and letting it sit on the countertop for awhile before mixing. It creates a “sour” buttermilk that is perfect for this recipe.

This is Marilyn O’Reilly’s Irish Soda Bread and it’s the best. Let’s bake…


  • 3 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Tbsp Caraway Seeds (I never use these but felt I should include from orihinal recipe)
  • 1 cup Raisins (I always make a loaf with and without raisins because of my picky teen)
  • 1 cup Buttermilk (see my notes above on how to make it with milk and lemon juice)
  • 1 Egg


Preheat oven to 400 degrees and set your rack in the middle of the oven.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all your dry ingredients and whisk well. Using your fingers (well, this is how I do it) pinch and rub the butter into the dry ingredients until it disappears.

Stir in seeds and raisins. (optional)

Take your buttermilk (or the “buttermilk” that you made) and mix the egg into it. Add to the dry ingredients and mix with a strong spatula. This is your dough.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and do some light kneading. if it seems too sticky, sprinkle a little more flour on outside. Shape into a round loaf. Place onto cookie sheet covered with parchment paper or a silpat. Cut a cross on the top of your loaf and throw it into the oven for 15 minutes. Now reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and cook for an additional 25-30 minutes more. It is done when it passes the toothpick test. Try not to overcook as it is already a pretty crumbly bread.

Serve warm with lots of sweet butter and marmalade. Mmmmm Enjoy!

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