Fluffy and delicious, this Vegan Irish Soda Bread is the PERFECT no-knead quickbread. It’s yeast-free, inexpensive to make, and comes together in under an hour.
This post may contain affiliate links. See our disclosure policy for details.
Hey Internet, have you ever heard of Irish soda bread? I was recently introduced to this recipe through Wikipedia rabbit-holing (a favorite pastime) and the first time I made it… well, it needed improvement but it was pretty good!
I did some reading about traditional Irish soda bread recipes and where the bread actually came from, and tested it again, and it was MUCH better… I ate a third of the loaf in 15 minutes. Oops.
So I’ve tested a few more times since then to get it perfect for you all, and now… chef’s kiss it is SO fluffy and bready and delicious! And it goes PERFECTLY with my new vegan beef stew.
Irish soda bread gets its name from the leavening agent: baking soda, or as folks in the UK call it--bicarbonate of soda. Either way, it’s sodium bicarbonate.
Baking soda is different from baking powder because it needs an acid to react to so it can do what you want: i.e., rise. It’s a GREAT leavener when paired with vegan buttermilk, so… that’s what I used.
The history of Irish soda bread is fascinating and I encourage you to read more about it. But the gist of it is that it was popular among early settlers in the Americas soda/pearl ash (potash or potassium carbonate, baking soda’s predecessor) to leaven their bread. In Ireland, a version of this no-knead bread was often cooked on a griddle as a flatbread.
Irish soda bread became popular in several other countries, so its recipe does tend to vary. Some add raisins, some add eggs and other enrichers. Some choose to use a mixture of white and wheat flour, or spelt.
There is no kneading, no yeast, and no complex temperature control required to make this quick bread, making it the perfect recipe for beginners. It is quite a different process than typical yeasted breads, but it’s still very delicious and satisfying.
This vegan Irish soda bread is quite a simple recipe, and you’ll only need a handful of ingredients. You might even find you have all the ingredients in your pantry right now!
The bread is honestly quite tasty, so let’s just jump right in.
What You’ll Need
You could also use a good quality gluten-free flour if you want to try making this a gluten-free bread. I’ve had good results with King Arthur Measure for Measure Gluten-Free Flour and Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten-Free Flour when I’ve baked with either of them.
With any of these options, you may need a bit more hydration to achieve a nice dough, but you’ll know you need more liquid if the dough just won’t come together.
Next, vegan buttermilk. Don’t worry, you can make this at home and it only takes a minute.
Simply mix an unsweetened non-dairy milk (like almond, oat, or soy) with an acid. I like to use apple cider vinegar, but lemon juice or another vinegar would work just as well. You just let it sit 5-10 minutes and it will curdle… and that’s buttermilk!
Of course, you’ll need the leavener. In this case we’re using baking soda. I haven’t tested it with baking powder so I can’t tell you how the results will turn out. This recipe uses your standard run-of-the-mill baking soda.
This recipe uses just a few tablespoons of organic sugar mostly for flavor and balance. It’s not required as this isn’t a yeasted bread so you don’t have to feed the yeast with sugar.
But I highly recommend not skipping the sugar. You could use coconut or date sugar if you want a less refined option.
Finally a good pinch of sea salt to flavor our bread.
An optional ingredient is raisins. I personally don’t like raisins in my bread (though I love them in edible oatmeal cookie dough). If using, just fold in a cup of raisins as you’re doing the last bit of stirring for the dough.
How to Properly Measure Flour
We want to measure our flour by weight, not by volume. When you scoop flour out of a bag or tin with a measuring cup, you're packing it in there and not necessarily getting the same amount each time.
What's better is to use a food scale with a tare function (allowing you to zero out the scale after you've put the bowl on it so your bowl isn't playing a factor in your equation).
Working in grams, put your bowl on the scale and zero it out. Scoop the flour into the bowl until you reach the desired measurement.
Tips for Making the Best Vegan Irish Soda Bread
Note: You don’t need anything fancy for this bread. Some folks bake this free-form on a baking tray, but I prefer to throw it in a greased round pie dish. It will also work in an oven safe skillet or any cake pan (also greased). I use coconut cream to grease mine but you could use vegan butter or a spray option.
- First, preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (232 degrees Celsius) and grease whatever vessel you choose. If baking free-form, line your baking tray with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Next prep the vegan buttermilk by mixing the indicated amounts of each and whisking or stirring with a fork. Let sit for at least 5 minutes.
- In a large bowl, whisk together your flour, baking soda, sugar, and salt. Create a small well in the center and pour in the vegan buttermilk. Stir until you have a nicely formed dough. It should be moist and super soft, but not sticky. If using, add the raisins in and stir gently.. If it’s sticky, sprinkle in a bit more flour and work it in gently with your hands. If it just won’t come together, add a bit of non-dairy milk or warm water, a tablespoon at a time. It’s easy to overdo it so just be patient.
- Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface. Fold the dough in on itself gently for about 30 seconds. We’re not kneading here (that will make the bread to tough), just bringing it together. Then add it to your baking dish or tray. Pat it out till it reaches the edges if using a walled vessel, making sure that it stays around 1 ½” high. If baking free-form, pat it into a raised circle, about 1 ½” high.
- Using a sharp knife or kitchen shears, slash the bread deeply across, creating a large x or + from edge to edge. Let it spread a fair amount--this is not like the shallow slashing done on sourdough bread. Slash your bread maybe a third of the way deep. Otherwise your bread will let heat out wherever it chooses. I didn’t slash enough the first time and the bread cracked all the way around the circumference of it!
- No need to cover, just pop it in the oven. Bake it for 15 minutes at 450 F (232 C) and then WITHOUT OPENING THE OVEN, turn down the heat to 400 F (205 C) and bake for 32-34 more minutes or until nicely golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and let cool in the dish for about 10 minutes.
- Then, run a butter knife around the inner edge of the dish and transfer the bread to a wire cooling rack. I know it’s hard, but let the bread cool completely before slicing. It’s still technically cooking as it cools down. If you cut it too soon, the texture will be a bit mushy or dense. Seriously, just wait about an hour. I recommend covering it with a clean kitchen towel so it doesn’t harden too much as it dries.
- Serve the bread with a thick delicious soup like vegan beef stew or some vegan butter. You can warm it up beforehand if you’d like.
- Store the bread in a bread cloche or other covered area on the counter.
More Vegan Baked Good Recipes
I have fallen in love with baking over the past two years, and though I am not good at baking everything yet, I am learning!
I found that the idea of baking my own babka was way harder than actually baking them. Now I get regular requests to make them for my husband and neighbors (who enjoyed the many tests I did when developing this recipe)!
Here’s a few more awesome from-scratch baking recipes you can try.
- Vegan Challah (another super easy bread)
- Vegan Bagels
- Chocolate Chip Scones
- Vegan Babka
- Vegan Hamantaschen
- Matcha Pound Cake
- Easy Pie Crust - try with my Vegan Pumpkin Pie
- Coconut Cake
- Cranberry Chocolate Chip Jumbo Muffins
- Banana Bread
- Easy Thick Crust Pizza Dough
As always, I hope you love this recipe--I know I do, and Mr. Zardyplants does too. I told you how fast we ate it, lol.
This vegan Irish soda bread is:
- Soft but chewy
- Tender with a light crust
- Excellent with soup
- And perfect for breakfast or dessert, impressing guests or family!
Let me know in the comments below if you make this recipe or tag me @Zardyplants on Instagram so I can see your beautiful recreations! If you tag me on IG, I will share your post in my stories :)
Also, one quick request: if you love how this recipe looks or tastes, please leave me a 5-star rating and a nice comment–ratings help more people find my recipes which helps me keep providing them! Thank you!