The Recipe that Saved my St. Patty’s Day Dinner – Irish Soda Bread if you Don’t Have Buttermilk!

Yesterday was almost a sad day.

It’s St. Patty’s Week, I had Tuesday off and a little extra time on my hands, so I thought it would be an awesome opportunity to spend the evening in the kitchen making a nice traditional Irish dinner. My kid takes afternoon naps for up to three hours, so it really is an awesome opportunity to destroy my kitchen cooking up a storm 🙂

I stopped at the local boutique grocery store for supplies. I LOVE a side of Irish Soda Bread with my Irish dinners… especially my Guinness Shepherd’s Pie, which was on the menu for tonight. To my dismay, the grocery only had Soda Bread chalk-full of raisins, and I absolutely despise raisins. I have attempted making my own Soda Bread once before and it didn’t turn out awesome, but with my only choices being to choke down raisin bread and pretend I like it or attempt my own Soda Bread and try not to screw it up this time, I obviously chose the latter.

Well, I arrive home, kid goes down for nap, and all the stars are aligning for my glorious, uninterrupted 3-hour Irish feast prep. I pull down my Irish cookbook and open to the Soda Bread recipe. It only has four ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk. WTF guys, I FORGOT THE BUTTERMILK!! There is no way I am about to wake a 2-year-old up from a nap just to run to the store, and it was too late for an Amazon Prime no delivery. So, my last and only option was to turn to the internets and see if someone has an alternative recipe suggestion without buttermilk.

Well, fate was obviously in favor of my epic dinner, because I found a recipe almost right away! The foodie goddess who saved my meal’s name is Katie Moseman who runs a blog called Recipe for Perfection. The recipe’s name is Soda Bread Without Buttermilk, which um-hello, was my exact predicament. What Katie did was use a little vinegar to turn the milk sour, which basically converts it into the same flavor and consistency as buttermilk: genius!!

Her idea in coming up with this recipe is that buttermilk is something most people don’t have on-hand in their refrigerator, so with her technique you are still able to whip up a quick loaf on a whim without running to the store.

A side note from my internet search – I found that there is literally A “Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread… apparently the Irish take their Soda Bread THAT seriously!

I laughed that there is a non-for-profit dedicated to Soda Bread of all things, but when reading on their website actually found some interesting info. Historically, Soda Bread was an Irish peasant’s food, sometimes the only component to their meal. The bread was only made out of four ingredients since those were the staples they usually had… things such as raisins or olives added would have been a luxury and therefore are a faux pas in modern Soda Bread claiming to be ‘traditional’.

So, take that Central Market and quit trying to shove this raisin bread at me!! 😉

The bread is quite simple. 


  • 2T White Vinegar
  • 2C Milk
  • 4 1/4 C Flour
  • 1 1/2t Baking Soda
  • 1t Salt
  • 1t Sugar


Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

First, pour your 2T of vinegar into your liquid measuring receptacle, then top off to 2C of milk (so, you will be using 2C of milk less 2T). It is easiest do this with a 2C or larger liquid measuring cup, but you can pour into a bowl if you do not have one. Set aside to let the mixture sour up.

In a large bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients. Make a nest in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour the wet in the middle. Use a fork to gently mix the wet into dry, only to combine. Do not over mix!

On a lightly floured surface, dump out the dough, and flour your hands before kneading. Handle the dough as little as possible (this is where I think I have gone wrong in the past). Knead maybe 2-3 times just for a few seconds.

Take a large sharp knife and halve the bread.

With floured hands, lightly form a ball, place on your baking surface, and press the top to flatten just slightly.

Again with your large knife, cut an “X” across the top of the bread. This is also an awesome tip from Katie that allows this very dense bread to cook all the way through. In the past I have had Soda Breads with a gummy middle since the heat was not able to make it all the way through, and this technique lead me to have a perfectly cooked loaf.

Bake approx 35 minutes, and cool slightly. This bread is made to be served the same day.

My husband was so impressed with how professional my bread looked that he told me I went up a few points in wife-hotness after serving him this with dinner… don’t tell him how easy this is to make 😉


17 Replies to “The Recipe that Saved my St. Patty’s Day Dinner – Irish Soda Bread if you Don’t Have Buttermilk!”

  1. Your bread looks awesome! FYI – I hardly ever buy buttermilk, but have several recipes that call for it. It is made simply by mixing 1 TBSP vinegar with a cup of milk – just as your recipe has here. So ANYtime a recipe calls for buttermilk – simply make the milk/vinegar mixture. It has never failed me. 🙂

    1. That is totally the technique used in this recipe – I seriously had NO IDEA! I can’t tell you how many times I have skipped making something because I didn’t have buttermilk on hand. Such a nifty trick to learn!!

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