This easy vegan Irish soda bread recipe is made with delicious hearty whole wheat flour, raisins and caraway seeds. Just like traditional Irish soda bread, baking soda is used as the rising agent so you can have hot fresh vegan soda bread ready to eat under and hour, with no yeast.
What Is Soda Bread
Irish soda bread is a type of quick bread that uses sodium bicarbonate to achieve its rise. I’ve been making soda bread since I was a girl and it is one of my favorite recipes to make when I’m craving homemade bread but don’t wan’t to wait for yeasted dough to rise. My mother would bake loaves of soda bread studded with raisins and caraway seeds to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day here in the US. Classic Irish soda bread is typically a plain white or whole grain bread without mix-ins, but eggs, sugar, raisins or currants are often added to soda bread made in the States.
An Easy Vegan Bread Recipe
Traditional Irish soda bread is a quick and easy bread made with simple ingredients and is easy to to convert into a vegan version because it does not contain eggs. This delicious bread is beast eaten hot from the oven and slathered with your favorite vegan butter. It has a a hearty texture thanks to the addition of whole wheat flour and a crumb structure similar to that of scones. In fact the process of making soda bread is very similar to making scones. First you cur butter into the dry flour mixture then add homemade vegan buttermilk to form a sticky and wet dough. The resulting bread is perfect to enjoy on it own or used in place of regular bread or yeast bread at breakfast, served at teatime with butter and jam, or as a side with dinner.
Flour – Use a mix of plain white flour and whole wheat flour to create a rustic loaf of bread with a hearty texture. Unbleached all purpose flour aka plain flour in Ireland and the UK helps create a soft and tender crumb. Irish wholemeal flour is coarsely ground from soft whole wheat and is used in Irish soda bread and brown bread recipes. The closest thing readily available in the States is stone ground whole wheat flour. King Arthur Flour makes an Irish-Style Flour for soda bread as well. Substitutions: To make gluten free soda bread, swap the flour with a 1-1 gluten free flour blend that is also vega, such as Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour.
Baking Soda – Baking soda or bicarbonate of soda is the leavening agent used to give a lofty rise to its namesake bread. Bicarb soda is alkaline and reacts when combined with the acids from the vinegar, creating air bubbles which make the bread rise in the oven.
Non-Dairy Milk – Use plain unsweetened plant-based milk such as soy milk, almond milk, oat milk or any dairy free milk of your choice. Substitutions: Alternatively, you can use vegan yogurt with a loose consistency instead of making vegan buttermilk.
Apple Cider Vinegar – Adding vinegar to the the non dairy milk creates a vegan alternative to buttermilk or sour milk. The acid from the vinegar is needed to activate the baking soda. Substitutions: Swap apple cider vinegar with white vinegar or white wine vinegar. I don’t suggest using lemon juice as the acidity level varies from lemon to lemon, while most commercial vinegars have consistent level of 5% acidity.
Vegan Butter – Vegan butter adds a bit of fat for richness and moisture and helps to create a more tender bread with a texture almost similar to a scone. Use a vegan butter alternative appropriate for baking, such as buttery sticks, Country Crock plant butter or Miyokos Eurpoean cultured vegan butter. Substitutions – Swap vegan butter with 2 tbs/30g olive oil.
Sweetener – A touch of honey or a vegan alternative adds a hint of sweetness that brings out the inherent sweet flavor of whole wheat. Substitutions: You can omit the honey altogether or swap it with molasses, treacle, maple syrup, golden syrup, cane sugar or coconut sugar.
Salt – Salt brings out the flavors in breads and baked goods. I use Diamond Crystal kosher salt in all my cooking and baking recipes. Substitutions: Use an equal amount in grams (not volume) of fine grain salt of your choice.
Raisins – While raisins are not traditionally added to Irish soda bread, they are a common addition to soda bread made in the US. Raisins add a touch of sweetness. In Ireland, soda bread made with raisins is called spotted dog. Substitutions: Swap raisins with dried currants or other dried fruit.
Caraway Seeds – Caraway seeds add distinct flavor to soda bread that plays off of the sweetness from the raisins. If you’re unfamiliar with their flavor, they are often added to rye bread. They have a bittersweet taste with a hint of anise and citrus.
How to Make Vegan Easy Irish Soda Bread
Step 1: Mix the wet ingredients
First preheat the oven and line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.
Stir the non-dairy milk, apple cider vinegar and sweetener of your choice together in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup and set it aside to thicken.
Step 2: Mix the dry ingredients
Step 3: Cut in the butter
Cut the cold vegan butter into cubes and coat them in the flour mixture. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingers or a pastry cutter until the flour mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs with some pea-sized bits.
Step 4: Add mix-ins
Mix the raisins and caraways seeds into the flour mixture with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula at this point if adding them.
Step 5: Mix the dough
Gently combine the wet mixture into the dry mix with clean hands or a Danish dough whisk until they are just incorporated into a wet and sticky dough. Be careful of over-mixing the dough or it can become dense and heavy.
Step 6: Shape the diary free Irish soda bread
Sprinkle some flour into the parchment paper and turn the wet dough out onto the prepared baking tray. Generously dust the dough with extra flour and press it into a round loaf with clean hands.
Step 7: Cut a cross into the dough
Use a sharp knife to cut a deep cross into the top of the dough to help the bread expand in the oven.
Step 8: Bake the easy vegan bread
Bake the soda bread until it has risen nicely with a dark golden brown crust and sounds hollow when the bottom of the loaf is tapped. Transfer the bread to a cooling rack.
Serve the soda bread warm from the oven and cut it into wedges or let it cool to room temperature before slicing it. Use a sharp serrated knife to cut the bread.
How to Store Vegan Soda Bread
Vegan Irish soda bread is best eaten the day it’s made, but leftover soda bread will keep in a sealed bag at room temperature for up to 3 days.
For longer storage, slice the loaf and freeze the slices in a sealed freezer-safe bag for up to 3 months. Defrost and warm up individual soda bread slices in the toaster or oven before serving them.
What to Serve with Dairy-Free Irish Soda Bread
This easy vegan bread recipe is the perfect recipe to make when you want fresh homemade vegan bread ready in under an hour. Make it for St. Patrick’s Day dinner with vegan Irish stew. Serve it for breakfast with good vegan butter and your favorite jam or marmalade. It’s the perfect afternoon snack to serve with tea.
Yes, to freeze soda bread first slice it and freeze the slices in a freezer bag for up to 3 months. Defrost and warm the slices in the toaster or oven.
No, classic Irish soda bread is made with wheat flour, which contains gluten. To make vegan gluten free soda bread replace the wheat flours with a 1-1 gluten free flour.
The first soda leavened breads were made by Native Americans. Early American colonists commercialized baking soda and brought it back to Europe. Irish soda bread came into existence in the 1830s.
More Delicious Vegan Bread Recipes
- Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread Recipe – Vegan Option
- Easy Sourdough Naan Recipe – Vegan
- Vegan Skillet Cornbread
- Homemade Artisan Sourdough Bread Recipe
- Homemade Sourdough Bagels Recipe Course
- Soft Sourdough Hot Cross Buns Recipe with Edible Flowers
- Vegan Sourdough Donuts
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- 120 g unsweetened soy milk 1/2 cup, or other non-dairy milk
- 15 g apple cider vinegar 1 tablespoon
- 24 g honey 1 tablespoons, or other sweetener
- 105 g all purpose flour 3/4 cup
- 105 g stoneground whole wheat flour 3/4 cup
- 3 g kosher salt 1/2 teaspoon
- 3 g baking soda 1/2 teaspoon
- 42 g vegan butter 3 tablespoons or 30g/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 50 g raisins 1/3 cup, optional
- 7 g caraway seeds 1 tablespoon, optional
- Preheat oven to 400˚F/205˚C. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- Stir the non-dairy milk, apple cider vinegar and honey or sweetener of your choice together in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup and set it aside to thicken.
- Cut the butter into cubes and coat the pieces in the flour mixture. Then use your hands to cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs with some pea-sized lumps.
- Mix the raisins and caraway seeds into the flour mixture at this point if adding them.
- Gently combine the wet mixture into the dry mix with clean hands or a dough whisk until they are just incorporated into a wet and sticky dough. Be careful not to over-mix the dough.
- Turn the dough out onto the prepared baking sheet. Generously dust it with flour and shape it into a round.
- Cut a 1/2-inch deep cross into the top of the loaf.
- Bake the soda bread for about 40 minutes or until it is dark golden brown and sounds hollow when you tap the bottom of the loaf. The internal temperature should reach about 200˚F/93˚C.
- Remove the soda bread from the oven and serve it warm cut into wedges or cool to room temperature before slicing it.
- Best eaten the day it’s made, but leftover soda bread will keep in a sealed bag at room temperature for up to 3 days.
- For longer storage, slice the loaf then freeze the slices in an airtight freezer bag for up to 3 months. Thaw or toast before serving.