Enjoy Irish Soda Bread recipes? If so, you are in for a treat! My Cranberry Soda Bread is a festive twist on the original and is perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas, holiday entertaining or simply with tea.
Years ago around the holidays, I thought it would be appropriate to adapt my Irish Soda Bread into something a little more festive.
So I decided to see what it would be like if I added fresh cranberries and lime zest in instead of my typical raisins.
Not only did this work BUT bay is it gorgeous AND delicious! So festive and everyone who has had this cranberry soda bread is smitten with it!
Think food gift, Christmas breakfast or brunch or just because. Yum!!
My recipe for Cranberry Soda Bread is moist, and sweet. Nothing dry about it. The cranberries give a nice burst of tart flavor.
I literally stood in my kitchen, all alone and took bite after bite from the huge piece I was enjoying. I was making happy food noises as I took bites, lol!
Can you see the moistness of the "cake-like bread here compared a typical Irish Soda Bread?? If you enjoy cranberry scones, this is more like a giant cranberry scone recipe in both taste and texture.
All alone in my house I was like, mmmmm, omnmnmn, mmrrrffffhh, ummmppfhhh. When I realized what I was doing, I started cracking up!
This bread is best warm in my opinion, like typical Irish Soda Bread. I mean it is good any time BUT hot-out-of-the-oven...you will be making happy-food-noises too, lol!
You can plop the dough in your pan and bake it where you go. That is often what I choose to do. Or you can bake it at home and tent it lightly with foil (if it is still warm) as it travels. Wrap from the bottom, leaving the foil opened allowing steam to escape from the top.
You can let it cool, plop it on a plate and use one of those see through gift bags to package it up complete with bow and recipe - an awesome holiday food gift idea (or any day)!
- baking powder
- baking soda
- lime (optional)
- heavy cream
- coarse sugar for dusting
Tips for making soda bread
- Soda bread is very forgiving, and you can make it in one bowl. Preheat your oven, gather your ingredients and your bowl and you will have it in the oven in well under 10 minutes.
- Parchment paper is key whether you make it in a cast iron skillet (mine is over 100 years old) or in an oven safe pan or even a cake pan. You want to use one of those thing to help it hold its shape. Whichever you choose line it with parchment paper, its fine if it sticks out of the pan. I am never without these parchment paper sheets, they are the best!
- Always make sure when baking your baking soda is fresh (not more than a month old if opened).
- U.S. buttermilk does not have the same fat content as Irish, so adding in heavy cream is key.
- Cranberries are tart, I recommend halving the berries and tossing with ¼ cup of the sugar first while you make the batter. (if you have time, allow them to sit that way for an 15-30 minutes or so), then fold them into your batter.
- Always let the faeries out! Or the devil...whichever theory you ascribe to!! After your batter is in the parchment paper lined pan, take a clean sharp knife and make a cross or X on top.
- Top the batter with coarse decorator sugar for an extra sweetness, and sparkling crust. The best! You can find them at most craft stores in the baking section or on Amazon. Love this sugar to top my sugar cookies with as well.
- Bake on top rack set to the middle area (no rack above).
- Bread is done when a wooden skewer or toothpick comes out mostly clean, not wet.
- You can bake this as one large loaf or make two smaller ones (it really makes a big loaf!). Smaller loaves will take less time overall but typically still at least 40 minutes.
- Lime zest completely optional, adds festive flecks of color for Christmas.
Here is the link to my original Irish Soda Bread I would put my Irish Soda Bread up against anyone's.
The TODAY show featured it and once the food editor of the Washington Post, who had a slice at an event we were at together called it "the prettiest Irish Soda Bread he ever saw" I am still smiling!!
I don't know about you, however as soon as I see that first bag of cranberries in the grocery store in the fall, I buy two right away and keep on buying until the season is over. You can make so many things with fresh cranberries.
Recipes using cranberries you may enjoy
- Check out My Cranberry Goat Cheese Log recipe, so easy and so festive!
- If you cranberries them as much as I do, you must make this Nantucket Pie aka Cranberry Pie (which is not a pie at all). This is just SO pretty and perfect for the holiday season, plus its so easy to make. Everyone always asks for the recipe.
- Also check out my Cranberry Lime Shortbread Cookies
- Orange Cranberry Scones
- Kale Salad with Goat Cheese & Cranberries
- Raisin Scones are delicious all year round and quicker to bake.
Cast Iron Pan - A must for every home cook. Lodge Pans are great and affordable, less than $20 for this pre-seasoned pan, which can last a lifetime!
Parchment Paper- the one thing I can not be without, ever! This is pre-cut, which is just so easy & efficient!
This post was originally published December, 2016. It was updated 10/26/22 with new information. This post contains affiliate links which mean if you click on one and purchase my suggested product, I get a payment of a few cents. Nutritional information calculated by a WordPress plugin.
Cranberry Soda Bread
- 2 cups of fresh or frozen cranberries
- 4 ½ cups of flour
- 1 ½ cups sugar divided
- 2 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- Dash of salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ cup butter softened
- 2 TBS lime zest (optional for a festive look)
- 2 cups buttermilk
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 large egg
- Coarse sugar for dusting
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- To make 1 large loaf, use a 10-12 inch cast iron pan or ovenproof skillet with 2-inch or better sides or to make 2 loaves use 2 smaller cast iron skillets, ovenproof pans or 2 cake pans.
- Cut a big enough circle of parchment paper out to line both the bottom and the sides of your pan(s).
- Toss cranberries with ¼ cup of the sugar and set aside.
- Whisk the flour, 1 ¼ cups of the sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl until blended.
- Add in the butter lime zest, buttermilk, heavy cream, egg and the cranberries that were tossed with the sugar to the dry ingredients and stir gently until incorporated – do not over mix.
- Scrape mixture into pan(s) then "let the faeries out" by making a shallow "x" with a sharp knife in the center of the dough. Sprinkle coarse decorator sugar or regular sugar overtop your loaf/loaves (it makes for a nice crust) and bake for one hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until toothpick or skewer inserted comes out dry. For smaller loaves, check after 45 minutes, however, most likely it will take an hour to bake.
- Once a wooden skewer inserted comes out not “wet” it is done. It can be moist crumbs...just not batter. Cool a bit then flip out of the pan(s), peel off the parchment paper and allow the bread to cool on a cooling rack, that is if you don’t just dig right in like my family and I do!
Oh wow. This looks amazing!! I need this in my life asap!
The Food Hunter says
Oh I will need to give these cranberries a try.
I was super impressed! They will now be my go-to!
Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet says
What a great idea, love this Christmas-themed soda bread!
Thanks! It's perfect for this time of year!
Jennifer Farley says
Um, what a BRILLIANT way to use cranberries! I love this!
Ashley @ Wishes & Dishes says
I've never seen cranberry soda bread before! I love this!
I didn’t have buttermilk, used diluted whole-milk canned milk with a little white vinegar and let sit a half hour, then subbed full-strength, whole-milk canned milk instead of cream. Wonderfully rich and moist with frozen cranberries, not too sweet thank goodness. Served warm with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream as a snack. Freezing other half. Love it!
Glad to hear it worked out with your substitution!
Alyssa | EverydayMaven says
That is stunning!!
Heather | All Roads Lead to the Kitchen says
This looks incredible - so tall and packed with deliciousness. Love the Christmas twist on soda bread!
Erin @ Texanerin Baking says
I'm all for straight out of the oven! Especially when it comes to this bread.
Angie | Big Bear's Wife says
Good luck in the contest!!! This bread! ahh I love the cranberries spotted throughout!
The sugar says divided, where does the 2nd part get added? Also when are the cranberries added? I must have missed it. Thanks
From the 1 1/2 cups of sugar, you remove 1/4 cup sugar to toss the cranberries in. Merry Christmas!
The recipe calls for 2 cups of cranberries in the beginning, the 2 more cups about halfway through the recipe. Is that correct?
Just 2 cups total. Thanks for pointing that out Marge!
We do love soda bread and making it with cranberries is so clever! Can't wait to try it!
Jersey Girl Cooks says
Cranberries make this Irish soda bread even better! Yum!
My house is ensconced with the fragrance of warm soda bread! 10 more minutes in the oven ... can’t wait to slice in to it!
I hope you enjoyed it!
I love this recipe. It is makes a woderful bread this time of year with the cranberries. I added some choped walnuts. Oh so good! Thanks for your great recipe. I will make more with fresh cranberries in season.
So happy you enjoyed it! Merry Christmas!
Amelia Susco says
Can you use dried cranberries?
I have not tried this with dried, it should be fine just different since those are not tart. Do not add the 1/4 cup of sugar to toss with the berries...since they are sweetened.
Made this tonight, yes, get a cast iron skillet and a loaf pan, this is a big dough...also, I added orange instead of lime zest. It came out gorgeous ! very moist, with just the rignt amount of sweetness. Thank you for this ♥
Fantastic to hear Ayko! I have never tried it in a cast iron pan, love hearing that worked!
Angela Barton says
Found this recipe via Tik Tok and I'm dying to try this out, yum!! I would love to make smaller versions of this loaf in mini disposable pans for family and friends this christmas. Do you think this could work? Also is it 2 cups of halved cranberries or 2 cups whole and then cut the cranberries?
2 cups halved cranberries. That should work fine. Add the coarse sugar to the top to make it extra pretty!
Angela Barton says
Thank you! 🙂
Marti Goss says
I cant believe how much this recipe made! enough for 2 large loaves! and its moist! Just yummy!!
So glad you love it Marti!!
I couldn’t wait to try this yummy recipe. I do have a question for you, though after I mixed everything together, I noticed that there were still chunks of butter in my batter. I made sure the butter was very soft and I mixed it very well. Is it possible next time I could use melted butter? And I will get the same results.?
You can totally use melted butter as well.