gluten free Irish soda bread without buttermilk

Gluten free Irish Soda Bread without buttermilk

Why make gluten free Irish Soda Bread without buttermilk?

Many people suffer from food intolerance and find they can’t eat the ready made products for sale in the shops anymore because they contain the things they have a problem with. Bread in particular can a be difficult product to source. If you’ve ever read the content lable of bread you will find that a lot of the breads or bread like products like scones, muffins, rolls, baps etc contain a lot more than just let’s say flour, yeast or some other kind of raising agent and water. Often they contain a bunch of E numbers and other additives and while you think you might be eating a wheat bread these often contain other flours such as soya etc.

At this point I don’t want to go into the problems or concerns some or many of you might have regarding preservatives, flavour enhancers etc. I will actually side step all that because I’m more interested to just look at what is in shop bought breads that might cause a problem for someone who has MS and is following a diet that recommends a no-saturated fat diet and/or who also happens to avoid gluten. In Ireland Soda bread is traditionally made from wheat, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and buttermilk. You can use either wholemeal or white flour or a mix of the two. There are sweet variation for which you might add currants and sugar to the dough.

If you have a gluten intolerance and don’t eat dairy products you basically can’t eat traditional Irish Soda Bread. If you still want to have the pleasure of eating soda bread you can now make gluten free Irish soda bread without buttermilk!

How to make Irish Soda Bread gluten free and without buttermilk

Irish Soda bread is super simple to make and today you can find a whole range of wheat flour alternatives. So you could just swap the wheat flour with the gluten free flour of your choice. As I enjoy the wholemeal texture of a brown Irish soda bread, I prefer to mix my own flour for the bread as I find the ready mixes for gluten free brown bread don’t have enough texture to resemble the wheat breads. I also add some gluten free rolled oats to the dough for that reason.

The second ingredient to replace would be the buttermilk. Some recipes for soda bread without buttermilk suggest to simply use regular milk (or milk alternatives like soya milk). However, the acid in the buttermilk is a major contributor to the baking process as it helps the bread to rise better giving the end product a lighter and fluffier texture. Therefore, if you don’t want to use buttermilk and choose let’s say soya milk you can add a tsp of (cider) vinegar or lemon juice. I tend to use natural soya yoghurt mixed with water. The water yoghurt mix resembles butter milk best in my opinion.

What makes and Irish Soda bread traditional isn’t so much the wheat or the buttermilk in my opinion. I think it’s more to do with the bicarbonate of soda and the baking powder as a raising agent for the flour. There texture of a bread made without yeast but soda as a raising agent is what gives its texture and taste. And you can still make traditional Irish soda bread once you figure out how to use these in combination with other flours and other acid adding ingredients.


Ingredients for one Loaf – Preparation time 5-10 min (baking time 25-30 min)

  • 1 cup /240 g gluten free brown flour mix
  • 3/4 cup/180 g buckwheat flour
  • 1/4 cup/60g gluten free rolled oats
  • 14 fl oz/400ml natural soya yoghurt/water mix (1:3 ratio)
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp salt



  1. Pre-heat the oven to 390˚F/200˚C.
  2. Using a large mixing bowl combine all the dry ingredients.
  3. Add the yoghurt/water mix to the dry ingredients and quickly combine to a wet dough. Do not over kneed the dough but combine it quickly kneading it together with your hands. Don’t worry if the dough feels sticky, cover the work surface with some extra rolled oats and kneed the dough in it.
  4. Transfer the dough to a silicone baking tin. Score the top of the bread with a cut that is about 1/2 inch (1 cm deep) and bake in the oven for 25 -30 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and let the bread cool for a few minutes in the tin. Then wrap it in a clean kitchen towel and let it cool on a wire rack. The town will prevent the crust to get too hard.

The bread is best enjoyed still slightly warm. I love having it with freshly made homemade blackberry jam. At this time all the countryside hedges in Ireland are full of ripe blackberries and making jam is one of my favourite ways to use up these later summer gifts.