Cheddar and Bacon Soda Bread

4.76 from 77 votes
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A twist on traditional Irish soda bread, this no-rise crusty cheddar and bacon bread is packed with melted cheese, savory meat, and scallions.

Slices of bacon soda bread with cheese stacked on top of eachother.

There is one traditional St. Patrick’s Day recipe my family always looks forward to each year, Irish soda bread! This version is a little different. I make it with generous bits of chopped bacon, melted sharp cheddar cheese, and scallions in each crusty slice. It is perfect for enjoying with classic St. Patrick’s Day dishes, such as corned beef and cabbage, or delicious stews.

The best part is that each loaf is ready in under an hour. No need to wait for the dough to rise. Preparing only takes 15 minutes, and the loaf comes together in one bowl. I usually get the corned beef and cabbage going earlier in the day and then make this soda bread about an hour before dinner.

Quick bread

Soda bread loaf before baking in the oven.

The leavening agent is baking soda instead of using yeast to make the bread rise. That means the prep time is quick and easy. Essentially known as a “quick bread,” you can add your favorite ingredients to make this soda bread delicious.

I have done traditional loaves and sweet soda bread in the past. However, this bacon soda bread recipe is my favorite rendition so far! I even received a stamp of approval from my half-Irish husband, Jason. It probably doesn’t hurt that I incorporated his favorite ingredient, bacon!

Bacon selection

I use American-style bacon slices for a smoky flavor and crisp texture. Regular or thick cuts can be used. Cook the two pieces in a saute pan or cast iron skillet. It only takes a few minutes to prepare.

Alternatively, make a big tray of bacon in the oven, then use the leftovers for meal prep. Irish bacon can also be used. It has less fatty and is lean. Just sear and chop up the bacon to add to the bread.

Make the dough

This savory bacon and cheese quick bread is made all in one large bowl. Combine the dry ingredients first; sifted flour, baking soda, salt, black pepper, and sugar. I use sharp cheddar cheese, nitrite-free bacon, green onions, and a hint of freshly cracked pepper to intensify the savory notes. Add the buttermilk, mix, then knead and shape into a rough dough ball.

The Irish soda bread is scored with a cross shape on top to help the heat in the oven penetrate the thickest part. These cuts help for quicker and more even baking and allow for the dough’s expansion as it rises for a nice dense round loaf.

Bake the bread

Irish soda bread with melted cheddar and bacon bits.

Use a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a cast iron skillet to cook the bread. Bake until the bread is lightly golden brown, about 25 minutes. There are a few additional ways to tell if the bread is done cooking. Tap the bottom of the loaf. If it sounds hollow, it’s a good indication that it is ready.

Alternatively, use an instant-read thermometer. It’s ready when the thickest part is between 190 to 200°F (88 to 93ºC).

Slice and serve

Close up of slices of of Irish soda bread showing the cheese and bacon inside.

Let the bread cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before slicing to allow for carryover cooking. The crunchy brown crust with a gorgeous rise in the oven results in a tender, chewy center! The smell of smoky bacon and aromatic green onions is so enticing when you slice into a loaf when still steamy and fresh out of the oven.

Irish soda bread is best enjoyed when served warm; the cheese is like lava. Your guests will devour this soda bread, so you may want to double the recipe and make two loaves! I think this year I will be serving this with my Guinness corned beef stew recipe, yum! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

More Irish recipes

Slices of soda bread on a cutting board.

Recipe Science

What is traditional Irish soda bread?

There are many variations of Irish soda bread. They all typically contain flour, baking soda, and dairy (milk, buttermilk, yogurt, and even sour cream). The magic in Irish soda bread is baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), the leavening agent that allows the dough to rise without hours of proofing. The baking soda reacts with the acid in the mixture (buttermilk), resulting in carbon dioxide (gas) released in the dough, causing the dough to expand and rise.

Cheddar and Bacon Soda Bread

A twist on traditional variation, this crusty cheddar and bacon Irish soda bread recipe is packed with melted cheese, savory meat and scallions.
4.76 from 77 votes
Prep Time14 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time39 minutes
Servings 4
Course Bread
Cuisine Irish

Ingredients 
 

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2 ounces sharp cheddar, cut into ¼" cubes
  • 2 slices bacon
  • 2 tablespoons green onions, sliced
  • ¾ cup buttermilk

Instructions 

  • Preheat the Oven – Set the oven temperature to 400°F (204ºC). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and sprinkle a small amount of flour onto the sheet where you will be placing the bread.
  • Cook the Bacon – In a saute pan set over medium heat, add the bacon and cook until crispy, about 2 minutes per side. Cool, chop, and reserve.
  • Make the Dough – In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, black pepper, and sugar, and whisk until combined. Add the cheddar, bacon, and green onions, and stir to combine. Add the buttermilk, mixing until combined.
  • Knead the Dough – Knead for 1 to 2 minutes, until the dough is hydrated and holds together. Form the dough into a round loaf and transfer it to the floured parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Cut a cross into the top of the dough, about 1/2-inch deep and 2 inches long.
  • Bake – Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, or until the surface is lightly browned and it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom of the loaf. If you have an instant-read thermometer, test the center of the bread for doneness, it's ready between 190 to 200°F (88 to 93ºC).

Recipe Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • Storing: Wrap in foil and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost before using. 

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4
Calories 289kcal (14%)Carbohydrates 47g (16%)Protein 12g (24%)Fat 6g (9%)Saturated Fat 3g (15%)Polyunsaturated Fat 0.2gMonounsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 17mg (6%)Sodium 626mg (26%)Potassium 185mg (5%)Fiber 2g (8%)Sugar 3g (3%)Vitamin A 150IU (3%)Vitamin C 0.8mg (1%)Calcium 140mg (14%)Iron 2.3mg (13%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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42 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Phyllis Murphy says

    Can your soda bread recipes be made with GF Pillsbury 1 to 1 flour?
    It looks so good, but I haven’t tried due to GF issues.
    Thanks

  2. Peggy Rian says

    I have been looking for a savory soda bread for quite some time. I made this yesterday for our corned beef and cabbage meal. It was such a big hit!! I will be making this recipe regularly for any type of meal. My husband just could not get enough. Guess I’ll have to start making 2 at a time from now on. Thanks for sharing!!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      No, I would bake the bread soon after mixing soda that the baking soda does not lose its leavening power.

  3. Chris says

    Deeelish! Are used about 3 ounces of cheese, half extra sharp cheddar and half ghost pepper cheddar. It made a great breakfast with a couple of fried eggs, and I plan to use it for a roast beef sandwich at lunch. I will definitely make this again and I’m going to try your steamed pork buns soon. I lived in the San Francisco Bay area area for many years and haven’t had a good one since I left.

  4. C. Oneil says

    Made this tonight in my brand new Samsung oven. Oh my was this good! Had a beef stew simmering in the crockpot and they paired perfectly. Used chopped pepperoni slices and shredded the cheese. Loved the pepper. Mine did come out a tiny bit under baked, but I’m still getting used to my new oven. Thank you for including internal temp recommendations too. Hubby said, “I don’t like Irish soda bread.” Well, he gobbled this one! A keeper. Thanks again.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      So glad that you got to break in the oven with the Irish soda bread! This recipe is a little more moist and dense, so you can bake longer at a reduced temperature if needed to cook inside longer. Sounds perfect with beef stew!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I appreciate your feedback, Jon! Did you feel like there was enough buttermilk to make the dough, just not sour enough in flavor? Also, how old is your baking soda? It’s a more dense bread, however, I’ve never had issues with it being flat.

  5. Lauren says

    This was sooooo good! I left out the scallions and doubled the bacon and cheese. Perfectly crunchy on the outside and soft in the inside. Delicious!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you for your feedback Lauren! I’m happy to hear that doubling the bacon and cheese works well in the recipe.

  6. Debbie says

    What is the shelf life? If I have to make ahead, and can hide from my husband after removing from the oven!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Debbie- It tastes the best the same day. However, you can slice it up and freeze, then toast in the oven to reheat. You can also reheat the loaf in the oven the next day.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Sharon- I think you could use bread flour, however it will be chewier since there is more gluten in the flour. It might be a nice texture! Let me know how it goes!

  7. Jess Thomas says

    I made this last night since I had some extra bacon and it was SO EASY!! And so delicious, I had to stop myself from eating the entire loaf!! Will for sure make again 🙂

    • Jessica Gavin says

      It’s so nice to have extra bacon in the house so you can make yummy bread like this one, hehe. It’s hard to resist when it’s fresh from the oven. Thanks for giving it a try Jess!

  8. Maggie Morris says

    Jessica,
    The combo of the cheese, bacon and onions in the bread was really good. And it came together so fast. Had the traditional texture of a soda bread which is awesome. The bread went really well with our corned beef?. I used low fat sharp cheddar and it melted great.
    I love everything of yours that I try.
    Happy St. Pat’s Day.
    I sentapic to Katie and encouraged her to give it a try.
    Maggie

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed the recipe Maggie! It’s so perfect with corned beef or some stew. I’ll have to try low fat cheddar next time. Thank you so much for making and sharing my recipes. Happy St. Paddy’s day!

  9. Maggie Morris says

    Jessica,
    Katie’s sister Maggie from St. Louis. This is on the menu for Friday’s corned beef and cabbage dinner. It looks awesome. The cheddar is an interesting addition. I will let you know how it goes – I am sure I will talk Katie and my daughter Elizabeth into giving it a try.
    Maggie

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Maggie! I’m so excited for your celebration, sounds like a blast 🙂 Let me know how it goes!

  10. Bonnie says

    Jessica, this looks amazing! Is there a way to ‘bake’ this in a crock pot? My family moved recently, and our rental did not come with an oven. So, I’m trying to find new recipes to still cook with more than just a microwave or electric skillet.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Bonnie- Great question! I have never done it before, but I think it’s worth a try. The surface won’t be brown and the texture may be a little chewier, but I could still be very delicious! I would line the bottom of the slow cooker with parchment paper, add in the loaf and cook on high for about 1.5 to 2 hours, checking every 30 minutes after 1.5 hours. If you have a thermometer the bread is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 190 to 200 degrees F.

      Let me know how it goes!

  11. Mary Oliver says

    I was a little skeptical because there is no egg in the recipe but it turned out great!!! Thanks for a delicious recipe !

  12. Carla says

    Looks fabulous! I’d like to use the recipe to make biscuits. Do I need to alter baking time or the recipe? Thanks!

  13. Jill Thomas says

    Hi Jess! Can yol me how far in advance you could make the dough ball before you bake it. If I wanted to make for a group I would have to make several and doing ahead (at least the dough part) would be great?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Jill! Yes you prepare the dough beforehand. I would just wrap it in a ball in plastic wrap, then take it out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you are ready to bake. Let me know how it goes!

  14. Susan Bassik says

    This sounds scrumptious! Think you could make it with almond meal or oats–or another substitute for all purpose flour? Thanks

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you Susan! I would first try gluten free flour, like the blends sold by bob’s redmill or cup4cup. I think you could definitely give almond flour or ground oats a try, but maybe a blend of the two so the bread hs some structure but not gummy if you go all oatmeal. Let me know how it goes!

  15. Judy Caywood says

    Wow that is beautiful Jessica. My husband loves his Irish roots so I will have to look into getting the ingredients and making this for him.

  16. Kerry Bolsover says

    I tried this today as a treat for my mum but left out the scallions and it is delicious and just about the right size for two to enjoy (if you are hungry) or three to share with other things! I have already made a second one again without the scallions in and am looking at making it again next weekend and will probably try it with them

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Kerry- I’m so glad to here you enjoyed the recipe! I love how fast it is to make, definitely even tastier the scallions 🙂