Moist Sourdough Discard Soda Bread

By Amanda Paa – Updated April 12, 2024
4.93 from 26 votes
A deeply flavorful soda bread made with sourdough discard, citrus zest, and dried cranberries. It’s an untraditional version of Irish soda bread with a tender, scone-like crumb rather than dry crumb! It’s extra easy to bake at home, and because it doesn’t require proofing or rising it’s a terrific beginner sourdough bread recipe.
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sourdough discard soda bread slices with honey and butter

I am zero parts Irish. And this is not a traditional Irish Soda Bread.

This is my version of Soda Bread, using sourdough discard, buttermilk, dried cranberries, and loads of fresh citrus zest. The crumb is tender and soft with a scraggy top, more of a scone type of texture, which I prefer! It’s why I love these sourdough pumpkin scones, too.

I was inspired to make soda bread after watching the entire season of Nadya’s Time to Eat on Netflix. In one of the episodes, she made a soda bread with homemade butter, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Why I Love This Recipe

In the past when I’ve made Irish soda bread, I was always disappointed by the lack of flavor and dry texture. I know it’s traditionally a somewhat bland bread, but if I’m going to eat something, I want to enjoy it – end of story. And what better than sourdough discard to bring a deeper, complex flavor!

That’s also where the citrus zest and dried cranberries come in. You’ll rub the citrus zest into the flour, releasing all of the oils which carry flavor and aroma. It’s divine!

ingredients for irish soda bread

Ingredients for Leftover Sourdough Starter Soda Bread:

  • all-purpose flour
  • sourdough discard
  • butter
  • buttermilk
  • sugar
  • zest of an orange and a lemon
  • dried cranberries
  • baking soda + baking powder
dried cranberries in soda bread dough
sourdough discard soda bread before baked, in a pan

Tips for Making Delicious Soda Bread:

  1. Making soda bread is a little like making biscuits – you don’t want to over-knead the dough. Be gentle, just bringing it together so that the loose flour bits are absorbed. Over-kneading will cause the gluten to develop and lead to tough bread.
  2. Freeze your butter so that it stays cold in the dough, then creates flaky pockets when it hits the oven.
  3. Don’t leave out the citrus zest – it imparts all the flavor.
  4. Slather with butter and honey to enjoy soda bread at its finest.

How long does sourdough discard stay good in your refrigerator?

I like to keep my sourdough discard in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. It might accumulate a little liquid on the top, which is called hooch, simply meaning alcohol that is the byproduct of fermentation. You can simple pour the liquid off into garbage and use the discard.

More Sourdough Discard Recipes:

sourdough discard soda bread slices with honey and butter
sourdough soda bread with butter and honey slathered on the slice
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sourdough discard soda bread with a blue cloth wrapped around it, honey in a small bowl and butter in a small bowl next to it.

Moist Sourdough Discard Soda Bread

A flavorful soda bread made with sourdough discard, citrus zest, and dried cranberries. The crumb is tender and soft, reminiscent of a scone! Recipe requires no special tools and can be made in an hour.
4.93 from 26 votes
Prep Time :10 minutes
Cook Time :40 minutes
Total Time :50 minutes
Yield: 1 loaf
Author: Amanda Paa



  • 280 grams all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 40 grams cane sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 45 grams frozen butter
  • zest of one orange
  • zest of one lemon
  • 85 grams dried cranberries, preferably unsweetened
  • 100 grams sourdough discard
  • 180 grams buttermilk
  • coarse sugar for sprinkling on top


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
  • Grate frozen butter using the large holes on a box grater. Add butter and zest of the orange and lemon to dry mixture. Rub the butter and zest into the flour mixture to lightly coat.
  • Make a well in the middle of the mixture. Add cranberries to well.
  • Whisk together discard and buttermilk, then pour over the cranberries. Mix dough together with spatula until it becomes thick, then gently with your hand to bring the dough together.
  • Tip dough out onto counter and gently knead for 15 seconds with floured hands – the dough will be shaggy and a little bit dry like biscuit dough. Mound into a ball, about 5-6 inches in diameter, dough will be shaggy. Do not flatten the top of dough.
  • Brush dough with a little more buttermilk and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Use a knife to make a 3/4 inch deep x in the middle of the dough.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes, until golden brown and center is cooked through. Let cool for 10 minutes. Then eat with butter and honey.

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March 3, 2021


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Recipe Rating

4.93 from 26 votes (11 ratings without comment)

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  1. Laura

    5 stars
    fantastic recipe! :) Loved by the whole fam and the house smells so good when baking! Thanks for sharing!

    • Amanda Paa

      Yay, thanks for making the recipe!

  2. Jenn S

    5 stars
    This is delicious!! I had to add a few dried cherries, I didn’t have enough dried cranberries, and I used a pinch of caraway seeds, just because, I have to give it away; I’m afraid I’ll eat the entire loaf!! Thank you for a great recipe. I will be making this again and sharing the recipe!,

    • Amanda Paa

      so glad you enjoyed it Jenn! and love the addition of a little caraway.

  3. Lauren

    5 stars
    I’ve made it twice! The first time it was slightly underbaked on a few middle pieces so today and I did the full 45 and it was perfect and a hit for Easter.

    • Amanda Paa

      Yay, so glad to hear that Lauren!

  4. Michele

    5 stars
    This recipe is delicious! The sweet/tart of the craisins and the citrus zest give the bread a dessert-like quality, especially when drizzled with honey. I split the dough in half and make 2 smaller loaves. Baking time is 30-35 minutes. If you’re dairy free, you can mix almond milk and lemon juice in place of buttermilk. The only thing I would like to see included in the recipe are the nutritional facts.

  5. Eileen Satter

    5 stars
    This recipe is delicious as written!

    • Amanda Paa

      So glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for making the recipe.

  6. virginia

    I haven’t made this one yet excited to try it so I understand correctly this comes together and straight into the oven no stretch and pulls or proofing

    • Amanda Paa

      Correct! This is a quick bread.

  7. Maggie

    Hi Amanda,
    I have made this many times and in fact made it again today.

    I’m hoping you read the comments because I have a sourdough starter problem and wasn’t sure how to get in touch. I have two containers of starter that I use alternately – one my my daughter smarted during Covid and even has a name.. so I was away for a month and when I got home and was ready to bake, I took the named sourdough starter (Fred) out, fed it as usual and left it out overnight and it didn’t revive. I tried feeding it again but no luck. It looked fine when I took it out, didn’t smell like finger nail polish remover, wasn’t discolored so not sure what the problem could be. I was able to revive the second starter so I can still bake but I would like to revive the original one if I could. I used the discard from that one to make the soda bread today so its volume is a bit diminished which I think was good. Any ideas? I tried switching the flour, used rye which usually works but did not, then I went back to regular flour.

    Thanks in advance for any tips. I love your blog and look forward to the Chat.

    • Amanda Paa

      Hi Maggie! To revive a sluggish starter that has been dormant, follow this process: Remove all but 10 grams of starter from the jar. Feed 40 grams all purpose flour and 40 grams water, 2x a day for the next 3 days. Each time you will discard all but 10 grams. This will refresh the acidity levels and give the yeast a healthy environment to thrive in.

      • Maggie

        Thank you! I will try that.

  8. Dawn

    5 stars
    This bread tastes amazing and it smells so good when I take it out of the oven – thank you for the recipe! I also feel better about not throwing out my starter discard when I make this. Question: I saw in the comments that this can be frozen. How do you go about thawing it and how long does it usually take? Thanks!

    • Amanda Paa

      So glad you like it, Dawn! I like to freeze in slices and reheat in microwave for 15-20 seconds. You could also freeze half the loaf, take it out of freezer, and rewarm in foil at 300 degrees F for maybe 15-20 minutes.

  9. Maggie

    5 stars
    Just the best!, I made this three times this week to rave reviews from family and friends. After years of inedible soda breads, finally a keeper. If you’ve been discouraged by past attempts at soda bread, use this recipe. Another great recipe from Amanda.

    • Amanda Paa

      So glad to hear this, Maggie! I was just like you – soda breads always left me disappointed so I was determined to develop a recipe that changed that.

  10. Cynthia K

    5 stars
    Delicious! Easy! Don’t hesitate to make it – just remember to wisk the discard into the buttermilk before you add it to the dry ingredients. And if you forget like I did, forge ahead. It still works!! (#headsmack)

    • Amanda Paa

      Yay, so glad you enjoyed the soda bread!

    • Cynthia K

      To be clear, I did add the discard. I just mixed it into the dough after I had added the buttermilk. It was probably a bit denser as a result, but still fine and very tasty.

  11. Kristin

    5 stars
    This is my family’s favourite thing that I bake! So flavourful and it doesn’t dry out like scones tend to. I’ve also tried variations with dried blueberries and lemon zest and cinnamon raisin. 10/10 recipe!

    • Amanda Paa

      oh, the dried blueberries is a great addition!

  12. Cindy Mays

    5 stars
    Just for fun this week I tried using eggnog in place of the buttermilk. Dried cherries and three oranges zested! Since I had so many on hand . It’s worth the experiment. Super yummy!!! My egg nog is from New Years so I figured why not?

    • Amanda Paa

      Genius idea to try it with eggnog – sounds amazing!

  13. Garnett

    5 stars
    Hello Amanda,
    I love your sourdough soda bread! I followed your recipes exactly ( I think ) and it tasted amazing. It did spread out more than I expected in the oven. I may try the Dutch oven next time. What is the best way to store and warm this yumminess? Can it be frozen?
    Thanks for all your delish recipes! Garnett

    • Amanda Paa

      Hi Garnett! This recipe does freeze well; I like to cut the loaf in half and wrap tightly in aluminum foil and then in a plastic freezer bag if I’m going to freeze. You can also bake this in a loaf pan if you’d like more height. Just fully grease the pan and you’ll have to adjust the baking time, to cook all the way through.

  14. Sam

    5 stars
    Easy and amazing recipe! The whole kitchen smells like summer!

    • Amanda Paa

      yes, i love the smell of citrus that floats through the house while it’s baking!

  15. Deborah

    Hello! Once the dough is mixed up could I let it fermented overnight covered in the fridge?

    • Amanda Paa

      Hello! I haven’t tested in this way. My concern would be that the leaveners with that amount of time before baking would lose their power and the bread would not rise.

  16. Shelagh

    5 stars
    Very easy to make, & very moorish to eat! I’ve made it as is, & with other fruit combinations. Latest, minus the sugar, with cheese and caramelised onion chutney. Delicious!

  17. Susan Braidwood

    5 stars
    This was really good! I had previously used another sourdough discard recipe for Irish soda bread, but I really like the texture of this one a lot better. I grated the butter straight from the fridge, then put the grated butter in the freezer for 10 minutes or so. I also liked the addition of the orange zest.

    • Amanda Paa

      so glad you liked this discard soda bread! i agree, the orange zest is so lovely.

  18. Cindy Mays

    5 stars
    Every week I refuse to toss out my starter… and had a fun recipe variation thought. I did this recipe like listed with orange zest but poked chocolate chips into the top after slicing my X and it’s a wonderful sweet change. Great with a cup of coffee. I wanted to share this as it is a nice change this week.

    • Amanda Paa

      The variation with chocolate chip sounds fantastic!

  19. Kristin

    Is it possible to use starter instead of discard? Thanks in advance for your help!

    • Amanda Paa

      Hi Kristin! Yes, you can use sourdough starter, just not at its peak. So unfed.

  20. Michal

    This is a stunning recipe, Amanda. The fantastic smell started while it was still in the oven and the taste is just heaven. So delicious with butter. The texture of the dough is definitely of a scone..a giant scone :)) Next time, I might just try to bake it as a standard scone. Thanks! I didn’t know how much I even missed the good old scone <3

    • Amanda Paa

      so glad you liked the soda bread, Michal!

  21. Mary-Claire

    What type of vessel should the dough be baked in? A Dutch oven or just on a sheet pan?
    Thanks! Can’t wait to make this.

    • Amanda Paa

      Hello! I put the dough on parchment and bake on a sheet pan. A dutch oven works great too, if you prefer that.

  22. Jim

    Your biscuit recipe cites shredding the frozen butter before incorporating into flour. This recipe does not call for shredding the butter. Any comment?

    • Amanda Paa

      thank you for catching! i’ve update the recipe with the butter grating.

  23. Suzanne Sears

    Can I use Greek yogurt as a substitute for Buttermilk? I really don’t want to make another trip to the store.

    • Amanda Paa

      hello! i don’t think greek yogurt would be a good substitute for the buttermilk, as it is much thicker in consistency.

    • Cindy mays

      Cheers fellow bakers…. I just tried this recipe and like you I did not have buttermilk. I actually tried the good ole’ trick my gramma use to use. I added two teaspoons of vinegar to my milk and made my own buttermilk. Don’t be alarmed when it looks a bit funny. It works excellent

      • Amanda Paa

        Yay, so glad you liked the recipe Cindy! Thanks for trying out a substitution.