Easy Sourdough Discard Soda Bread

By Amanda Paa – Last updated: April 23, 2021
4.91 from 20 votes
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A deeply flavorful soda bread made with sourdough discard, citrus zest, and dried cranberries. It’s an untraditional version of Irish soda bread, that has a tender, scone-like crumb rather than dry! It’s easy to make, and doesn’t require proofing or rising.

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.
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!

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.

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 Sourdough Discard 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
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.

Easy 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.
4.91 from 20 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.

Did you make this?

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March 3, 2021


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  1. 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.

  2. 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)

  3. 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!

  4. 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?

  5. 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

    • 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.

    • 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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.

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

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

    • 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