Irish Soda Farls are a quick yeast-free fried buttermilk soda bread that is cooked in a pan on the stovetop! They're a traditional Northern Irish recipe that's perfect for St Patrick's Day, or any day. Ready in 25 minutes with just 5 simple ingredients.
A soda farl is a Northern Irish yeast-free quick bread that is made with baking soda and buttermilk. It's shaped into a disc, cut into fourths, and then cooked in a pan on the stovetop.
They’re called farls because the dough is cut with a cross into fourths. Legend has it that cutting bread in Ireland is to ‘let the fairies (or devil) out’. But actually, it’s for practical reasons so that the breads cooks more evenly. Farls can be made of potato, whole wheat or soda bread - it's just something cut into quarters.
Soda Farls are traditionally served with butter, jam, or honey. But they're also great with a variety of other toppings, like cheese, eggs, bacon, or sausage. You can also serve them with savory meals like soups or Irish stew for dunking!
They're also a part of an Ulster Fry (Northern Irish cooked big breakfast) where they'll usually be served cut, spread with butter, and then fried butter side down until crispy - absolute bliss.
This bread comes together quickly and easily making it a great option when you're short on time and want to try an easy classic Irish recipe!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- This quick bread is made in just 25 minutes.
- Soda Farls are a great way to enjoy traditional Northern Irish food.
- You can serve them with a sweet spread or alongside a savory meal.
- This bread is cooked in a pan and no baking is involved making it a super simple recipe.
- A stove top skillet bread.
- All-Purpose Flour (Plain Flour) - Gives the farls its main bread structure.
- Baking Soda (Bicarb of Soda) - Helps the farls slightly rise to create a pan-fried bread.
- Sugar - Gives the farls a light sweetness - optional.
- Salt - Helps activate the baking soda and balance the simple flavors.
- Buttermilk - Adds a rich tangy flavor to the farls and helps create a tender texture. If you don't have buttermilk, just add a teaspoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to regular milk and let it sit for 5 minutes.
Please see the recipe card below for quantities.
How to make Soda Farls
Wondering how to make this Irish Soda Farls recipe? It's easy! Just follow this step-by-step photo tutorial. Then, scroll down for the recipe card for the full ingredients list and recipe method.
Heat up the skillet: Heat a skillet or frying pan on low-medium heat while you assemble the ingredients.
Mix the dry ingredients: Add the flour, baking soda, sugar, and salt to a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
Add the buttermilk: Make a well in the center, pour in the buttermilk, and stir just until combined.
Knead the dough: Knead the dough in the bowl a couple of times, just to bring it together so it isn't too sticky. It doesn't need much kneading, just a few times so it's manageable.
Shape the dough: Lightly flour the work surface, then, roll or pat the dough into an 8-inch circle that is ½ inch thick. Cut a cross through the center using a sharp knife to create even quarters.
Cook the farls in a pan: Add each quarter to the dry hot pan and cook for 5-8 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cooked through. It should take about 10 minutes to finish cooking. Remove once cooked.
Serving suggestions: Cut open and spread with butter and jam. Served with an Ulster Fry, cut open, spread with butter, and then fry, cut side down until golden.
If your pan was too hot and the soda farls are browned but not cooked through, allow them to cool, cut them in half and cook the undercooked sides in the pan.
If your farls are browning too quickly, turn the heat down lower.
They don’t last more than a day once cooked, but if they get a bit stale, you can cut them, spread with butter, then fry the cut/buttered side until crispy.
When mixing the ingredients, make sure you do not overwork the dough as this will make the soda bread tough.
Make sure the baking soda you use is not expired as this will make the soda bread dense.
If you don't have buttermilk on hand, mix milk with vinegar or lemon juice to create DIY buttermilk.
You can make farl with gluten-free flour.
If making soda farls with self-raising flour, reduce the baking soda to ½ a teaspoon.
How to Eat Soda Farls
If you haven't enjoyed this sort of pan-fried bread before, you might be wondering just how the heck you eat soda farls! You can enjoy them in many ways! Try them:
Freshly cooked and spread with butter.
Cut your farl open and spread it with marmalade, jam, or a delicious homemade fruit compote.
If your soda farl is a day old, they're delicious spread with butter and then fried, butter side down, until crispy.
Enjoy your farls for breakfast topped with a fried egg.
Storing: These Irish soda farls are best eaten immediately as they will become stale after 24 hours. Store any leftovers in an airtight container or sealed bag with as much air removed as possible.
Freezing: To freeze, place the farls on a baking sheet and freeze for 30 minutes. Then, transfer to a freezer-safe container or bag. Cook from frozen by heating in a pan over medium heat until warmed through.
Farls are a type of Irish soda bread that is cooked in a pan. They get their name from the Gaelic word "fardal" which means "a quarter" which is the way the bread gets shaped into a disc and cut into fourths with a cross.
Yes, you can substitute up to half of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour without affecting the end result.
No, unfortunately, you cannot turn these into soda farl rolls. They need to be cooked in a pan to get the right texture and shape.
Yes, you can add raisins or other dried fruits, as well as spices like cinnamon or nutmeg. Just be careful not to add too much additional liquid as this will affect the texture of the dough.
More Tradtional Irish recipes
- Traditional Irish Colcannon Potatoes
- Boxty Irish Potato Pancakes
- Authentic Irish Champ Potatoes
- Easy Creamy Potato Leek Soup
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- 2 cups all-purpose flour (plain flour) (260g), plus extra for flouring
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup buttermilk (235ml) or 1 cup milk with 1 teaspoon lemon juice or white vinegar stirred in
- Heat a skillet or frying pan on a low-medium heat.
- Add the flour, baking soda, sugar and salt to a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
- Make a well in the center, pour in the buttermilk and stir to combine.
- Lightly flour the work surface, tip the dough onto it and knead a few times.
- Roll or pat the dough into a circle approx 8-inches (20cm) around and ½-inch thick, and cut it a cross through it to make quarters.
- Add the farls (quarters) to the dry hot pan and cook for 5-8 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cooked through. Leave the farls in the pan for 10 minutes or so to finish cooking.
The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary depending on several factors, so is not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietician for special diet advice.