Great Grandma Nora Rattigan’s Secret Ingredient Irish Soda Bread

Bacon Fat. Yes, there is bacon fat in my great grandmothers Irish Soda Bread.

I posted this recipe last year and heard wonderful things from those who decided to make it. It is the best Irish Soda Bread I’ve ever had. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have for as long as I can remember.

Food for thought today: Is Irish Soda Bread just called Soda Bread in Ireland? Hmm.


This Irish Soda Bread recipe has been in my family for generations. My mom, Catherine Tierney, makes it every year because her mom, Catherine Ruane, made it every year because her mom, Nora Rattigan, made it every year. I think about my Nana and her rosy cheeks, that I always remember plumped with joy, whenever I eat or make this bread. And although I never had the opportunity to meet my great grandmother, I can imagine her in a homey little kitchen in Galway, frying up bacon in a cast iron skillet and collecting the fat for just this reason. That being said, I’m not changing a thing! I’m going to pause here to allow my four Tierney Aunts to grab a tissue, I know their hearts are warm with the thought of their mother. This one’s for you, Nana.

The bacon fat keeps the dough super moist and the raisins and caraway seeds add a sweet and savory element. It’s perfect.

The perfect bread warrants the perfect butter. If you’re feeling really ambitious and would like to make your own butter from scratch, click here to check out one of my past posts!

Everything in moderation, including moderation. I latched onto this motto like white on rice when I first heard it. In other words, shut up and eat this delicious bacon fat bread.


  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbs caraway seeds
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 1/2 Tbs bacon fat
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Measure out 1 cup of milk in a liquid measuring cup and add the 2 teaspoons of cider vinegar to it. Set this aside. The milk will begin to curdle…that’s good!

In a large bowl mix together the first 5 ingredients.


Add the bacon fat to the dry ingredients. Use your fingers to work the fat throughout the flour mixture. Once it is all combined you should have a consistency that looks like the picture below..


Ok, here’s the strange part. To another liquid measuring cup add the teaspoon of baking soda. Pour a few tablespoons of the milk/vinegar mixture into the liquid measuring cup that has the baking soda in it and stir to dissolve and encourage bubbles! We want to make a lot of bubbles. Pour the milk/vinegar mixture into the baking soda mixture and then pour the entire mixture back and forth between the two liquid measuring cups at least 10-12 times. You should begin to notice the baking soda and vinegar reacting and creating lots of little bubbles. Thank you, Mom for the excellent demo.


Once the milk mixture is good and bubbly pour it all into the flour mixture.


Stir the mixture until fully combined. Butter and flour whatever baking dish you are going to use. Typically Irish Soda Breads are made round, but we’ve been using this same ceramic loaf pan for as long as I can remember and “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”


Bake at 350 degrees for 45 mins-1 hour. A wooden skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean.


I hope you enjoy my family’s recipe as much as we do. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

“May your thoughts be as glad as the shamrocks. May your heart be as light as a song. May each day bring you bright, happy hours that stay with you all the year long”

3 thoughts on “Great Grandma Nora Rattigan’s Secret Ingredient Irish Soda Bread

  1. says:

    Hi Katie, I feel so honored to have your treasured family recipe. Thank you for sharing it and I look forward to baking it! Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Elizabeth Wilson

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