Irish Brown Bread: A Timeless Tradition in Massachusetts and Beyond

Originating from Ireland, brown bread holds a special place in Irish culinary heritage. Made from a blend of whole wheat flour, wheat bran, buttermilk, baking soda and a hint of molasses this hearty loaf embodies simplicity and wholesome goodness.

In Massachusetts, with a large Irish-American population deeply rooted in the state’s history, the appreciation for traditional Irish cuisine runs deep. As long as there are hearts to warm and tables to gather around, Irish brown bread will continue to hold a cherished place in the culinary tapestry of both Massachusetts and America.

Based on our research, the recipe below from Brown Eyed Baker offers a more traditional take on this timeless recipe.

Do you hold an Irish brown bread recipe passed down through generations? Preserve the flavors and traditions – become a contributor and share your own recipe.


1⅛ cups (127 g) whole wheat flour
1⅓ cups (85 g) wheat bran
2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon (0.75 teaspoon) baking soda
½ teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) salt
2 tablespoons (28 g) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
1¼ cups (300 ml) buttermilk
2 tablespoons (1 teaspoon) molasses


Preheat the oven: Set the oven to 350°F.

Prepare a baking sheet: Line with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and put it on the center oven rack.

Whisk wheat flours: Mix together whole wheat flour and wheat/oat bran with a whisk in a large bowl.

Whisk dry ingredients: In a medium bowl whisk together all-purpose flour, baking soda, and salt.

Combine dry ingredients: Add the dry ingredients to the wheat flour mixture and whisk to combine.

Rub in the butter: Using your fingers, rub the butter pieces into the flour mixture until as small as possible.

Add liquid ingredients: Stir in buttermilk and molasses until the dough is uniformly damp.

Knead into a ball: Gently knead the dough on a lightly floured countertop until the dough forms a smooth ball.

Cross the top: Use a sharp serrated knife to slice a cross 1-inch deep into the bread. Place loaf on the hot baking sheet.

Bake: Put the loaf in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the loaf is firm on top and when you tap the bottom, it feels hollow.

Cool: Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for about 1 hour before serving.

Visit the Brown Eyed Baker’s website to get the more detailed instructions to make your own traditional Irish Brown Bread: