3 Kids, a Mom, & a Kitchen: Cranberry-Orange Irish Soda Bread Buns

Image source: Jane Maynard
Image source: Jane Maynard

I married into an Irish family. That means I married a man whose mother put emphasis on St. Patrick’s Day and made it a super fun event, complete with all kinds of green food. I’ve happily taken on the tradition of coloring food over the years, but when it comes to actual Irish food, we’ve rarely experimented.

This year I decided to take the more traditional route, to teach our kids about their Irish heritage through food. Irish soda bread seemed like a safe bet and would probably be more appetizing for our kids than, say, corned beef and cabbage! The kids and I customized the recipe, opting for buns with an interesting flavor twist.

The Cranberry-Orange Irish Soda Bread Buns were such a hit! My 10-year-old, Cate, wants me to serve this bread at her next birthday party. I consider that a rousing success! Plus, it was the perfect avenue to explore their roots (as it turns out, the kids didn’t really know they were Irish!)

Image source: Jane Maynard
Image source: Jane Maynard

Choosing the Recipe:
The base of our recipe was inspired by Ina Garten, although we adjusted a few things and made it cranberry-orange flavored. And the idea to make the soda bread into smaller buns came from Martha Stewart. I wondered how the recipe would turn out with these changes and it worked beautifully. This recipe is a keeper!

Image source: Jane Maynard
Image source: Jane Maynard

Rankings: Cranberry-Orange Irish Soda Bread Buns are Awesome!
These buns were delicious, especially slathered in Kerrygold butter. Mmmm … It was also a really fun and easy recipe to make with kids. Smiles all around!

Image source: Jane Maynard
Image source: Jane Maynard

Steps Where Kids Can Get Involved:
This was an easy recipe to get the kids involved, even the little one!

  • As with all baking recipes, the kids helped count, measure, and dump ingredients into the bowl.
  • The kids loved forming the round dough balls and placing them on the pan.
  • Note: Zesting the orange peel is a task best left to Mom or Dad.
Image source: Jane Maynard
Image source: Jane Maynard

The Tasting:
As you can imagine, the tasting went well! In fact, a little too well. Cate drove me crazy asking for more buns for the rest of the afternoon. I think she would have eaten the whole batch herself if I would have let her!

Image source: Jane Maynard
Image source: Jane Maynard

The Recipe:
It’s time for the recipe … Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Image source: Jane Maynard
Image source: Jane Maynard

Cranberry-Orange Irish Soda Bread Buns

Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Makes: 16 buns


  • 4 cups flour
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons cold salted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk, put 1 tablespoon vinegar in your measuring cup, then add enough milk to reach 1 1/2 cups, then let sit for 5 minutes)
  • 1 orange (1/2 cup freshly squeezed juice — a little less than the amount you get from one orange — plus zest)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (we love the cherry-flavored kind as they’re a little juicier)


  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Add the butter to the bowl and mix on low until butter is fully incorporated.
  4. Whisk together the buttermilk, orange juice, egg, and orange zest. Add slowly to the dry ingredients while the mixer is running on low. Mix until just fully incorporated. Dough will be quite wet.
  5. Add the cranberries and mix on low until fully incorporated.
  6.  Turn dough out onto a well-floured, large cutting board. Knead with well-floured hands for about 1 minute.
  7. Divide dough into 16 equal parts.
  8. With floured hands, form nice round balls of dough. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Dough balls should be arranged into four rows of four, with dough balls lightly touching one another.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until buns are lightly browned and a cake tester comes out clean.
  10. Enjoy warm or at room temperature. Slathered with delicious Irish butter is best!

Note: Buns are best the day they are made. If you have leftovers, I recommend reheating them. Place the buns in the oven at 325 F for about 5 minutes.

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