Homemade Irish Soda Bread Grilled Cheese with Pesto

from 2 votes

Grab your favorite cheese for this Irish Soda Bread Grilled Cheese starring homemade soda bread and store-bought or homemade basil pesto. This crusty loaf comes together in minutes and there’s no yeast involved.

Homemade Irish Soda Bread Grilled Cheese with Pesto.

It doesn’t get much more Irish than homemade soda bread. Toss in a few slices of creamy white cheddar and a dollop of bright green basil pesto and you’ve just thrown a St. Patrick’s Day party in your mouth.

If the words “yeast,” “proofing” and “doubles in size” make you weak in the knees, then have no fear because this quickbread comes sans all the stress of traditional homemade carbs. We’re talking 40 minutes from raw flour to tender slices of soda bread. All that’s missing is a cold glass of Guinness.

What is Irish Soda Bread?

Irish Soda Bread is a yeast-free quickbread that is typically made with just a few ingredients: flour, baking soda (hence the name!), buttermilk and salt. Caraway seeds are a traditional addition for a savory version, while a sweet version might contain raisins. The interaction of the acidity of the buttermilk with the baking soda is what causes the bread to rise without yeast. 

Soda bread has the tender, crumbly consistency of a scone, but is sturdy enough to slice and can be the basis for a variety of soda bread sandwich ideas! 

A loaf of homemade Irish soda bread sits on a flour-dusted surface.

The Best Cheese for Grilled Cheese

When you’re making Irish soda bread grilled cheese, the best cheese choice will complement the dense, crumbly, texture of the bread and its slightly tangy flavor. I really like aged Irish cheddars, which have a sharp flavor and melt beautifully. 

But other cheeses that melt well in a grilled cheese sandwich include gouda, Swiss, gruyere and fontina. Of course, American cheese is another classic for grilled cheese.

For grilled cheese with pesto, use a cheese that will stand up to the bright flavor of the herby pesto. Cheddar works well, as do gooey Italian cheeses such as mozzarella and provolone. 

Experiment with different varieties to find your favorite picks for the best cheese for grilled cheese!

How to Make an Irish Soda Bread Grilled Cheese

Irish soda bread comes together quickly, so you can bake fresh bread earlier in the day to make these Irish soda bread grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner.

For the Irish Soda Bread:

  1. Mix up the dry ingredients. Use a whisk to break up lumps, integrate all the ingredients and aerate the mixture.
  2. Add the wet ingredients. Cool the butter for a few moments before adding it to the mixture, otherwise it’ll get clumpy.
  3. Form the loaf. Only knead the dough about six times or fewer, to ensure all the ingredients are mixed in. Cutting the X on top of the round helps the bread maintain an even, uniformly round shape as it rises.
  1. Bake the bread. Let the loaf cool completely before slicing it.

To make the grilled cheese sandwiches:

  1. Add the fillings. The cheese should be cut into uniformly thin slices so that it melts evenly.
A slice of soda bread topped with basil pesto next to another slice of soda bread topped with four slices of cheese.
  1. Butter the bread. Use very soft butter to butter the exterior of the sandwiches. If your butter isn’t soft enough, microwave a couple of pats for 20 seconds on half power to soften. If you try to use butter that’s too hard, the bread will crumble.
  2. Toast the sandwiches. Check the underside of the sandwiches frequently to flip them when they’re golden brown, and adjust the temperature if the bread starts getting too dark. Don’t worry if the cheese doesn’t melt while you’re cooking the first side, it will start to get gooey once it’s flipped.

Pro Tip: Accurately measured ingredients is essential in this recipe so your bread will be tender but won’t fall apart. Use my scoop-and-sweep method to measure the flour

Kelly’s Recipe Tips

  • Don’t overhandle. Every time I make this bread I find it gets better and better the less you knead it. Many soda breads are often not kneaded at all prior to baking. Try to handle the dough as little as possible while you form the loaf.
  • Make croutons with the leftovers. The loaf will provide more than 8 slices of bread, but I like to use the leftovers to make easy homemade croutons. Cut the leftover bread into cubes, toss with a bit of olive oil and fresh garlic, and bake on a baking sheet at 375˚F until crisp.
  • Butter the bread, not the pan. Evenly buttering the outsides of the sandwiches, rather than cooking them in a pan of melted butter, will yield a uniformly browned sandwich.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I prevent my grilled cheese from sticking to the pan?

To keep your grilled cheese from sticking, preheat heat the pan before adding the sandwich and make sure that the outside of the sandwich is evenly buttered on both sides.

Can I add other ingredients to my grilled cheese sandwich?

Grilled cheese sandwiches are ripe for innovation! Some of my favorite additions to this soda bread grilled cheese are crispy bacon, diced sun-dried tomatoes or a thin slice of corned beef.

How long should I cook my grilled cheese sandwich on each side?

The amount of time it will take for the grilled cheese to properly brown depends on the type of pan and how hot it is. Start checking the underside after a minute or two, and when it’s an even golden brown, it’s time to flip it over and cook the other side. Keep in mind the second side might cook faster than the first as the pan and the sandwich heats up. 

Gooey melted cheese oozy out from a grilled cheese sandwich.

More Delicious Sandwiches

Craving more? Subscribe to Just a Taste to get new recipes, meal plans and a newsletter delivered straight to your inbox! And stay in touch on Facebook, TikTok, Pinterest and Instagram for all of the latest updates.

Main Course

Homemade Irish Soda Bread Grilled Cheese with Pesto

Grab your cheese-o-choice and whip up an Irish Soda Bread Grilled Cheese with DIY soda bread.
Author: Kelly Senyei
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 4 sandwiches


For the soda bread:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading and dusting
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For assembling the grilled cheese:

  • 8 slices Irish cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup store-bought or homemade basil pesto
  • Butter


  • Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and caraway seeds. Stir in the buttermilk and melted butter with a rubber spatula, scraping down the sides until the ingredients are just combined.
  • Transfer the dough to a well-floured surface and knead it 6 times, just until it comes together into a 6-inch round. The dough will still be sticky. (See Kelly’s Notes.)
  • Cut a large X in the top of the round and place the loaf of a baking sheet. Dust it with 1 teaspoon of flour and bake it for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.
  • Transfer the loaf to a rack and cool it completely before cutting it into slices. (See Kelly’s Notes.)
  • When ready to assemble the grilled cheese, spread 4 slices of the soda bread with the prepared basil pesto, and then add a few slices of the Irish cheddar. Form sandwiches by topping off each slathered side with a second piece of bread, and then butter both exterior sides of the bread. (See Kelly’s Notes.)
  • Heat a skillet over medium heat and transfer the prepared sandwiches to the pan, searing them just until golden on one side. Flip the sandwiches once to brown the second side and continue melting the cheese. If necessary, cover the pan to ensure the cheese will melt. Cut the grilled cheese and serve warm.

Kelly’s Notes

  • Every time I make this bread I find it gets better and better the less you knead it. Many soda breads are often not kneaded at all prior to baking.
  • The loaf will provide more than 8 slices of bread. Leftovers can be used to make homemade soda bread croutons, which I toss with a bit of olive oil and fresh garlic.
  • I’ve become a bit of a grilled cheese connoisseur over the years and have found that you get much more even browning if you butter the bread first, rather than place the prepared sandwiches in a pan of melted butter.
  • ★ Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!


Calories: 407kcal, Carbohydrates: 53g, Protein: 10g, Fat: 16g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 25mg, Sodium: 766mg, Potassium: 168mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 710IU, Vitamin C: 0.3mg, Calcium: 136mg, Iron: 3.3mg


Did you try this recipe?

Share it with the world! Mention @justataste or tag #justatasterecipes!

This post may contain affiliate links.

Soda bread recipe adapted from Gourmet Live.

Feeling social?

Share this recipe!


Related Recipes

Check out more crave-worthy favorites

Kelly Senyei holding a copy of The Secret Ingredient Cookbook

love the recipes on just a taste?

Check out my cookbook!

Order your copy of The Secret Ingredient Cookbook featuring 125 brand-new family-friendly recipes with surprisingly tasty twists!

This post may contain affiliate links.

5 from 2 votes

Join the Conversation

Rate and Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. My Irish eyes are smiling…this soda bread will become an instant family favorite, My boys are married and I can’t wait for them to visit so I can make this for them! We will love it as simple breakfast toast to glorious cheese sandwiches with so many variations, we will come up with more varieties, I am sure. Thank you for such a fun and unusual bread recipe! I love making all breads, and Soda Bread was a new one for me. With me being Irish and all, what fun on St. Paddy’s Day!

  2. 5 stars
    Can’t believe that I never thought of this before. Amazing….thanks moved to the top of my short list of recipes to try IMMEDIATELY. I have ALL the ingredients including pesto. My mouth is watering. And I think I can maybe just buy a few slices of good corned beef at the deli and have corned beef with my grilled cheese. Though I am not sure I will give up my colcannon….
    Thanks so MUCH. happy holiday.

See More Comments