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This apple cinnamon bread is buttery moist and cake-like with plenty of apples dotted in each slice. Tossing the juicy apples in brown sugar and cinnamon before layering and swirling in the loaf pan is an important step. Assembling the loaf this way adds pockets of sweet cinnamon swirl and keeps the batter light. There’s so much flavor from swirling in the brown sugared apples that you really don’t need icing or a crumb topping. Still, if you want to try either, I recommend the crumb topping from peach bread and the brown sugar icing from these pumpkin donuts or even a salted caramel drizzle.

1 loaf disappears FAST!

slices of apple cinnamon bread

Let me teach you how to make your next favorite recipe. I’ll walk you through what to expect before explaining my recipe testing trials and tribulations. (All very worth it!)

Apple Cinnamon Quick Bread Details

  • Flavor: The notable stars of this quick bread recipe are, you guessed it, cinnamon and apples. The bread’s crumb tastes like buttery cinnamon nutmeg spice cake, so you get a flavor punch even without the apples. Toss the apples in brown sugar and more cinnamon before layering into the loaf pan. These brown sugared apples add sweet, spiced, and moist swirls throughout the loaf as if we were indulging in apple cinnamon babka. (If you have the time and are up for a challenge, that recipe is a must make!)
  • Texture: Have you ever tried this blueberry muffin bread? The texture of today’s apple cinnamon bread is similar—soft and moist, yet sturdy enough to hold a slice with your hand when you take a bite. And thanks to the liquid from the brown sugared apples seeping to the sides, the bread’s edges crisp up beautifully in the oven. (The top of the loaf stays pretty soft.)
  • Ease: This apple bread recipe comes together with basic baking ingredients like butter, sugar, flour, and eggs. Applesauce is likely the only “special” ingredient, but if you don’t have any, sour cream makes a fine substitution. Just like banana bread, creamed butter + sugar is the base, so an electric mixer is certainly helpful. Overall, this is an easy fall baking recipe that bakers of any skill level can manage.

See my entire collection of Fall Baking Recipes including my must-make apple cake.

apple cinnamon bread

Why This Apple Cinnamon Bread Recipe Works

When I first visualized this recipe, I pictured an apple cider bread—sounds good right—almost like apple cider donuts baked in a loaf pan. I reduced the apple cider and added shredded apples to the batter. The loaf was good, but it ended up tasting exactly like harvest spice bread. I added more spices, used more apple cider, but I closed the book on my efforts because the apple and apple cider flavors were slight. Feeling determined, I tried again with creamed butter + sugar as the base of the bread. Chocolate chip loaf cake was my starting point and I swapped chocolate chips for cinnamon-tossed apples. Sadly, the loaf was squat, pale, and wet.

About to throw in the towel—are you even still reading this?—I tried 1 more time. Forget determination, I was just plain stubborn at this point but we can call it strong-willed. I reduced the butter, added some baking soda for color and lift, added more apples, tossed them in brown sugar, closed the oven and crossed my fingers.

IT WORKED! So about 14 loaves and 200 words later, here we are. The recipe ended up being a cross between the chocolate chip loaf cake mentioned above and blueberry muffin bread. It’s tested and tight with flavorful and delicious results. And it certainly speaks volumes that I’m willing to make this bread on repeat after quite the journey getting here!

Overview: How to Make Apple Cinnamon Bread

Let me show you how to make this apple cinnamon bread. Despite the saga above, it truly is an easy recipe. First, chop 1-2 peeled apples into 1/2 inch chunks and then toss them in brown sugar and cinnamon. Do this step first so the apples have time to absorb some of the brown sugar and cinnamon flavors. We’ll layer and swirl them into the loaf pan soon.

chopped apples tossed in brown sugar and cinnamon

I really want to show you the next two photos so you don’t get nervous when it’s your turn to bake the bread. On the left, you can see that the batter looks curdled. This is normal and expected. At this point, you’re trying to combine creamed butter + sugar with eggs, applesauce, and vanilla extract. Even though they are all brought to room temperature, these wet ingredients have different textures. Once you add the dry ingredients and begin mixing in the milk, the batter comes together. Have no fear!

photos showing the curdled wet ingredients and the final apple cinnamon bread batter
apple cinnamon batter in loaf pan
swirling apple cinnamon batter in the loaf pan

Why Layer & Swirl the Apples? Instead of folding the fruit right into the batter, layer and swirl them in the loaf pan. We do this same step in peach bread and there’s a few reasons why. (1) By doing this, you get pockets of sweet cinnamon and apple swirl inside a cinnamon spiced bread. (2) You also have the chance to introduce brown sugar into the loaf. When using brown sugar as the base of the bread (creaming with butter), the loaf had a heavier texture. And (3) the test loaf made with apples directly folded into the batter was quite wet (not just moist).

It’s almost like we’re making cinnamon swirl quick bread, but today’s recipe has a lovely buttery base! If you’d rather make muffins, use my apple cinnamon muffins recipe instead because it’s quite similar. (Would be hard to swirl apples into such a tight space!) Or try these healthy apple muffins for a wholesome option using whole wheat flour and no refined sugar.

apple cinnamon quick bread in loaf pan

And one more piece of advice before you start:

What Are the Best Apples to Use for Baking?

Firmer apples are ideal for baking so avoid soft, mealy, and mushy apples. If you’re baking a recipe that calls for many apples such as apple crisp or apple crumble pie, use a mix of tart apples and sweet apples. This apple cinnamon bread only needs 1 or 2 apples, so it’s fine to use tart OR sweet. I use Granny Smith because overall, its flavor and texture are the best for baking. I also love sweet apples in this bread like Honeycrisp, Fuji, and Pink Lady.

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slices of apple cinnamon bread

Apple Cinnamon Quick Bread

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 70 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 45 minutes (includes cooling)
  • Yield: 1 loaf 1x
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This apple cinnamon bread is buttery moist and cake-like with plenty of apples dotted in each slice. You can use tart or sweet apples in this loaf, but avoid soft and mushy apples. Feel free to turn this recipe into muffins or mini loaves. See recipe notes below.


Ingredients

Scale

Apples

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (165g) peeled & chopped apples (1/2 inch chunks; you need about 2 medium apples)
  • 1/3 cup (67g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Batter

  • 1 and 3/4 cups (219g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (115g; 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150ggranulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (80g) unsweetened applesauce, at room temperature*
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk, at room temperature

Instructions

  1. Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position (just below center) and preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray a 9×5 inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.
  2. Apples: Stir the apples, brown sugar, and cinnamon together. Set aside.
  3. Batter: Whisk the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter and granulated sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and then beat on medium speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. Beat in the applesauce and vanilla extract on medium speed until combined. Mixture will look chunky and curdled– this is normal and expected. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, turn the mixer on low speed and with the mixer running, slowly pour in the milk. Beat just until combined and do not overmix. You may need to whisk it all by hand to make sure there are no lumps at the bottom of the bowl. The batter will be sticky and slightly thick. You’ll have about 3 cups of batter.
  4. Pour and spread about 1/2 of the batter into the bottom of the prepared loaf pan. Spoon apples and any cinnamon/brown sugar juices leftover in the bowl evenly on top. Pour and spread remaining batter on top, making sure to scrape out every last drop of batter. Using a knife, swirl the batter down the center of the loaf pan.
  5. Bake for 60-75 minutes, loosely covering the bread with aluminum foil at the 30 minute mark to help prevent the top and sides from getting too brown. This is a large heavy loaf, so if your bread is taking longer, that’s completely fine. A toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf will come out clean when the bread is done. Begin checking at 60 minutes. Mine takes 70 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the bread to cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack.
  6. Once cooled or nearly cooled, cut into slices and serve. (Bread falls apart if you try to slice it when it’s warm.)
  7. Cover and store bread at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. Freezing Instructions: Freeze baked & cooled loaf for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. If desired, bring to room temperature before serving. To learn more details about how to freeze quick breads, see my post called Make-Ahead Baking.
  2. Apples: This apple cinnamon bread only needs 1 or 2 apples, so it’s fine to use tart OR sweet. Avoid soft, mushy apples. I use Granny Smith because overall, its flavor and texture are the best for baking. I also love sweet apples in this bread like Honeycrisp, Fuji, and Pink Lady.
  3. Applesauce: If you don’t have unsweetened applesauce, use the same amount of plain yogurt or sour cream.
  4. Muffins: Use my apple cinnamon muffins recipe. The recipe is very similar to this one. Feel free to substitute the yogurt in that recipe with applesauce. If you love nutmeg, add 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg to that batter when you add the cinnamon.
  5. Mini Loaves: You can use this batter to make mini apple breads. Follow the recipe above as written, dividing the batter/brown sugared apples between your mini loaf pans. Swirl batter and apples together as instructed above. Bake time and yield depends on the size of your mini loaf pan. Use a toothpick to test for doneness.

Keywords: apple cinnamon bread

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Absolutely fantastic. Thank you very much for your perseverence through those fourteen (or so) less amazing cakes. I’ll be making this weekly with my spare (now treasured) apples. 6/5 stars

  2. Just made this today! Absolutely delicious! I followed the recipe exactly and it turned out perfect. My son, the picky eater asked for a topping. This recipe does not need anything but next round I’ll try the recommended brown sugar icing and salted caramel drizzle.

  3. Hi love to try this one. Would I be able to use vegetable oil instead? If so, how much?

    1. Hi Karen, you’ll need to use solid oil such as coconut oil so it can cream with the sugars.

      1. What would be the outcome if we don’t use solid oil? Will the batter be too thin?

      2. Hi Lisa, that’s correct — the batter would be much too thin without the creamed fat + sugars and the apples would sink considerably. Without the butter specifically, you’ll lose a lot of that great buttery taste, but solid coconut oil should work as well (taste will be different).

      3. Hi Brianna! Whole milk is best, but almond milk will work in a pinch.

  4. My apples were quite sweet, so I drizzled a little lemon juice on them. Otherwise, followed the recipe to a “t”. Delicious! Pro tip: A good serrated knife can slice this neatly while still quite warm. Ask me how I know…

  5. Moist, almost candied edges on the cake, a keeper recipe. Your recipes are consistently dependable, so thank you for your passion and perseverance.

  6. The ingredients list mentions whole milk, but I don’t actually see it in the recipe instructions. At what point do we add the milk?

    1. Hi Stephanie, see the end of step 3 — “Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, turn the mixer on low speed and with the mixer running, slowly pour in the milk. Beat just until combined and do not overmix.” Hope you enjoy this bread!

  7. Can I substitute sour cream for the milk? I ask because I have found that sour cream makes for a very moist banana bread & other cake recipes.

    1. Hi Kim, we don’t recommend it as a replacement for the milk (milk helps to thin out the batter a bit), but you could use sour cream in place of the applesauce if you wish.

    2. Hi
      I love this recipe and have made it several times. I recently learned that I have a lactose allergy so I can’t use milk and should avoid butter too. Any recommendations for substitutions?

      1. We haven’t tested this recipe with dairy free substitutes, but let us know if you try anything!

  8. Hi! I just want to start off by saying that I appreciate your website SO MUCH!!! You have helped me enter into the world of baking, and I am so thankful!! I appreciate your detailed and simple instructions for each recipe. Okay so my questions is– would it be okay to prep the apples ahead of time? Would it change the flavor or consistency if I allow the apples to sit in the brown sugar and cinnamon for a few hour or overnight? Would I need to keep it at room temperature or make sure it’s refrigerated? Thank you in advance for taking the time to answer my question!

    1. Hi Monique, what a kind comment, thank you! The apples will release quite a bit of liquid if they’re mixed that far in advance. For best results, I recommend mixing them together shortly before adding to the loaf pan.

  9. SO delicious!!!! I made it just as recommended (although it’s so sticky I wonder if I could have baked it maybe 5 minutes longer? The toothpick came out clean!) – absolutely delicious. I think I could also cut the apples a wee bit smaller. But it’s so good I know I’ll make it again! It will be PERFECT for Thanksgiving!

  10. I’ve made this several times now, and it is a keeper and SO good. This last time I modified it to fit my families preferences (which is to reduce sugar/add whole wheat flour): I chopped the apple smaller, added chopped pecans, used 100g whole wheat flour/215g AP flour, decreased the sugar in the bread to 85g, and decreased the brown sugar mixed with the chopped apples to 35g. Out of necessity I used 1/2 soy milk/1/2 half and half for the milk since I didn’t want to use all half and half, and didn’t have whole milk (obviously since I used the mixture, lol!). The bread turned out great, and it actually easier to slice with the smaller chopped apples. This is definitely a keeper recipe! Thank you! 🙂

  11. Hi there! I would like to ask what kind of oven I should be baking this with? I only have a small oven with no fan inside. There are heating elements at the top and bottom. Any advice would be helpful!! Thank you xx

    P/S: I actually also posted this comment in the pumpkin cake recipe page, but meant to actually post it here!! Sorry for the inconvenience.

    1. Hi Sera! All of the recipes on this site are written for conventional settings. Convection ovens are fantastic for cooking and roasting. If you have the choice, we recommend conventional settings when baking cakes, breads, etc. The flow of air from convection heat can cause baked goods to rise and bake unevenly and it also pulls moisture out of the oven. If you do use convection settings for baking, lower your temperature by 25 degrees F and keep in mind that things may still take less time to bake.

  12. I want to love this bread (like the blueberry muffin bread, which is spectacular), but it’s very dense and the apples keep falling to the bottom of the loaf when it bakes. I’m following the recipe exactly, being careful to not overmix. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Christine, we’re sorry to hear this recipe is not working out for you! We have a brand new recipe for an apple cake that you might want to try instead, and see if you get better results. It’s a sheet cake that’s wonderful without any icing, so it’s a great alternative to the apple cinnamon bread. We hope you give it a try!

    1. Hi Judy, We don’t usually include nutrition information as it can vary between different brands of the same ingredients. Plus, many recipes have ingredient substitutions or optional ingredients listed. However, there are many handy online calculators where you can plug in and customize your exact ingredients/brands. Readers have found this one especially helpful: https://www.verywellfit.com/recipe-nutrition-analyzer-4157076 The yield is one 9×5 loaf, so number of servings will depend on the size of your bread slices.

  13. Hi Sally. Can this be doubled? I’d like to bake 2 or 3 at a time and know a quick bread should go into the oven quickly after mixing. I’m thinking about half milk and half cider on the liquid
    I follow you on FB. Love the vibe there and love how easy it is to find a great recipe on your website by ingredients. Thank you for the love in the oven guidance ❤️ ~ Denise Lita

    1. Hi Denise, for best results, we recommend making separate batches. It helps prevent over mixing, which can be easy to do with added volume. So glad you’ve been enjoying our recipes!

  14. Can this be frozen? I’m a soon to be mamma and I’m looking for different breads to make ahead and freeze other then banana bread.

    1. Hi Rachel, sure can! Freeze baked & cooled loaf for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. If desired, bring to room temperature before serving. To learn more details about how to freeze quick breads, see the post called Make-Ahead Baking. If you’re interested, this post on Freezer Meals and Snacks has also been helpful for expecting moms!

    1. Hi Ashleigh, This apple cinnamon bread only needs 1 or 2 apples, so it’s fine to use tart OR sweet. See section titled, “What Are the Best Apples to Use for Baking?” for more!

  15. This was the second time I made this bread. Definitely a keeper as my husband LOVES it and so does my son-in-law. Thank you!!

    1. Hi Maureen! It would be best to search for a recipe suited for those ingredients rather than trying to adapt this one, as it wouldn’t be an easy swap.

  16. Do you think I could bake this in a round clay baker. It’s 3.5″ high and about 7″ diameter. I only have a glass loaf baker.

  17. I’ve made this loaf a couple of times now but recently made it using a gluten free flour mix from Woolworths (I’m in Australia).
    It turned out wonderfully! Still had that same great taste and a fantastic texture. Some might say it was even better than a regular old gluten cake. =)

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