Apple Cinnamon Bread

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. No matter how you serve it, this quick bread will become a staple in your kitchen. 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– it’s 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.

apple cinnamon bread

Why This Apple Cinnamon Bread Recipe Works

Here’s the deal. My loaf pans have gotten quite the workout recently because I tested COUNTLESS apple quick bread recipes. 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!)

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
  • 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

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

90 Comments

  1. Kathleen Upton says:

    For the apple bread it doesn’t specify what type of Apple. I’m guessing a tart sweet like granny smith. But can any apple be used?

    1. Hi Kathleen! See section above the recipe and the recipe note. I hope it’s helpful! I usually use Granny Smith.

  2. Can you use low fat sour cream? Looks incredible.

    1. Hi Trish, that shouldn’t be a problem when replacing the applesauce.

  3. Hello Sally,
    Can’t wait to try your Apple Cinnamon quick bread. I like using the foil pans, they state they are 2 lb loafs, approximately 8 x 3 1/2 inches, come three together. I used your water method of measuring, each one holds about 2 1/2 cups or so. Should I double this recipe? Hope to get three? Your help is much appreciated! PS- These little pans just right size for one person household. Thank you, Christie

    1. Hi Christie, I can’t say for certain but this is what I would do– I would make 2 separate batches of the batter and divide between 3 of those pans. (Do not double the recipe because you risk under or over-mixing the batter. Make separate batches.)

    2. Hi Sally
      Do you think shortening or coconut oil could be substituted for the butter?
      Thanks
      Chris

      1. Hi Chris, you could try either but keep in mind you will lose a little flavor. I would choose solid coconut oil over shortening for this recipe.

  4. I always wonder about cooling bread completely in the pan before removing. Won’t it get stuck in the pan?

    1. Hi Maggie, if you grease the pan very well it shouldn’t be a problem. However, if you’re nervous, feel free to remove the bread from the pan after it has cooled in the pan for about 1 hour.

      1. Debra Francik says:

        I use parchment paper so that the bread doesn’t stick in the pan.

  5. Looks delicious! I only keep 2%milk in the house, will that be ok?

    1. That shouldn’t be a problem.

  6. You read my mind! I was looking for an apple bread recipe as my mom is finally visiting and she loves apples. I’ll be making it in my mini loaf pans and I know it will be a hit!

  7. I have buttermilk on hand, can I use that? By the way I LOVE your site , recipes and how you explain each recipe!! Thank you for taking your time and notes with this process! You have been a blessing to me!

    1. Thanks Shanelle! I appreciate your comment. Yes, you could use buttermilk to replace the milk.

  8. Can real maple syrup be used in stead of sugar

    1. Hi Gary, no I don’t recommend that substitution for this recipe.

  9. Do you think an 8”x4”pan would be absolutely too small?

    I’m excited to try this. My parents are visiting this weekend, and it sounds like a perfect treat. I’ve made tons of your recipes before, and they’ve loved them all! Thanks!

    1. Hi Jaclynn, an 8×4 inch loaf pan is too small. The batter and apples won’t fit. Feel free to add enough to fill the pan 3/4 full then discard leftovers or you could use extras for a couple muffins on the side. (It’s hard to swirl the apples into muffins because of the tight space, but you can do your best.)

  10. Sounds delicious! Would it be OK to add some walnuts? Looking forward to trying this recipe.

    1. Definitely! I recommend 3/4 cup (98g) or 1 cup (130g) of chopped walnuts. Fold into the batter before layering with apples in the loaf pan.

  11. I’m so excited to make this for my kids for snack at school this week! How low do you think you could go on the sugar in the batter? Thanks! I love your recipes! Made the oatmeal blueberry muffins last night!

    1. Hi Sarah, I haven’t tested this recipe with any less sugar. I expect you could reduce down to 1/2 cup in the batter but keep in mind that when you reduce sugar, it could slightly dry out the bread. One of my favorite apple recipes that’s a bit more wholesome is: baked apple cinnamon oatmeal cups.

  12. Hi Sally,
    Thank you for another delicious sounding recipe. I’m trying to decide to make this or your Apple Crumb Muffins. Both look fantastic. I don’t mind that the muffins probably take a few more minutes prep time. Which do you prefer if you had to choose. Thank you.
    Clo

    1. Hi Clo, if I had a choice to prepare bread or muffins, I would choose muffins because they are quicker to bake and cool. However, sometimes it’s nice to have a big loaf and cut fresh slices when serving. It’s completely up to you!

  13. I have tried several of your recipes and always enjoyed them. With this one I added more cinnamon and some melted butter in the apple brown sugar mix. In making it a second time I would add even more cinnamon and maybe ground cloves too. I longed for more flavor. I think my glass pan was a bit too small as it ran over in the over. But still came out fine. It’s a beautiful loaf, toasty brown and looks delicious but I wish there was a much stronger buttery cinnamon flavor. Thank you for all your explanations!! They are so helpful!

  14. Best apple bread, ever. Cringed at so much cinnamon, especially as I use Vietnamese but I followed the recipe to the letter. Yum. Used all Granny Smith type apples. (Wolf River to be exact). Doubled the recipe and used our kitchen scale to keep the batter even in the pans.
    The glaze for the top was powdered sugar, a little salt, 1/2 t vanilla, 1/4 t almond flavoring, and milk. It was a bit runny. I poured it on the bread while it was still in the pan. After cooling 20 minutes gently and slowly removed the loaf. Total keeper recipe.

  15. Melissa Yaremchuk says:

    Hi, I have made dehydrated apples. Could I use them in this recipe?

    1. Hi Melissa, I can’t see why not.

  16. Can I substitute all purpose flour for gluten free such as cup 4 cup or King Arthur?

  17. Shannon Prasad says:

    Got the e-mail this morning and made it this evening – PERFECTION! I followed the recipe exactly, weighing my ingredients and using gala apples. I did add 1 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp ground allspice and 1/4 tsp ground green cardamom (I like things spicy!).

    I doubled the batch, which made one regular loaf and 8 mini loaves (Wilton mini loaf pan; I weighed the batter and apples and divided accordingly) – the minis took 30 min to bake, the full sized loaf took 60. Didn’t add a glaze, it doesn’t need one! The texture is amazing and the apples are perfectly suspended in the centre – SO DELICIOUS! This will likely be a weekly bake once my family gets a taste!

  18. Maria A Villasenor says:

    I can assure you this is one of the best. I did it before from your recipe, husband loved it!!! will make it again!!

    1. Can I make this in the bread machine? How would I alter the recipe? Thanks!

      1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Kate, we do not own a bread machine so we’re unsure. Let us know if you give anything a try!

  19. We picked apples on Monday and I made this bread last night. It’s amazing! It’s the perfect amount of apple and cinnamon. Thanks for sharing! I’ll be making a couple more loaves to bring home to family this weekend.

  20. Hi Sally! Could I make this in a 8X8 pan? I understand it may effect the apple swirling feature.

    Thanks……..Dale

    1. Hi Dale, I haven’t tried baking this batter that way but I can’t see why it wouldn’t work. I would definitely use an 8-inch square pan. I fear 9-inch might be too small. (A 9-inch round cake pan should work though.) Anyway, let me know if you try it!

  21. Hi Sally, Can I add a cinnamon streusel crumb topping to the top then bake? Love all you post! Thank you for your time and expertise. God Bless You and your Family!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Absolutely! We recommend the crumb topping from this bread, but feel free to use your favorite streusel recipe!

  22. Hi Sally, I made the apple cinnamon loaf using a gluten free flour mix (Jules Shepard’s mix-which is wondeful) and oat milk. It was absolutely delicious. I will certainly make again and will probably discard all my other cinnamon bread recipes (I might be considered a recipe hoarder!!)

    1. Thank you for posting your result using gluten free flour mix.

  23. Hi Sally, I’m really itching to make this. I have a question regarding the pan. I have the USA loaf pans with lids. Would using the lid on this bread work or should I leave it open and then cover with foil as you recommend?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sharon! We haven’t tested those pans, so can’t say for sure. We definitely wouldn’t recommend baking with the lid on the whole time. You could try adding the lid instead of foil at the 30 minute mark. Let us know if you give it a try!

  24. This was absolutely amazing. I was looking for a good apple bread now that its getting cooler and it came out perfect!

  25. Hi Sally, I’m really keen to make this, but a few members of my family don’t eat eggs. Can I leave out the eggs in this recipe? Or are there any egg substitutes that can be used?

    Thank you sooo much for all the detail that goes into describing your wonderful recipes…. they come out exactly as you say when I follow them step-by-step and each time I bake I’m left with delicious memories!! 🙂

    1. Hi Joyita, thank you so much for the kind comment! I haven’t tested this recipe with egg substitutes, so I can’t give any advice. Let me know if you try any! Here are all of my egg free baking recipes if you are interested in browsing there.

  26. This was recently been just added to my family’s favorite recipes!!! Even the kids who complained about it in the beginning were the ones begging for another slice!
    Question for you though, for the apple part can I swap out the brown sugar for regular sugar?
    Thank you for all the wonderful recipes!

    1. Hi Sienna, absolutely! That shouldn’t be a problem. Thank you for trying this recipe. We love it too.

  27. Could you give the nutritional breakdown of this bread (carbs, calories). Thanks.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lynn, 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

  28. Would it be alright to just fold the apple minute into the whole batter and then pour into the pan, or is it a distribution issue? Thanks

    1. Hi Diane, I recommend layering and swirling. Folding the brown sugared apples into the batter created a heavier, wetter bread.

  29. I made this recipe this week and have to say, it’s a keeper. Your instructions were right on – especially about cooling in the pan. I was a bit too eager and the bread split in half lengthwise. I did manage to get the bottom half out and put the bread together again. It was delish and definitely will making this again. Thank you!!

  30. Sadly, no one in my family was terribly fond of the Apple Cinnamon Bread. It was given a “nothing special” rating and I was told not to bother making it again. There was absolutely nothing wrong it – the recipe baked up beautifully and we are both an apple- and cinnamon-loving family, so it was a surprise to me. I enjoyed it but I wouldn’t dare have an entire loaf of this bread around for me to eat by myself —- because I would! Thanks anyway!

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