Adapted from my orange cranberry bread, this vanilla flavored cinnamon swirl quick bread is moist and soft with a thick ribbon of cinnamon sugar swirled inside. You only need a handful of very basic ingredients and there’s no mixer required. This cake-like bread will remind you of cinnamon rolls, but takes a fraction of the time to prepare!
Do you ever get the baking itch? (Of course you do, why am I even asking?!) But what about the desire to make something truly warm, cozy, and comforting? Where not only that first bite soothes the soul, but the smell of it baking is satisfying too. My cinnamon swirl quick bread checks all those boxes.
This Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread Is:
- Melt-in-your-mouth soft & moist
- Vanilla & cinnamon flavored (even better with vanilla icing on top!)
- Very easy to make, no mixer needed
- Layered with an extra thick cinnamon swirl
- Covered with a crackly cinnamon sugar crust
In terms of texture, it’s not quite as dense as pound cake, but it’s definitely heavier than vanilla cake. I like to compare it to apple cinnamon bread and cinnamon swirl banana bread, only without the apples or bananas.
Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread Video Tutorial
Have you ever made my cinnamon swirl chocolate chip bread? Today’s recipe is a lot like it, only minus the chocolate chips.
Gasp! I know! But hear me out.
I swapped the 1 cup of buttermilk for sour cream and milk. I wanted a slightly denser crumb, while keeping each bite totally tender and soft. Sour cream is a magical ingredient in cakes, cupcakes, breads, muffins, and more. I found that 1/2 cup sour cream and 1/2 cup milk made the bread a little too dry and dense, but 1/3 cup sour cream and 2/3 cup milk was perfect. Brown sugar can weigh down the bread, so I used all regular white sugar. I also increased the vanilla extract and the amount of sugar in the cinnamon swirl. (Thicker swirl!) All of these small changes made a very big difference and you can see similar variations with my orange cranberry bread and peach bread recipes!
Best Ingredients to Use & Why
- Flour: All-purpose flour is the base of this quick bread recipe.
- Salt & Baking Soda: Flavor & rise.
- Vanilla Extract: You’ll appreciate the simple, yet unbeatable flavor of vanilla in the bread itself. If you have homemade vanilla extract on hand, use it here.
- Egg: One egg binds everything together.
- Sugar: You need sugar for both the bread batter and the cinnamon swirl.
- Sour Cream: We use sour cream for moisture and tenderness, but also because its lactic acid helps the baking soda do its job. This powerhouse ingredient plays the same important role in coffee cake, too (which you’ll love just as much as this bread!).
- Milk: Whole milk is best, but you can use a lower fat or nondairy milk in its place.
- Oil: While butter provides unbelievable flavor, nothing beats the moisture that oil provides. We use oil in this quick bread recipe (and others like strawberry bread, pumpkin bread, and lemon poppy seed bread) to produce a moist bread. Plus, the cinnamon sugar swirl and vanilla extract both provide a lot of flavor.
Extra Thick Cinnamon Swirl
To assemble the cinnamon swirl, layer half of the bread batter into your greased loaf pan. Top with almost all of the cinnamon sugar (as noted in the written recipe below, reserve 2 Tablespoons for the topping). Pour and gently spread the remaining batter on top. Sprinkle with remaining 2 Tablespoons of cinnamon sugar, then use a knife to swirl.
As you layer in all that cinnamon sugar filling, you’ll question the amount. Really? This much cinnamon sugar? Yes! For an extra thick cinnamon sugar swirl inside, we need an extra amount layered in. There’s A LOT. If you’re looking to spice up the flavor, try using a chai spice blend instead. Check out my white chocolate chai snickerdoodles and use the sugar/chai spice “topping” as the filling here. (Still reserving 2 Tablespoons of it for this bread’s topping.) There are more flavors and variations listed in the recipe notes below.
One of my favorite parts is the cinnamon sugar around the edges. Some of the cinnamon sugar from the center may seep out, creating an irresistible crisp/chewy crust.
Looking for a yeasted cinnamon swirl bread? See my homemade cinnamon swirl bread.
How to Freeze Quick Bread
Freezing quick breads is a lot like how to freeze cakes.
- Step 1: Bake and completely cool quick bread.
- Step 2: Once the bread cools completely, wrap it in Press & Seal or plastic wrap. From one baker to another—Press & Seal is the best product for wrapping baked goods. I find regular plastic wrap too thin, clingy, and frustrating. It definitely works, but Press & Seal is easier to use and I’ve honestly found that it keeps my food fresher. (Not working with this brand, just really love it.)
- Step 3: Write the type of bread and use-by date on a large piece of aluminum foil. For best taste and texture, don’t freeze quick bread for longer than 3 months. You could stretch it to 4 or 5 months, but the sooner you serve it, the fresher it tastes.
- Step 4: Wrap the bread in the aluminum foil and place in the freezer. You could place the wrapped bread in a freezer container or freezer-friendly zipped top bag, but I often just freeze it after wrapping in aluminum foil.
- Step 5: Freeze for up to 3 months. To thaw, transfer the frozen bread to the refrigerator one day before serving. Sometimes I forget and just let the bread thaw at room temperature for several hours, but it’s better to thaw at a slower rate in the refrigerator. Make sure you thaw bread while it’s still in the wrapping. Don’t unwrap before thawing.
Baker’s Tip: Two layers of wrap is key! The first layer keeps the bread fresh and the aluminum foil ensures no condensation will seep in. Double layer = maximum freshness and no freezer burn. Moisture is the enemy, so don’t be afraid to add another layer of Press & Seal or aluminum foil.
See Your Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread!
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This vanilla flavored cinnamon swirl quick bread is moist and soft with a thick ribbon of cinnamon sugar swirled inside. Feel free to turn this recipe into muffins or mini loaves. See recipe notes below.
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup (80ml) vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup (80g) sour cream (or plain yogurt/Greek yogurt), at room temperature*
- 2/3 cup (160ml) whole milk, at room temperature*
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- optional: vanilla icing
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray a 9×5-inch or 8×4-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.
- Cinnamon Swirl: Mix the 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar and 1 Tablespoon of ground cinnamon together.
- Bread: Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg and 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar together until combined. Whisk in the oil, sour cream, milk, and vanilla extract. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, then whisk to completely combine. Avoid over-mixing. You will have about 3 cups of batter.
- Pour/spread half of the batter into prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle almost all of the cinnamon sugar evenly on top (reserve about 2 Tablespoons for topping). It’s a very thick layer of cinnamon sugar. Carefully pour/spread remaining batter evenly on top. The top layer of batter will want to stick to the cinnamon sugar filling, making spreading a little tougher to do, but use a spoon to carefully spread it out as best you can. Sprinkle with the rest of the cinnamon sugar. Using a knife, make a large swirl down the loaf pan, as shown in the video tutorial below. Avoid over-swirling, which will mix the layers together too much.
- Bake the bread for 50-65 minutes, covering loosely with foil about halfway through to prevent the top from over-browning. Bread baked in an 8×4-inch pan takes closer to 65 minutes. Poke the center of the bread with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, the bread is done. Bake time varies between ovens. Remove from the oven and allow the bread to cool in the pan set on a wire rack for 1 hour. After that, remove the bread from the pan and let it cool directly on a wire rack.
- Drizzle with icing, if using. Slice and serve. Cover and store leftover bread at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- Freezing Instructions: For longer storage, you can freeze the glazed or unglazed bread for up to 3 months. See details above the recipe. Allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before glazing (if needed) and serving.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): 9×5-inch Loaf Pan or 8×4-inch Loaf Pan | Glass Mixing Bowls | Whisk | Cooling Rack
- Sour Cream & Milk: I adapted this recipe from my cinnamon swirl chocolate chip bread recipe. Instead of 1 cup of buttermilk as I do in that batter, I used a mix of sour cream and whole milk here. The crumb is tighter and more tender—you’ll love it. Using all milk creates a thinner batter that can overflow and take much longer to bake. That being said, feel free to use 1 cup of buttermilk instead of the sour cream and whole milk option here. See recipe notes in the chocolate chip bread about using a DIY sour milk option. I don’t recommend a lower fat or nondairy milk here, though you can use it in a pinch. The bread won’t taste as rich and moist.
- Optional Additional Flavors: Feel free to use the chai spice swirl noted above. Or add 1 cup of peeled, chopped apples to the bread batter or even 1 cup of raisins, chopped walnuts or pecans, or dried/fresh/frozen (do not thaw) cranberries. You can also add 1 Tablespoon of fresh orange zest to the bread batter OR cinnamon sugar swirl. Also, the orange glaze from this cranberry bread would be delicious on this bread.
- Muffins: Grease a 12-count muffin pan or line with liners. You will need a 2nd pan for 2 additional muffins as this recipe yields around 14. (Or bake in batches.) Prepare cinnamon swirl and batter in steps 2 + 3. Spoon batter evenly into liners, filling each halfway. Sprinkle each with a heaping spoonful of cinnamon sugar. Top with more batter, filling to the top. Sprinkle each with a dusting of cinnamon sugar. Use a knife to swirl the batter/cinnamon sugar in each. Bake the muffins for 5 minutes at 425°F (218°C) then, keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (177°C). Bake for an additional 15-17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The total time these muffins take in the oven is about 20-22 minutes, give or take. Cool muffins for 5 minutes in the muffin pan, then transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling. Makes 14 muffins.
- Mini Loaves: Grease a mini loaf pan. Prepare cinnamon swirl and batter in steps 2 + 3. Spoon batter evenly into greased cups, filling each halfway. Sprinkle each with a heaping spoonful of cinnamon sugar. Top with more batter, filling to the top. Sprinkle each with a dusting of cinnamon sugar. Use a knife to swirl the batter/cinnamon sugar in each. Bake at 350°F (177°C) until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Bake time and yield depends on the size of your mini loaf pan.
Keywords: cinnamon swirl bread, quick bread, cinnamon bread