Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread

Adapted from my cranberry orange 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!

slice of cinnamon swirl bread

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. In fact, I’m positive it’s the medicine we all need right now.

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. Let’s watch it come together. Yes, it’s really this easy!


Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread Video Tutorial

cinnamon swirl quick bread with vanilla icing

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. I think this is my new favorite quick bread recipe. (It’s similar to my cranberry orange bread recipe, too!)


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.
  • 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 to produce a moist bread. Plus, the cinnamon sugar swirl and vanilla extract both provide a lot of flavor.

cinnamon swirl quick bread batter

cinnamon swirl quick bread batter

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.

cinnamon swirl bread in loaf pan

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.

cinnamon quick bread with vanilla icing

cinnamon swirl quick bread

How to Freeze Quick Bread

Freezing quick breads is a lot like freezing cake.

  1. Step 1: Bake and completely cool quick bread.
  2. 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.)
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Print
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cinnamon swirl quick bread

Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 55 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 1 loaf
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

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.


Ingredients

Cinnamon Swirl

  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

Bread

  • 2 cups (250gall-purpose flour (spoon & 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

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray a 9×5 inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.
  2. Cinnamon Swirl: Mix the 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar and 1 Tablespoon of ground cinnamon together.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 above. Avoid over-swirling, which will mix the layers together too much.
  5. Bake the bread for 50 minutes to 1 hour, covering loosely with foil about halfway through to prevent the top from over-browning. Poke the center of the bread with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, the bread is done. Oven times will vary between ovens. My bread usually takes 55 minutes. Cool bread completely in the pan set on a wire rack.
  6. Drizzle with icing, if using. Slice and serve. Cover and store leftover bread at room temperature for 1 day or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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, orange glaze would be delicious on this bread.
  4. 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.
  5. 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

How to Join Sally's Baking Challenge

Make the Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread recipe. (Mini loaves, muffins, or flavor variations listed in the recipe notes count too!) If you’re not into this recipe, here is the alternate September Baking Challenge:

  1. any previous challenge recipe OR
  2. Orange Butter Cookies with Chocolate Ganache

After you make the bread or alternate recipe, email me your recipe photo. Feel free to also share it on social media using #sallysbakingchallenge. For a bonus entry, leave a review on the recipe below!

By emailing your photo to us, you are automatically entered in the baking challenge for the $250 Amazon gift card prize. We keep track of your photos and randomly select 1 winner at the end of the month. The challenge is open to the whole world. Challenge ends on September 29th 2020 at 5pm ET. The winner will be selected at random and posted in the October Baking Challenge blog post on September 30th 2020.

662 Comments

  1. Can this recipe be doubled?

    1. Absolutely. Double each ingredient then divide between 2 loaf pans.

  2. This looks so yummy, Sally! I definitely need to make it soon! Hope things are going well for you and your family, especially now that you’ve got little Elise♡ And I’m praying for sweet Jude!

  3. Good morning from Rennes! This recipe looks amazing and I am looking forward to baking it. I do have a question. Since I cannot get sour cream, can I use my usual substitute of either Greek yogurt or crème fraîche? If so, which one? If I cannot, I will have to use the buttermilk.
    Cannot wait to bake this!!

    1. Hi Amy! Yogurt is the best substitute.

  4. Hi Sally! I’m excited to try this. Do you think Greek yogurt (2%) could be used in place of the sour cream?

    1. Absolutely! Same amount.

  5. thank you for the recipe sally!i have one question though.instead of using sour cream, can you use double cream or heavy cream as an alternative?

    1. I don’t recommend heavy cream. You can use yogurt instead of sour cream though.

  6. Is there an eggless version of this bread

    1. None that I have tested. Here are all of my egg-free recipes if you’d like to browse!

    2. Replacement: 2 tablespoons water + 2 teaspoons baking powder + 1 teaspoon vegetable oil = 1 large egg
      Or
      Replacement: 1/4 cup mashed banana (about 4 inches or 2 1/2 ounces) = 1 large egg
      Or
      Replacement: 1/4 cup carbonated water = 1 large egg
      Based on muffin testing done by Kitchn.
      https://www.thekitchn.com/best-egg-substitutes-baking-23003895

      1. I used 1 tbsp flaxseed + 3 tbsp water + pinch baking soda instead of the egg – worked perfectly!

  7. Hi Sally,
    This looks delicious and I’m looking forward to baking this. Do you think I could add chopped walnuts to the batter and if so, how much?

    1. Definitely! See recipe note. Hope you love it!

  8. My husband would devour this!!! Can’t wait to make it!

  9. Hi Sally,

    Have you baked this recipe at 325? I’m curious if it produces a bottom that isn’t so dark and maybe not need to cover it halfway through?

    1. I haven’t tried baking the bread at a lower temperature. I still assume tenting the bread with foil towards the end of bake time will help protect the top from over-browning. Let me know what you try!

  10. What about using Pumpkin spice & apples mixture?

    1. Sounds delicious! Feel free to use pumpkin pie spice instead of cinnamon.

  11. The perfect treat for a rainy, autumnal afternoon; The cinnamon sugar swirl is luscious and thick, the crumb mouth watering and the spicy aroma baking it gives your kitchen could not be cozier.

    Thank you, Sally, once again for a lovely baking experience. 🙂

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Eowyn! Thank you for tackling this month’s baking challenge.

  12. Oh my gosh, I was ready to jump up and star baking after reading this recipe. Will have to a few hours, LOL. Am looking forward to trying it..will post once I get it baked. Thanks so much. Hope tou are doing well and adjusting to life with 2 littles. Enjoy this time, it is gone in a blink.

    1. Thanks, Maxine – we’re all surely enjoying this special time together 🙂 I appreciate the well wishes and can’t wait to hear how you like this recipe!

  13. Looks absolutely delicious….a wonderful fall treat! Thanks so much!

  14. The cinnamon swirl quick bread turned out *really* delicious! It smelled amazing during baking, and tastes incredible. Like OMG. THE CRUMB! Dense and moist, yet light. It was EVERYTHING! I’ve been dying to find this kind of crumb in a recipe forever. The sour cream is a game-changer. This recipe is definitely a winner.

    I’ve been wanting to do a Sally’s Baking Challenge for a while, and this super-simple recipe seemed like a good place to start. I made an egg-free version of this recipe since my dad doesn’t eat egg and he’s been asking me to make something for him. I substituted 1 tbsp ground flaxseed + 3 tbsp water for the egg. I rested this mixture for ~30 mins until it reached a soft viscous consistency, then added a pinch baking powder right before adding it to the sugar and mixing. It rose beautifully and was super rich and moist with an amazingly crunchy crust. So overall, I don’t think the lack of egg affected anything – for folks who are trying to make an eggless version, this is good substitute. I didn’t add the vanilla icing – I think it was yummy and perfectly sweet without it – but then again I’m not a fan of icing usually.

    I baked for 50 minutes and found it perfect, even though my oven generally runs cool. This is because the moistness of the crumb contrasts perfectly w/ the crunchiness of the crust. But it *was* crumbly when I sliced through – so maybe five more minutes would have helped. That said, I gave it maybe a minute to cool while I snapped pictures, before caving and scarfing down a slice. 🙂

    A tip: I think I “overswirled” – I decided to trace through the “S” I made with the knife one more time than the recipe said. It turned out just fine in taste but didn’t have that beautiful clean swirl pictured in the recipe picture. So it should really only be swirled once!

    1. I’m glad to hear you were able to create an egg-free version, Moulshri – thank you for sharing and participating!

  15. I am so excited to make this! My 5 year old is intrigued and asked quickly if we could make this today!! I’m going to try with almond milk and excited to enter the challenge with my daughter. I’m so excited thank you so much for the amazing recipe!!

    1. So sweet – happy baking to the both of you!

  16. SARAH M Reifeis says:

    Holy Smokes!! My normal cinnamon swirl bread takes me like 6 hours!!!! This won all the kids over! I pulled it out of the oven to cool … it lasted all of 30 minutes! Lol it’s half gone now!!!! So so yummy!!!!! Definitely one for Momma’s cook book!!!!

    1. Love to hear that this was such a hit, Sarah! Thanks so much for participating.

  17. So easy to pull together! Thank you sally!♥️♥️

  18. Since the preview was published a couple of days ago, I couldn’t wait to make this, so first thing this morning I jumped out of bed and started working on it!
    It was super easy and quick to make, and turned out absolutely dreamy! It’s soft, moist and just the right level of dense, and full of fabulous cinnamon, sugar, and vanilla tastes.
    It’s funny I completed this challenge on the first day of the month, considering I completed the July challenge just on the very last days of the month. I am so proud of myself!

    1. Thanks so much for your positive review, Orit – I’m glad this recipe was such a success for you!

  19. Marlene Wright says:

    WOW…so delicious. Made it this morning and I’m already diving into it. Easy, recipe was perfect and Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread could not be more yummy. Thank you for this!!

  20. Can’t wait to make this!! What brand of non-stick spray do you use? Like a butter flavor Pam or something with flour, too, like Bakers Joy?

    1. Hi Lauri! I usually just use regular Pam, but the “bakers” spray with flour works too.

  21. I made this bread this morning and it was such a delight at how easy it was to throw together! It came together beautifully and I love the large swirl of cinnamon and sugar as well as how the top layer of cinnamon and sugar made a perfectly crunch bite on the top! YUM! Thanks Sally!

  22. If you don’t have whole milk, will evaporated milk work?

    1. I haven’t tested it, but it shouldn’t be a problem.

  23. Bailey Ferguson says:

    Hi Sally! Can you use whole wheat flour for this recipe?

    1. Hi Bailey, you can try it but the bread will taste pretty heavy.

  24. Woke up to this recipe and immediately made it. It’s heavenly. Like all Sally recipes, it’s a crowd pleaser. Was super simple to make and made all the more easier with Sally’s instructions. Thank you to Sally for another delicious and comforting recipe, you’ve made me a confident baker and I know every recipe you put out I will be capable of making.

    1. I loved to read this, Aisha! Keep up the delicious baking 🙂

  25. Hi,
    I’ve noticed that sour creams have different percentages on the containers – what percent do you recommend for this recipe?

    A family member loves cinnamon swirl bread, but they are celiac. Is there a way to adapt this so it’s gluten free?

    Thank you kindly

    1. Hi Kat, I haven’t tested a gluten free version but let me know if you do. I usually use and recommend full fat sour cream. I’ve looked on my container and can’t find a percentage, but anything that’s not fat free will be fine.

  26. I’m so excited to cut into this bread! It looks gorgeous, but I will be patient and wait until it cools to cut and share (and add icing!) Even my cinnamon adverse children (whyyyy??) are clamoring for a treat! Thanks for the recipe
    @megjo_athome

    1. Hope it’s a hit for the whole family, Megan! Thanks so much for giving this recipe a go.

  27. This was SO delicious!!!!! I love cinnamon and quick breads, so I was super excited to try this. It is the best right out of the oven!!! Will definitely be making this again!

    1. Glad this will be a repeat recipe for you, Petra – thanks for tackling this month’s challenge!

  28. Delicious! So quick and easy to make. Will be making more to send with my husband to share with his coworkers!

  29. Sharon Williams says:

    Can I use canola oil instead of vegetable oil?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Sure can!

  30. Taryn Hristova says:

    I’ve got my bread in the oven as I type! The whole house smells delicious and the kids can’t wait to dig in. I also added a tablespoon of freeze dried Dragon Fruit powder to make it pink. Thank you for all of the awesome recipes Sally, you’re my go to for all things baked!

    1. How fun! Love that you made a pink version, Taryn. Hope it’s a hit!

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