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. Vanessa Roshong says:

    Delicious fall treat. Perfect amount of cinnamon and sweetness. Will be making again!!!

  2. Bread?? More like cake! This cinnamon creation is so wonderful, quick and easy to make. It comes out as a stunning centerpiece when the vanilla icing is added as well. I brought my father a slice before we went to dinner and I was chastised all dinner for not bringing him a second (or third) slice. I’m not a huge fan of cinnamon but still really enjoyed this.

  3. Sally
    This recipe was so simple but the results are absolutely fantastic!! I have to say the texture is my favorite part. The sweetness level is perfect and the smell is divine. Thanks again Sally for another fabulous recipe!
    Michele

  4. Officially keeping this recipe for an easy dessert or breakfast cake! Great recipe and SO good!! Thank you!

  5. This delicious recipe certainly was quick to make! I made it into muffins, using the chai spices mentioned, with grated apple. It was moist and flavourful. I will definitely be making it again!

  6. WOW what a great recipe. I am a cinnamon lover and this was the perfect in the place of a cinnamon roll. My mom was even able to try the recipe herself (gluten free), and gave it 5 stars too!

  7. This recipe is delicious, and it comes together so easily! This bread disappears quickly around my house, and everyone loves those crispy cinnamon edges. This recipe will be wonderful all year long, but that warm cinnamon taste makes it the perfect gateway to more fall baking!

  8. I did this as the Sept. Baking challenge. It’s really good! Light. Sweet. Crunchy. Cinnamon-y. We added pecans to the top for an extra crunch and our whole family enjoyed it!

  9. Esther Longchar says:

    I love cinnamon so i had to make this. Didn’t disappoint. Quick indeed. I doubled the recipe because I knew one loaf would be gone too fast and I was right. I love the crumb texture. And I thought it would be too sweet but it was just right. I skipped the icing but it was wonderful without it too. I think I can increase the quantity of cinnamon next time.

  10. Thank you ever so much Sally for this great recipe. I love how easy it went together and the taste did not disappoint. I love how it made the whole house smell while it was baking. It is a real “keeper” and one that I will go to for a quick sweet fix. Thanks again and congratulations on the new little blessing.

  11. This was so pretty when it was done. I will definitely make it again but will dial the cinnamon down a wee bit. Might try the chai spice version too. ( not a huge cinnamon fan).

  12. This is so good! My family devoured it!

  13. Very yummy recipe & will make again!
    I love baking in the mini bread pans so that’s what I did
    Our family loves anything cinnamon!

  14. I made this twice over the weekend! One to split with a neighbor, and another as a welcome gift for a new neighbor just moving in. My whole block smells like cinnamon! (No complaints there, since I’m pretty sure my own personal heaven will smell like a cinnamon bread in the oven). This recipe came together easily and the swirl through the middle made it simply gorgeous. I skipped the icing and thought it was perfect. I’m planning to try another with raisins or apples!

    1. Such a thoughtful and delicious way to welcome your neighbors! Thanks for sharing, Ellie.

  15. Such a simple and quick recipe! The bread had a perfect amount of sweetness, and I absolutely loved having some of the crunchy cinnamon sugar on top. Instead of the vanilla icing, I made the cream cheese icing from the overnight cinnamon rolls recipe and was not disappointed!

  16. I am a total sucker for anything cinnamon-y and this really hits the spot. I made the chai version and it’s the epitome of fall comfort! Can’t wait to make another batch for my coworkers

  17. Lindsay C Ortman says:

    Absolutely delicious and pretty easy to make

  18. Tara S Bruckmann says:

    This bread is amazing! I have made 2 loaves and they are both the perfect texture and delicious!!

  19. Chelsea Nauman says:

    This is my first time doing the monthly challenge and I was so excited! This bread was soooo good and really hit the spot. I loved the thick cinnamon layer in the center which 100% filled my craving for a cinnamon roll!

    1. I’m thrilled you joined the monthly challenge, Chelsea! Glad to hear this one was a hit, and I hope you’ll join us again in future months 🙂

  20. This bread was quick, delicious and moist! I baked two and gifted one. Both I, and the recipient loved it! The vanilla icing is definitely needed, makes a soft sweet topping on the crunchy cinnamon top crust and makes the bread picture perfect! I didn’t put the full amount on, just enough to cover the top. I will definitely make this recipe in the future!

  21. So easy to make and delicious!

  22. I wanted to bake something quick on a weekday that both of us parents and our two picky kids would enjoy. This hit the spot! I used reduced fat milk since that’s what we have on hand. On half (the “parent” side), I added pecans on top of the cinnamon filling and on the top of the batter. I skipped the icing since I was going for a quick bake. I really enjoyed it, and my kids asked for seconds. Thanks for another great recipe!

  23. Super quick, easy and delicious! Was very happy with how this turned out. Would like to try this recipe again with the apples, I think that would put this over the top.

    1. Alisha Pershad says:

      it absolutely elevates the bread!

  24. Alisha Pershad says:

    The crumb on this bread is STUNNING. I added diced apple in the center and it added the best amount of bite to this otherwise soft, moist, delicious bread. Next time, I might add a brown sugar/flour/butter crumb topping just to see the effect!

    1. Alisha,
      I was thinking of adding apples, too.
      Did you use raw apples? or did you cook them slightly to soften first?

      1. I used raw apple. Given the long baking time of the recipe, my apples were cooked and soft. To make sure they came out soft, I chopped my peeled apple into thin slices and chopped the slices into smaller pieces.

  25. This looks absolutely amazing! Quick question re: substitutions. Could I use plain greek yogurt instead of sour cream? And do you have a recommendation for how to make gluten free? Thanks!

    1. Hi Jen! You can use plain greek yogurt instead of the sour cream. I haven’t tested this recipe with gluten free flour, but let me know if you do!

  26. Sumathy Nellaiyappan says:

    This is one amazing recipe! What is there to not love when there is cinnamon sugar doing a swirl dance in the bread which is really a cake and there is also this yummy vanilla flavor?!? And it is a treasure when it can be made in a jiff! My kids just loved it and told me it tasted just like their favorite Trader Joe’s cinnamon cake.
    Kids are the best critics and if you hear such comments, then it’s got to be a keeper recipe right! So yes, I am keeping this one just like your chewy chocolate chip cookies recipe . Thank you so much for such an amazing recipe!! I posted my pic on IG as well and tagged you!

    1. Sumathy Nellaiyappan says:

      I wish I can give this recipe more stars!!

    2. Thank you SO much, Sumathy! Happy to hear this will be a repeat recipe for your family.

  27. This quick bread has officially become by go to snack! I made this for my family thinking I’ll be the only one eating it (because they don’t have biggest sweet tooth) but it was all gone by the end of the day!! I’ve made this delicious quick bread 3 times in the span of a week!! So it’s safe to say, this recipe is absolutely amazing and my family loved it!

  28. My finace was skeptical when I showed him this recipe, but once it was baked he couldn’t stop eating it. So good and so easy! Going to be a household staple.

  29. Heather McEntire says:

    I was excited to try this, because as a mom of 3 I’m all about quick and easy!! It went together pretty easily, but the final product disappointed me. I guess the “cakey” part felt a little tasteless to me? It wasn’t bad at allllll but I had high expectations and hopes and felt a little let down.

  30. The only cinnamon bread recipe you’ll ever need. Simple to make and incredibly delicious. The one thing I would say is the cooking spray didn’t quite cut it at far as getting the loaf out of the pan, but that could just be the one I used. Delicious!!

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