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.

659 Comments

  1. Hi Sally,

    Can i subs vegetable oil with butter?

    1. Hi Cynthia! You can, but the bread won’t taste as moist.

  2. This bread was delicious and not to difficult to do. My family loved it!

  3. I love this recipe so much- quick and delicious! AND it makes AMAZING french toast!!

  4. I made this bread yesterday during a work from home “break” 🙂 The whole house smelled wonderful! Easy but delicious recipe!

    1. Sounds like the perfect work break to me! Thanks so much for trying my recipe, Shelby.

  5. This bread is so delicious and made my house smell absolutely incredible! Looking forward to trying some different variations – I think next time I’ll add some pumpkin pie spice to the swirl. Cranberry orange would be delicious as well.

  6. Rebecca Craddock says:

    This was such a fun recipe! I couldn’t wait to try it when it was baking; it smelled so good! My only problem was that some of the topping fell off when I took it out of the pan, but I think I just left too much on top. I’ll probably try putting raisins in next time.

  7. This was delicious and super easy to make. My kids loved it, too, which is always a bonus.

  8. Delicious and simple to make! The cinnamon-sugar flavor in The bread was wonderful.

  9. The recipe was easy to follow; with bonus points for not requiring a trip to the store for any special ingredients. I added some raw, small-diced apples to the filling as another reviewer suggested just because I had a bunch. I forgot to cover with foil as indicated in the recipe to prevent over browning and it still came out fine. Mighty tasty. Definitely filing this one for future use.

  10. This recipe produced a yummy loaf of cinnamon goodness!! It really was quick and all of the instructions set me up for success! I took this to a meeting and everyone loved it. Thanks for another amazing recipe!

  11. This recipe is so quick tasty! People asked me if it was some sort of “brown butter” dessert because they felt it was soo fragrant that there HAD to be butter in it! Nope! Just lots of sugar and cinnamon!

  12. Delicious! Very easy to make, I had all the ingredients on hand which was nice. I’m actually planning to make a couple batches to put into small tins and give out to friends! My 2.5 year old helped me and we loved how good it made the house smell too ☺️

    1. Such a sweet idea! I’d love to know how they turn out for you, Morgan. Happy baking!

  13. Where do I even start with this recipe? Simple ingredients made into an amazing breakfast for my family! Whipped this up in no time and the smell in the kitchen alone was enough to tell you how good this bread was! Melt in your mouth good and perfect with a nice hot cup of coffee.

  14. Olivia Thomason says:

    Wow! This was such a yummy and easy recipe to make. My entire house smells delicious and it is the perfect afternoon snack… or breakfast! It comes together easily and has the perfect texture and flavor!

  15. This bread is fantastic! Although I didn’t get to taste it myself because I’m on Whole30, my family raved about it. I made mine with apples and it was the perfect treat to kick off fall!

  16. The PERFECT quick and easy recipe for me to whip up with my kids during their remote learning lunch break. I made two loaves (because I knew it would be good), and added apples to one and pears to the other. Both turned out BEAUTIFULLY. And they’ll be the perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee or tea on these cooler mornings.

    1. That’s such a fun lunch break activity! Great call on making two loaves 😉 thank you for participating, Ashley!

  17. I love that I did not have to pull my mixer out to make this recipe. It is super easy to put together and the swirl turned out beautifully. I, like a previous comment, had some dry cinnamon/sugar mix on top after baking, but probably I just put too much on. It looks and tastes delicious! Would definitely recommend to anyone, no matter what baking level.

  18. I just made this recipe over the weekend, but did the muffin version. This was a great way to usher in the fall baking season and so easy to make! They were a hit in our house, with moans of joy coming from my husband. They went so quickly and my son was disappointed there were no more for breakfast this morning. I guess I’ll need to make some more!

  19. Super simple to make! Smells fantastic while baking and tastes delicious. Another great recipe Sally, thank you

    1. rhea macchione says:

      This is so good! I can’t wait to do it again wi seeth chai spices.

  20. New family favorite! We love cinnamon desserts and I believe we just found a new favorite cinnamon treat! It was quick and fun to make. The sour cream and milk combination made a wonderful texture. Great recipe!

  21. Such an easy but very delicious recipe!!! I definitely will be making this again in larger quantities so I can share!!!

  22. Wonderful bread! Will definitely be making this again soon.

  23. This recipe was super simple but super delicious! My family finished it within an hour after I baked it.

  24. This recipe was super easy to follow! I enjoyed the cinnamon sugar taste. Like Sally says, I would highly recommend using whole milk and vegetable oil! I used 2% milk and butter/avocado oil since I couldn’t find my vegetable oil which made it less moist than I would’ve liked. Overall, a great recipe for cinnamon bread that’s not overly sweet!

  25. This was super easy to make and tasted delicious. Can’t wait to try it again but might add apples next time!

  26. First time to participate in your baking challenge and your recipes never disappoint. Bread was so easy to make and it’s so good. Like cinnamon rolls but definitely quicker and easier to make. Our kitchen smells divine. Thanks for this recipe!

    1. Thanks for participating in your first baking challenge, Anna – I’m glad this one was a success for you!

  27. This bread was so delicious! Loved it! Really like how quick and easy it is to make!

  28. rhea macchione says:

    This is so good! I can’t wait to do it again with chai spices.

  29. First time making it and it was so simple to make and made the house smell incredible! Can’t wait to try your other breads! Is there a calorie per slice anywhere? (I’m trying to noom and I had no idea where to begin! )

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Katie, I’m so happy you gave this recipe a try! I’m unsure of the nutritional info of this recipe, but there are many great online calculators like this one: https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp

  30. Alina Kizilbash says:

    Such a quick, easy and delicious recipe! My family finished it in a day! Will definitely be making this recipe again and again!

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