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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. I like to compare it to apple cinnamon bread, only without the apples.


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 and you can see similar variations with my cranberry orange 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.
  • 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) 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.

See Your Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread!

Many readers tried this recipe as part of a baking challenge! Feel free to email or share your recipe photos with us on social media. 🙂

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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 1x
  • 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

Scale

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

Reader Questions and Reviews

    1. Hi Sarah, we haven’t tested grapeseed oil in this recipe but don’t see why it would be an issue.

  1. Hi Sally, I don’t have sour cream if I use the buttermilk I can have it measured in 1cup? Thanks a lot

    1. I’ve made this recipe a few times. I have used all buttermilk with great results

  2. Hi Sally – just a quick question: my batter was very thick. Is that unusual or does it usually come out quick thick? It seems much thinner than mine in your video!

    1. Hi Janice! This is a fairly thick batter — how did it bake up for you? Make sure to spoon and level your flour, so that there isn’t too much dry ingredient in the batter to cause it to be more thick than needed. Hope the bread was a hit!

  3. HI,
    This looks fabulous – plan to make it this weekend. The recipe indicates that the bread should cool completely in the pan. I usually take quick bread out of the pan to cool after an initial 15 minutes or so. Do you recommend that? Also, is Canola oil ok? Thanks!

    1. Hi Linda, we like to let it cool completely, but if it has cooled enough in 15 minutes to where you can easily remove it, certainly feel free to do so. And yes, canola oil will work in place of the vegetable oil. Hope you enjoy the bread!

      1. Thank you for such a prompt reply, Lexi. Looking forward to trying it!
        Linda

  4. I love all the recipes I’ve tried– you are my quarantine baking queen!
    Could I use applesauce instead of 1/3 cup oil in this recipe?

    1. Hi Joyce! We haven’t tested that, it may alter the texture. Let us know if you give it a try!

  5. I over-baked by about 5 minutes and so my loaf turned out a little dry – anything I can do to repair – I gotta bring it to someone and do not have time to bake another one. Thanks.

    1. Hi Mona, A generous spread of butter on each slice will always help a slightly over-baked quick bread!

  6. Hi, do you think this recipe doubled would work in a casserole dish if I’m making for a bigger group?

  7. Bread looks delightful! I was wondering if you have experimented with/could use Gluten Free All Purpose Flour in this recipe?

    1. Hi KTM, We do not have much experience using gluten free flour. Although some readers report using an all purpose 1:1 gluten free flour in many of our recipes with success, you should expect slightly different results. Here are all of our naturally gluten free recipes. 

  8. I am excited to try this recipe. Could you use slices of this quick bread to make cinnamon french toast or this quick bread too much like a cake? Thanks!

    1. Hi Diane, while we haven’t made it ourselves, many readers have reported that this bread makes delicious French toast!

  9. I’d love to know if I could swap the oil for butter and add an egg to make it more ‘cakey’. Would it work and can I do the five minute at 425 trick to make the rise higher??

    1. Hi Sharon, for a cakier loaf, you may enjoy the base of this chocolate chip loaf cake instead. Leave out the chocolate chips and add this cinnamon swirl when assembling. I wouldn’t use the 425F high temperature trick like we usually use for muffins.

  10. Followed directions exactly (used Greek yogurt because that is what I had). Was really great. Thank you for the recipe!

    1. I couldn’t see myself pouring oil into this beautiful mixture so I used a half cup of butter. Amazing!!

  11. Hi, Your recipes are amazingly delicious! My question would it be safe to make bread 2 days ahead leave in fridge and bake on 3rd day?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Mari, we don’t recommend it. It’s best to make bread batter right away, as the leaveners are activated and the longer it sits, the less it will rise and the texture will become different, too. If you’d like to make it ahead of time, see recipe notes for freezing instructions. Hope you enjoy the bread!

  12. This is such an easy and quick recipe! The room temp ingredients make a difference. I have been testing out recipes to mimic the Starbucks coffee cake and this is perfect!

  13. Wow! Deliciously divine Cinnamon SWIRL Bread that has this perfect crunchy, chewy, Cinnamon sugar crust. I absolutely loved the gooey SWIRL.. yummy MMM! This was a hit! I made one for us and 1 for my neighbor who always cooks for my boyfriend and me. She LOVED it. Thank you! Thank you!

  14. Just baked this yesterday and it was delicious! Can I replace the oil with melted browned butter to add more buttery flavor?

    1. Hi Nina! You can use melted browned butter in place of the oil, but the bread may not be as soft and moist.

  15. Thanks for the quick reply Lexie! Would it be a 1 to 1 substitution? And could half oil half melted butter help retain some of that moisture?

    1. Hi Nina, yes, we’d recommend a 1:1 substitution. You can certainly try 1/2 of each and then adjust for future batches as needed!

  16. Made this simple bread today… This is a stellar recipe! My batter was thick… I used milk and half and half… baked for 50 minutes, covered at the 25 min mark… oh my gosh, it was sooooo delicious! Had to send the loaf to my husband’s work so I wouldn’t eat it all by myself! All of the other nurses will be thrilled they get to enjoy it. Thank you!

  17. Mine was definitely thicker than in the video. I did spoon & level flour. Had a good taste..

  18. Cannot recommend. Wasted my top quality ingredients on this recipe. Baking at 350° for 55 minutes turned out a brick-hard loaf with burnt bottom and edges a knife couldn’t cut—needed a saw. The 2 tablespoons of sugar cinnamon topping melted into a solid shard that cracked and fell off in pieces when removing bread-brick from pan. Tried again, reduced bake time to just under 50 minutes. Edges still too crispy and cinnamon sugar topping turned into a shard once again. Tried a third and last time, baking at 40 minutes. Not a brick but dry and seriously lacking a tender crumb. My oven works fine on everything else. I’ve been baking for decades, not a neophyte. My advice, find another recipe.

  19. This turned out so great! It is delicious. I will definitely be making it again.
    I was worried at first because the batter seemed different than what I am used to with bread but it wasn’t a problem at all. It was very easy to make.

    I made a few modifications:
    – I used one tablespoon of oil instead of an egg (allergy)
    – 1/2 the amount of vanilla and it was “butter vanilla” instead of regular (only kind the store had)
    – For the cinnamon swirl I used half brown sugar and half white sugar. I love brown sugar with cinnamon
    – I added a handful of raisins

  20. Wonderful recipe. Thanks! I had no whole milk so used 2% combined with a little sweet cream. Used a few extra spoonfuls of sugar cinnamon (I did use a small ratio of brown sugar in it) but that’s all. So good!

    1. Hi Angela, We don’t recommend using brown sugar in the bread batter, but you could use it in the swirl if you prefer. Though the brown sugar will be a little clumpy and hard to sprinkle neatly on top. Let us know what you try!

  21. This bread is so delicious! It was easy to make and made the house smell amazing. I made the vanilla icing that is in the recipe and drizzled it on top. The bread was so moist and the cinnamon swirl was gooey with a nice crunch on top. This is probably one of my favorite Sally recipes that I have made. I made a second loaf the next day. It was a huge hit and the family has already requested I make more.

    1. Hi Lori, We haven’t tested this quick bread using maple syrup as a substitute- we would stick to the recipe as written. If you try anything though, let us know how it goes!

  22. This is a fantastic recipe! It reminds me of a coffee cake, but with the crumble on the inside instead of falling off the top! Super delicious and super easy to whip up – 10/10 would recommend!! 🙂

    1. Hi Tina, the bread won’t taste as rich and moist, but a non dairy milk will work in a pinch.

  23. Can I add a fruit (raspberries) to this recipe, and if so in what step would I add them? I love raspberries!

    1. Hi Erica, yes, you can add some raspberries with no other changes to the recipe – fold them into the batter after combining.

  24. This recipe is so fantastic! It was easy to follow and simple to make. It was such a huge hit with my family that the whole loaf was gone the same day and I had to make a second the next morning. They have repeatedly asked me to make this again. The bread was so moist and soft and it had the perfect amount of cinnamon. I love how the top was just a little crispy. I made it with and without the frosting and it’s delicious both ways. I will 100% put this in my baking rotation.

  25. Didn’t actually try it because I delivered it to a family at church as part of a meal train but they loved it! I hope to make it for myself soonish.

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