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This Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread is a cinch to prepare and absolutely scrumptious with it’s thick swirl of cinnamon and brown sugar in the middle of rich, moist vanilla quick bread! There’s even more cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on top for a wonderful finish and a little crunch!
Cinnamon always gives us the warm and fuzzies! Some of our other favorites featuring the lovely flavor of cinnamon are The BEST Homemade Cinnamon Rolls (I mean, obviously and always, right?) and this easy Whipped Cinnamon Honey Butter.
Easy Cinnamon Swirl Bread
As much as I love working with yeast breads, I’ve been baking all sorts of quick breads lately because they are just so fun and easy to make and they taste delicious! We’ve tried peanut butter bread, cherry bread, strawberry bread, and others, all in the name of sharing our favorites here on the blog.
Some are still works in progress, but I can confidently say that I loved this cinnamon swirl bread enough to photograph it and share it here on the blog. Because you definitely need a slice or two of this bread in your life! Like, ASAP!
The base batter itself is a pretty simple, straightforward loaf that gets its flavor from sour cream (makes it nice and rich and slightly tangy) and vanilla. But we’re all really here for that luscious cinnamon swirl in the center, right?
How do I get that perfect swirl in the middle of the bread?
The key to a perfect swirl is to first evenly divide the batter so you don’t end up with too much on the bottom, which can cause the swirl layer to almost disappear into the top of the bread.
But also, I recommend you use a butter knife rather than a skewer and to lift some of the batter from the bottom up in a few spots, instead of just using a swirling motion. This pushes some of the cinnamon and sugar further down into the loaf while it rises up in other spots and gives the most motion and swoopiness to the swirl so you don’t end up with just a solid line of cinnamon bisecting your loaf.
What is a quick bread?
A quick bread is made using baking soda and/or baking powder as the leavening agent, rather than yeast, which often requires proofing and rising. This makes the bread much quicker to make since you aren’t waiting for the dough to double in volume before you can shape it or bake it.
Plus, you don’t have to deal with kneading the bread to develop the gluten in the flour. Because of that, quick breads sometimes seem to bridge the gap between cakes and yeast breads.
Also, quick breads are always baked in a loaf pan as well, as opposed to other yeast breads like challah or french bread, which can be baked freeform.
As for finishing the loaf, we kept it really simple and just sprinkled some of the cinnamon sugar mixture on top. I personally love it this way but my coffee cake loving husband suggested using a streusel or crumble topping, which is kind of a genius approach.
You could also make a simple glaze from powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla and drizzle it over the cinnamon sugar top for an even sweeter, shiny finish. If you want to keep with the theme, you could even throw in a little extra cinnamon into the glaze to get in as much of the spice as possible in every bite of this bread!
What You’ll Need
It’s a pretty simple list of common baking ingredients that most people will be familiar with for making this bread! You will get the best results if you pull out your eggs, sour cream, and milk ahead of time and let them come to room temperature, but it’s not absolutely imperative for this recipe.
- Flour: Regular all-purpose flour makes up the bulk of this bread. I use unbleached, all-purpose white flour.
- Sugar: Using granulated sugar in the bread makes it moist and sweet, while the brown sugar gets mixed with the cinnamon for the swirl in the middle and sprinkling on top.
- Eggs: These are an important ingredient for binding and creating the nice quick bread texture that is denser than a cake but still light and delicious.
- Cinnamon: Ground cinnamon is such a fantastic spice and plays a starring role in this quick bread.
- Oil: While you could use melted butter in place of oil, most baked goods stay moist longer when made with oil.
- Sour cream & milk: The combination of these two moistens the batter and adds richness and a bit of tang to the bread.
- Vanilla extract: The vanilla flavor compliments the cinnamon really well without competing for attention.
- Baking powder & baking soda: Using these two leavening agents help the bread to rise. Quick bread is known for being made with baking powder and/or baking soda instead of with yeast like traditional breads.
- Salt: It’s important to add a little salt to your baked goods so they don’t taste bland or flat.
How to Make Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread
- Whisk wet ingredients: Start by combining the milk, sour cream, eggs, vanilla extract, and sugar in a large bowl. Whisk everything together really well so that you don’t have to mix too much when you add the flour.
- Add dry ingredients: I love that this recipe can be made with just a bowl and a spoon. If you sprinkle the baking powder, baking soda, and salt over the flour, rather than dumping them in one spot, they should mix in evenly just by stirring the batter together with a large spoon. It’s okay to have a slightly lumpy batter. Like muffin batter, you don’t want to overmix once you add the flour.
- Make the cinnamon sugar layer: Mix together the cinnamon and sugar in a separate small bowl. I wish this was a one-bowl recipe, but I really think it helps to stir the cinnamon and sugar together so they create more of a distinct layer. Add 1/3 to 1/2 of your batter to a 9×5-inch loaf pan lined with a parchment paper sling or sprayed with baking spray. Then generously sprinkle most of your cinnamon sugar mixture over the batter, saving a couple tablespoons for the top. Use a butter knife to swirl the batter, lifting some of the batter from the bottom and moving it on top of the cinnamon layer.
- Add remaining batter and cinnamon sugar: Pour/spoon the remaining batter over the swirled cinnamon sugar layer, then sprinkle the reserved cinnamon sugar on top. Bake for 50-65 minutes until a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. If the bread is browning too much on top, cover it with a piece of aluminum foil about 30 minutes into the bake to keep it from getting too dark.
- Cool, then slice: Let the loaf cool for at least 15 minutes before removing from the pan. It’s so tempting to eat this bread while it is still warm, but the longer you can wait, the cleaner your slices will be. And actually, I think the bread is even better the next day once it has cooled completely! The flavors sort of meld together better and the bread stays plenty moist thanks to the oil and sour cream in the batter.
Tips & techniques for making quick bread
- Don’t go crazy with your swirl! It’s tempting to swirl away, I know, because it’s the fun part of making this bread, but if you swirl things around too much, you will lose the nice distinct look in the middle over the bread because the cinnamon and sugar will be mixed into the batter too much.
- Don’t overmix the batter. Once you add the flour, you really just want to stir until everything is combined and moistened, but you don’t want to really beat the batter or the bread won’t be as light and moist.
- Be careful not to overbake the bread. The hardest part with this recipe is knowing when the bread is done. But the bake time can depend on the oven temperature (not all ovens bake evenly), the size of your pan, and whether you are using a glass, ceramic, or metal pan. The best way to tell is to start checking your bread at the 50 minute mark, knowing that it might take another 15 minutes or so beyond that before your bread is done.
Can I use a different size loaf pan?
If you only have smaller 8.5×4.5-inch loaf pans, you could turn this into two loaves or just know that you will have a taller loaf that will take longer to bake. If you have a larger pan, this recipe will work, but it won’t have the same height to it and will bake more quickly. I find that a 9×5-inch pan is pretty standard and what most people have, so it’s what I use when making my quick bread recipes.
You could even make this recipe into muffins! Just divide the batter up evenly and bake for around 18-22 minutes.
How to serve this quick bread
While there is enough sugar in this bread to make it decidedly sweet, it’s much less sweet than other desserts, which makes it perfect for enjoying for breakfast or brunch or snacking on in the middle of the day with a glass of cold milk.
But you could also serve it with a scoop of ice cream on top like a cake and call it dessert!
You can even make a mixture of beaten eggs and milk, then dip slices of this bread in it and fry them in a little butter on a griddle for some delicious French toast for a really fantastic breakfast treat! So you might want to just go ahead and make a double batch while you are at it.
More Easy Quick Breads
- Carrot Bread
- The BEST Cranberry Orange Bread
- Lemon Poppy Seed Zucchini Bread
- Best Easy Banana Bread Recipe (with Video!)
- Coconut Lime Glazed Banana Bread
- Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread
- Zucchini Bread with Walnuts
Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1/2 cup sour cream room temperature
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 9×5-inch loaf pan by lining with a parchment paper sling or spraying with baking spray.
- In a large bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, sour cream, milk, oil, and vanilla extract and whisk together.
- Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir together until combined. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, mix the cinnamon and brown sugar together.
- Add about 1/2 of the batter to the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle 3/4 of the cinnamon sugar mixture evenly over the top of the batter, then use a butter knife to swirl it in a few times.
- Add the remaining batter on top of the cinnamon sugar layer, then sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon sugar mixture.
- Bake for 50 to 65 minutes until a skewer inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean.
- If your bread starts getting dark on top too quickly, loosely cover the bread with a piece of aluminum foil for the last 30 minutes of baking.
- Greek yogurt is a good substitute for sour cream.