Cinnamon Swirl Bread

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. For the record, my two main goals in life are to 1) raise sweet-smelling, sensitive, caring boys (and now a girl, too!) and 2) help everyone conquer making and baking yeast breads at home.

A year or so ago, I started doing more informative step-by-step posts on different kinds of breads to help with goal #2 (goal #1 is still a mighty work in progress, particular the sweet-smelling part). And then I stopped. I think baby #5 had something to do with that. Before the hiatus, we got through step-by-step bagels and ciabatta bread. And then an in-depth post on the basics of whole wheat bread. My goal is to inspire and insist and beat into the ground that bread-from-scratch can be conquered by anyone. It doesn’t have to be intimidating!

I’m back today with a look at classic and delicious cinnamon swirl bread – the pictures I included for the tutorial are mainly for the shaping and rolling. You can check out this post for a great lesson on the perfect texture of bread dough and working with yeast in general.

I make this bread most often when I need a nice homemade food idea for someone. It’s perfect for a new neighbor (or an old neighbor!), a friend’s birthday, an add-on for a take-in meal or new mom tray, a thank you token or for any number of reasons. The deliciously fragrant, cinnamon bread is so divine as toast (or french toast) that I usually include a note with the bread stating just that. And usually when I make it, I bake up a couple extra loaves to stash in our freezer because nothing says I love you on a lazy Saturday morning like whipping up cinnamon swirl french toast out of thin air (a.k.a. from the freezer). Instant rock star status, friends, instant rock star status.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

The dough recipe for this bread is different than my standby whole wheat bread recipe(s). It’s a richer, more tender dough (almost like a challah bread dough) and is truly delicious if you are looking for a show-stopping cinnamon swirl bread. However, I think you could easily take the method from this recipe, which is quite specific for getting the perfect cinnamon swirls, and apply it to your favorite whole wheat or regular bread dough.

On a closing note, I’m putting together a tutorial and in-depth look at wheat and wheat grinding. If you have any questions about that subject, let me know and I’ll add it to the list of things I’ll address. Trust me, you might think talking about grinding your own wheat is, like, totally boring, but I promise, it’s going to be loads of fun.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

One Year Ago: Rosemary Chicken and Wild Rice
Two Years Ago: Magical Layered Brownies
Three Years Ago: Delmonico Potato Bake

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Yield: Makes 3 loaves

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Note: The recipe can be halved, yielding one loaf baked in a larger pan, 9-inch by 5-inch. As with all yeast doughs, I never use the flour amount called for in the recipe as a hard fast rule (unless a weight measure is given and then I pull out my kitchen scale). Because humidity, temperature, altitude and a multitude of other factors can impact how much flour you need in your yeast doughs, I always judge when to quit adding flour by the texture and look and feel of the dough rather than how much flour I've added compared to the recipe so use the flour amount in this recipe as a guideline. This tutorial on yeast may help identify how a perfectly floured dough should be. Also, I've used half whole wheat flour in this recipe with good results.


  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 cups warm milk (about 110 degrees or warm to the touch, but not hot)
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 8 cups all-purpose flour (see note above)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Spray bottle filled with water
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter for brushing the top of the bread


  1. In a small bowl, mix together the granulated and brown sugar. Mix in the cinnamon. Measure out 4 tablespoons and set it aside for sprinkling on the bread.
  2. In a large liquid measuring cup or bowl, whisk together the milk, melted butter and eggs. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook (or in a large bowl if making by hand), combine 6 cups of the flour, yeast, salt and 1/2 cup of the cinnamon/sugar mixture. With the mixer on low speed, add the milk mixture and mix until the dough comes together. Increase the speed to medium, adding more flour as necessary so the dough clears the sides of the bowl but remains slightly sticky. Knead the dough (in the mixer or by hand) until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes (you'll need to knead upwards of 15 minutes by hand to achieve the same consistency).
  3. Place the dough in a large, lightly greased bowl and cover with greased plastic wrap. Let it rise until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Grease three 8 1/2-inch by 4 1/2-inch bread pans. Turn the dough onto a lightly greased work surface and separate the dough into three equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, press the dough into an 8-inch by 14-inch rectangle. Very lightly spray the surface of the dough - only 1-2 light sprays. You don't want the water to puddle on the dough; you want a very fine mist of water across the dough. Sprinkle the dough with 1/3 of the remaining cinnamon/sugar mixture, leaving a 1/2-inch border along one of the short edges. Gently press the cinnamon/sugar mixture into the dough. Again, lightly spray the top of the dough (now sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar) with water. Don't let the water puddle, just spray a very fine, light mist across the top, 1-3 sprays.
  5. Roll the dough into a tight cylinder starting with the short edge without the border. The key is to roll the dough as tightly as possible to avoid any gaps in the swirl (I don't get this perfect every time so don't worry if there are a few gaps after baking). Pinch the seam closed once it is rolled up all the way. Place the loaf, seam side down, in one of the prepared pans and repeat with the remaining pieces of dough. Cover the pans with lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise until nearly doubled in size, about an hour.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the loaf very gently with melted butter and sprinkle the reserved cinnamon/sugar mixture over the tops of the loaves (dividing evenly). Bake for 40-60 minutes until baked through. If the bread seems like it is overbrowning on top too quickly, place a piece of tin foil tented lightly over each loaf to finish baking. Cool the loaf in the pan for 10 minutes (too long and it will stick to the pan!) and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Recipe Source: adapted from The Cook’s Country Cookbook

52 Responses to Cinnamon Swirl Bread

  1. Tayler says:

    could i refrigerate the dough overnight and work with it the next day or what would you recommend? I only ask because I have only 2 bread pans which won’t be a problem but was wondering if it was an option?

    • Mel says:

      Definitely! Just let the dough come to room temperature out of the fridge so it’s easier to work with. (You could also just halve the recipe if you want to make two loaves)

  2. Anna says:

    I tried this over the weekend and they came out perfect. Well, the swirl wasn’t exactly perfect, but my 3 1/2 year old thought I was magic because of the sort of swirl inside the bread… Thank you for your help, step by step photos and encouragement to make me a rock star in the eyes of my 3 1/2 year old!

  3. Erin says:

    I was thinking about trying this in one of those 6 loaf mini loaf pans for teacher gifts. Do you think it would work well and if so how long would you recommend baking it? Thanks!

  4. Tanya says:

    Hi Mel, I’m curious as to how you freeze bread? Do you just put a whole loaf into a freezer bag? Slice it? Thanks!

  5. Rebekah says:

    Well, you have certainly conquered #2 for me! For years I would only make bread in the bread machine, which can limit what you make. After starting to follow your blog I started making it in my Kitchen Aid, and a couple months ago started making all of our bread from scratch! I have branched out to making fun things like this cinnamon bread (yum!) as well. I am still trying to perfect things but have made bread (and bun making using your tutorial and recipe!) a new loved hobbie. Your recipes are just my style and I’m so glad I found your site a year or so ago! God bless you!

    • Mel says:

      Rebekah – what a sweet comment! You totally made my day…seriously! I am so happy you have conquered bread making (and glad that I’m not the only one that views bread making as a hobby!).

  6. Leslie says:

    I made this recipe today. Instead of three small loaves, I made two large loaves. Worked great. Next time, I will skip the cinnamon and sugar sprinkle on top. It was messy and the bread doesn’t really need it in my opinion. Love the bread, I can’t wait to make french toast with it tomorrow!! Mine baked perfectly in 50 minutes (in the two large loaves)

  7. Tarryn says:

    I made this today and it turned out heavenly. It was light and sweet and easy to make. Thank you for another great recipe!

  8. Angela says:

    This looks amazing we home school and this is going to be our cooking lesson today! I am so glad a friend showed me your site!

  9. Jen Grimshaw says:

    I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to comment on this post. As a “quiet” follower of almost 2 years I decided it was time to make my voice heard to tell you that your #2 goal has been accomplished!:) I have ALWAYS been terrified of all things yeast until about a year ago when I took the plunge (at your insistence:)) and baked my first loaf of bread ever! I can now say that we no longer purchase anything bread related at the store because it is all prepared by my 2 little hands (and my Bosch!:) but you get the idea!) So thank you, thank you, thank you for changing my “lover-of-all-carbs life! Never stop with the amazing tutorials that continue to teach me how to cook and bake to perfection! if I do say so myself.
    ~Question about wheat….
    ~When I grind my wheat for your wheat bread I need to use 5-6 c more flour? Do you think that I am grinding my wheat too “fine?” is that possible to grind it too Fine? My electric grinder has different settings maybe I need to experiment….

  10. Brianna says:

    I made this bread today and really liked it, but I did use active dry yeast, since I didn’t have any instant. I used 2 Tbls like you mentioned in another comment but next time, I will keep the same amounts. My loaves were huge and kind of spilled out of the pans, and I use the same pans that you recommend. I let them rise 50 minutes the last time. They also baked quickly. I covered them with foil after 20 minutes and checked at 40 minutes and they were done but pretty dark. But, they still taste great! Oh, and as a side note, I always get gaps in my cinnamon swirl bread, so King Arthur flour recommends using an egg wash (it binds the dough) with 1 large egg and 1 Tbls water brushed on the dough and then adding the sugar and cinnamon mixture. I tried it with your recipe and it was great! No gaps! I don’t think that has ever happened!

  11. Lisa Hansen says:

    This bread is sooooo yummy! I will never go back to making my own cinnamon chips when I can do it like this! I did substitute the white flour with a little bit of wheat (I always get a little nervous the first time I make a recipe to substitute too much) and next time I make it I will try it with half and half and hoping I will have great results with that. Thanks again Melanie for sharing! You are my go-to website for all things in-the-kitchen 🙂

  12. Peggy says:

    Oh I’ll definitely be making this bread as a present to myself! Just the sweet, intoxicating smell, alone, is enough to make me want to make it right now!

  13. Kelly says:

    Another one for the “I can’t believe I made this and it turned out amazing!” file. My husband thanks you from the bottom of his stomach!

    I halved the recipe for a 9×5 pan. Used dark brown sugar (all I keep!), 1/4 whole wheat flour, 1 egg +1 yolk, and a packet of active dry yeast. I kept the recipe the same and it didn’t make a difference for the yeast. It mixed and rose beautifully and now my house smells like cinnamon heaven!

  14. Vicky says:

    I was so happy with how this turned out! And a little sad (or a lot?) that I gave two of the loaves away! So I’ll be making it two days in a row, and if we’re lucky a loaf or two will end up in the freezer this time.

    I had to use somewhere in the ballpark of 9 1/2 cups flour to get the dough to the right consistency. I was worried it would be dry, but it came out so soft and light and totally delicious.

  15. Sandra H @ scrumptilicious4you says:

    I love the way this bread looks so light and fluffy! I will definitely try it! Thanks for being such a great source of wonderful recipes! I went to a blogger’s conf. today in SLC and they said to be sure to thank other bloggers who inspire you. You inspire me every time!

  16. Cyndi says:

    Thanks so much for posting this. My husband loves cinnamon swirl bread and now I feel like I can make this at home!

  17. grace says:

    those are noble goals, mel! if i could have only one bread for the rest of my life, it’d probably be cinnamon swirl. 🙂

  18. bluebaker says:

    Hi Mel-
    Thanks for posting this recipe. You know how you felt about perfecting the spaghetti pie? well that’s how I feel about this bread. I have had good results, but always more gap-osis than I wanted. I’m looking forward to trying this method.
    Btw- Happy birthday!

  19. Sarah M. says:

    Whenever I see a post for homemade bread it always makes me think of my mother baking bread on Saturday mornings. She also ground her own wheat, and she made the best bread! Although, when I was younger I didn’t think so because 1)I always wanted her to make white bread and, 2)the sound of the grinder would wake me up! But my sisters and I did love the bread when it was fresh and hot out of the oven, slathered with butter and a bit of honey that she would get from a local bee keeper! Mom would always make a mini loaf just for us so we could eat it while it was still hot. Oh how I miss that bread!

  20. Margaret says:

    Can you give recommendations on wheat grinders? I love the idea but am not sure of whether it’s worth investing in an automatic or hand grinder.

  21. Claire says:

    Can’t wait to try this! I’m also really jazzed about the upcoming wheat tutorial, I just got a wheat grinder too but I am also apprehensive about breaking it out, I bought some hard white winter wheat and wondering if I can just sub out all of the all purpose flour in a recipe for the fresh ground stuff or if I have to go 1/2 and 1/2, and can I use fresh ground wheat for cookies or best to stick with the AP flour, I was going to try our some recipes but maybe your post will have some answers so I think I’ll wait. Thanks for all you do.

  22. This is my all-time favorite bread and yours looks like perfection, Mel!

  23. Kristen says:

    Mel – thanks for all you do! You’re recipes have totally changed my life! I have red star active dry yeast from costco and i am always afraid if i don’t proof it first it won’t work. I have read different things online and don’t know what to trust. Sould i follow the recipe and add the yeast in dry or proof it in milk (does that work)?

  24. Christine says:

    Mel, is there a reason why the dough is misted with water instead of brushed with butter? I usually use melted butter.

  25. Alli says:

    I made this bread today too, and couldn’t figure out why after the first addition of flour my dough was dry and crumbly. I just added warm water back until I got the right consistency. I just had a slice, and it is amazing! – even with the hiccup :). So glad I checked back to see the comments. I couldn’t figure out what happened. I will definitely try this again the right way. 😉

  26. Karen says:

    Thanks for another great idea Mel, I will be trying this tomorrow. My son is coming for a visit and he loves cinnamon toast! Do you seal the ends of the loaves before you put them in the pan?

  27. Sara says:

    This looks yummy! I used to work in a bakery when I was in college where we made cinnamon swirl bread that was thick sliced and served with honey butter. So yummy. This recipe looks great; I will give it a try!

  28. Tammy says:

    Can you make the dough in a bread machine and then follow your directions? I am scared to death to try mixing the dough in my stand mixer because I never know when enough flour is enough and have made colossal mistakes in the past.

    • Mel says:

      Tammy – to be honest, I haven’t ever used a bread machine (gasp!). So I think it would work as long as the ingredient amounts fit into your bread machine. Don’t want any overflowage!

  29. megan says:

    If you dont have instant yeast what would be a good substitution? Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Megan – you can use active dry yeast. Increase the amount to 2 tablespoons and when you add it to the warm milk, let it proof (foam and bubble) before proceeding with the recipe. That may take 5-10 minutes.

  30. Traci says:

    This bread looks so delicious that I decided to try it today. I can’t figure out what is wrong but starting with the 6 cups of flour, my dough is super heavy and not elastic or sticky at all.

    • Mel says:

      Oh my goodness, Traci – I just looked at the recipe after reading your comment and realized I hadn’t doubled the milk amount (even though I had changed all the other ingredients to make 3 loaves). I am so sorry! I don’t blame you if you hate me forever. I’ve edited the recipe to double the milk but that’s why your bread was so heavy. So, so sorry!

  31. angela @ anotherbiteplease says:

    i love your main goals in life…I am right there with you on #1..and well I am your project for #2…:-) love the step by step photos.

  32. Kristie says:

    This bread looks DELICIOUS! I bet this bread makes a great French Toast too!
    Terry–Soft Wheat is for quick breads/pastries/non-yeast recipes and Hard Wheat is for yeast breads and some quick breads & other recipes if used right.

  33. I love bread with cinnamon in it – the smell is amazing as it bakes!

  34. Kristi Exon says:

    Thank You for this recipe and tutorial!! I love fresh homemade bread, but I have a ways to go to make it turn out every time I make it!

  35. Teresa R. says:

    This looks wonderful, but I’m excited about the wheat grinding tutorial!

  36. Teresa says:

    I love cinnamon bread..Can’t wait to try, I just gotta tell ya, I love your comment about the boys. My son is 8 and he is the youngest of 5. he has four older sisters. He was 11 pounds when he was born and already 5 ft tall. his Pediatrician said he will be at least 6’8″. Anyhow he is all boy, and has such a thoughtful sweet nature and I’m sure it’s because of his sisters, and yes he loves to be clean and dressed nice,
    again I’m sure because he is his sisters own personal Ken but he also loves tools, cuttin wood, and mud, and cookin. He recently mastered fried egg sandwiches, “toolicious” in his famous last words but we are over them

  37. Mel says:

    Sara – typos happen more often than I’d like – especially when I’m typing at midnight! I’ve fixed the error. Thanks!

  38. Sara says:

    I woke up this morning and saw your post on this bread with so much excitement that I started on the recipe right away! But I was stopped with confusion at the part that says “slat and 1/2 cup cinnamon/sugar mixture” in the second paragraph. Is this a typo (which are so very rare in your blog, if any)…or is it a new cooking term I am unaware of? 😉 Thanks!!

  39. Brittany says:

    If only mine will turn out as beautiful! Can’t wait to try it! Mel, looking forward to your post about wheat grinding. I just got a wheat grinder for Christmas (finally!) so I’m really excited to delve into this world. I hope you’ll talk about the difference between red and white berries and when to use each (I’ve yet to go buy bags of wheat because I’m not sure about this!). Thanks for making the things coming out of my kitchen yummier!

  40. Jill says:

    This is my favorite cinnamon swirl bread recipe. It makes awesome french toast.

  41. Terry A. says:

    That looks wonderful, and I can’t wait to try it!

    I am so excited to hear you’re doing a tutorial on wheat and wheat-grinding! I am a beginner on that topic and could use all of the help I can get. (I think grinding my own flour adds even more fun to baking.)

    I have a question about soft wheat. I have had less than successful results so far when substituting it for AP flour in recipes (ie., brownies). Is there a way to know how much more of it to add? In general, I’ve found the trickiest question is whether to use hard or soft wheat, and whether it should be ground on the pastry or bread setting for best results.

    Thanks for all you do!

  42. Renee says:

    I have been making this bread for a few years. (Originally from CI, slightly adapted) It is so good! It is a great bread to take to people as gifts. I even made bread pudding with it one time with a leftover loaf I had. Oh my! It was delicious. Thanks Mel for reminding me of this delicious recipe.

  43. Rachel says:

    I really appreciate all your bread tutorials. Thanks to you, I now make all of our bread and rolls. I bought a Bosch mixer a year ago and followed your whole wheat bread tutorial and recipe recommendations. Success! I have also made a rustic loaf, ciabatta, and cinnamon rolls that all turned out delicious. Thank you!

  44. Kim in MD says:

    Oh, Mel…I can almost smell how delicious this cinnamon bread! You are my bread baking hero. I have made so many of your bread recipes, and thanks to your step-by-step tutorials they have all turned out amazing and delicious. Thank you, Mel!

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