This Cinnamon-Swirl Banana Bread recipe produces an ultra-moist and hearty loaf. It’s robust with ripe banana, and swirled 3x with thick ribbons of cinnamon-sugar, adding spice and sugary crunch! Ordinary banana bread gets a huge upgrade with a few simple tweaks!
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It feels like the banana bread-baking craze is over, but I want to get it going again, and my plan for that starts with this Cinnamon-Swirl Banana Bread.
Cinnamon-Swirl Banana Bread is a simple concept, but a really impactful one! It’s my favorite banana bread recipe, the one I’ve used and loved for several decades now, swirled 3x with cinnamon-sugar. That’s it, that’s all it is. Classic banana bread swirled with cinnamon-sugar.
Nothing brilliant, and yet it’s a real game-changer! The inspiration for this idea came from my Gma’s Pistachio Bread. Cinnamon-swirl is the name of the game with that bread, and I thought: why can’t banana bread, or most any bread have cinnamon-swirl too? It can, and should. And should’ve sooner.
You may never want banana bread without it now! This Cinnamon-Swirl Banana Bread features two thick ribbons of cinnamon-sugar-swirl action throughout the bread, and a third swirl on top. The swirls that bake within the loaf get ooey-gooey and sticky-sweet, while the cinnamon-sugar swirl on top gets crackly and lightly crunchy. All-around win.
MY FAVORITE BANANA BREAD:
If you haven’t been here before, a quick review about why this banana bread recipe is my favorite, with or without cinnamon-swirl.
I’ve tried dozens of recipes for banana bread, but once I tried Katie Lee’s banana bread recipe, I’ve never looked back.
It’s my go-to because it is strong on banana — one loaf contains 3 large bananas! So not only is it potent with ripe banana, but it’s also incredibly moist and dense, but still soft. It’s not wet or soggy, and it’s not a brick. It’s weighty and hearty, but very soft.
Sweet enough to satisfy a true sweet-tooth and can stand in as dessert, but not too sweet where it’s cake masquerading as bread. It’s really well-balanced in sweetness.
Also, it’s uncomplicated. This banana bread is easy to whip up and calls for basic ingredients.
BANANA BREAD SUBSTITUTIONS AND VARIATIONS:
Another reason I like Katie Lee’s banana bread recipe is for its versatility. I’ve made it into muffins, mini bundts, and 8×4 loaves. I’ve added chocolate chips, nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit, and many other mix-ins with total success (just add about a cup).
Lastly, I’ve made that banana bread with a streusel on top. I didn’t do that here because I didn’t want to cover up the cinnamon-swirl, but believe you me, I was very tempted to deck this out with a streusel.
- Whole wheat flour or white whole wheat flour can be substituted in equal proportion to all-purpose flour.
- Granulated sugar in the bread batter can be reduced to 1 cup with minimal impact on taste.
- Sour milk can be substituted for buttermilk (in this case: 1/2 cup whole or 2% milk + 2 tsp. vinegar).
WHAT SHOULD MY BANANAS LOOK LIKE FOR BANANA BREAD?
You want very ripe bananas, ones that are very soft and spotty. Even if they’re quite brown, that’s what you want. If you don’t want to wait for that to happen, and you’re craving Banana Bread STAT, bake unpeeled bananas on a baking sheet at 300 degrees for about 12-15 minutes, or until thoroughly browned. Let them cool a few minutes, peel, and you’re good-to-go.
CINNAMON-SWIRL BANANA BREAD PREPARATION AND BAKING TIPS:
Since this is a quick bread, there’s no yeast required, no rising, and no kneading. You also don’t need to haul out your mixer to prep this Cinnamon-Swirl Banana Bread. Stir together by hand with minimal equipment, just a few bowls.
Do not overmix. You can have a few small lumps, batter does not need to be perfectly smooth. Overmixing will result in dry, tough bread, so stir wet and dry ingredients together until just combined.
Baking time can vary depending on the type of pan you’re using. A dark metal pan will cook faster, whereas a lighter metal pan, glass pan, ceramic, or silicone pan can require longer baking times.
Also, for even baking and browning, rotate the pan 180 degrees halfway through baking.
Through and through, the best way to know your loaf is ready is when the edges and top are golden brown, and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
BANANA BREAD STORAGE AND FREEZING:
Store in a tightly-sealed container or wrapped in plastic wrap in a cool, dry place at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Banana bread can be frozen for up to 3 months if well-wrapped. I like to do a layer or two of plastic wrap, followed by a layer or two of foil.
When ready to serve, thaw at room temperature.
Other favorite banana bread and banana recipes —
- Streusel-Topped Banana Bread Muffins
- Zucchini Banana Bread with Streusel Topping
- Blueberry Banana Bread recipe
- Pumpkin Banana Bread
- Banana Cake with Brown Butter Icing
- Banana Rum Cake
- Banana Pudding Peanut Butter Pie
- Peanut Butter Banana Brownies
- Nutella-Filled Banana Cupcakes
- No Bake Banana Split Pie
- Chunky Monkey Breakfast Cookies
Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread
For Banana Bread:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 3 large bananas (or 4 medium) peeled, mashed
For Cinnamon Swirl:
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp. cinnamon
For Banana Bread:
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla.
- Alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the large bowl in two additions, stirring until just combined. Do not overmix.
- Fold in bananas.
For Cinnamon Swirl:
- In a small bowl, stir together sugar and cinnamon.
- Line a 9x5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper or foil, allowing the edges to hang over the sides. Lightly spray with non-stick spray.
- Spread 1/3 batter in the bottom of the pan.
- Scatter 1/3 of cinnamon-sugar mixture over the batter in the pan.
- Spread another 1/3 batter evenly in the pan, and scatter another 1/3 cinnamon-sugar mixture over the batter.
- Spread remaining batter evenly in the pan, and remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture over the batter.
- Swirl lightly with a knife -- only a few swirls. About 3-4 figure 8s across the short edges of the pan.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes, or until edges and top are golden brown, and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
- Remove to a wire rack to cool.
- Allow to cool for 15-20 minutes (no longer or bread will stick), run a knife around any loose edges, and lift bread out by the parchment paper or foil edges.
- Cool completely on a wire rack.
- Remove parchment paper or foil, transfer to a serving platter, cut and serve.