I am so pleased to bring you this many-times-tested recipe for cinnamon raisin bread. With an impressive swirl of cinnamon sugar and loads of juicy raisins, this bread toasts well and makes a perfect addition to your breakfast or lunch.

One of the best things about the recipe is that the swirl stays put with minimal, if any, gapping so when you slice the bread, you’ll get a nice slice that holds together beautifully, ready for toasting or sandwich making.

For ease of browsing, you can find all my bread and roll recipes in one place. Now let’s get to it.

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An overhead shot of a sliced loaf of bread in a loaf pan on a black, wire cooling rack.

…a loaf full of raisins and cinnamon goodness. I have a feeling it won’t last for long. The smell as it was baking was amazing, the 45 minute wait seemed to last forever.

Reader Jane

Cinnamon Raisin Bread: At a Glance

✔️Skill Level: Intermediate
✔️Skills: Mixing Bread Dough, Kneading, Proofing, and Baking
✔️Type: Loaf Bread with a Swirl
✔️Number of Ingredients: 9
✔️Prep Time: 30 minutes
✔️Rise Time: 3 hours
✔️Cook Time: 45 minutes
✔️Yield: 1 loaf yielding approximately 16 slices

Jump Straight to the Recipe

Why This Recipe Works

If you are not interested in the why, you can skip straight to the recipe.

This dough is relatively lean in that it doesn’t contain eggs and has just 5 Tablespoons of butter in it. Even so, it browns well thanks to a bit of sugar as well as the milk sugars from the whole milk.

Not only does milk assist in browning, it also provides for a more tender crumb and adds sweetness. Could you make this bread with water? Yes. But the bread won’t be as sweet, and it won’t brown as well.

Another thing that is very important to me when it comes to a swirled bread is that the slices stay together.

Even sliced relatively thinly, all the coils of dough stay put in a cohesive slice rather than gapping and pulling away from each other.

There’s not much more depressing than wanting to use cinnamon raisin bread to make a sandwich and not have any slices stay intact enough to make a sandwich.

Why does this often happen, though? I shall tell you.

Don’t Use Butter in Your Swirl

A close-up of a slice of raisin bread showing a gorgeous swirl of cinnamon sugar spiraling around several times.

That’s the whole answer.

Butter is mostly fat, and fat is a lubricant. Things don’t stick to it.

So guess what else doesn’t stick to it? Bread dough. That’s what.

If you have struggled with your swirled bread gapping or delaminating, butter in the swirl is the likely culprit.

Unlike with cinnamon rolls, which have concentric swirls running perpendicular to the baking pan and are made to be pulled apart in layers to eat (just me?), a swirled bread has swirls that run parallel to the pan. Then, slices are cut through them.

If the swirls aren’t tightly bound to begin with, gapping can and will occur, and it’s no fun at all.

The bread will still taste good, but it will be frustating if you want to toast it or use it as you would a “regular” piece of bread.

Does Cinnamon Kill Yeast?

Cinnamon does have some antifungal properties, so yes, using cinnamon in bread dough can defintely slow down the rise.

The upside is that long rises yield more flavor, so in that way, cinnamon works in our favors to ensure a longer rise.

Also, cinnamon can act to increase the keeping qualities of bread, so while cinnamon can “mess” with the rise some, it also allows the bread to stay soft for a few days at room temperature.

And remember, yeast multiply, and the cinnamon doesn’t, so don’t worry that your bread won’t rise. It just may take longer.

To read more about using cinnamon in bread dough, check out this forum discussion over on The Fresh Loaf.

How to Make Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Next up, I’ll go through the ingredients, possible substitutions, and a step-by-step run-through of how to make cinnamon raisin bread. If you don’t need the refresher, feel free to skip down to the recipe.

Ingredients and Substitutions

Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make this delightful breakfast bread.

Labeled images of the ingredients needed for cinnamon raisin bread: raisins, boiling water, whole milk, melted butter, sugar, kosher salt, cinnamon, bread flour, and yeast.
  • raisins: You can omit them if you don’t like raisins. No other changes needed. If you like dates, I highly recommend using chopped dates in place of the raisins. Use any dried fruit of your choice such as cherries or dried cranberries
  • boiling water: To hydrate the fruit. Don’t skip this step or the dried fruit will pull moisture from your dough resulting in a bread that dries out too quickly. Substitute fruit juice for water if you prefer
  • whole milk: The main liquid in the dough. The milk lends milk sugar for a gentle sweetness as well as for brownability. You may substitute half milk/half water if you prefer
  • melted butter: Adds tenderness, assists with browning, and carries flavors
  • sugar: Much like the butter above, a bit of sugar adds sweetness and tenderness as well as assisting with browning. Substitute maple syrup and reduce the milk by 15-30 grams (1-2 Tablespoons)
  • kosher salt: Regulates yeast growth and makes sure the flavors shine through
  • cinnamon: Used in both the dough and the swirl. See section on “Does Cinnamon Kill Yeast?” to read more
  • bread flour: Use a higher protein flour such as King Arthur breaf flour for nice chewy texture and the best possible rise. Bread flour yields the highest amount of gluten possible to catch all the carbon dioxide bubbles released by the yeast
  • yeast: I use instant yeast. For best rise, consider using (affiliate link) SAF Gold Instant Yeast, which is formulated to work best with enriched and sweeter yeast doughs

Procedure

This bread is a bit of a process to make, but most of it is hands-off, and nothing is difficult, I promise.

First, you’ll soak the raisins in boiling water for 10-15 minutes until they plump up and lighten in color a little.

Drain them, spread them out on a couple of thicknesses of paper towel, and blot them dry. You want them plump on the inside, not wet on the outside.

A collage of 4 images showing how to plump up raisins: 1)Raisins soaking in a white bowl of boiling water. 2)The raisins drained through a fine mesh strainer and turned out onto 2 layers of paper towel. 3)Another piece of paper towel pressed down on top of the damp raisins to dry the outsides as much as possible. 4)The drained and dried raisins spread out on the paper towels.

Scald the milk by bringing it up just to a high simmer, and then allow it to cool to about 120F. It should feel like cozy bath water. If it’s cozy for you, it’ll be cozy for the yeast.

PRO TIP: Kill two birds with one stone by cutting the butter in pieces and adding it to the hot milk. This will melt the butter AND cool the milk.

There’s always more than one way to do things, too. Feel free to melt the butter first the way I show in the video. All will be well!

Next up, add the sugar, salt, warm milk, butter, and cinnamon to the bowl of your stand mixer.

Dump all the flour on top and then add the yeast on top of the flour.

With the dough hook, mix on low until the dough comes together and then knead on medium-low for about 10 minutes, until the dough is soft, smooth, and stretchy. Even if it starts out sticking in the bottom of the bowl, it will completely clear the bowl by the end of kneading time. Please resist the urge to add more flour.

Once the dough is nice and stretchy, knead in the raisins.

This step can be a bit time consuming, so I use the mixer, still fitted with the dough hook, for about 2 minutes and then finish up on the counter, by hand.

PRO TIP: As much as possible, you want the raisins to be inside the dough and not just stuck on the outside, so it can help to press the dough out and then fold it up over any naked raisins. Do this a few times, and you’re ready for the next step.

Now it’s time for the first rise, which is also called the “bulk fermentation.” (Why? Because in a bakery, this is a large mass of dough. After the “bulk” has risen in a big old tub, then it’s divided and shaped into multiple loaves/rolls/etc)

Shape your raisin-filled dough into a smooth ball, making sure to tighten up the outside membrane using your hands with the dough on the countertop.

Do not flour or grease your counter. You want the friction a dry surface provides.

Mist or brush lightly with oil, and then put the dough in a cozy place to rise until doubled, about 2 1/2 hours or so.

PRO TIP: If you started late in the day, you can refrigerate the dough at this point, and let it have a long, slow rise in the fridge overnight. The next day, bring it out, let it rest for an hour, and then continue with shaping.

Shaping the Loaf

A collage of 3 images showing how to shape a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread: 1)A long, thin rectangle of dough sprinkled liberally with cinnamon sugar being rolled up from a short end. 2)The log with both its ends turned down to the counter so it will fit in the pan. 3)The shaped loaf in a bread pan, ready for its final rise.

Plop the dough out onto a clean counter and press out the gases. Then roll it out into a long, thin rectangle, approximately 8″ x 24-26″. The longer it is, the more swirls you’ll have.

Brush the surface of the dough liberally with whole milk. You could also use water here. You just need a liquid the swirl can “bond” with into a thin sort of dough.

Sprinkle the swirl evenly on the dough and then spread it end to end and edge to edge.

Roll up the dough from a short side, keeping light tension on it as you roll. In other words, keep pulling back a little every roll or two to keep the spiral nice and tight.

When you get to the end pinch the seams closed as well as you can.

PRO TIP: For maximum adherence and near-zero delamination on the outside of the bread after baking, when you get towards the end of rolling, brush the OUTSIDE of the roll with more milk to ensure the end bonds well.

Your roll will now most likely be much longer than your pan. That’s fine. Part of the fun of these breads is seeing what kind of swirl you get once you cut into it.

Just bend the log into a slinky shape, and then tuck the ends under. Then place the dough into a 9″x5″ loaf pan.

Press down firmly on the dough to even it out, spray it lightly with pan spray, cover, and let rise in a cozy place until the bread rises over the edge of the pan by about an inch.

All that’s left now is the baking.

…I am beyond happy with the results! The texture is absolutely wonderful and the flavor is spot on, not overwhelming with spices. It has the right amount of raisins, rose beautifully and the milk for the swirl was genius….

Reader Carol

Variations

I cannot recommend highly enough using my oatmeal bread recipe with the addition of a teaspoon (or even 2) of cinnamon, the swirl from this recipe, and chopped dates. (I get the kind in a bag near the raisins in our “regular” grocery store, and I don’t soak them).

This variaion is magic, and your house will smell like breakfast while it’s baking.

Also feel free to substitute chocolate chips (no soaking!) for all or part of the (soaked) raisins.

Consider adding orange zest or lemon zest to the dough and adding some espresso powder or instant coffee to the swirl mixture.

Equipment You May Need

A 9″ x 5″ bread pan is the perfect size to make this loaf. This set of two should last you for a very long time.

Jenni's Pick
Farberware Bakeware Loaf Pan Set, Two 9-Inch x 5-Inch, Gray
$16.99 $13.49

These pans are lightweight and easy to pick up with oven mitts on, thanks to the lip on either short end. They transfer heat efficiently so your loaves will be nicely golden brown all around. I have never had one warp, either. They should last you for years and years. I recommend handwashing these.

Purchase Now
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07/21/2024 11:41 pm GMT

Cinnamon Raisin Bread Q & A

An overhead shot of 5 slices of cinnamon raisin swirl bread on a cooling rack with a teaspoon of cinnamon off to the left side.
How long does this bread keep?

This bread will stay fresh and moist for up to 5 days at room temperature. Even sliced. Make sure to wrap it well.

Does raisin bread freeze well?

For longer storage, slice the bread and then freeze in a zip top freezer bag, pressing out as much air as possible before sealing. Remove pieces as needed and put them straight into the toaster or toaster oven. Or thaw in the microwave for about 8-10 seconds.

Can I make a vegan version?

Yes. Substitute your favorite plant-based milk for the whole milk and melted plant butter for conventional butter.

Other Loaf Bread Recipes

If you love having homemade bread on hand for sandwiches, French toast, or for toasting, you may enjoy some of my other bread recipes.

  • My Tangzhong pain au lait (milk bread) was my first foray into Tangzhong. The bread bakes up light and wonderful with a milky sweetness and a tender crumb.
  • Another loaf that has excellent keeping qualities and makes a great sandwich bread is my potato sandwich bread.
  • If you love grits, try adding cooked grits to your yeast bread. Grits bread is savory, a bit toothsome, and toasts super well.

Questions?

If you have any questions about this post or recipe, I am happy to help.

Simply leave a comment here and I will get back to you soon. I also invite you to ask question in my Facebook group, Fearless Kitchen Fun.

If your question is more pressing, please feel free to email me. I should be back in touch ASAP, as long as I’m not asleep.

A Note About Measurements

My recipes are almost all written by weight, including liquids, unless otherwise specified.

For accuracy and consistency of results, I encourage you to buy–and use–a kitchen scale.

I promise that baking and cleanup will be so much quicker and easier.

This is the scale that I recommend for home use. I have owned and used one for years.

Best for Home Use
Escali Primo Digital Food Scale
$27.18 $24.79

Don't let its small price and small size fool you. The Escali Primo is an accurate and easy-to-use food scale that I have used for years. It's easy to store, easy to use, has a tare function, and easily switches between grams and ounces/pounds for accurate measurements.

Purchase Now How & Why to Use a Kitchen Scale
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07/22/2024 07:15 am GMT

Love This? Please Share It and Review It!

5 golden stars for rating recipes

This is delicious! Followed the recipe exactly and the dough is lovely to work with. Made a loaf Saturday, toasted some Sunday for breakfast, now on Monday have another loaf rising. May be obsessed a little.

Reader and Raisin Bread Lover Carlin
An overhead shot of 5 slices of cinnamon raisin swirl bread on a cooling rack with a teaspoon of cinnamon off to the left side.

The Best Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Jennifer Field
This cinnamon raisin bread recipe is a yeast-raised sweet loaf bread featuring lots of soft, juicy raisins and a flavorful cinnamon swirl that will not separate, even when you slice the bread thinly. A no-egg yeast bread, cinnamon raisin bread is the perfect loaf to make for cinnamon toast, French toast, or just for munching.
4.71 from 17 votes
Tried this recipe?Please give it a star rating!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Rise Time 4 hours
Course Bread
Cuisine American
Servings 16 slices
Calories 218 kcal

Ingredients

For the Raisins

  • 7 oz raisins 198 grams or about 1 1/2 cups
  • water to cover by 1/2"

For the Dough

  • 10.5 oz whole milk 298 grams or 1 1/2 cups plus 1 Tablespoon
  • 2.5 oz melted butter 70 grams or 5 Tablespoons
  • 2 teaspoons salt 9 grams
  • 1 ½ oz sugar 43 grams or 3 Tablespoons
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 16 oz bread flour 454 grams
  • 1 ½ teaspoons yeast 7 grams

For the Swirl

  • 2 Tablespoons bread flour
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • pinch salt

To Shape and Bake

  • 3 Tablespoons whole milk
  • 2 Tablespoons butter melted

Instructions
 

For the Raisins

  • Add the raisins to a heat-proof bowl, and pour boiling water over them to cover by about 1/2".
  • Allow the raisins to hang out in the hot water for 10-15 minutes. You'll know they're ready when the color lightens slightly and the water level has dropped.
  • Drain them, then spread them onto a couple of layers of paper toweling or a lint-free tea towel. Blot dry. Set aside.

For the Dough

  • In a microwave-safe bowl or in a pan on the stove-top, heat the milk until it is steaming but not boiling.
  • Pour the milk into the bowl of your stand mixer, and add the butter. Whisk together to melt the butter and cool the milk.
  • Add sugar, salt, and cinnamon and whisk well.
  • Dump in all the flour on top of the liquid, and add the yeast on top. This keeps the yeast from coming into contact too early with concentrated salt (and the cinnamon, for that matter).
  • Attach your dough hook and mix on low speed until all the flour is incorporated, about 1 minute.
  • Increase mixer speed to medium-low and knead for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth, springy, and very stretchy.
  • Dump in the raisins and mix on low speed for 2 minutes. Not all the raisins will be incorporated yet, but that's okay.
  • Dump the dough and any loose raisins onto your clean counter and knead the rest of the raisins in, folding the dough over and then pressing it out to distribute the raisins as evenly as you can.
  • Form the dough into a smooth ball, rounding it on the counter and using friction to pull the outer membrane fairly taut.
  • Place the dough back into the mixer bowl, spray with pan spray or brush lightly with oil, cover, and let rise in a cozy place until doubled in size, about 2 1/2 hours.

To Shape and Bake

  • Whisk together the swirl ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Press the gases out of your dough, and then roll into a long, skinny rectangle, approximately 8" x 24-26" long.
  • Brush the surface liberally with milk, and then sprinkle on the swirl mixture evenly. Use your clean hands to spread it evenly, top to bottom and end to end. Press the swirl mixture into the milk to encourage it to stick.
  • Starting at one short end, roll up tightly, pulling back every couple of turns to keep the dough under tension. When you reach the end of the roll–maybe the last 2"–brush some additional milk on the outside of the roll to give those last 2" something to stick to. Pinch the seam together as well as you can, and roll the dough log seam side down.
  • The dough roll will most likely now be much longer than the pan you're putting it in, so bend the dough like a slinky, with the two ends pointing down and then fit the dough into the pan. Press down firmly to even the dough out.
  • Spray lightly with pan spray, cover, and let rise again until the dough rises over the edge of the pan by about 1", about 1-1 1/2 hours.
  • Preheat your oven to 350F/180C. When your loaf is nicely risen, bake on the middle rack for about 45 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the bread reads 195-200F. Tent with foil if the bread is browning too quickly. This is likely, as cinnamon raisin bread takes longer to bake because of the moist raisins and swirl, so just go with it.
  • Once your bread is done, remove the loaf to a rack and immediately brush the top liberally with the melted butter. Turn the loaf out of the pan and allow it to cool for at least an hour before slicing it. Ideally, you will wait until it's completely cool, but I won't blame you if you want to cut it early. I do. Every time.
  • Enjoy straight-up, as toast, as a base for French toast or bread pudding, etc. Store cooled leftovers, well covered, at room temperature for up to 5 days. Slice and freeze for longer storage.

Did You Make Any Changes?

Video

Notes

If, after shaping, your dough log is very long, bring both ends under the center like a donut standing on its edge, and then fit your dough into your pan. You’ll get some double swirls in a few slices this way.
Alternate Fruits
Any dried fruits will work beautifully in this recipe. You can even use a mix of different dried fruits. Here are some possibilities:
  • apricots
  • currants
  • dried cherries
  • dried cranberries
  • dates
  • figs
Chocolate Swirl Variation
Leave out the cinnamon in the dough and replace the cinnamon in the swirl with cocoa powder.
Use chocolate chips instead of raisins.
Something to Try
For the swirl, try mixing the milk together with the swirl ingredients to make a thin, spreadable batter. Then spread that very thinly all over your rolled-out dough. 
I haven’t tried that yet, but I can almost guarantee it will result in a raisin bread with literally zero delamination. I’ll try it next time and update to let you know.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 218kcalCarbohydrates: 37gProtein: 5gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 343mgPotassium: 171mgFiber: 2gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 192IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 42mgIron: 1mg
Keyword bread flour, cinnamon, raisins, yeast
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Thanks so much for spending some time with me today.

I hope you enjoy all the delicious cinnamony swirls in this bread, friends!

Take care, and have a lovely day.

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20 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This is by far, the BEST raisin bread I have ever made!!
    Your directions seemed lengthy, but by the time I made the first loaf, I breezed through the prep of the second.
    This is definitely a keeper!

  2. 5 stars
    I made this for a friend and sliced it to package for freezing. That left me with the heels for myself. I am beyond happy with the results! The texture is absolutely wonderful and the flavor is spot on, not overwhelming with spices. It has the right amount of raisins, rose beautifully and the milk for the swirl was genius. Thank you so so much!

  3. 5 stars
    This is a soft and lofty aromatic loaf of cinnamon bread. Sent some to work with spouse and received requests to make a couple more loaves. Comes together easily and turns out beautifully.

  4. 5 stars
    This is delicious! Followed the recipe exactly and the dough is lovely to work with. Made a loaf Saturday, toasted some Sunday for breakfast, now on Monday have another loaf rising. May be obsessed a little. Thanks for a great recipe

    1. I am thrilled you love it! I appreciate the review, too. 🙂 Have you tried it in a grilled cheese yet? That might be my favorite way to eat it. And I, too, am a little obsessed! lol

  5. 5 stars
    Great recipe. Easy to follow instructions. There aren’t many recipes for good cinnamon swirl bread. Came out tasting like it came from the bakery. Great as is, or toasted. Would also make great French toast. You could use the same recipe for other flavors as well. Apple cinnamon swirl, chocolate swirl, pumpkin. So many possibilities.

  6. 5 stars
    Jenni has done it again, a loaf full of raisins and cinnamon goodness. I have a feeling it won’t last for long. The smell as it was baking was amazing, the 45 minute weight seemed to last forever.

  7. 5 stars
    OMG! How did you know that raisin bread is my most favorite bread in the whole world?! Either slathered with butter or cream cheese. Already made a loaf to enjoy this weekend and might even make some French toast with it too. Thanks for a great recipe!

  8. 5 stars
    Oh, Jenni! Now you’ve done it! This is by far my most favoritest bread in the whole wide world! I positively adore cinnamon raisin bread. Thank you for making this easy to follow recipe so I can have this deliciousness any time I want it!

4.71 from 17 votes (7 ratings without comment)

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