Quick and easy cinnamon roll cake recipe (swirl cake), homemade with simple ingredients. Starts off with a yellow cake mix and is loaded with swirls of cinnamon sugar. It's very soft and fluffy but still firm like a pound cake or cake loaf.
*Thank you Meijer for sponsoring today's post. As always, all opinions are mine.*
Imagine all the flavors of my Easy Homemade Cinnamon Rolls (1 Hour) but in a cake form. That's the beauty of today's recipe! You can enjoy it for dessert or even breakfast and brunch. If you love cinnamon as much as me, you really have to give these Cinnamon Muffins a shot.
Table of contents
Key ingredients for best cinnamon swirl cake
- Yellow cake mix- Is a quick alternative to baking from scratch on days when we don't have a lot of time.
- Instant vanilla pudding- This is a dry pudding mix that comes in a small box.
- Eggs- Use large, room temperature eggs for best results.
- Milk- Use whole milk for the richest cake.
- Vanilla extract- Get the best flavor with pure vanilla extract.
- Cinnamon- Adds a sweet, warm flavor.
- Granulated sugar- This cannot be replaced with brown sugar.
- Add chocolate chips- Nothing tastes better than chocolate and cinnamon together. Add some mini chocolate chips in the cinnamon mixture. Don't use regular sized chocolate chips. They must be mini-sized to prevent the chocolate cinnamon cake from sinking to the bottom of the pan. Check out this post on How to Stop Chocolate Chips From Sinking.
- Add a crumb topping or streusel topping- After you have spread the cake batter in a loaf pan, top it off with a streusel topping or crumble mixture (made by mixing together coconut, flour, butter, some sugar into a crumbly mixture) and then, bake.
- Make a bundt cake- Instead of a loaf pan, use a simple bundt pan (10 cup pan) without any detailed/ intricate designs. Make sure to grease the pan generously and also, be very careful when removing it from the pan so that the cake doesn't break and fall apart.
- Apple cinnamon coffee cake- Mix in 1 fresh apple (roughly diced) into the cake batter.
- Cinnamon swirls- I did 2 layers of cinnamon sugar but you can just do 1 layer too and use a knife to swirl everything together.
- Pair with a "not too sweet frosting"- Such as Cooked Flour Buttercream (Ermine Frosting).
- Make it extra sweet- With Maple Frosting, Cinnamon Roll Icing or Caramel Frosting.
- Serve alongside homemade butters- Such as this Crockpot Apple Butter.
- Add a glaze- I didn't add it because the cake was already sweet but you can make a simple sugar glaze and drizzle that on top of the cake, once it has fully cooled down. Try this Powdered Sugar Glaze (Vanilla Cake Glaze).
How to make easy cinnamon roll cake recipe with cake mix?
- Prepare cake mix- And pour it into the pan.
- Sprinkle- Cinnamon sugar mixture on top.
- Spread- More batter on top of that.
- Sprinkle- Cinnamon sugar mixture again.
- Layer- More batter on top.
- Swirl- Everything together.
- Bake- Until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Tips and Techniques
- Use full fat ingredients- Such as whole milk and full-fat pudding mix because that makes the cake rich and moist. No fat-free or low-fat ingredients!
- Brand of cake mixes– I have used these brands of cake mixes successfully: Pillsbury, Duncan Hines and Betty Crocker. I have not tried any other generic brands to know how it would affect this recipe. Also, yellow cake, golden cake or butter cake mixes all work well.
- Don’t over-mix cake batter– Because this will yield a tough cake and it can also cause the cake to collapse/sink during baking. Mix until all ingredients are just combined. There may be a few lumps but don't worry about smoothing them out.
- All ingredients should be at room temperature– That’s because they blend together smoothly and evenly.
- Don't use sugar-free ingredients- Because it adds an odd after-taste. This is especially with regards to pudding mix and cake mix.
- How to cut perfect cake slices? Chill the baked cake for 5-6 hours and then, use a sharp knife to cut smooth slices without crumbs everywhere. Be sure to wipe the knife clean with a wet paper towel after each cut.
It was most likely over baked. Another reason could be that there is too much flour in your recipe and not enough liquid to balance that.
It wasn't baked long enough.
You most likely over-mixed the batter. Mix ingredients until just combined. A few lumps in the batter are perfectly normal.
- Room temperature- Once cooled, this can be placed in an airtight container for 1 day.
- Refrigerate- Leftovers can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Freeze- Seal in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Thaw and then frost or glaze, if desired.
More Cinnamon Desserts
- Cinnamon Cookies (Soft and Chewy)
- Fluffy Cinnamon Pancakes
- Sauteed Cinnamon Apples
- Cinnamon Roll Icing (Without Cream Cheese)
- Cinnamon French Toast
- Cinnamon French Toast Sticks
Cinnamon Roll Cake (Cinnamon Swirl Cake)
- Add eggs, milk, water, vanilla and mix until batter is smooth. Keep aside.
- In another mixing bowl, whisk together sugar and cinnamon.
- Spread some of the cake batter in a greased and floured loaf pan (Dimensions: 9x5). You can also use 2 smaller loaf pans.
- Then, sprinkle half of the cinnamon sugar mixture.
- Spread some more batter on top and sprinkle remaining cinnamon sugar mixture.
- Spread remaining batter on top.
- Use a butter knife to gently swirl everything together.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 45-55 minutes or until an inserted toothpick in the center comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool down completely.
- Then, gently run a spatula around the cake and remove it from the pan. Enjoy!
- All ingredients should be at room temperature because they blend together smoothly and evenly.
- Don’t over-mix cake batter because this will yield a tough cake.
- Read additional tips and variations above.
- Leftovers can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
For this recipe, I went to Meijer and tried out their "Shop and Scan" method of shopping. If you are like me and detest those long lines at check-out, you are going to love this method. You simply walk around the store, gathering your groceries and scanning the barcodes on your Meijer app. Then, you get to the self-checkout station and just pay and leave with your groceries. It is so easy and so convenient! This will be such a time-saver, especially during the holidays, when those lines get super long and annoying.