Cinnamon Coffee Cake

I am gearing up to post oodles of holiday recipes (how on earth is it already that time of year?), but before digging in to all things Thanksgiving, I absolutely NEED to share this cinnamon coffee cake with you.

And if we’re being honest, coffee cake absolutely has a place on the menu during the holiday season.

Breakfast, brunch, snack time… let’s be honest – coffee cake will do the trick. So why don’t we just tie it in with all the holiday food things? Ok, cool – we’re on the same page.

Slice of coffee cake on a plate

How to make stellar cinnamon coffee cake

Now, let’s dig in to what makes this coffee cake THE coffee cake. First of all, the cinnamon brown sugar super crunchy layer on top of the cake is really the star of the show.

When I sliced it when a knife, I could hear and feel the initial breakthrough of that cinnamon brown sugar topping and it tasted even better than it felt. I realize how odd that sounds, but I just need you to understand how powerful that crust is in this instance.

There is also a layer of cinnamon sugar in the middle of the cake and I am absolutely here for it.

Next, the cake itself it tender and moist but has that crumb texture that most of us are looking for in a really good coffee cake.

And last, but not least, the cake has a delicious vanilla flavor that goes so well with the cinnamon and brown sugar.

And if you’re like me, you’re always looking for ways to lighten up recipes like this one without sacrificing flavor, texture and just overall deliciousness, so I’ve done just that.

I reduced the amount of total sugar in the recipe, but increased the vanilla and cinnamon so those flavors can really shine.

You’ll find, if you haven’t already, that once you start cutting back on sugar in baked goods and desserts, your palette adjusts and you’ll actually enjoy the “lighter” version better. Promise.

Coffee cake in a pan
Coffee cake slice on parchment paper
3 white plates with coffee cake

How to up your game with flavor enhancers

So here’s the other thing: I’ve shared the base cinnamon coffee cake recipe with you, but there are plenty of ways to enhance it if you’re interested (that’s not to say the OG version isn’t absolutely amazing… because it is).

But if you want to add some unique flavors, here are a few suggestions:

  • Add a teaspoon or two of extract to the batter, such as almond or maple
  • Add a few teaspoons of citrus zest to the batter, like lemon or orange
  • Add a handful of crushed walnuts or almonds to the cinnamon brown sugar mixture
  • Add a handful of finely diced apples to the cinnamon brown sugar mixture
  • Upgrade the nutrition by swapping out 1/4 cup of flour for ground flax seed

I could go on, but I think you get the gist – the possibilities for coffee cake upgrades are endless!

Coffee cake on white plates

Now, let’s get baking.


Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Old-fashioned cinnamon coffee cake that’s been lightened-up (but still has all the flavor).

  • Author: Julie Andrews
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 40-45 mins
  • Total Time: 55-60 mins
  • Yield: Serves 16 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅔ cup softened butter and/or oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups plain Greek yogurt or milk
  •  cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking dish with parchment paper.
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream together granulated sugar, butter and/or oil, egg and vanilla extract.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder and salt.
  4. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with milk or yogurt, mixing after each addition. Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan.
  5. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle half over the batter. Add remaining batter and carefully spread over cinnamon sugar mixture. Top batter with remaining cinnamon sugar mixture.
  6. Bake 40-45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.


Cooking Tips:

  • Add ½ cup chopped walnuts to the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture
  • Add 1 medium apple, finely diced to the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture (plus the chopped walnuts if you want both)
  • Sub ¼ cup of the all-purpose flour for ground flax seed
  • Use all whole wheat pastry flour or whole wheat-white flour instead of half all-purpose


  • Serving Size: 1/16 of recipe
  • Calories: 231
  • Sugar: 15g
  • Sodium: 212mg
  • Fat: 10g
  • Saturated Fat: 3g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 7g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 32g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 4g
  • Cholesterol: 35mg

Keywords: baked good, easy, simple, best, healthy

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