This beautiful Cinnamon Coffee Cake looks like you spent hours in the kitchen, but the easy recipe starts with a box of yellow cake mix and a package of vanilla instant pudding! Moist and flavorful, with a ribbon of cinnamon pecan streusel and a crunchy crumb topping, this decadent treat is the best recipe for a holiday breakfast or a special brunch. Plus, you can easily prepare the cake in advance, so it’s ideal for entertaining!
With its warm spices, rich flavor, and sweet glaze, this old fashioned cinnamon coffee cake recipe is the ultimate breakfast or brunch for special occasions. Whether you’re hosting guests for a long Thanksgiving weekend, preparing a festive Christmas spread, or just spoiling your family with a special Sunday treat, this easy cake is a guaranteed hit. Best of all, you can bake it ahead of time, sleep in, and pour yourself a warm cup of coffee in the morning. There’s no need to wake up early!
Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake
Old-fashioned cinnamon coffee cake is a moist, dense cake with a rich, smooth, buttery inside, a cinnamon streusel filling, and a crisp, golden brown crust. It’s traditionally prepared in a Bundt pan or tube pan, but can also be baked in two loaf pans.
While I love nothing more than a made-from-scratch Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Cinnamon Streusel, sometimes we need a quicker, easier option that still tastes delicious. The idea for this recipe came from a local country market, where I noticed they sell a cinnamon coffee cake that’s made with yellow cake mix and vanilla instant pudding. I realized that I could do the same here at home by combining the cinnamon streusel from my scratch-made recipe with the moist cake mix Bundt recipe from my favorite lemon cake. This delicious treat was born!
Why is it called “coffee cake?”
What makes a coffee cake a coffee cake — especially if coffee isn’t one of the ingredients?! In America we often call this type of dish a coffee cake because the traditional sweet cake is an ideal complement to a cup of coffee or a foamy latte. When you’ve got a warm beverage and a slice of this decadent treat on your plate, it’s definitely not bad to eat cake for breakfast!
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This is just a quick overview of the simple ingredients that you’ll need for a cinnamon coffee cake Bundt. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.
- Yellow cake mix: I always use Duncan Hines brand, but any similar boxed yellow cake mix will work.
- Vanilla instant pudding mix: just the small 4-serving (3.4 ounce) box of dry mix — not prepared into actual pudding.
- Water: the liquid for the cake batter.
- Oil: I use vegetable oil, but any neutral oil (such as canola oil) will work.
- Eggs: give the cake structure.
- Chopped pecans: give the streusel a toasted, nutty crunch.
- All-purpose flour: for the streusel.
- Light brown sugar: sweetens the cinnamon swirl.
- Cinnamon and nutmeg: warm spices that flavor the streusel.
- Salt: to balance the sweetness.
- Butter: brings the streusel together.
- Confectioners’ sugar, milk and vanilla extract: form the glaze.
Why add pudding to cake mix?
The gelatin component in the instant pudding mix makes the cake super moist. It’s the secret ingredient to make your cake more fluffy, too! When baking a cake in a Bundt pan, a very moist batter is necessary so that the cake doesn’t dry out. Don’t omit the pudding, which is a key ingredient.
How to Make Cinnamon Coffee Cake with Cake Mix
Prep ahead for quick grab-and-go breakfasts during the week, serve it for a holiday brunch, or enjoy a slice with a cozy drink for an afternoon snack. Heck, we even love this easy cinnamon coffee cake as a dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!
- Combine the streusel ingredients until you have a mixture that’s the consistency of wet sand.
- Mix together the batter ingredients in a large bowl on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes.
- Sprinkle half of the streusel in the bottom of the Bundt pan (when flipped over at the end, this will be the top of your cake).
- Add a layer of cake batter.
- Sprinkle on another layer of streusel, followed by the rest of the cake batter.
- Bake the cake in a 350°F oven for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Invert onto a wire rack and cool completely before glazing.
- Whisk together the glaze and drizzle over the cake.
- Slice and serve!
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How to Serve Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake
This cake is perfect on its own with a hot cup of coffee, tea or mulled cider. For a bright, fresh touch, garnish with fresh berries.
For a more elaborate brunch spread, try pairing the cake with any of these other morning dishes:
- Fruit Salad or just a platter of fresh melon and berries
- Fruit Smoothies
- Southern Shrimp and Grits
- Candied Bacon
- Crustless Quiche with Spinach
- Ham and Cheese Baked Omelet
- Sausage Breakfast Casserole
- Quiche Lorraine
- Easy Frittata with Cheddar and Chives
- Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole
The decadent cake is also a great dessert option. Serve a slice with a scoop of vanilla ice cream at the end of a long day!
- Wrapped tightly, the cake will last at room temperature for up to 2 days. It does not need to be refrigerated.
- Store the cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- If you’re enjoying cake a day (or more) later, reheat the leftovers to give the slices a nice, soft texture. Just loosely cover an individual slice and microwave for 10-15 seconds (or until warm).
How to Freeze
Allow the cake to cool completely. Do not glaze. Wrap tightly with a layer of plastic wrap and then a layer of foil. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw on the counter overnight. Once the cake is completely thawed, drizzle with icing and serve!
- Use half as much streusel and skip the topping. Instead, just sprinkle the streusel in the middle layer of the cake.
- Swap out the pecans and use chopped walnuts or almonds.
- If you don’t have a Bundt pan, you can prepare this cake in a tube pan. If your tube pan has a removable bottom and sides (so that you don’t invert the cake at the end), sprinkle the streusel topping in the middle of the batter and on top of the batter.
- Cinnamon Coffee Cake Loaf: Bake this recipe in two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans. Remember to add the streusel to the middle and top of the cake (not the bottom of the pan). Bake at 350°F for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Instead of icing, dust the top of the coffee cake with powdered sugar.
- Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake: add about 12 ounces (1 bag) chocolate chips to the cake batter.
- Blueberry Coffee Cake: Add about 2 cups of fresh blueberries to the cake batter.
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Tips for the Best Cinnamon Coffee Cake Recipe
- Chop the nuts very fine so that they blend into the streusel easily. You don’t want them ground into a powder, but small bits are ideal. I like to buy chopped pecans and then pulse them a couple of times in a mini food processor to create slightly smaller pieces, or purchase a package of “chipped pecans.”
- A light-colored or gold Bundt pan is always best to ensure even baking and color. Dark metal pans tend to cause the exterior of the cake to burn before the center is cooked through.
- Grease the Bundt pan really well by coating with butter and then dusting with flour. Alternatively, you can use a cooking spray that’s specifically made for baking (like this one). These options will ensure that your cake pops right out of the pan when it’s done!
- Don’t leave the cake in the pan for too long after baking — about 10-15 minutes is plenty. After that, condensation will start to form and the moisture will negatively impact the crust.
- The cake gets better as it sits, so this is a nice option to prepare the day before you plan to serve it.
More Coffee Cake Recipes to Try
- Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Cinnamon Streusel
- Cranberry Swirl Sour Cream Coffee Cake
- French Farmhouse Breakfast Cake
- Aunt Mary’s Blueberry Coffee Cake
- Honey Bun Cake