Super Easy Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Super easy cinnamon coffee cake on a blue plate with fork

Super Easy Cinnamon Coffee Cake ~ a soft pillowy breakfast cake with a simple flavor profile and a retro vibe (no one will guess it starts with a boxed mix!)

Cutting a piece of super easy cinnamon coffee cake

Cinnamon coffee cake sets the tone for the day

It’s cold outside, maybe there are flurries falling…you’re up early, and there will probably be at least a few mouths to feed. This simple breakfast cake can be made quickly and quietly without disturbing anyone, although the scent of it baking is a wake up call that can’t be denied.

It’s a lot like one my mom used to make, and while it’s not fancy in any way, it’s got a simple charm. It’s the kind of cake you pull out of the oven, set on the counter, and let people pick at to their heart’s content. It won’t last the day.

Easy Cinnamon Coffee Cake in a pan with fork

Cake mix isn’t a dirty word around here ~ the convenience, flavor, and texture can’t be beat for an occasional treat. No pantry is complete with out a couple of boxes stashed away for a rainy day (I’m partial to Duncan Hines.)

How to doctor a cake mix ~

Most of us don’t realize how much control we have over a simple boxed cake mix, and there are lots of ways to vary it, and make it seem more homemade…

  • First, think about substituting the water for a more flavorful or luxurious ingredient like buttermilk, sour cream, yogurt, or juice.
  • Consider adding natural flavorings to disguise any ‘boxed’ flavor. Add vanilla extract, paste, or the seeds of a vanilla bean…almond extract is wonderful in a white cake. You can use citrus zest,  espresso powder, spices, whatever fits your recipe.
  • Turn a white cake mix to chocolate! Add about 1/4-1/3 cup cocoa powder, and a couple of tablespoons of sugar to the dry mix. Add a little extra water if the batter seems very thick.
  • Don’t use electricity when mixing your cake, use an old fashioned whisk, and don’t be afraid of lumps. Mix just until no flour remains, the texture will be more like homemade.

simple cinnamon coffee cake ready to bake

How to grate butter

This cake gets a double layer of cinnamon sugar ribboning through it, and then a light scatter of grated butter over the top.

  • To grate butter just run cold (or frozen) butter along the largest holes of a boxed grater. You’ll get fine ribbons of butter!
  • This technique is useful for making scones, biscuits, or any recipe where you need to cut butter into a flour mixture. I used it here to insure a light even spacing of the butter, I didn’t want clumps.

Simple Cinnamon Sugar Coffee Cake with a jar of cinnamon sugar

There’s a special place in my heart (and stomach) for easy breakfast cakes, have you tried these?

A piece of Easy Cinnamon Coffee Cake on a plate with fork

Usa Pans

Reader Rave ~

I made this coffee cake and it is a definite keeper!!! I took your suggestion and added some chopped walnuts, Can’t wait to try with cardamom next time around.
Thank you for all your wonderful recipes”  ~Kathy

Serving a piece of easy cinnamon coffee cake.
3.37 from 52 votes

Super Easy Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Super Easy Cinnamon Coffee Cake ~ a soft pillowy cake with a simple flavor profile and a retro vibe (no one will guess it starts with a boxed mix!)
Course Breakfast, coffee cake
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 23 minutes
Yield 24 servings
Author Sue Moran


  • 9x12 inch baking pan


  • Duncan Hines Classic Yellow Cake Mix
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk you can use regular milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

cinnamon sugar

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 Tbsp cold or frozen unsalted butter


  • Preheat the oven to 350F Spray and flour a 9x12 pan.
  • Whisk together the cake mix, eggs, buttermilk, and oil just until thoroughly combined. Lumps are fine.
  • Whisk together the sugar and cinnamon,
  • Pour half the batter into the prepared pan and spread out evenly. Sprinkle half the cinnamon sugar over the top. Repeat with the remaining batter, and sprinkle the rest of the sugar over the top.
  • Using the large holes of a box grater, grate the butter right over the top of the cake, and let shreds fall evenly across the surface.
  • Bake for about 23-25 minutes, or just until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center.
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

Make this super easy cinnamon coffee cake your own ~

      • Add finely chopped walnuts or pecans to the cinnamon sugar mixture.
      • Use cardamom instead of cinnamon for a warm exotic flavor.
      • Add mini chocolate chips to the cinnamon sugar layers.
      • Make muffins!


Thanks for pinning this super easy cinnamon coffee cake!

easy cinnamon coffee cake pin

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    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    Mia Taylor
    January 31, 2021 at 2:07 pm

    5 stars
    Very easy to make and the aroma of cinnamon while baking… had them coming to the kitchen asking, “what’s baking”? Moses definitely pointed upward taking in the aroma. Delicious ? and will make again.

  • Reply
    Kerry Mitchell
    December 6, 2020 at 12:49 pm

    How much coffee is added to your Coffee Cinnamon Cake? Am I missing something? Kerry And if I did living in Austrlalia as we cannot access Duncan Hines Yellow Cake Mix. Thanks in advance

    • Reply
      December 6, 2020 at 1:17 pm

      Hey Kerry, there’s no coffee in most ‘coffee cakes’, it’s just an American term for a breakfast cake. And you can use whatever cake mix you can find for this recipe.

  • Reply
    Claire A Rea
    December 24, 2019 at 7:18 am

    When I was little, there was a coffee cake you made with Bisquick, before they changed the formula, and you topped it with cinnamon sugar and a good drizzle of melted butter. It was delicious but once the formula for Bisquick changed it never worked or tasted the same again. Hoping this recipe will be like the one I remember. all your recipes are just wonderful!

    • Reply
      December 24, 2019 at 7:45 am

      Thanks so much Clare, hope it tastes like the one you remember 🙂

  • Reply
    Laura | Tutti Dolci
    January 16, 2019 at 2:50 pm

    Bring on the coffee cake! 🙂 This is exactly what I need with my afternoon coffee!

    • Reply
      September 23, 2019 at 8:39 am

      these sound so good—I love the breads make them all the time and give small loaves to my single friends. BJS

  • Reply
    Dr. Aarti
    January 14, 2019 at 6:32 am

    I was actually scrolling through the list of ingredients to see how much coffee to add, until I realized that it meant, it’s a cake *to go with* coffee!! Haha…British vs. American, always room for ‘delicious’ ambiguity 🙂
    Looks really scrumptious though, yum!

    • Reply
      January 14, 2019 at 7:17 am

      I’ve done that so many times, in fact I’ve got an actual coffee cake coming up on the blog, love that flavor in cakes 🙂

  • Reply
    January 12, 2019 at 6:44 pm

    I made this coffee cake and it is a definite keeper!!! I took your suggestion and added some chopped walnuts, Can’t wait to try with cardamom next time around.
    Thank you for all your wonderful recipes

  • Reply
    Karen Anderson
    January 6, 2019 at 10:31 pm

    I love my USA pans!

    • Reply
      January 12, 2019 at 7:57 pm

      Go USA!

  • Reply
    Phyllis Wine
    January 6, 2019 at 10:33 am

    I have been doing these things to cake mixes for a long time but you certainly have given me new ideas. I am 84 and ove baking but don’t do much anymore but coffee cakes I do make. Love your ideas and emails.

    • Reply
      January 6, 2019 at 10:40 am

      Thanks so much Phyllis 🙂

  • Reply
    January 6, 2019 at 6:47 am

    So simple and seducing 🙂

  • Reply
    January 6, 2019 at 2:45 am

    I love the extra grated butter atop! This is my kind of coffee cake 🙂

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