Getting into breadmaking is a serious endeavor—recipes are often multi-hour processes and require a bunch of measuring, kneading, and waiting for dough to rise. I love eating bread, but baking it is just a little beyond my patience. Quick breads, on the other hand, are much more approachable. Made without yeast, they typically require nothing more than mixing the ingredients and throwing everything into the oven. The category is broad—it encompasses everything from classics like banana bread and Irish soda bread to muffins, scones, and biscuits. If you’re looking for baking projects that are easy enough for a weeknight, check out our 16 favorite quick bread recipes.
Forget about the dry, crumbly “bread” that pops up around St. Patrick’s Day—this is Irish soda bread done right. We make it with more buttermilk than is typical to ensure that the bread is chewy but tender and mix in a heaping teaspoon of baking soda to neutralize the buttermilk’s acidity.
Soda bread isn’t Ireland’s only contribution to the world of quick breads—for something sweeter give Irish tea brack a try. The most important part of the bread is dried fruit (we use raisins) that have been soaked in tea overnight until juicy and super flavorful. For a little extra texture we like to sprinkle the top of our tea brack with thick-cut oats.
These scones are so easy that the dough comes together faster than it will take to preheat your oven. The most time-consuming part is incorporating the butter and flour, and that can be done the night before if you want. While we love dark chocolate, for a lightly sweetened dough like this, delicate milk chocolate is more appropriate.
Once you’re comfortable with a basic scone batter you can start playing with other ingredients. This recipe starts just like the previous one, but we add diced ham, shredded cheese, and chopped scallions. While some cheese is mixed straight into the dough, most of it is sprinkled on top to give the scones a crispy crust.
Butter and cream make for scones with wonderfully light, fluffy texture, but they can also be overwhelmingly rich. Replacing the dairy in these blueberry-lemon scones with coconut oil and full-fat coconut milk lets the fresh fruit shine while having the side effect of keeping the recipe vegan.
I am not going to tell you that muffins are health food, but they also shouldn’t taste like cupcakes. Our blueberry muffins have enough sugar to be a treat but not so much that you feel like it is an indulgence when eating them for breakfast. To keep the recipe easy we skip creaming the butter and sugar and simply mix the butter in with all the dry ingredients at once.
These muffins feel extra healthy thanks to wheat bran, whole wheat flour, and flaxseed. The recipe is basically the same as our blueberry muffins, but it’s important to remember to hydrate the ultra-absorbent bran with hot water before mixing it with the rest of the ingredients. We like adding raisins to our bran muffins, but any dry mix-ins will work.
As I write the the thermometer is hitting the triple digits, but the menu at the coffee shop this morning tells me pumpkin season is already creeping in. These muffins incorporate the gourd in two ways—we make the batter with pumpkin purée and top the muffins with a pumpkin seed streusel.
If pumpkin season is coming then gingerbread season isn’t far behind, and this recipe combines both. Half a cup of molasses and a full tablespoon of ground ginger give the bread a classic gingerbread flavor, while the pumpkin purée mainly adds moisture. A mixture of white rice flour, sorghum flour, and cornstarch keeps the recipe gluten-free.
Most biscuits qualify as quick breads, and our basic drop biscuit is one of the easiest options out there. That’s just the start, though; if you’re looking for something more intense, try these garlic- and cheese-packed biscuits. Shredding the cheddar on a microplane keeps the dough light and ensures that you get cheese in every bite.
There’s something about individually portioned baked goods that feels fancy—perfect for a nice brunch. Here we use mini loaf tins to make elegant loaves made light and pillowy with buttermilk. We chose to mix in blueberries, but whatever berries look best at the market will work.
Readers from New England might be familiar with this colonial recipe for moist, sweet bread steamed in a can. You can buy the canned quick bread in supermarkets, but it’s incredibly easy to make at home—all you have to do is whisk up all the ingredients at once and steam for about 35 minutes.
Like muffins, zucchini bread is often far too sweet. Our recipe uses just a cup of sugar (light brown rather than granulated), though you might find you prefer a little more. We also use less oil than some other recipes, replacing it with Greek yogurt so that the cake maintains a tender, cake-like structure.
Greek yogurt also makes an appearance in our banana bread, with coconut oil providing extra insurance that the bread ends up rich and moist without being heavy or greasy. Banana bread is often thought of as a way to use up old bananas, but perfectly ripe ones will produce a lighter loaf.
Cornbread varies widely depending on where you’re from—I grew up with this sweet, moist style. The batter is made with equal parts cornmeal and flour, the latter of which gives the bread its cake-like texture. Browning the butter in the same skillet you use to cook the cornbread adds a nutty flavor and yields a crisp crust.
Southerners, on the other hand, might prefer a less-sweet cornbread with a stronger corn flavor. You really should try to seek out great stone-ground cornmeal for this—not only is the texture better, but good cornmeal has a natural sweetness that’s vital for making the cornbread taste right. Even if you think you want an unsweetened cornbread, if you use commercial cornmeal you will need to add a few teaspoons of sugar.