Cinnamon is one of the most popular spices in the world and is a key ingredient in many recipes — cinnamon rolls, apple pie, and many others.
Cinnamon has a distinct, warm flavor that can be hard to replicate with other spices.
However, if you’re in a pinch and need to find a cinnamon substitute quickly, there are some spices with similar flavor profiles that you can use in its place.
What’s more, if you have cinnamon sticks but a recipe calls for ground cinnamon, you can make your own ground cinnamon in a matter of minutes using a few simple methods.
This article lists 7 of the best substitutes for cinnamon plus how to make your own ground cinnamon from cinnamon sticks.
Nutmeg is a top substitute for cinnamon because of its pleasing taste and versatility. It has a warming, slightly nutty flavor and is sometimes combined with cinnamon in recipes, like in pumpkin pie.
In addition to its rich flavor, nutmeg’s potential medicinal benefits are also prized. In fact, people have used nutmeg in traditional medicine systems for thousands of years as a treatment for ailments such as digestive issues and arthritis (
This may be because nutmeg is high in compounds with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, including ferulic and caffeic acids, and terpenes (
You can find nutmeg in whole or ground form in most grocery stores.
Many culinary websites suggest using a half or even a quarter of the amount of nutmeg that the recipe suggests for cinnamon.
Allspice is another option for those looking for a cinnamon substitute. Though it’s often mistaken for a spice blend, allspice is actually dried unripe berries of the Pimenta dioica tree native to Central America, Southern Mexico, and the Caribbean (
It was given the English name “allspice” because it tastes like a combination of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and black pepper.
It’s a concentrated source of beneficial plant compounds, including the phenolic compound eugenol, which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, and pain-relieving properties in test tube and rodent studies (
Because it tastes similar to cinnamon, you can use allspice to replace cinnamon in most recipes.
However, because allspice is more potent than cinnamon, you should only use a quarter or a third of the amount of allspice that the recipe suggests for cinnamon.
Although ginger originated in Asia, it has become one of the most commonly used spices worldwide.
It’s a featured flavoring agent in Thai, Indian, and Chinese cuisine and is used to flavor both sweet and savory dishes, from curries to cakes.
Ginger has powerful effects on human health, which is mostly attributed to its high content of medicinal substances, including the phenolic compounds gingerols and shogaols (
Numerous studies have shown that consuming ginger, either by eating it in your diet or by taking high-dose supplements, may benefit health in a number of ways.
Like cinnamon, ginger brings a warm flavor to dishes. You can use it as a cinnamon substitute when you’re in a pinch.
You can use powdered ginger as a 1:1 substitute for cinnamon in recipes.
Pumpkin pie seasoning is a blend of spices. It often includes ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. Some pumpkin pie seasonings also include allspice.
Even though brands created these blends for flavoring pumpkin pie, you can use them in most recipes that call for cinnamon.
Typically, cinnamon makes up most of the spice ratio in pumpkin pie seasoning, making it a great substitute for plain cinnamon, especially if you’re making sweets and baked goods.
You can use pumpkin pie seasoning as a 1:1 replacement for cinnamon in recipes like cookies, cakes, and breads. Just keep in mind that because it combines cinnamon with other spices, it will have a slightly different flavor compared with plain cinnamon.
Cardamom is a fragrant spice with a deeply sweet and spicy flavor. It’s used in both savory and sweet dishes, like curries and cakes.
Sometimes referred to as the “queen of spices,” cardamom is a key spice in India and the Middle East, where people have used it since ancient times as a culinary spice and as a natural remedy for ailments, including dental and digestive issues (
Some studies suggest that taking high dose cardamom supplements may help reduce markers of inflammation and oxidative stress, like C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) in certain populations.
This is likely due to cardamom’s high concentration of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds (
You can use ground cardamom as a 1:1 substitute for cinnamon in most recipes.
Studies show that cloves contain plant compounds with potent antimicrobial and antioxidant activities. These include sesquiterpenes, monoterpenes, and phenolic compounds (
In addition to being used in food preparation and preservation, cloves have been used as a natural remedy in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine for over 2,000 years (
Cloves have a strong sweet, yet slightly bitter taste, so this spice is usually mixed with other spices like ginger and nutmeg.
Cloves can be used as a cinnamon substitute, but it’s best to use them with other spices to create a pleasing flavor. For example, try using a mixture of half cloves and half ginger to replace cinnamon in recipes like baked goods.
Mace is a spice that comes from the same fruit of the nutmeg tree (Myristica fragrans).
While the seed kernel of the fruit of Myristica fragrans is called nutmeg, the dried flesh that surrounds the nutmeg seed is known as mace (
It tastes similar to nutmeg but is described as less intense with a sweeter, more peppery flavor than nutmeg.
Some recipe developers suggest using both nutmeg and mace to replace cinnamon in a recipe. However, you can use just mace if that’s all you have.
Most recipe websites suggest using less mace than you would cinnamon. For example, try using a quarter or half of the amount of mace that the recipe suggests for cinnamon.
Yes. If your recipe calls for ground cinnamon and you only have cinnamon sticks or vice versa, you can use one in place of the other.
Using cinnamon sticks to make ground cinnamon
If you have cinnamon sticks but no ground cinnamon, you can actually make your own ground cinnamon in a matter of minutes.
All you need are a few cinnamon sticks and a coffee grinder or high-speed blender. Simply throw a few cinnamon sticks into the grinder or blender and pulse on high speed until you have a fine powder.
Be careful not to blend for too long as this could cook the cinnamon, which would change the taste.
If you don’t have a blender or a coffee grinder, there are other easy ways to make ground cinnamon from cinnamon sticks.
The first option is using a small zester to grate small shavings of cinnamon sticks. This works best if you only need a bit of ground cinnamon to top dishes like cakes or pudding, as it can be time consuming.
You could also place cinnamon sticks inside a heavyweight plastic storage bag and pound the cinnamon sticks with a heavy object like a meat tenderizer in order to create a fine powder.
Keep in mind this method will likely result in a coarser power compared with using a blender or coffee grinder.
Using ground cinnamon in place of cinnamon sticks
If a recipe calls for cinnamon sticks but you only have ground cinnamon, you can use the ground version instead.
Most recipe developers recommend using a 1/2 teaspoon (about 1.4 grams) of cinnamon for every cinnamon stick the recipe calls for.
This method will work for recipes like spiced cider, mulled wine, and puddings.
Keep in mind that ground cinnamon will add a stronger cinnamon flavor compared with infusing a recipe with cinnamon sticks, so be sure to slowly add the ground cinnamon, tasting the recipe in between to make sure the cinnamon flavor isn’t overpowering.
Cinnamon is one of the most popular spices used in cooking and baking.
It adds a warm, spicy flavor to both sweet and savory recipes, so it can be frustrating when you’re in the middle of preparing a dish that calls for cinnamon and you realize you’ve run out.
However, there are several spices that many people keep in their kitchens that can be used as a substitute for cinnamon in a pinch.
Even though spices like nutmeg, allspice, and ginger don’t mimic the exact taste of cinnamon, they share some of cinnamon’s flavor profile.
If you’re making your favorite recipe only to find out you’ve run out of cinnamon, try using one of these options instead.
Just one thing
Try this today: Cinnamon can add a kick of flavor to foods and beverages. Try adding a dash of cinnamon to oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies, and even coffee. You can also make a comforting cinnamon tea by simmering cinnamon sticks in water.