Cinnamon is an aromatic spice used in baking and cooking to add so much flavor. It's deliciously warming, earthy and has a hint of spice and sweetness. But what if you need some cinnamon substitutes to make your tasty recipes?
Let's run through the best alternatives to cinnamon to make your cakes, cookies, oatmeal and more!
This post is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical or dietetic advice in any way. As a note for my low histamine readers - this is a broad informational post and may refer to high histamine foods.
What is Cinnamon?
Cinnamon is a flavorful brown spice and is made, as Healthline describes, from the 'inner bark of trees scientifically known as Cinnamomum'. There is both Ceylon cinnamon, which is typically a little more expensive, and Cassia cinnamon.
It's very easy to find this flavorful spice, and it is stocked in most stores. I think you'll find it in many people's spice racks! As well as ground cinnamon you can also purchase cinnamon sticks.
In their overview of the health benefits of cinnamon, Healthline describes that it contains large amounts of potent polyphenol antioxidants and may have anti-inflammatory effects.
How Is Cinnamon Used?
Cinnamon is a very versatile spice, and can be used in both sweet and savory cooking and baking. Some of the ways cinnamon is used include:
- For baking in cakes, cookies and pastries
- To flavor oatmeal, granola or perhaps to make cinnamon overnight oats
- Desserts such as apple crumble, pies, tarts and my oat milk rice pudding and poached pears
- Drinks such as a hot toddy or my spiced honey warm milk
Why May You Need Some Cinnamon Substitutes?
One of the reasons you may need a replacement for cinnamon is that you head to the pantry and discover you are out of it! Or perhaps you are simply not keen on the taste, but still want a hint of delicious spice in your cooking.
It's also the case that people can have a cinnamon allergy or food intolerance to it. Cinnamon is also rather debated in terms of its histamine level and so potentially problematic for those who are looking to make low histamine recipes if they have histamine intolerance or mast cell activation syndrome. Some histamine lists rate cinnamon as higher histamine and one to avoid, while others rate it as low histamine.
My low histamine readers may also wish to see my posts on tomato substitutes, spinach substitutes, bean substitutes and yogurt substitutes for smoothies to make tasty meals!
7 Best Cinnamon Alternatives
Looking for some spice ideas that are hopefully already in your pantry? Let's talk about some spices like cinnamon for your tasty baking and cooking!
Cardamom is a good substitute for cinnamon in baking, such as in cookies and cakes, but is also used in savory cooking. It has a warm, lightly spiced flavor with a hint of citrus. Cinnamon does have a deeper earthy flavor, which cardamom isn't known for.
It's quite easy to find cardamom in stores and you can purchase both cardamom pods and already ground cardamom.
Cardamom pods are often found whole in Indian curries and those of other cuisines, especially rice dishes, but you can also grind the seeds from the pods yourself in a pestle and mortar.
Recipe ideas: try out my spiced cardamom milk, cardamom chia pudding or my cardamom oatmeal cookies to make the most of this spice!
Nutmeg has a deep earthy and nutty warm flavor, and is one of the best cinnamon substitutes due to its similar taste. It can be purchased whole or as ground nutmeg. It's a little less easy to find nutmeg in smaller stores than cinnamon.
As an alternative to cinnamon, nutmeg can be used in both sweet and savory cooking and baking. Nutmeg can be used to flavor oatmeal, cookies, coffee and as a warm nutmeg milk, amongst many other uses. It's also commonly used in mashed potato!
Ginger can be purchased as both fresh ginger root and ground ginger. Fresh ginger root has more 'zing' and sweetness than ground ginger, which is more spicy, and warm in flavor.
We can use ginger as a replacement for cinnamon in savory dishes, as well as sweet dishes such as oatmeal, overnight oats, cookies, cakes and baking.
Pumpkin spice is a blend of spices, typically including cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. It's a pre-prepared mix of spices that can be purchased in the store and is very popular in the fall and during the holidays!
It's possible to use pumpkin spice as an alternative to cinnamon in drinks, cookies or baking. A pumpkin spice latte is now a famous drink in coffee shops!
Recipe idea: try my pumpkin spice oatmeal cookies for a sweet treat!
Allspice isn't a blend of spices, as the name suggests. Instead, it is dried berries of the Pimento dioica plant and is a very commonly used spice in Jamaican cooking.
Ground spice is popular in savory dishes such as soups, stews and seasonings, as well as in baking for cookies and other treats where it is a good substitute for cinnamon due to its warm, slightly sweet flavor. As allspice is far more pungent than cinnamon, you want to reduce the quantity used or it would be too overpowering.
Mace is a little less common than the other spices, but works well as a cinnamon substitute as they share a warm flavor. As it is the dried outer layer of nutmeg seeds, it has hints of the nutmeg flavor also, but is a little lighter.
Used most often in baked goods, mace can be found in pies, tarts, cakes and other sweet treats. It is best to purchase blades of mace and grind them yourself, as ground mace quickly loses its flavor.
Cloves have a warm and fairly spicy flavor, and can be used as an alternative to cinnamon in small amounts. They have a hint more 'heat' than cinnamon and quite a pungent taste so should be used in smaller quantities.
It is possible to use either whole cloves or ground cloves in cooking and baking. Cloves can be added in their ground form to make warm drinks, baking and desserts, whereas whole cloves can be used in dishes such as rice (remove before eating!).
Frequently Asked Questions
Cardamom, nutmeg and ground ginger are all good alternatives to cinnamon when making baked good such as cakes, cookies and pies. Pumpkin spice blend is also a good substitute as it has cinnamon as one of its ingredients.
Cardamom, nutmeg and pumpkin spice can all be used to flavor hot warm milk drinks.
Ground cinnamon can easily be used as a substitute for a cinnamon stick. As Healthline notes, it is typically advised to use about ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon in place of a cinnamon stick.
Ginger, cardamom and cloves can all be used in savory cooking as a substitute for cinnamon. Fresh ginger root is very commonly used in curries, stir-fry recipes and other savory dishes to add warmth, spice and sweetness.
More Substitute Posts
If you're often headed to the pantry or fridge and find you're out of ingredients, I think you may like to check out my Italian seasoning substitutes, herbes de Provence substitutes and alternatives to pine nuts in pesto. Some more ideas:
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