Cinnamon is a popular spice used in both sweet and savory dishes worldwide. Its warm, sweet, and slightly spicy flavor adds depth to everything from baked goods to curries.
But what if you run out of cinnamon powder or want to avoid it due to allergies or other dietary restrictions? Not to worry - there are plenty of great substitutes for cinnamon powder that can mimic its flavor profile.
Read on to find out the various cinnamon powder alternatives, when to use them, substitution ratios, and how to get the best results.
What is Cinnamon Powder?
Cinnamon powder is made by grinding dried cinnamon bark into a fine powder. There are two main types of cinnamon - Ceylon and Cassia. Ceylon cinnamon has a delicate, complex flavor with hints of citrus and is the "true" cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon, originating from China, is more common and has a bolder, spicier taste.
Cinnamon powder works well in both sweet and savory dishes. Its key characteristics include a warm, sweet flavor with subtle spicy, and woody notes. Cinnamon also has a lovely aroma that evokes feelings of comfort and nostalgia for many.
When baking, cinnamon powder often complements ingredients like nuts, chocolate, fruits like apples and bananas, and pumpkin. It shines in desserts like cakes, muffins, pies, and custards. For savory cooking, cinnamon brings warmth and depth to curries, stews, rice dishes, and meat rubs.
Why Find a Substitute?
There are several reasons you may need a replacement for cinnamon powder:
- Running out - Cinnamon is used frequently, so it's not uncommon to run out. Substitutes let you still make your recipe.
- Allergies - Though not common, cinnamon allergies do exist. Substitutes allow those with this allergy to still enjoy cinnamon-flavored dishes.
- Avoiding cassia cinnamon - The coumarin in cassia cinnamon may cause health issues when consumed in large amounts. Substitutes let you avoid cassia.
- New flavors - Substitutes can offer new flavors and variety, while still providing a similar warmth, sweetness, and spice.
- Dietary restrictions - Cinnamon substitutes offer options for those avoiding gluten, sugar, etc.
Best Substitutes for Cinnamon Powder
There are many great cinnamon powder substitutes to choose from. Here are the top options:
Nutmeg is one of the best substitutes for cinnamon powder. Like cinnamon, it has a warm, slightly sweet flavor that pairs well with both sweet and savory dishes. Nutmeg contains essential oils like pinene, sabinene, and myristicin which give it its unique taste and aroma.
Since nutmeg has a stronger flavor than cinnamon, use about half the amount in your recipe substitution. For every 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder, use 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg powder. Start with less, adding more to taste.
Nutmeg works especially well in baked goods, desserts, curries, cream-based dishes, and savory bakes.
Despite its name, allspice is not a blend of spices but comes from the dried, unripe Pimenta dioica berry. With flavors reminiscent of cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg, allspice makes an excellent substitute in the right dishes.
Allspice derives its unique flavor from oils like eugenol, eugenol acetate, and caryophyllene. Use about 1/4 the amount of allspice in place of cinnamon powder. It works well in baked goods, jams, chutneys, jerk seasoning, pumpkin pie, and mulled wine.
Fresh, dried, or ground ginger works beautifully as a cinnamon substitute. It contains gingerol, shogaol, and zingerone, giving it its pungent, sweet, and spicy taste. Match the cinnamon amount 1:1 when replacing it with ground ginger.
Ginger complements cinnamon well in dishes like cookies, cakes, curry, stir-fries, squash, and tea. Adjust the ratio down when using fresh ginger, as it is very potent.
Though different in flavor, cardamom can substitute for cinnamon powder in certain recipes. Cardamom contains cineole and limonene, adding citrusy, eucalyptus notes. Use a 1:1 ratio of cinnamon powder to cardamom powder.
Cardamom enhances curries, cookies, cakes, custards, coffee, tea, and bread when used in place of cinnamon. Start with less cardamom when using ground green cardamom, as it has a stronger flavor than the black variety.
5. Pumpkin Pie Spice
Pumpkin pie spice is a blend including cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and other spices. With cinnamon as the main component, it makes an easy pantry-friendly substitute.
Replace cinnamon powder with pumpkin pie spice 1:1. It works in baked goods, oatmeal, coffee, and peanut butter cookies. Since it is a blend, you may want to adjust other spices in the recipe accordingly.
6. Apple Pie Spice
Like pumpkin pie spice, apple pie spice contains cinnamon, nutmeg, and other spices. Though blends vary, cinnamon makes up the bulk of this mixture.
Substitute 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder with 1 teaspoon of apple pie spice. Use in pies, muffins, pancakes, cookies, tea, and coffee for a familiar, warming flavor.
Ground cloves have an intense, slightly bitter flavor that mimics some aspects of cinnamon. The key compound is eugenol, which gives cloves their aroma. Use cloves sparingly, at half the amount of cinnamon powder.
Cloves work well in baked goods, curries, squash dishes, nuts, coffee, and tea as a replacement for cinnamon. Try combining cloves with allspice or ginger for more complexity.
Mace comes from the outer covering of the nutmeg seed. It offers a milder, sweeter flavor and aroma than nutmeg. Mace contains myristicin, elemicin, and safrole. Use a 1:1 ratio when swapping mace for cinnamon powder.
This substitute adds warmth and fragrance to cookies, fruit desserts, sweet potatoes, squash, and white sauces. For best results, combine mace with nutmeg as a cinnamon stand-in.
Cinnamon Substitution Tips
- Start with less substitute and add more to taste. Many substitutes have stronger flavors.
- Consider pairing substitutes, like ginger and nutmeg, to better mimic cinnamon's taste.
- Adjust other spices or sugar in a recipe to balance new flavors from a substitute.
- Look for pre-made spice blends containing cinnamon substitutes for easy use.
- Grind a cinnamon stick as a quick homemade cinnamon powder substitute in a pinch.
- Opt for substitutes like nutmeg, mace, and allspice for a sweeter cinnamon flavor replacement. Use cloves, cardamom, and ginger for more bite.
What's the best cinnamon substitute for baking?
For baking, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, cloves, and spice blends containing these ingredients (like pumpkin pie spice) make excellent cinnamon stand-ins. Start with less to avoid overpowering baked goods.
Can I use cinnamon sticks if I'm out of powder?
Yes, grind whole cinnamon sticks into a powder as a quick and easy cinnamon powder substitute. Use 1 stick per 1-2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon. Adjust to taste.
What if I'm allergic to cinnamon?
Those with cinnamon allergies can try non-cinnamon-containing spices like nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, cloves, and salt-free spice blends as substitutes. Always check labels to be safe.
What's a good replacement for cinnamon in curries?
How can I mimic cinnamon when avoiding sugar?
When reducing sugar, use spices like nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and vanilla extract to add warmth, sweetness, and flavor complexity in the absence of cinnamon.
Cinnamon powder is versatile but also easy to run out of or need a substitute for. Spices like nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, cloves, and blends can mimic cinnamon's sweet yet spicy warmth.
Consider the dish and flavors you want when picking a substitute and seasoning ratio. With options from your pantry or store, you can enjoy the cinnamon flavor in any recipe, even without cinnamon powder itself.
Get creative with combinations and amounts to find a new go-to cinnamon alternative.