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Cinnamon is one of those spices that you’ll always be able to find in my kitchen. It definitely ranks high on my favorite spices list. However, I believe it’s necessary to know different cinnamon substitutes that can be used on every occasion!
Why might someone need to use cinnamon substitutes?
Cinnamon is a common spice in our day-to-day cooking. With the diverse use of cinnamon, it’s often easy to miss this essential spice on your kitchen shelf, particularly if you’re the kind of person who can use cinnamon in almost everything you take, including drinks.
People use cinnamon substitutes for various reasons. Maybe you went to the store, and you couldn’t find any on the shelves. Or perhaps you can’t use it because you or one of your household members is allergic to it.
You may also want to substitute it with another spice when you feel you’re a bit tired of it and want to try other spices, or you’re just not a fan of cinnamon, which is totally okay. You don’t need a reason use a cinnamon substitute; you can choose what you can and not eat.
Luckily, there are tons of cinnamon substitutes that are usually affordable and easy to access. This article provides more details about cinnamon, including its history, benefits, uses, and its many substitutes you can use for various occasions.
Cinnamon in a Nutshell
Cinnamon is an aromatic, distinctly spicy, and warm flavorful ingredient for most food, including desserts, beverages, side dishes, and entrees. People use this spice differently depending on their preference and cooking style.
You can utilize it for both salty and sweet cuisines to give them a sweet heady aroma and spicy flavor.
It’s the Cinnamomum tree’s inner bark, a tree belonging to the Lauraceae family. This tree usually grows in subtropical and tropical areas.
Cinnamomum Verum, the tree from which cinnamon is sourced, naturally grows in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Malabar Coast of India, and Indonesia. Cinnamon’s history dates back to 2800BC, where it was a very treasured commodity among the Egyptians and most Middle East natives.
During medieval Europe, people used cinnamon during religious rites and for flavoring. The Egyptians also used it for spiritual practices and as an embalming perfume
Cinnamon’s botanical name, amomon, it’s an Arabic and Hebraic term that means an aromatic spice plant. Italians commonly call cinnamon sticks canella, which also means ‘little tubes.’
Medieval doctors used cinnamon to treat various health conditions like coughing, sore throats, and hoarseness. It was also utilized to preserve and mask the stinking smell of aged meat due to its sweet scent. It has phenol which can help to prevent bacteria that cause spoilage.
During the 17th century, cinnamon was seized by the Dutch. Together with the Dutch, the Portuguese controlled cinnamon supply for about 120 years after conquering the Ceylon island and enslaving her citizens for labor. This made them gain more monopoly over cinnamon, making it a rare and expensive spice.
By the 1800s, cinnamon wasn’t as expensive and rare as it had already spread to most other parts globally and being cultivated by many people. Today, anyone can easily find cinnamon at the most affordable price.
Health Benefits of Cinnamon
Besides making your food have that sweet aroma you love so much, eating cinnamon has various health benefits too. Cinnamon comes in different types, which provide varying health benefits. The common cinnamon types are Cassia and Ceylon, with the latter being less affordable and famous than the first. Below are some of the many advantages you’ll enjoy from using cinnamon.
1. The antioxidants found in cinnamon can help to reduce inflammation
2. Minimizes risk of getting heart complications
3. It can enhance insulin sensitivity and reduces the level of blood sugars, which can be beneficial to diabetic people
4. The high antioxidant amount in cinnamon can prevent cancer-related cell mutations and DNA damage.
5. Its oils have antimicrobial and antiseptic properties essential for fighting infections like yeast infections and prevent bacteria growth, like salmonella and listeria.
Different dishes that cinnamon can be used and substitutes
Cinnamon can be a great additive in an array of cooking. Some of the popular dishes you can use cinnamon are French Toast, banana bread, cinnamon rolls, and carrot cakes. When prepared well, these dishes are usually moist, soft, and very delicious.
When you’re accustomed to only using cinnamon to prepare these foods, it’s often easy to think cinnamon is the only additive you can use to sweeten and give them a heady scent. But that’s not entirely true.
You can enjoy these foods without necessarily using cinnamon. In case you’re a bit tired of cinnamon in your food, or you can’t find any to use for your tasty breakfast rolls or toast, you can opt for a cinnamon substitute available in your ingredients rack.
Here’s how you can enjoy the following cinnamon-free dishes with various complementary cinnamon substitutes.
1. French Toast
Preparing cinnamon French Toast usually needs grounded cinnamon, four bread slices, ¼ cup of milk, and an egg. You can sub the cinnamon spice with nutmeg for a change but still use your usual cooking procedure.
Nutmeg is more potent than cinnamon. Hence, it would be best if you used it in low amounts for a more balanced taste.
2. Cinnamon rolls
Cinnamon rolls can make your breakfast memorable and delicious. But you don’t only need cinnamon to make your rolls mouthwatering. Substituting it with the right amount of cardamom, nutmeg, or allspice can do the trick.
3. Banana bread
Adding allspice or cloves and nutmeg in your bread to your banana bread recipe produces a delicious and sweet loaf you’ll carve for every day. If cinnamon has become boring to you, try one of these spices; you might never miss that cinnamon again.
4. Carrot cake
Carrot cake is a tasty and easy-to-make dessert you can enjoy all year long, but only use cinnamon spice can make it a bit boring. Substituting it with nutmeg, apple or pumpkin pie, cardamom, and cassia can provide you uniquely delicious carrot cakes depending on which one you use.
Spice mixtures can also be great cinnamon subs for these foods. However, it would help if you tried them out to see which tastes better for you.
Best Cinnamon Substitutes
If you find you lack cinnamon on your kitchen shelf in the middle of baking or cooking, you don’t have to pause to rush for it in the nearby store. If you have another spice that you can substitute with, it can be more convenient and faster than going to the store.
There are many spices you can substitute for cinnamon. Most of these spices we rarely miss in our spices collection. It’s important to note that these spices can change food flavor depending on which one you use.
Usually, it’s best to try several options to know the one that suits your taste most. Some of the best cinnamon substitutes include:
Nutmeg is usually sourced from Myristica tree seeds and offers a taste that’s much comparable to cinnamon. Just like cinnamon, nutmeg has health benefits besides food flavoring. It’s rich in antioxidants known to slow cellular damage progression.
In every tablespoon of cinnamon you add to your food, sub with ¼ tablespoon of nutmeg. You can use it as a one-to-one cinnamon substitute too.
Substitute your cinnamon with allspice and get the equivalent taste you get from using cinnamon. The amount you use should be much lower than that of cinnamon. It’s advisable to use a quarter of the cinnamon quantity you usually use.
3. Cloves and ginger
Mixing equal amounts of these two spices can provide an excellent cinnamon substitute. Their citric flavor and acidity can give you the same flavor profile cinnamon produces. If you usually use 1tbsp of cinnamon in your cooking, you’ll require about a third of that amount when using cloves and ginger.
The covering of a nutmeg seed is referred to as a mace. Even though it’s a suitable cinnamon substitute, it’s not as aromatic and tart as the nutmeg itself. In case you run out of your cinnamon, don’t hesitate to use it if it’s on your spice rack.
If you’re keen enough, you’ll notice most blends of curry powder have both cardamom and cinnamon. Cardamom can be an effective cinnamon substitute for various cuisines, particularly the savory ones.
Since they mostly work alongside each other, the cardamom to cinnamon substitution ratio can be 1:1. If you usually use 1tbsp of cinnamon, sub it with the same amount of cardamom.
6. Cinnamon extract
Though not as effective as the ground cinnamon, cinnamon extract can be an excellent cinnamon substitute for various occasions. It’s prepared by soaking cinnamon sticks/bark in alcohol for several days.
It’s not a great option for occasions needing quick cinnamon substitutes since it takes longer to get ready. Please don’t confuse it with cinnamon oil. This oil is usually more concentrated because it’s sourced directly from the cinnamon barks.
You can also use various spice mixtures as cinnamon substitutes. To get the best spices for this task, you’ll have to try multiple options to know which tastes better and the best foods to include these mixes.
Examples of these mixtures include the apple pie or pumpkin pie spices (contains cinnamon), which are great one-to-one cinnamon substitutes-however, it’s best to check their ingredient list to know what they have.
Sometimes you may prefer to adjust some of these mixture’s spices to suit your palate. You should avoid these mixtures if you don’t want/like your food to have any cinnamon traces.
You can also substitute cinnamon with coriander and cardamom or allspice and nutmeg mixture. Since these spices usually are stronger than cinnamon, you should use them in smaller amounts than cinnamon, preferably of the usual cinnamon quantity.
Cinnamon extract is an excellent sub for grounded cinnamon, but you should use it more sparingly since it is more concentrated.
Cinnamon is an extremely tasty, sweet-smelling, and beneficial spice to use. With this spice, you can significantly alter the taste and fragrance of your many dishes, giving your family or customers (for those with eateries) delicious and unique cuisines.
Some circumstances can force us not to use cinnamon. For example, if you have cinnamon allergies or running out of cinnamon supply. On such occasions, feel free to try other cinnamon substitutes and still enjoy their tasty complementary flavors and fragrance.
The above spices are among the many cinnamon substitutes you can try. Most of them are equally tasty, aromatic, and provide various health benefits, just like cinnamon.