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For everyone from seasoned chefs to weeknight home cooks to aspiring foodies, cinnamon is a kitchen staple. It’s one of the tastiest and healthiest spices around. Not only is cinnamon an important part of thousands of recipes (not to mention hot beverages in the winter!), but it’s also loaded with antioxidants and may help lower your blood sugar and reduce your risk for heart disease. What’s not to love?
Here are the best cinnamons for every use.
Best Overall: Burlap and Barrel Cinnamon Verum
Cinnamon is a highly versatile spice that can be used in both savory dishes (like soups and stews) and sweet recipes, like pies, cookies, and even your breakfast oatmeal. If you're looking for high-quality and versatile cinnamon to use in the kitchen, Burlap and Barrel's Cinnamon Verum is our top pick.
Sourced from the Zanzibar Islands off the coast of Tanzania, this cinnamon is hand-cut and sun-dried in order to preserve its freshness and complex flavoring. It's grown organically in the hillside, with notes of sea salt, brown sugar, raw honey, and citrus peel in the flavor profile. It's considered cinnamon verum (or "true" cinnamon) which means that it comes from the bark of the Ceylon cinnamon tree. There are two main types of cinnamon, and Ceylon cinnamon is the healthier variety.
If you haven't heard of Burlap and Barrel, they're the only importer of Zanzibar spices to the United States, and they maintain a highly respectable reputation in the culinary world.
Available in a 1.8 ounce glass jar or a 14 ounce plastic container.
Best Ceylon: Simply Organic Ground Ceylon Cinnamon
Ceylon cinnamon is one of two main types of cinnamon and it has a distinctive color and taste that sets it apart from cinnamon cassia—the more common variety typically found in the supermarket or dollar store. Ceylon is healthier and free of coumarin, which makes it a popular choice for those who consume a lot of cinnamon in their diet. For a well-reviewed option with plenty of fans, we recommend Simply Organic's Ground Ceylon Cinnamon.
Users praise the subtle flavor of this ground cinnamon, although a few noted that it was much milder than the cassia cinnamon they were used to. "I like the aroma and softer flavor of this version (Ceylon) compared to the more pungent 'traditional' cinnamon (Cassia) which can be a bit bitter by itself," wrote one reviewer online. "It's a new staple in my cupboard." A shaker top makes it easy to sprinkle onto foods, or you can take the shaker off to measure the correct amount for your baking needs. It's also non-GMO, organic, and kosher.
Best Organic: Frontier Co-op Ground Ceylon Cinnamon
Another Ceylon cinnamon worth considering is the Frontier Co-op Ground Ceylon Cinnamon. Not only is this cinnamon organic, but it’s also non-GMO verified, non-irradiated (free of carcinogenic chemicals), kosher, and it's Fair Trade Certified, which means that you're supporting farming families and fair wages through the purchase of this product. It's sourced from Sri Lanka and has a sweet and warm flavor that lends itself well to cookies, cakes, and other baked goods. Many customers noted that the flavor was better than grocery store versions, and agreed that the taste of "true" cinnamon is well worth the price.
Best Basic: McCormick Ground Cinnamon
McCormick is a trusted name in the food industry and their company has been around for more than 125 years, so this is the cinnamon that you’re probably most familiar with. Because their ground cinnamon is classified as cinnamon cassia the flavor profile will be much stronger and sweeter than Ceylon cinnamon. According to reviewers, this spice has a wonderful smell and the sweet flavor evoked childhood memories of trips to the mall for giant cinnamon rolls. Several reviewers also said that this cinnamon works as an ant repellent in their garden or even around the house. Sprinkling ground cinnamon where ants usually congregate may deter them from coming back.
Best Cinnamon Sticks: Frontier Co-op Organic Cinnamon Sticks
Fragrant, warm, and deliciously spicy, Frontier Organic Whole Cinnamon Sticks are a great item to keep stocked in your kitchen. These cinnamon sticks, also called quills, offer a more robust and rich flavor compared to powdered cinnamon and will last much longer. For added flavor, toss one of these sticks into a bowl of oatmeal while it’s cooking or place into a steaming mug of herbal tea for a comforting bedtime drink. You can even add one of these sticks to your slow cooker with different meats to add heat and spice to your dish. These sticks are certified organic, non-GMO, and kosher, and reviewers call these "the best cinnamon sticks ever," noting the bright flavor and aroma.
Best for Beverages: Feel Good Organics Korintje Cinnamon Sticks
Warm beverages garnished or sweetened with cinnamon offer a pleasant alternative to tea that's sweetened with sugar. Cinnamon also carries many health benefits (it's loaded with antioxidants), and the smell of cinnamon is said to boost your alertness and concentration. If you're looking to incorporate cinnamon sticks into some of your favorite beverages, we recommend using the Feel Good Organics Organic Korintje Cinnamon Sticks. This Indonesian cinnamon is Cinnamomum burmaniia, which has a smoother taste compared to other varieties. The bag contains 100 hard cinnamon sticks which are cut to 2.75 inches long, so you can add them to your tea, coffee, cocktails (like a hot toddy or mulled wine), and hot chocolate with ease.
Best Cinnamon Sugar: FreshJax Maple Cinnamon Sugar Topping
Not your average topping, this sweet alternative to cinnamon sugar boasts a subtle maple flavor for a unique (and delicious) twist. You can use it the same way you'd use regular cinnamon sugar, but it lends itself to different dishes since the flavors are more complex. You’ll get the sweetness of coconut sugar along with the familiar flavors of maple and cinnamon, plus a hint of salt to bring it all together. Mix it into your egg mixture when you whip up French toast, sprinkle it onto muffins before you slide them in the oven, or incorporate it into meat rubs for warmth and richness. Customers call this a great new flavor addition and love that it's gluten-free and kosher.
If you're craving a more basic topping, it's easy enough to make cinnamon sugar at home using ingredients you already have in your pantry. Just make sure to store it properly so it stays fresh!
Best Splurge: Burma Spice Ground Ceylon Cinnamon
Customers rave about this boutique ground Ceylon cinnamon that's sold in an attractive container. It’s certainly more expensive than most, but Burma Spice grinds its cinnamon several times a week to make sure it’s fresh for their customers, and it’s packaged the day it is ground. Their "true" cinnamon is sourced from Sri Lanka and contains zero additives. No harmful preservatives, colors, or cassia cinnamon powder are mixed in. It's also gluten and dairy free, vegan, and non-GMO. And if you're looking for unique gift ideas for the foodie or baker in your life, this 1.4-ounce glass jar with toggle closure would make a beautiful addition to any gift basket.
Best Value: Burlap and Barrel Royal Cinnamon
Burlap and Barrel works with cinnamon tree growers in the Quang Nam Mountains of Vietnam to get this heirloom variety of Saigon cinnamon that isn't as common in American spice racks. Sweet and spicy, this cinnamon bark is dried while it's still on the tree, resulting in an intense flavor that's the perfect finishing touch to any recipe. Burlap and Barrel says this cinnamon has tasting notes of brown butter, honey, and orange peel, and will probably be stronger than you're used to if you usually use Ceylon cinnamon in your recipes. You can choose between a 1.8-ounce glass jar or a 16-ounce plastic container, which is a great deal if you use a lot of cinnamon in your kitchen.
Best Cassia: Thrive Market Organic Ground Cinnamon
Thrive Market's cinnamon is Cinnamon loureiroi, also known as Saigon cinnamon or "Vietnamese Cassia." Cassia has a stronger, bolder flavor than Ceylon cinnamon. This ground cinnamon from Thrive Market is certified organic, kosher, and gluten-free. It's also sustainably farmed and ethically sourced.
The complex flavor profile of this cinnamon makes a great addition to roasted meats or veggies. It's important to note that it's not healthy to ingest this type of cinnamon in large doses.
Burlap and Barrel's Cinnamon Verum earns the top spot for its versatility and complex flavor profile, making the high-quality spice perfect for both sweet and savory dishes (view at Burlap and Barrel's). Prefer using cinnamon sticks? Try the fragrant and flavorful Frontier Co-op Organic Cinnamon Sticks (view at Amazon).
What to Look for in Cinnamon
There are two main types of cinnamon: Ceylon and cassia. Cassia cinnamon is the kind that you find on most grocery store shelves (if it doesn’t specify, it’s likely cassia), but Ceylon cinnamon is often regarded as higher quality and better-tasting.
All cinnamon is not created equally. If you’re using cinnamon mainly for baking, cassia cinnamon is a safe choice. While it’s not as rich in health-promoting compounds, it’s less expensive (and you’re likely going to be mixing it with sugar anyway). If you want to optimize the health benefits of cinnamon and you’re looking for a milder flavor, Ceylon cinnamon is the way to go.
Culinary cinnamon is available in many different forms: whole (stick), ground, and liquid. You can also find cinnamon supplements if you’re strictly after the health benefits and want a higher dose. There’s no best type of cinnamon; it really depends on what you want to use it for. For cooking and baking, ground cinnamon is the most convenient, but grinding a cinnamon stick will give a fresher flavor (and they last longer). Cinnamon sticks are also an excellent choice for infusing hot teas or other beverages. Liquid cinnamon extracts are a more concentrated form that are helpful when making chocolates or cinnamon-flavored drinks.
Is cinnamon good for you?
Cinnamon is more than just a way to flavor food—it has some health benefits, too. Research shows that cinnamon is high in antioxidants and can help fight off inflammation in the body. The spice has also been shown to help lower blood sugar levels and improve the response of insulin, a hormone that controls the way your blood uses glucose. Cinnamon has also been linked to better brain health.
Where does cinnamon come from?
Cinnamon comes from the bark of different varieties of evergreen trees that fall under the Cinnamomum genus. Most of these trees are located in Sri Lanka, but there are also some in India, China, and Burma.
How does cinnamon grow?
The evergreen trees that house cinnamon are allowed to grow for two years, before they’re cut and harvested. To harvest the cinnamon, sections of the bark are scored and then peeled. The outer portion is then scraped off, leaving the inner bark—or cinnamon. The next year, new shoots will form where the tree was cut, starting the process for new cinnamon.
Does cinnamon have calories?
Yes, cinnamon has 6 calories—and 2.1 grams of carbs—per teaspoon. Of those carbs, 1.4 grams are in the form of fiber.
What is Ceylon cinnamon?
Ceylon cinnamon is a milder, lighter form of cinnamon that comes from the evergreen trees native to Sri Lanka and southern parts of India. It’s often called “true cinnamon” because it’s less common and higher in the essential oils that give cinnamon its flavor (and health benefits). Most cinnamon that you find in the grocery store is cassia cinnamon, which has a stronger flavor.
Does cinnamon expire?
Cinnamon doesn’t technically expire—or spoil—but it may lose potency and flavor over time, especially if it’s opened. For optimal flavor, use ground cinnamon within one year of opening and cinnamon sticks within three to four years.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Donna Currie is a freelancer who writes roundups and tests products for The Spruce Eats. The author of Cookistry, her recipe blog, and the cookbook Make Ahead Bread, Donna is enamored with cooking and is always looking for the spices and condiments that push that just-good-enough recipe over the edge. Check out her roundups on the best hot sauces, vanilla extracts, and pepper mills.
Lindsay Boyers, who wrote the What to Look for and FAQs for this roundup, has a degree in food and nutrition from Framingham State University and is certified in both holistic and functional nutrition.