Substitutes for Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a popular and versatile spice used in a variety of sweet, savory, and even beverage recipes. However, there are times when you might not have this staple spice on hand, or perhaps you have dietary restrictions or allergies that make using cinnamon in your recipes a challenge. Fret not, as there are many substitutes for cinnamon that can still deliver the desired flavor and aroma to your dishes.

A good cinnamon substitute should mimic the warmth and complexity of cinnamon’s unique taste, while still satisfying your palate and the requirements of your recipe. There are plenty of alternatives available, each with their own characteristics and suitability for different applications. It is possible to find substitutes that work well in sweet desserts, savory dishes, and even drinks.

Key Takeaways

  • Explore various alternatives to cinnamon for use in sweet, savory, and drink recipes
  • Choose a suitable substitute that captures the distinctive warmth and complexity of cinnamon
  • Consider dietary restrictions, allergies, and recipe requirements when selecting a cinnamon substitute

Understanding Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a popular and fragrant spice derived from the inner bark of certain evergreen trees, primarily belonging to the Cinnamomum family. As you may know, it has a warm flavor profile, which is why it’s widely used in both sweet and savory dishes.

There are two main types of cinnamon, known as cassia and true cinnamon. Cassia, or Chinese cinnamon, is the most commonly found variety in supermarkets. It has a stronger, spicier flavor profile. On the other hand, true cinnamon, or Ceylon cinnamon, tends to have a milder, slightly sweeter taste.

As a spice connoisseur, it’s essential to understand that although cinnamon is derived from the same plant family, different growing conditions and processing methods can result in varying flavor profiles. Thus, preparing your recipes with the right type of cinnamon can significantly impact the overall taste of your dishes.

Another important aspect to consider is cinnamon’s health benefits. It contains antioxidant properties and has been known to aid digestion. However, it is crucial to consume cinnamon in moderation, as excessive intake, especially of the cassia variety, can pose potential health risks.

Knowing the origin and characteristics of cinnamon will help you make informed decisions when choosing the perfect cinnamon substitute for your recipes. So, explore the world of this warm, aromatic spice, and enjoy experimenting with different varieties in your culinary endeavors.

Key Characteristics of a Good Substitute

When seeking a suitable cinnamon substitute, it’s essential to consider the key characteristics that make an alternative as close to the original as possible. The primary features should include sweetness, spice, pungency, and the ability to blend well with other flavors.

A good cinnamon alternative should possess a sweet taste profile, although it may not be as sweet as cinnamon itself. Keep in mind that the level of sweetness may vary depending on the specific substitute, so adjust the proportions accordingly to match your desired result.

The spice quality is also vital, as it brings warmth and depth to your dishes. A suitable cinnamon substitute should provide this characteristic without entirely overwhelming the dish. Make sure to select a spice that complements your recipe instead of clashing with its flavor.

Another crucial factor is pungency. A cinnamon substitute should have a strong, distinct aroma, similar to cinnamon’s fragrance. While some alternatives may not be an exact replica of cinnamon’s scent, they should still engage your senses and add a comforting aroma to your dish.

Ultimately, your chosen cinnamon substitute should complement and harmonize with the other flavors in your recipe. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different spices to find an ideal balance for your dish, and always be sure to adjust the ratio of your alternative to achieve the desired taste and aroma.

By keeping these characteristics in mind, you can confidently choose a cinnamon substitute that will allow you to create delicious, flavorful dishes while maintaining the essential qualities of the original spice.

Sweet Dish Applications

Cinnamon is a popular spice for various sweet dishes, but sometimes you may need a substitute for it. Luckily, there are several alternatives that can provide similar flavors and aromas in your baking and dessert recipes.

When it comes to baked goods such as coffee cake, snickerdoodle cookies, and gingerbread cookies, you can try allspice or nutmeg as cinnamon substitutes. Both of these spices have warm, sweet profiles that can mimic the distinct flavor of cinnamon. For every teaspoon of cinnamon, use half a teaspoon of allspice or nutmeg.

In recipes like french toast, you can opt for cardamom as a substitute. Just be aware that cardamom has a more intense flavor, so use only about half the amount called for cinnamon.

For pumpkin pie and other recipes that require pumpkin pie spice, mix in a combination of allspice, ginger, and nutmeg as an alternative to cinnamon. To make a pumpkin pie spice substitute for one teaspoon of cinnamon, blend together:

  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

In recipes like apple pie that call for apple pie spice, use a blend of nutmeg and allspice to replace cinnamon. To make an apple pie spice substitute for one teaspoon of cinnamon, combine:

  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp allspice

Remember that the ratios and combinations above can be adjusted depending on your taste preferences or spice availability. Feel free to experiment and find the right balance for your sweet and savory dishes.

Using these substitutes in your sweet dishes will allow you to achieve a similar flavor profile to cinnamon while also providing some unique and pleasant nuances. Just keep in mind how each alternative may change the overall taste and consider adjusting the other spices in your recipes accordingly.

Savory Dish Applications

When looking for cinnamon substitutes in savory dishes, there are several options to consider. Cinnamon has unique warming flavors and health properties, but suitable alternatives can still help you achieve a similar taste profile in your cooking.

One excellent option for sauce and curry recipes is cardamom. Originating in India, cardamom has a strong, aromatic flavor that is mildly sweet and spicy. You can use ground cardamom in savory dishes to add richness and depth, making it a perfect fit for Indian food.

Another great choice for cinnamon substitution is cumin. With its earthy, warm, and slightly bitter taste, cumin can add a depth of flavor to various savory dishes. It works well in chili recipes, meat dishes, and marinades. Start with a small amount of cumin and adjust according to your taste preferences.

Allspice, as the name suggests, is a versatile spice that has a flavor profile reminiscent of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Due to its well-rounded taste, allspice can be used in various savory recipes, including sauces, curries, and marinades. To get the desired flavor, you may need to use slightly less allspice compared to the amount of cinnamon called for in a recipe.

In summary, finding a substitute for cinnamon in savory dishes is not only possible but also an opportunity for experimentation. By trying out different spices like cardamom, cumin, and allspice, you can achieve a similar – or even more exciting – taste profile in your cooking. Use these alternatives confidently and knowledgeably to create delectable sauces, curries, marinades, and more.

Substitutes in Drinks

When looking for substitutes for cinnamon in drinks like tea, coffee, and mulled wine, there are several suitable alternatives to achieve a similar taste and aroma.

In a warm cup of tea or coffee, you can use nutmeg as a substitute for cinnamon. Nutmeg offers a gentle, sweet, and slightly nutty flavor that complements both beverages. Simply sprinkle a pinch of ground nutmeg into your drink and stir to incorporate the flavors.

For mulled wine, allspice is a great alternative for cinnamon. It has a warm and sweet flavor profile that closely resembles cinnamon, with hints of clove and nutmeg. Add a few whole allspice berries to your mulled wine along with the other seasonings, and let them steep for the desired time.

If you’re not averse to using cinnamon products, cinnamon extract or cinnamon oil can be used in drinks as well. Since these are concentrated sources of cinnamon flavor, use them sparingly. A drop or two of the extract or oil in your drink will be more than enough to add a cinnamon-like essence without overpowering the other flavors.

Additionally, consider experimenting with herbs and spices like cardamom or cloves as potential substitutes in your drinks. Both options bring their own unique flavor profiles and can add a pleasant warmth and depth to your beverage when used in place of cinnamon.

Keep in mind that substituting cinnamon with other seasonings in your drinks can affect the flavor balance, and you may need to adjust the quantities of other ingredients accordingly. Don’t be afraid to taste and adjust as needed to make your perfect drink.

Allergy Considerations and Substitutes

Allergies to cinnamon are quite rare; however, it’s crucial to be aware of possible allergic reactions and seek alternatives if needed. If you experience symptoms such as itching, swelling, or difficulty breathing after consuming cinnamon, consult a medical professional for proper diagnosis.

For those with a confirmed cinnamon allergy, rest assured that several substitutes can provide similar flavor profiles without causing adverse reactions. Some alternatives include:

  • Nutmeg: Often used in baking and cooking, nutmeg boasts a warm and slightly sweet flavor that can replace cinnamon in many recipes. It’s best to use a smaller amount of nutmeg, as its taste can be more pronounced.
  • Allspice: As a blend of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg flavors, allspice is a versatile substitute. Its balanced combination of spices can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, just keep in mind that it may impart a slight hint of clove flavor.
  • Cardamom: This spice has a unique, warm taste that works well as an alternative to cinnamon. It pairs particularly well with coffee and tea, but can also be used in baked goods and other recipes.
  • Ginger: For a zesty touch, consider using ground ginger to replace cinnamon. It gives a distinct spiciness that complements a wide range of dishes, from baked goods to savory meals.
  • Cinnamon-substitute blends: Some stores offer premade spice blends specifically formulated to mimic the taste of cinnamon without causing allergic reactions. These usually contain a mix of various spices that complement each other.

Keep in mind that, when choosing a cinnamon substitute, the exact flavor may not be identical but should still provide a warm, aromatic presence in your dishes. Experiment with varying proportions until you find the ideal balance for your tastes and preferences.

Common Substitutes and Their Characteristics

Nutmeg is a popular substitute for cinnamon, sharing some of its warm and sweet characteristics. Native to Indonesia, nutmeg has a slightly more delicate flavor and works well in baked goods, custards, and casseroles.

Allspice derives its name from its ability to mimic the flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Originating from Jamaica, this versatile spice can be a great alternative to cinnamon in dishes such as pies, cookies, and curry recipes. Combining allspice and nutmeg can create a well-rounded flavor profile that resembles cinnamon.

Cardamom is a unique yet suitable replacement for cinnamon. With its aromatic and sweet flavor, this spice, which is commonly used in Indian and Sri Lankan cuisines, adds a distinctive touch to both savory and sweet dishes.

Cloves offer a robust, warm, and slightly bitter flavor resembling cinnamon’s intensity. This spice is commonly used in pumpkin pie seasoning and can replace cinnamon in baking recipes, especially apple-based desserts.

Ginger is another worthy substitution, bringing warmth and spiciness to your dishes. Although its flavor is more pungent and tangy than cinnamon, ginger works well in cookies, cakes, and even savory meals like curries and stir-fries.

The subtle citrus flavor of mace makes it an acceptable alternative to cinnamon. Although its taste is milder, it can enhance dishes without overwhelming them.

For a smoother replacement, vanilla extract can be used as a stand-in for cinnamon. While it won’t provide the same spice, it will add sweetness and warmth to treats like cookies and cakes.

Curry powder is an option for savory dishes in need of a substitute for cinnamon. This spice mix, usually containing turmeric, cumin, and coriander, can work well in casseroles, rice dishes, and stews.

When looking for a less-sweet option, black pepper can add warmth and spice to certain dishes. This choice works best in savory recipes or to add a bit of heat to sweets.

Lastly, star anise and anise offer a licorice-like flavor that can replace cinnamon in various recipes, such as baked goods and compotes. However, they should be used sparingly to prevent overpowering other flavors.

By exploring these substitutes, you can find creative ways to maintain the desired taste and texture in your dishes without relying solely on cinnamon.

Creating Your Own Cinnamon Substitutes

In times when you find yourself without cinnamon at hand, you can confidently create your own substitutes using a combination of readily available spices. Below are some suggestions to help you recreate the sweet and warm flavor of cinnamon at home.

To start, take a look at what spices you have stored in your kitchen. Common spices that can be used as cinnamon substitutes include nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cardamom. These spices can be used individually or combined to form a unique spice mixture that closely mimics the flavor profile of cinnamon. If you have whole spices, you can easily grind them using a coffee grinder or a microplane.

One potential substitute for cinnamon is a simple one-to-one substitution of nutmeg or allspice. Both of these spices share a warm, slightly sweet flavor profile similar to cinnamon, allowing them to be used interchangeably in most recipes.

Another option is to create a custom spice blend by combining various spices that complement each other. A mixture of one part ground ginger and two parts ground nutmeg can provide a pleasant warmth and spiciness similar to cinnamon. Adjust the proportions according to your taste preferences.

Remember, the key is to strike the right balance when creating your own cinnamon substitutes, as the flavors of these spice mixtures can become overly concentrated if overused. Start small and gradually add more spices until you achieve the desired flavor intensity.

With these guidelines in mind and a little experimentation, you’ll be able to craft effective cinnamon alternatives using the spices you have on hand.

Other Benefits of Cinnamon Substitutes

Cinnamon substitutes offer a variety of benefits beyond their flavor profile. Many of these alternatives have antioxidant properties, which can help protect your body from damage caused by free radicals. Consuming foods rich in antioxidants may help to reduce your risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer.

In addition to their antioxidant effects, some cinnamon substitutes also have anti-inflammatory properties. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals with conditions that involve inflammation, such as arthritis, as well as for anyone looking to support their immune system more generally.

For instance, allspice contains compounds that may help reduce inflammation and boost your immune system. Incorporating allspice into your diet can provide these health benefits while maintaining the delicious flavor you’re looking for.

Another substitute, nutmeg, also possesses antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It can be helpful in relieving pain and may even improve digestion. Including nutmeg in your recipes and dishes can provide a flavorful twist while also offering potential health benefits.

Here are some other cinnamon substitutes and their associated benefits:

  • Cardamom: Promotes healthy digestion, supports the immune system, and may improve cardiovascular health.
  • Ginger: Known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, ginger can help alleviate nausea and support a healthy immune system.
  • Cloves: Rich in antioxidants and known for their antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, cloves can aid in maintaining oral health and reducing inflammation in the body.

It’s important to note that varying levels of these antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and immune system support can be found in each substitute. Keep this in mind as you explore different options and determine which substitute best meets your individual needs and preferences. This way, you can enjoy the taste of cinnamon while reaping the added health benefits of its alternatives.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can replace cinnamon in carrot cake?

You can replace cinnamon in carrot cake with a mix of nutmeg and allspice. Use half the amount of nutmeg and equal parts allspice as the cinnamon called for in the recipe. This combination will give your carrot cake a warm and slightly sweet flavor similar to cinnamon.

What’s a good alternative to cinnamon in cinnamon rolls?

A good alternative to cinnamon in cinnamon rolls is cardamom. Use half the amount of cardamom as you would cinnamon in the recipe. Cardamom has a unique, warm, and aromatic flavor that works well in sweet baked goods like cinnamon rolls.

What can be used instead of cinnamon in French toast?

Instead of cinnamon, you can use nutmeg or allspice in French toast. Use half the amount of nutmeg or allspice as the cinnamon called for in the recipe. Both spices have a warm and slightly sweet flavor that pairs well with the other ingredients in French toast.

Which Indian spice is similar to cinnamon?

Cassia bark, also known as Chinese cinnamon, is similar to cinnamon in both flavor and appearance. It has a slightly stronger and more pungent flavor than cinnamon, so use a smaller amount when substituting it in recipes. Typically, replace 1 teaspoon of cinnamon with ¾ teaspoon of cassia bark.

What is the best substitute for cinnamon in oatmeal cookies?

The best substitute for cinnamon in oatmeal cookies is ground allspice. Use the same amount of allspice as the cinnamon called for in the recipe. Allspice has a warm, slightly sweet flavor that complements oatmeal cookies nicely.

What can be used as a cinnamon replacement in banana bread?

A suitable cinnamon replacement in banana bread is a combination of nutmeg and allspice. Use half the amount of nutmeg and equal parts allspice as the cinnamon called for in the recipe. This blend will provide a similar warm and slightly sweet flavor in your banana bread.

Our Favorite Cinnamon Substitutes

These options are sure to be a hit. So, gather your family and friends and enjoy. Let us know your thoughts!
5 from 6 votes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Substitute
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 132 kcal


  • Nutmeg: Nutmeg has a similar warm sweet flavor as cinnamon and can be used as a substitute in baked goods, oatmeal, and coffee.
  • Allspice: Allspice has a complex flavor that combines cinnamon nutmeg, and cloves. It can be used as a substitute for cinnamon in pies, cakes, and other baked goods.
  • Cardamom: Cardamom has a sweet and spicy flavor that is similar to cinnamon. It can be used as a substitute in baked goods coffee, and tea.
  • Cloves: Cloves have a strong warm flavor that is similar to cinnamon. They can be used as a substitute in baked goods, coffee, and tea.
  • Ginger: Ginger has a spicy warm flavor that is similar to cinnamon. It can be used as a substitute in baked goods, oatmeal, and tea.


  • Try our kitchen tested cinnamon substitutes.


Select your option.
Use in or with your favorite recipe.


Calories: 132kcal
Keyword cinnamon substitutes, substitutes for cinnamon
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Follow Us
Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
Follow Us
Latest posts by Cassie Marshall (see all)