Saigon Cinnamon vs Ceylon Cinnamon: Key Differences Explored

Welcome to the fascinating world of cinnamon varieties! You might be astonished to find that cinnamon comes in different forms, and the one we often encounter in our favorite baked goods isn’t even considered the true cinnamon. In fact, the commercial cinnamon we adore actually comes from the Cinnamomum Cassia species, an evergreen tree native to China.

In this article, we’ll dive into the differences between two types of cinnamon: Saigon cinnamon and Ceylon cinnamon. If you’ve just discovered that cinnamon has numerous species and are eager to expand your knowledge, this is the perfect article to explore and become better acquainted with the distinct characteristics of these two cinnamon types.

Key Takeaways

  • Discover the differences between popular Saigon cinnamon and true Ceylon cinnamon
  • Learn about the health benefits linked to these two distinct cinnamon varieties
  • Find out if you can use one type of cinnamon as a substitute for the other in your spice rack

What is Saigon Cinnamon?

Saigon cinnamon, also known as Vietnamese cinnamon, is primarily found in Southeast Asia, specifically in Vietnam. This cinnamon comes from an evergreen tree, closely related to Cinnamomum cassia, and belongs to the same genus as other cinnamon varieties such as cassia and Ceylon cinnamon.

What sets Saigon cinnamon apart is its high percentage of cinnamaldehyde, comprising 25% of its chemical makeup. This compound gives cinnamon its distinctive taste and aroma. Thanks to its high cinnamaldehyde content, Saigon cinnamon is the most expensive cinnamon variety available.

You might notice that this cinnamon has a spicy, sweet, and floral flavor profile, making it ideal for a variety of culinary applications. Its high oil content contributes to the robust flavors it offers. Saigon cinnamon is typically harvested as quills, which are made by rolling the inner bark of the tree.

In Vietnam, this cinnamon is a key ingredient in the popular spicy broth known as pho. With its unique, peppery kick, Saigon cinnamon adds an unmatched depth of flavor to dishes from around the world.

What is Ceylon cinnamon?

Ceylon cinnamon, also known as True cinnamon or Cinnamomum zeylanicum, originates from the evergreen trees in Sri Lanka, a country formerly known as Ceylon. Unlike the more commercially used types of cinnamon, many culinary experts consider Ceylon cinnamon to be the best choice, despite its higher price.

The most precious part of the tree is its bark. Harvesters carefully cut and dry it, then sell it as either sticks or ground powder. The whole, long pieces, called quills, are more sought after than broken ones.

Ceylon cinnamon offers unique qualities such as a sweeter, more delicate flavor, making it an excellent choice for your cooking needs. Additionally, it is rich in antioxidants, providing potential health benefits. While Sri Lanka is the main producer, some Ceylon cinnamon is also produced in Indonesia.

Next time you’re searching for a premium cinnamon option, try Ceylon cinnamon to elevate your dishes with its unparalleled taste and aroma.

Are Ceylon Cinnamon and Saigon Cinnamon different?

Yes, Ceylon Cinnamon and Saigon Cinnamon are different, although they come from the same genus. They originate from two different plants in different countries.

While you might not taste much difference, culinary experts often prefer Ceylon or Saigon cinnamon over common cassia cinnamon used commercially. Each type of cinnamon has unique characteristics:

  • Flavor: Saigon cinnamon, being a type of cassia, has the highest percentage of cinnamaldehyde. This gives it a stronger flavor compared to the subtle taste of Ceylon cinnamon, which is considered ‘true’ cinnamon.
  • Source: Ceylon cinnamon comes from Sri Lanka, while Saigon cinnamon is primarily found in Vietnam and China.
  • Coumarin content: Saigon cinnamon has a higher level of coumarin, a toxic compound that can affect blood pressure and cause kidney issues. In contrast, Ceylon cinnamon contains a lower level of coumarin, making it a safer option for regular consumption.

So while both Ceylon and Saigon cinnamon varieties offer unique flavors and characteristics, it’s essential to be mindful of their coumarin content when choosing which one to use in your recipes.

Can you use Ceylon cinnamon to replace Saigon cinnamon?

Yes, you can use Ceylon cinnamon to replace Saigon cinnamon in your recipes. Keep in mind that Ceylon cinnamon has a more subtle flavor, so you might need to use a bit more to achieve a similar taste. If neither is available, regular cinnamon from your local grocery store works too.

Cinnamon is a fantastic spice for baking, especially in dishes like cinnamon rolls, sweet potato dishes, French toast, and apple pie. Incorporate ground cinnamon or cinnamon extract to elevate the flavor profile in these dishes. Additionally, cinnamon sticks make a lovely addition to hot drinks like teas and coffees. Experiment with the different varieties and enjoy their unique characteristics!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main differences between Saigon cinnamon and Ceylon cinnamon?

Saigon cinnamon, also known as Vietnamese cinnamon, has a stronger flavor and aroma compared to Ceylon cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon, sometimes called “true cinnamon,” is milder and more delicate. Saigon cinnamon has a higher coumarin content, while Ceylon has a lower coumarin content, making Ceylon a safer choice for regular consumption.

Which type of cinnamon has more health benefits?

Ceylon cinnamon is considered to have more health benefits due to its lower coumarin content. High levels of coumarin can be harmful when consumed regularly. Both types of cinnamon have similar antioxidant properties, but Ceylon cinnamon is preferred for long-term use due to its safety profile.

Is there a difference in taste between Saigon and Ceylon cinnamon?

Yes, there is a difference in taste. Saigon cinnamon has a bold, robust flavor, while Ceylon cinnamon is milder and more delicate. Saigon cinnamon may overpower some dishes, so Ceylon is often recommended for more subtle flavors.

Where can I purchase genuine Ceylon cinnamon?

Genuine Ceylon cinnamon can be found online or at specialty stores. It’s essential to check labels and certifications to ensure that you’re purchasing true Ceylon cinnamon. Look for “Ceylon Cinnamon” or its scientific name “Cinnamomum verum” on the label.

What is the coumarin content in Saigon cinnamon?

Saigon cinnamon has a high coumarin content, ranging from 5% to 8%. Coumarin can be toxic if consumed in large quantities or too frequently. Ceylon cinnamon, on the other hand, has a low coumarin content, making it a safer option for regular use.

Can Saigon cinnamon be harmful if consumed in large quantities?

Yes, consuming Saigon cinnamon in large quantities or frequently can be harmful due to its high coumarin content. High levels of coumarin can cause liver damage and other health issues. It is advisable to use Ceylon cinnamon for regular consumption as it contains a much lower coumarin content.

Saigon Cinnamon vs Ceylon Cinnamon + Recipe

Here's a recipe for Saigon Cinnamon Rolls:
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 322 kcal


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup warm milk
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp Saigon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter softened
  • Cream cheese frosting optional


  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, granulated sugar, and salt. Mix well.
  • In a separate bowl, mix the warm milk and yeast. Let it sit for 5 minutes until frothy.
  • Add the melted butter and egg to the yeast mixture and whisk until combined.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until a dough forms.
  • Knead the dough on a floured surface for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic.
  • Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with a towel. Let it rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  • In a small bowl, mix the Saigon cinnamon and brown sugar.
  • Roll out the dough into a rectangle on a floured surface.
  • Spread the softened butter all over the dough and sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture on top.
  • Roll the dough tightly and cut it into 12 even pieces.
  • Place the cinnamon rolls in a greased baking dish and let them rise for an additional 15 minutes.
  • Bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Let the rolls cool for a few minutes before drizzling with cream cheese frosting (optional).
  • Serve and enjoy!


Calories: 322kcal
Keyword ceylon cinnamon, saigon cinnamon
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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
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