It can be a real bonus to your baking to add a pinch of spice here and there, however when you run out of one ingredient, like cinnamon, it doesn’t mean that you can’t add a suitable replacement.
Good cinnamon substitutes include nutmeg, allspice, whole cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, pumpkin spice mix, mace, cloves or cinnamon sugar. Each of these substitutes has a different flavor and way to add value to the dish you are cooking.
Let’s look at them in more detail and see how and when to use each of these alternatives to cinnamon.
Perfect Cinnamon Substitutes
Cinnamon adds warmth and a woody background note. It is a way to lift a meal and create something really special from an everyday meal. If you don’t have any ground cinnamon to hand then these substitutes will give you a spiciness and flavor that you would otherwise miss.
Not that they will all match completely, but a little bit of spice is sometimes better than none at all!
Allspice actually get’s it’s name from tasting like so many different spices, cinnamon included. This makes it the ideal substitute for ground or whole cinnamon. Go carefully on the quantity though as it is actually quite pungent. With a strong clove flavor in the background.
If a recipe calls for ground cinnamon use this conversion to allspice. 1 teaspoon cinnamon = 1/4 teaspoon allspice.
Nutmeg is not a straightforward replacement for cinnamon, however it does add a warmth and spiciness. There is a little bit of a heavier note with nutmeg and so a ratio of 1 teaspoon cinnamon = 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg will work well.
3. Whole Cinnamon
Basically a 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon = 3 inch stick of cinnamon bark. However this is not a perfect substitute as you cannot use a cinnamon stick in quite the same way, you will need to stew it to release the flavors. Not a perfect like for like replacement then for home baking, but great in herbal teas.
Caution here is also needed as cinnamon sticks will age very quickly if not stored in sealed, air tight containers.
Cardamom offers the warmth that you get from cinnamon alongside the sort of gentle spiciness. You can buy cardamom seeds or ready grounded. Added to drinks it is a lovely evening milky drink or to savory dishes in place of cinnamon go for a ratio 1 teaspoon cinnamon = 1 teaspoon cardamom.
Ginger is a good substitute for cinnamon in that it brings a warmth and spiciness with it that you would miss with no spice. However you will not be replacing like for like, instead go for a ratio of 1 teaspoon cinnamon = 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger.
6. Pumpkin Spice Mix
Pumpkin spice mix does contain cinnamon amongst other spices and is therefore a great replacement for ground cinnamon. It works really well with pancakes, waffles and even French toast instead of cinnamon sugar. It’s a big hit in this house!
For a guide to making pumpkin spice click here.
Mace tastes like a slightly lighter version of nutmeg mixed with cinnamon. Therefore it is a nice substitute for cinnamon, but one with nutmeg added to the mix. There is a little peppery flavor to mace, so we do not use it to replace cinnamon in sweet dishes, just savory.
Cloves offer sweetness, spice and warmth but with a back note of bitterness. Not a perfect substitute for cinnamon in all dishes and caution should be added for the ratio. Use 1 teaspoon cinnamon = 1/3 teaspoon ground cloves.
9. Cinnamon Sugar
Cinnamon sugar is a perfect substitute for cinnamon if you are making pancakes, cinnamon rolls, French toast or waffles. Just cut back on the sugar in the rest of the recipe! 1 teaspoon cinnamon = 2 teaspoons cinnamon sugar. Not at all ideal if you are making a savory dish, but there are all of those other option that can be used in savory dishes!
What Next & Further Reading
I hope to have inspired some confidence in you as a creative home cook! There is very little in the kitchen that isn’t improved by addition of spice and herbs. It is a bit harder to replace the health benefits of cinnamon but each of these replacement have their own individual benefits as well.