substitute for cinnamon

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Are you making a recipe that calls for cinnamon. If you are, but you have none on hand, chances are you are looking for easy ways to substitute for cinnamon. Here, you can find these 7 best cinnamon substitutes that you likely already have at home! 

substitutes for cinnamon

What is cinnamon?

Cinnamon is a very popular spice obtained from the bark of evergreen trees from the Cinnamomum family which are native to the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, and South America.

Cinnamon has a flavor that can be considered sweet, spicy, woody, and bitter with hints of citrus.

Like most other spices, no single spice can fully replace the flavor and aroma of cinnamon. However, there are quite a few spices that can be used in place of cinnamon, and while some may add their own unique flavors, they can still work in the dish. 

Having said this, the best cinnamon substitutes are whole cinnamon sticks, food-grade cinnamon oil, nutmeg, mace, allspice, apple pie spice, pumpkin pie spice, and cardamom.

Best cinnamon substitutes

Whole Cinnamon sticks

cinnamon sticks as a substitute for cinnamon

Whole cinnamon sticks are a great substitute to use for the popularly used ground cinnamon spice. Whole cinnamon sticks have a faint cinnamon flavor when whole and really start to release that flavor once the sticks are broken or ground.

If you happen to find whole cinnamon sticks, grind them yourself using a mortar and pestle or an electric grinder, or break them up into small pieces to release the flavor (but only if the recipe won’t be affected by the spice in this form). In this case, substitute a 1:1 ratio. 

Whole cinnamon sticks can also be used in certain recipes without the need for grinding. For substituting whole cinnamon for ground cinnamon, note that a 3-inch cinnamon stick is equal to 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon.

Cinnamon oil

Another substitute for cinnamon is food-grade cinnamon oil. Food-grade cinnamon oil is extracted from the bark of Ceylon cinnamon and produces a sweet, spicy, fragrant oil that works in cinnamon rolls, pastries, pies, oatmeal, loaves of bread, cookies, and any other recipe that calls for cinnamon.

Substitute cinnamon oil for ground cinnamon on a 1:3 ratio. This means that 1 teaspoon of cinnamon oil can replace 1 tablespoon (or 3 teaspoons) of ground cinnamon. You can get some premium food-grade cinnamon oil here



While nutmeg is a completely different spice from cinnamon, it is often used in many recipes together with cinnamon. This means that those two spices bring something different to a dish, but they are complementary.

Therefore in a pinch, nutmeg can be a good substitute for cinnamon in recipes like casseroles, vegetable stews, apple crisps, pumpkin pies, and spice cakes. Note that nutmeg is a stronger spice than cinnamon with more complex flavors, so use less nutmeg in a recipe that calls for cinnamon otherwise you risk overpowering your dish with its warm, slightly peppery notes.

For a good substitute ratio, use 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg to replace 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder. 


mace spice

Mace is also a good substitute for cinnamon in recipes like cinnamon rolls, apple pie, pumpkin pie, sweet potato recipes, and more. Mace is more subtle than nutmeg which makes it more suitable as a substitute for cinnamon in a pinch. 


ground allspice

Allspice is a spice that has a flavor that is reminiscent of a combination of nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves, and this spice is often compared to cinnamon. This means that this spice is great for replacing cinnamon, in both sweet and savory recipes.

For every 1 tablespoon of cinnamon needed in a recipe replace with 1/4 tablespoon of allspice.

Apple Pie Spice

Apple pie spice is also a good substitute for cinnamon, This spice mix is made with cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and ginger. The apple pie spice mix has more cinnamon than any other spice which makes it an easy spice to use in place of cinnamon.

Substitute on a 1:1 ratio.

Pumpkin Pie Spice

pumpkin pie spice as a substitute for cinnamon

Pumpkin pie spice is another easy substitute for cinnamon. This spice mix is made with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and sometimes allspice. 

In the pumpkin pie spice blend, there is more cinnamon than any of the other spices and this is why it makes a great alternative for cinnamon. Use pumpkin pie spice in baked goods, beverages, stews, soups like squash soup, bread, and even on french toast or any other recipe that calls for cinnamon.

This spice will add some more complexity to your dish, but otherwise, it works great in place of cinnamon.


Cardamom is a suitable substitute for cinnamon in savory dishes and sweet dishes. Cardamom and cinnamon are often used in the same recipes as they complement each other.

Cardamon has a very complex flavor with hints of lemon and mint compared to the flavor of cinnamon. Nonetheless, in recipes like curries and rice puddings, it can replace cinnamon. 

Substitute for cinnamon in specific recipes

Substitute for cinnamon powder in french toast

While cinnamon adds a sophisticated zing to French toast, it is not an essential spice for french toast. Therefore, it is easy to replace the cinnamon in french toast with nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, and apple pie spice.

Substitute for cinnamon in carrot cake

Carrot cake is usually made with all-purpose flour, carrots, eggs, .baking powder, salt, ginger, cardamom, allspice, sour cream, vegetable oil, applesauce, sugar, vanilla and lots of ground cinnamon. If you have no cinnamon on hand you can use substitutes like pumpkin pie spice and apple pie spice.

Substitute for cinnamon in apple pie

If you have no cinnamon for your apple pie recipe, you can use apple pie spice as a good substitute. 

These are the most popular substitutes for cinnamon. So, if you’re out, fret not as you can pick from any of these 7 ingredients to replace cinnamon in any dish!

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