Is cinnamon spicy? The spicy bite and flavor in cinnamon is primarily due to a compound called cinnamaldehyde. There are different types of cinnamon, and true cinnamon (AKA Ceylon cinnamon) is milder than cassia cinnamon, the type most common in US stores. Learn more about cinnamon, including cinnamon health benefits, if you can overdose on cinnamon, and how to use cinnamon powder here.
What is cinnamon? Is cinnamon a spice or an herb? Cinnamon is a spice that comes from the inner bark of Cinnamomum trees (source).
Most cinnamon is produced in Indonesia and China. However, cuisines across the globe use cinnamon to add flavor and aroma to both sweet and savory dishes. Cinnamon is also used in some traditional medicine practices.
Is cinnamon spicy?
Yes, cinnamon feels spicy because of its essential oil and the compound cinnamaldehyde.
What is the spicy cinnamon called?
There are more than 4 types of cinnamon, and some are spicier than others. Here is a list of the cinnamon scientific name and common names of plants typically sold as cinnamon (source):
- Cassia cinnamon or Chinese cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia)
- Ceylon cinnamon or Sri Lanka cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum)
- Indonesian cinnamon or Korintje cinnamon (Cinnamomum burmannii)
- Saigon cinnamon or Vietnamese cinnamon (Cinnamomum loureiroi)
- Malabar cinnamon (Cinnamomum citriodorum)
Cinnamon types with higher volatile cinnamon oil contain more cinnamaldehyde and will taste spicier. Cassia and Saigon cinnamon have the highest oil content and are the most spicy cinnamon types (source). Korintje has less of a spicy bite, and Ceylon cinnamon is even milder.
Some other factors that impact how does cinnamon taste include the age the cinnamon bark was harvested and how long the cinnamon is stored. Cinnamon sticks and powder stored for long periods of time may lose their potency.
Is grocery store cinnamon real?
Unless it specifies that it’s Ceylon cinnamon, most grocery store cinnamon is a cassia variety. This is a real type of cinnamon from cinnamon bark. There’s some confusion on this topic because Ceylon cinnamon has the nickname “true cinnamon.”
Though Chinese cinnamon is often referred to as cassia, Indonesian and Saigon cinnamon may also be called cassia (source). These are the types of cinnamon you’re most likely to find in a United States supermarket.
Is raw cinnamon spicy?
If you’ve ever shaken cinnamon on oatmeal or used it to top hot chocolate, you know it has a spicy flavor. Depending on the variety, you may also find cinnamon to be sweet, woody, and it may even have a hint of citrus.
Does cinnamon have capsaicin?
Yes, according to the American Chemical Society, cinnamon does contain a very small amount of capsaicin. Capsaicin is the compound in chili peppers that makes them hot. We measure the spiciness of hot peppers in Scoville heat units, but we don’t use the Scoville scale for cinnamon.
Is cinnamon spicy or sour?
Cinnamon is typically described as warm and spicy, not usually sour.
Is cinnamon sweet or salty?
I often see cinnamon described as sweet, but not salty. According to Bon Appetit, Indonesia cassia is the sweetest of the cassia varieties, while Chinese cassia tastes more bitter. Cinnamon is one of a variety of spices that can flavor foods without salt.
Hot Cinnamon Candies
Many hot cinnamon candies, like Red Hots, are spicy due to the artificial flavor they contain. They may not contain any natural cinnamon at all.
Atomic Fireballs contain “artificial flavors including capsicum and cinnamon.”
What spice balances cinnamon?
If you need to counteract cinnamon’s spice, Livestrong recommends adding a strong contrasting spice like chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, or nutmeg.
You could also try adding more liquid to the recipe (water, cream, broth, milk, etc.). One final idea is to add more of the recipe’s other ingredients. Some tomatoes or a starch such as potatoes may help balance out the flavor.
Health Benefits of Cinnamon
According to the NCCIH, “Studies done in people don’t clearly support using cinnamon for any health condition.” The results of studies using cinnamon to help treat blood sugar levels in diabetes have been unclear. Be sure to let your doctor or registered dietitian know if you add new supplements to your diet, as they can interact with medications.
There is a lot of misinformation online about the benefits of using cinnamon for health. Cinnamon is generally safe if used in amounts typically used to spice foods. Cinnamon taken in higher amounts may cause unwanted side effects such as GI symptoms.
Why can’t you eat a spoonful of cinnamon?
The “cinnamon challenge” (eating a spoonful of cinnamon) is dangerous because it can cause choking, coughing, gagging, or vomiting. If some cinnamon is accidentally inhaled, this can lead to pneumonia, difficulty breathing, and lung damage (source). Just don’t do it!
Why does cinnamon make my mouth numb?
A numb mouth after eating cinnamon in foods could be a mild allergic reaction to this spice. If you’re eating an unusually large amount of cinnamon per day, it could be irritating the tissues in the mouth.
Why does cinnamon burn my stomach?
If you’re consuming excessive amounts of cinnamon, it can make you sick and act as an irritant. Normal amounts of cinnamon may trigger acid reflux in certain individuals, and cause an allergic reaction in others. Consult with your physician to get individual recommendations about your diet.
Cinnamon is a natural source of coumarin, and can interact with blood thinning medications. The small amount of cinnamon in baked goods is generally of little concern, but cinnamon supplements may pose a risk. Ceylon cinnamon contains less natural coumarin than cassia cinnamon (source).
The answer to this question depends on the dish you’re making. For example, you might want to add more cumin to fix a mole, or more chili powder in a chili. IMVHO, the best way to fix too much cinnamon is to rescale the recipe, adding more of the other ingredients.
My favorite cinnamon substitute is pumpkin spice, because it contains cinnamon and has a similar flavor. Other spices to experiment with in place of cinnamon include allspice, cloves, or nutmeg.
Is McCormick cinnamon Ceylon or cassia? McCormick cinnamon is cassia cinnamon. According to this response from McCormick, McCormick doesn’t produce Ceylon cinnamon.
The cinnamon used in Mexico is most commonly Ceylon cinnamon. This is a milder and more floral tasting variety of cinnamon than the cassia cinnamon typically used in the US.
Most people use cinnamon in cooking because it helps a variety of dishes taste better. Some people use cinnamon for its purported health benefits as well, though the health claims largely have limited scientific support.
How to Cook with Cinnamon
Here are some ways to use cinnamon sticks and ground cinnamon:
You might also enjoy these instructions for Air Fryer Cinnamon Rolls.
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Is Cinnamon Spicy? (What Makes Cinnamon Hot)
- ground cinnamon OR
- cinnamon stick
- Sprinkle a little cinnamon on your food to see how spicy it is. One idea is to add a little ground cinnamon to plain coffee grounds before brewing. You could also make a cinnamon tea with cinnamon sticks.
- Relax, refresh, and enjoy the cinnamaldehyde that gives cinnamon it's spicy kick!
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