Pantry staple cinnamon is a superstar, particularly over the winter when you’re craving a warm, spicy escape from whatever that week’s weather brings. You may already mix cinnamon with sugar and sprinkle it on toast, or put it in a cheesecloth bag along with orange peel, cloves and star anise for some homemade mulled wine to warm up on a cold night, but we both know it sits in your spice rack the majority of the time.
The cinnamon most-often found in the grocery store is cassia, which usually comes from China and is the best cinnamon variety to use in baking due to its potent aroma (when ground, it has the classic cinnamon aroma, and as a whole stick is so tough that it normally requires a knife to break). Ceylon cinnamon, often referred to as true cinnamon, comes from Sri Lanka and is more subtle and citrusy than other varieties. It’s also thought to have many health benefits, like helping to stabilize blood sugar in diabetics.
Spices really don’t go bad and expiration dates are just a guideline. Spices lose their flavor over time, but generally stay good for a year or two when kept in a cool, dark place. The best way to tell if your cinnamon is still good is to take a sniff or dip your finger in and taste it. If it doesn’t taste as strong as you remember, it’s probably time for a new jar.
Sift through your spice cabinet and warm up with these 25 ways to use cinnamon:
- A sprinkle of cinnamon brings a layer of flavor and warmth to an Italian classic that comes together in minutes: Cinnamon-Pancetta Carbonara.
- Homemade doughnuts are way easier than you would have expected. Start Cinnamon-Spiced Doughnuts (pictured above) the night (or at least a few hours) before you want to eat them, so they have time to proof and get all fluffy.
- Orange veggies and cinnamon are a match made in heaven, like Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Honey and Cinnamon and Roasted Squash with Brown Butter and Cinnamon.
- Stick to your New Year’s resolution with Stone Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips. Making your own pita chips is simple: Toss flour tortillas with butter, cinnamon and sugar, and pop in the oven until crispy!
- Mexican wedding cookies are normally nutty cookies rolled in powdered sugar. Michelle Branch’s Cinnamon- and Chocolate-Spiced Mexican Wedding Cookies step that up a notch with the addition of cinnamon and cocoa powder.
- Cinnamon Bun Cookies are a less messy version of sticky buns. Before slicing and as you preheat the oven, pop the dough in the freezer. This will help the cookies retain their design and shape as they cook (put them in too warm and you’ll end up with some pancake cookies).
- Bobby Flay bakes condensed milk in a water bath until caramelized to make the syrup for his Mango-Papaya Brown Butter-Cinnamon Crepes with Homemade Dulce de Leche Syrup.
- Toast your spices in a pan until just aromatic to bring out their full flavor, like Rachael Ray does for her Turmeric and Cumin Chicken with Chiles, Cinnamon Oranges and Olive-Chickpea Couscous.
- Cinnamon Rolls are a classic brunch standby; here are a few variations if you want to switch things up: Pecan Cinnamon Rolls, Pretzel Cinnamon Rolls and Chicago Diner’s Vegan Cinnamon Rolls.
- The perfect dessert for someone who shies away from anything too sweet: Chile-Cinnamon Brittle with Mixed Nuts. Rachael Ray roasts the nuts before adding them to the brittle to develop their flavors.
- Top Mario Batali’s quick-cooking Chocolate and Cinnamon Pudding (Sanguinaccio) with some toasted pine nuts for an all-star dessert.
- Roasted Cinnamon Plums, aka faux jam, can be spread easily on bread for a simple breakfast or dessert.
- Because you can never have enough zeppole (an Italian fried dough) in your life: Apple Zeppole with Cinnamon Whipped Cream.
- Sneak some healthy into brunch with Bobby Deen’s Whole-Wheat Cinnamon-Chocolate Pancakes.
- Barley, bulgur and oats make up this hearty Quick Multigrain Cereal (Stovetop Method for 4), which will keep you full until lunchtime.
- Need to warm up? Homemade Coconut Chai Tea Latte is way better than anything you can get in a big chain store.
- Emeril pairs Southern Cooked Greens with his Cinnamon-Smoked Venison Medallions with Bourbon Mash Sweet Potatoes and a Caramelized Onion Gravy for a well-rounded meal.
- Both plantains and (slightly firm) bananas develop super sweet flavors when cooked. Try it out for yourself with Pan-Seared Cinnamon Bananas Over Vanilla Ice Cream and Grilled Plantains with Cinnamon Ice Cream.
- Roasted Pork Tacos with Green Mole Sauce and a Cinnamon and Apple Relish are the perfect addition to your game-day spread.
- Make a big batch of Lizzie’s Granola for your weekday breakfasts. Be careful when choosing dried fruit to mix in — it often has lots of added sugar.
- Mexican Chocolate Tofu Pudding (you read that right — it’s made from tofu) clocks in at under 300 calories per serving.
- Bobby Flay cooks his Asian Spice-Rubbed Ribs with Plum-Ginger Glaze low and slow, then transfers them to the grill for the last stage of cooking to achieve fall-off-the-bone-succulent ribs. St. Louis-style ribs, used here, come from the sparerib section of the pig, as opposed to baby back ribs, which come from around the loin.
- Deboning chicken and cooking it under a foil-wrapped brick (or a heavy pan) pretty much guarantees crispy skin and juicy meat. Test out this method with Tyler Florence’s Brick Chicken with Apricot Couscous.
- I didn’t think it was possible, but monkey bread just got better: Pecan Pie Monkey Bread.
- Kelsey Nixon’s sweet Cinnamon Knots are made from pizza dough. Try out her Simple Pizza Dough recipe or pick some up at your local pizzeria or grocery store for a spur-of-the-moment dessert.