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.