Types of Cinnamon
What spices are in everyone’s pantry? Salt for sure. At least one type of pepper. Maybe granulated garlic. Perhaps some kind of Taco Seasoning and probably an herb or two, like parsley. It’s difficult to pin down the “staples” of the American spice cabinet because the truth is, everyone cooks so differently. But there is another spice nearly everyone has on hand: cinnamon.
Cinnamon is something we take very seriously here at Savory Spice. Cinnamon is always one of our best selling spices. People use it in all sorts of baked goods and desserts, drinks, soups, sauces, and even curries, but how much do you know about the cinnamon in your kitchen?
At Savory Spice, we triple sift our freshly ground cinnamon for consistency—a labor-intensive process of sifting and regrinding three times to make sure the cinnamon we bottle is as consistent as possible.
There’s much more to it than you might think! Luckily, we’ve got some expertise on the ins and outs of this complex spice. There are two major players in the cinnamon game: Cinnamomum verum tree and the Cinnamomum cassia tree. They have significant differences in flavor, but both supply their own comforting, earthy sweetness.
Which Type of Cinnamon is Best?
Fresh is best. If you open a tin of cinnamon from the back of your cupboard and it doesn't have a smell, it is not going to have any flavor either. As far as which variety or flavor is best, it's really all about use and personal preference.
Are you a fan of the big, bold flavor of red hots? Try Saigon Cinnamon.
Not much of a baker? Maybe you use cinnamon in savory dishes. Try Ceylon.
And if you're a traditionalist and just want that familiar cinnamon flavor? You'll want Indonesian Cinnamon.
With all the different varieties of cinnamon we have available, you should have no problem finding the right cinnamon for your pantry. Let's take a deeper dive into the flavors and characteristics of each.
Different Types of Cinnamon
Cinnamomum verum (Ceylon)
Also known as “true” cinnamon, this variety is derived from the bark of the Cinnamomum verum tree, “verum” being Latin for “true.” This species originated and still grows in Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon, hence this variety’s common name). While this type of cinnamon is preferred in other parts of the world, including England and Mexico, until recently it has been less popular in the United States.
Description: Freshness is especially important with Ceylon cinnamon because it has a very low volatile oil level (between 1-2%). These oils are what give spices their flavor, so the low oil content means it can lose its flavor rapidly. These cinnamon sticks are looser and flakier (pictured above on the right).
Tasting Notes: This cinnamon provides bright citrus, floral, and fruity flavors. It tends to be more complex and slightly bitter in comparison with the other cinnamon varieties.
Uses: The subtle flavor of Ceylon cinnamon pairs well with non-competing flavors, like vanilla, maple, or honey in simple baked goods. It can also play a supporting role to bolder flavors like chocolate, citrus, or in savory dishes where a hint of warmth is needed.
Cinnamomum cassian (Cassia)
Whereas Ceylon cinnamon is more commonly used in England and Mexico, the bark of the Cassia tree is more prevalent here in the United States. We carry two different varieties of this cinnamon, as the flavor can greatly depend on where it is grown and how fresh out of the spice grinder it is.
Saigon (Vietnamese) Cinnamon
Description: Grown in (you guessed it) Vietnam, Saigon cinnamon is the strongest variety of cinnamon. It is prized for its bold flavor, and we offer a “Supreme” version of this cinnamon which has a higher oil content (which means way more flavor) for true spice lovers.
Tasting Notes: Its prominent flavor profile means it can stand out even when mixed with other pungent spices like allspice, cloves, and nutmeg. Saigon Cinnamon has an intense flavor that is well-balanced, warm, and fresh-tasting, but with lingering spicy flavor.
Uses: Because of its potency, Saigon cinnamon is excellent in curries, cinnamon-focused sweets (like cinnamon rolls!), and with strong flavors like coffee or chocolate.
Indonesian (Korintje) Cinnamon
Description: Indonesian cinnamon (sometimes called Korintje Cinnamon) is the most common cinnamon sold in grocery stores. It’s what you probably had in your cabinet growing up, and might be what you use now.
Tasting Notes: In aroma, this is the most iconic scent of cinnamon. Smell it straight out of the bottle to trigger memories of the holiday season and scented candles. It may be the least complexly flavored cinnamon in the arsenal, but sometimes the traditional, familiar flavor is all you need.
Uses: Anything! This is the classic cinnamon that most Americans are used to. Add it to sweets like pies and pancakes, use it in curries or meat rubs, or sprinkle on oatmeal with fresh berries (blueberries especially!).