Cinnamon 101: 3 Types & Uses
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. Three of the eight variations of cinnamon we carry are in our top 25 best selling spices. Cooks 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?
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.
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 England and Mexico, until recently it has been less popular in the United States.
Ceylon “True” Cinnamon
Description: We grind Ceylon “true” cinnamon in small batches weekly to ensure freshness. This is especially important with Ceylon because of its low volatile oil level (between 1-2%), which means it can lose its flavor rapidly after it has been ground.
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. 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.
Uses: Ceylon cinnamon is sweet and subtle. It pairs well with non-competing flavors, like vanilla, maple, honey, or simple baked goods. It can also play a supporting role to chocolate, citrus, or 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 what you use to sprinkle now.
Tasting Notes: Classic cinnamon flavor with pronounced sweet-spiced notes. 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!).
With all the different varieties of cinnamon we have available, you should have no problem finding the right cinnamon for your pantry—or you could just make it easy on yourself and pick up all eight.
Note: At Savory Spice, we triple sift our ground cinnamon for consistency—a labor-intensive process of sifting and regrinding three times to make sure the cinnamon we bottle is fresh and as fine as possible.