Is Cinnamon Spicy? Unveiling the Fiery Side of Cinnamon

What Makes Cinnamon Hot?

Is cinnamon spicy? The tantalizing heat and delightful flavor of cinnamon can be attributed to a compound known as cinnamaldehyde. While there are various types of cinnamon available, true cinnamon, also called Ceylon cinnamon, is milder compared to cassia cinnamon, which is more commonly found in US stores. In this article, we will explore the world of cinnamon, including its health benefits, the possibility of overdosing on cinnamon, and discover ways to incorporate cinnamon powder into our daily lives.

What Exactly is Cinnamon?

Cinnamon is a spice derived from the inner bark of Cinnamomum trees (source). Although most of the cinnamon we consume is produced in Indonesia and China, it is widely used in cuisines worldwide to enhance the flavor and aroma of both sweet and savory dishes. Furthermore, cinnamon also finds its place in various traditional medicine practices.

Is Cinnamon Spicy?

Yes, cinnamon does have a spicy kick to it, owing to its essential oil and the presence of cinnamaldehyde.

What is the Spicy Variety of Cinnamon Called?

Cinnamon comes in more than four types, with some being spicier than others. Here is a list of the scientific names and common names of plants that are 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)
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Cinnamon varieties with higher amounts of volatile cinnamon oil tend to taste spicier. Cassia and Saigon cinnamon have the highest oil content and are considered the spiciest types of cinnamon. On the other hand, Korintje offers a milder spicy flavor, while Ceylon cinnamon is the mildest.

Other factors that influence the taste of cinnamon include the age at which the cinnamon bark was harvested and the duration of its storage. Cinnamon sticks and powder that are stored for extended periods may lose their potency.

Is Grocery Store Cinnamon Authentic?

Unless specified as Ceylon cinnamon, most cinnamon found in grocery stores is of the cassia variety. While cassia is a genuine type of cinnamon derived from cinnamon bark, the confusion arises from the fact that Ceylon cinnamon is often referred to as “true cinnamon.” Chinese cinnamon is commonly known as cassia, but Indonesian and Saigon cinnamon may also be labeled as cassia. Therefore, these are the types of cinnamon that you are likely to encounter in US supermarkets.

Is Raw Cinnamon Spicy?

If you have ever sprinkled cinnamon on your oatmeal or used it to garnish your hot chocolate, you are aware of its spicy flavor. Additionally, depending on the variety, cinnamon can also have sweet, woody, and even citrusy undertones.

Does Cinnamon Have Capsaicin?

According to the American Chemical Society, cinnamon does contain a very small amount of capsaicin. Capsaicin is the compound responsible for the heat in chili peppers. However, the spiciness of cinnamon is not measured using the Scoville scale, which is commonly used for hot peppers.

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Is Cinnamon Spicy or Sour?

Cinnamon is typically described as warm and spicy rather than sour.

Is Cinnamon Sweet or Salty?

Cinnamon is often associated with sweetness rather than saltiness. According to Bon Appetit, Indonesian cassia is the sweetest among the cassia varieties, while Chinese cassia has a slightly bitter taste. Cinnamon is one of the many spices that can add flavor to food without the need for salt.

Hot Cinnamon Candies

While many hot cinnamon candies, such as Red Hots, have a spicy flavor, they often derive their spiciness from artificial flavors rather than natural cinnamon. Some of these candies may not contain any real cinnamon at all. For instance, Atomic Fireballs contain “artificial flavors including capsicum and cinnamon.”

Balancing the Flavors of Cinnamon

If you find the spiciness of cinnamon overpowering and need to balance the flavors, Livestrong recommends adding a strong contrasting spice such as chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, or nutmeg. Alternatively, you can try adjusting the recipe by adding more liquid, such as water, cream, broth, or milk. Another option is to increase the proportion of other ingredients in the recipe. Adding tomatoes or starchy foods like potatoes can help balance out the flavor.

Unveiling the Health Benefits of Cinnamon

Although cinnamon is often hailed for its potential health benefits, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health states that studies conducted on humans do not conclusively support the use of cinnamon for any specific health condition. The effectiveness of cinnamon in regulating blood sugar levels in diabetes remains inconclusive. It is important to inform your doctor or registered dietitian if you decide to incorporate new supplements into your diet, as they can interact with medications.

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It is crucial to acknowledge that there is a plethora of misinformation online regarding the health benefits of cinnamon. Generally, cinnamon is safe to consume in the amounts typically used as a spice. However, consuming excessive amounts of cinnamon may lead to unwanted side effects, such as gastrointestinal symptoms.

Why Should You Avoid Eating a Spoonful of Cinnamon?

The infamous “cinnamon challenge”(eating a spoonful of cinnamon) is perilous and can result in choking, coughing, gagging, or vomiting. Inhaling cinnamon particles accidentally can lead to pneumonia, breathing difficulties, and damage to the lungs. Therefore, it is strongly advised against attempting this challenge.

Why Does Cinnamon Cause Numbness in the Mouth?

Experiencing a numbing sensation in the mouth after consuming cinnamon in food could be indicative of a mild allergic reaction to the spice. In certain cases, consuming an unusually large amount of cinnamon daily may irritate the tissues in the mouth.

Why Does Cinnamon Cause a Burning Sensation in the Stomach?

Consuming excessive amounts of cinnamon can be harmful and act as an irritant to the stomach. Normal amounts of cinnamon may trigger acid reflux in some individuals and cause allergic reactions in others. For personalized recommendations regarding your diet, consult your physician.


How to Cook with Cinnamon

Here are a few ways to incorporate cinnamon sticks and ground cinnamon into your culinary creations:

  • Try out our Homemade Unsweetened Applesauce Recipe
  • Indulge in Banana Cinnamon Overnight Oats
  • Delight your taste buds with Air Fryer Bananas

You might also want to explore the instructions for making Air Fryer Cinnamon Rolls.

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(Note: The original article does not provide a recipe, so this section is excluded.)

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