Ground cinnamon is less expensive then cinnamon sticks. I've read that it is also more flavorful. However, cinnamon sticks last a lot longer. Also, ground cinnamon is likely to have mystery ingredients. Will I (a cinnamon nut) be disappointed if I stock up on cinnamon sticks instead of ground cinnamon?

4 Answers 4


Different applications, sticks are mainly used when you wish to infuse a cinnamon flavour in a dish, where the spices are removed at the end, a biryani is a good example. Ground cinnamon is used when the spice is to be left in, or be present throughout a substance, like in cakes for instance.

Ground cinnamon will leave a stronger flavour partly because it is left in and possibly due to the flavour extracting easier due to higher surface area and broken structure.

Cinnamon is notoriously hard to grind smoothly, so people tend to buy both for their respective uses.

  • 1
    I've never found cinnamon hard to grind; are you using a spice grinder or a mortal and pestle?
    – Aaronut
    Commented Mar 14, 2011 at 1:17
  • 1
    @Aaronut: Depends how fine you want it, tends to go to shards and I meant with a mortar and pestle, if you have decent equipment, anything is easy. I do not attempt it personally.
    – Orbling
    Commented Mar 14, 2011 at 6:10
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    @Aaronut: I have a spice grinder and discovered that even after many minutes of grinding cinnamon there were still small "splinters" which are coarse and hard, and definitely not good in the end product. This problem doesn't occur with other spices I grind such as cloves or coriander seed.
    – JYelton
    Commented Mar 20, 2011 at 5:18
  • @JYelton: Aye, shards, splinters, it's a right pain to grind.
    – Orbling
    Commented Mar 20, 2011 at 8:39
  • Grinding cinnamon into bits for spiced tea mixtures is easily accomplished with a corn mill: amazon.com/Grizzly-H7775-Cast-Iron-Grain/dp/B000E34C5M The pieces, a few mm in diameter, would probably make a good starting material for powdering with a spice grinder, Commented Nov 20, 2013 at 21:27

Orbling brings up an excellent point about the difficulty of grinding cinnamon to a smooth powder. There are two main different types of cinnamon sticks: Ceylon and cassia. Cassia sticks are thicker and more stiff. Ceylon or "true" cinnamon resembles more of a rolled up parchment and has more delicate, sweet taste to it.

One reason to purchase sticks would be to roast cinnamon (easy to do in a cast iron pan)then grind it. Ceylon is easier to grind because it's a thinner stick.

I purchase both because each serves different purposes.


I highly doubt that ground cinnamon is "likely to have mystery ingredients". Ground spices are just the whole spices, ground up.

In fact there's nothing particularly unique about cinnamon in this respect. The reason to buy ground spices is the same reason to buy ground meat: Because you don't have a reliable spice grinder, or just for general convenience.

Cinnamon sticks don't last forever, though. I would still try to use them up within a year or two.

  • 1
    Spot-check time: We have two bottles of ground cinnamon in our spice closet, and one, Stop-n-Shop Taste Makers Ground Cinnamon, has no ingredients listed, leading me to believe there's just cinnamon in there; Penzy's Cinnamon lists four ingredients: China cinnamon, Vietnamese cinnamon, Korintke cinnamon, and Ceylon cinnamon. So I'm seeing no mystery ingredients, although that's a valid concern. Perhaps very inexpensive cinnamon has preservatives or desiccants in it? Commented Mar 13, 2011 at 20:37
  • Neil: I'm sure that's possible in theory, but I've never seen it, not even in the cheapest spices I've bought in grocery stores (the ones that come in plastic bags).
    – Aaronut
    Commented Mar 13, 2011 at 21:08
  • The only additives I've known in spices like cinnamon are colourings. Cinnamon is not often coloured, no need. Chilli powder is the exception, quite often has other spices added.
    – Orbling
    Commented Mar 13, 2011 at 22:58
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    Chili powder is by design a spice blend, much like curry powder, five-spice powder, or herbes de provence. It doesn't make sense to talk about "other spices added". Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 23:08
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    Adulteration of powdered spices has been a problem in the past: 1994, Lead Oxide used as a colorant in Hungarian Paprika lead.org.au/lanv3n3/lanv3n3-6.html It made the cheap stuff look expensive. I expect current ground spice purity is at least as good as that of herbal supplements: nytimes.com/2013/11/05/science/… Commented Nov 21, 2013 at 5:14

There is a distinct difference between Ceylon (true cinnamon) and Cassia cinnamon which is what is primarily sold in North America. Cassia cinnamon has large amounts of coumarin.

This and other things are mentioned in this blog post.

Also, Ceylon will grind up quite nicely in a spice grinder, the Cassia does not.

  • I have found that using my coffee bean grinder does a good job grinding to a fine powder the cassia cinnamon. Indeed, there are tiny little shards, but not really noticeable even in yogurt, for example.
    – user29266
    Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 19:45
  • I do the same ... break the cassia into bits, chuck it in the grinder, wiz it up for a bit, continue grinding while shaking the container ... the sound will change after a bit. You can sift if you want to, but I haven't had any problems w/ the tiny shards in baked goods.
    – Joe
    Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 22:50

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