Cinnamon makes an average recipe into a fragrant masterpiece. But if you’ve had your cinnamon a long time, find out here: Does cinnamon go bad?
Some say it’ll last forever if kept dry, but is that really true?
If you’re curious about how long cinnamon lasts, you’re in the right place!
In this article, I’m going to answer all those questions and more.
See, I’ve been using cinnamon for quite a long time.
So, I know enough to tell you a thing or two about my experiences with cinnamon and what I’ve learned.
Find out some of its important shelf-life and storage facts here.
Well, cinnamon is a spice, and like all spices, and if stored correctly, it never really goes bad or expires.
After a few years, or if not kept tightly closed in climate-controlled conditions, away from heat and moisture, cinnamon can go bad.
Cinnamon is an ancient spice made from the inner bark of trees native to India and Sri Lanka.
It has a strong, sweet, exotic scent and warm flavor, and you can use it in many ways.
Then you’ll wonder, “Does cinnamon go bad?“
Even in optimal storage conditions, cinnamon will probably lose most of its taste and aroma after a few years.
If it gets to this point, I’ll throw it out.
I have a jar of Penzey’s Vietnamese Cinnamon that is still fresh smelling and adds flavor to my foods just fine.
I bought it in 2017, and while I still use it, I shake some into my hand first to make sure it doesn’t have bugs in it.
What is the shelf life of cinnamon?
To answer that question: Cinnamon’s shelf life depends on a number of things, such as the “best before” date, its preparation process, and its storage condition.
For instance, dried spices tend to last longer than dried herbs, and the less processed a seasoning is, the longer it will last.
Ground cinnamon has a shelf life of 6 to 12 months, but it stays good for at least 6 months after that.
And once you open its packaging, it stays good for at least 6 months and is usually safe to use for much longer.
Another thing you should know is that cinnamon, like other ground spices, has a best-before-date label.
However, it is different from the expiration date, and it has little to do with food safety.
It’s just there to show how long you can let the cinnamon sit and still count on the best flavor.
But since it’s pretty much always good for months longer, you might not find that date particularly useful.
Cinnamon sticks, on the other hand, are a whole spice that can last 2 to 3 years as long as it doesn’t get exposed to air.
However, like ground cinnamon, it will still be good for months or even years after its best-before date.
So, If you want to store your cinnamon longer and make your food taste better, cinnamon sticks might be the best option.
Although, the loss in flavor will become increasingly apparent over time, making fresh cinnamon a far more reasonable option if you don’t consume too much cinnamon.
How to store ground cinnamon
Keep cinnamon in tightly sealed containers, and close the lids tightly after every time you use them. Keep the cinnamon containers away from heat (like over the stove) and kept out of direct sunlight in a dry, climate-controlled place that isn’t too humid.
While the jars with screw-top lids are good for keeping cinnamon fresh as long as it’s kept tightly closed, the tops of those boxy tins have a tendency to pop up not seal properly.
Also, if you’ve purchased ground cinnamon in bulk bags, sometimes with a zipper seal, cinnamon gets into the grooves of these bags and keeps the bag open to air, which you don’t want.
And the enemy of freshness is oxidation.
So if your fresh cinnamon came in one of those tins with the flip-top shaker-side / spoon-side lids or a zipper top bag, I recommend moving the contents to a new container with an airtight screw-top lid.
If you have a lot of cinnamon, a mason jar with a tight lid would work well.
It’s good to know how to store ground cinnamon, so here are the things you’ll need:
- Ground cinnamon
- Air-tight container with a tight lid like a small mason jar or glass containers meant to keep spices
Follow these steps for storing ground cinnamon:
- Put ground cinnamon in a spice jar or other container that won’t let air in.
- Close it up tight. Store the spice somewhere where it won’t be affected by light, heat, or moisture (these things can cause flavor or scent to dissipate faster, grow mold, and/or attract bugs) .
- Use the spice for up to two years.
A quick tip: Don’t keep spices close to the stovetop or oven because the heat affects the shelf life of cinnamon, too.
How to store cinnamon sticks
Knowing how to store cinnamon sticks is the same as storing ground cinnamon.
All you’ll need are:
- Cinnamon sticks that are in good condition
- Air-tight container or baggie with a tight lid or mason jar tall enough to hold 3- or 4-inch cinnamon sticks
Follow these steps for storing ground cinnamon:
- Put cinnamon sticks in the airtight baggie or mason jar.
- Keep the cinnamon stick container in a cool, dry, dark place in your kitchen, like your spice drawer.
Like with ground cinnamon, it’s your job to keep bugs, moisture, heat, and strong odor away from the sticks.
But lucky you, a tightly sealed jar or container in a drawer should take care of it.
How to tell if cinnamon has gone bad
Cinnamon has a distinct aroma that many people like, and one of the best ways to tell if this spice is no longer good for consumption is if you can’t smell cinnamon when you open the container.
Cinnamon isn’t a spice that needs to be heated to carry out its flavor and scent.
So, if you can’t smell the cinnamon, it has gone bad, and we recommend throwing it and buying a fresh container of cinnamon.
Another good way to tell if cinnamon is not safe to eat is by looking at its color.
Cinnamon has a reddish to dark-brown color.
If the color is getting pale or some of the spice in the container is turning completely white, it is probably too old to use.
Now, there are a few cases that will let you know how to tell if cinnamon has gone bad, like these:
- There are dead or moving pantry bugs in the cinnamon, like weevils or moths.
- There are wet spots or mold (it’s likely that water reached the inside or was kept in a very humid location)
- The spice smells moldy or tastes strange
When you see any of these signs, discard your cinnamon right away.
How to tell if cinnamon sticks have gone bad
Cinnamon sticks do not necessarily spoil, but they lose their pleasant scent and taste if you don’t store them properly.
So, the question is: How to tell if cinnamon sticks have gone bad?
Here’s a list of things you should keep an eye out for:
- Mold – It means that your cinnamon sticks have probably retained moisture. You need to get rid of them right away.
- Bugs – These tiny creatures are attracted to open packages of foods.
- Rancidity – Having a funky oily or paint-like smell is another sign that your cinnamon sticks have gone bad and should be thrown away.
- Discoloration – This means that your cinnamon sticks have changed color and are now very dark brown or black. It doesn’t mean it’s bad, so don’t throw it away just yet.
- Loss of Flavor: As previously mentioned, cinnamon loses its taste over time. So, If you find that your cinnamon sticks do not taste good anymore, then it’s time to replace them.
Now it’s time to see if your cinnamon sticks still taste like cinnamon. Here’s how:
- Take your cinnamon stick and grate some of it.
- Run the powder between your thumb and index finger, then smell and taste it.
- If you can taste the cinnamon, you’re in luck! You can use it! But if the taste is very subtle or fading away, double the amount of cinnamon in your recipe. If you don’t taste or smell anything, throw the sticks away.
How to cook with cinnamon
Here are some tips for using cinnamon and what to make with cinnamon.
– Don’t eat cinnamon by itself.
While cinnamon smells amazing, it tastes bitter if you were to touch your tongue to the powdery ground cinnamon on its own.
Mix it into baked goods, hot drinks, cereal and oatmeal, stews, soups and more.
Even a sprinkle on some banana slices will give you the lovely flavor of cinnamon without the bitterness.
Cinnamon is the perfect spice for fall flavors, with a warm and inviting woodsy smell and taste.
– Don’t eat too much cinnamon.
It has some health benefits, but taken in large doses, cinnamon can thin your blood.
– Use cinnamon in savory dishes, too.
Under its woody, spicy notes, cinnamon also has a sweet base with a hint of citrus, making it a match for all kinds of dishes.
In fact, it’s so versatile that I’ll share different ways to use cinnamon in your cooking—from salty to sweet and everything in between!
Here are some lovely recipes you can make with cinnamon:
- Cinnamon toast. This is the kind of toast that hits you right in your sweet spot: deeply rich, buttery, and crisp.
- Apple cinnamon quinoa bake. The cinnamon and apple combination is just perfect in this dish, making it sweet enough to satisfy your dessert cravings without being too rich or heavy like other desserts tend to be.
- Roasted cinnamon lemon chicken. If you love the flavors of cinnamon, lemon, and caramelized onions, then this roasted cinnamon lemon chicken is for you. It’s baked to perfection and comes out juicy and moist every time!
- Sweet potatoes with turmeric and cinnamon. These potatoes are so warm, sweet, and spicy, and they’ll make you feel like it’s the holidays all year round.
- Cinnamon and apple pork chops. Pork chops are juicy and rich on their own, but when you add the sweet crunchiness of apples and the aromatic aroma of cinnamon? It’s a whole new world.
- Cinnamon cupcakes. Cinnamon cupcakes are a great addition to any dessert table. They’re sweet but not too sweet, and they’re delicious with a warm cup of coffee or as an after-dinner treat.
The bottom line
So, that’s all the information you need about keeping cinnamon as great-tasting as possible.
Just remember that once cinnamon starts to lose its flavor, it won’t get any better, no matter how long you store it.
Hence, it would be a smart idea to get an airtight container if you want to keep your spice fresh for a long time.
I also hope you learned a lot from this article.
Have fun cooking with cinnamon!
- Tin or zipper-top bag of ground cinnamon
- Clean and dry glass cylinder with screw-top lid or mason jar with an airtight lid
- Put ground cinnamon in a jar or other container that won't let air in.
- Close it up tight. Store the spice somewhere where it won't be affected by light, heat, or moisture (these things can cause flavor or scent to dissipate faster, grow mold, and/or attract bugs) .
- Use the spice for up to two years.
Don’t keep spices close to the stovetop or oven because the heat affects the shelf life.