Cinnamon extract is a delicious addition to many dishes, as well as a wonderful way to welcome the holiday season (I’m currently day-dreaming about fresh cinnamon rolls on a cold wintery day).
Plus, it can be a lot more convenient than something like cinnamon powder if you’re looking for a concentrated flavor – just a few drops of this stuff is going to have some serious impact on your dish!
However, some cinnamon extracts are better than others, as is the case with all food products – and we want the best possible options!
And that’s why we’ve gone ahead and done the research, giving you the best cinnamon extracts you can buy!
Let’s check them out!
What is cinnamon extract?
Cinnamon extract is basically concentrated cinnamon in a liquid form. It’s made by infusing cinnamon bark sticks in alcohol for a couple of weeks.
This alcohol is often unflavored vodka or another alcohol that’s equal to 80-90 proof ethanol. It acts as a solvent, extracting all the active ingredients in the cinnamon and concentrating them as a liquid.
The cool thing about the alcohol is that it also acts as a preserving agent, which is what gives cinnamon extract its long shelf-life!
Plus, the simplicity of it makes it really easy for you to make cinnamon extract at home if you want to give it a try!
How to use cinnamon extract in baking and cooking
Cinnamon extract can be used as a substitute to cinnamon powder – use ¼ to ½ a teaspoon of cinnamon extract for every 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder the recipe calls for (we’ll check out a couple recipes in a bit).
However, cinnamon extract is mainly used as an easy way of adding cinnamon flavor to different dishes and beverages…
For example, add a couple of drops in your tea for a festive twist, or put it into your vanilla cookies for extra flavor. It’s quite versatile, and handles the heat of baking well without going bitter!
Now, it doesn’t have the same aesthetic appeal that cinnamon powder may have, but it definitely has a lot more potency! So, be careful not to add too much – I recommend using a dropper bottle (preferably with dark glass to protect it from light) so that you can control exactly how much you add until you reach your desirable flavor.
3 great recipes to use your cinnamon extract
Basically, you can use your cinnamon extract in recipes that call for cinnamon flavor, and even substitute cinnamon powder with it – unless you’re really focused on the aesthetics of it:
- Keto cinnamon rolls: We all love cinnamon rolls, so why not take it a step further and make it keto-friendly? This delicious recipe includes all the right things to make amazing cinnamon rolls without the high carb content – perfect for binging on during the holidays! Just use the substitution measurements we talked about earlier.
- Cinnabon muffins: Is your mouth watering yet? Cinnabon muffins are one of my favorite desserts, and they take less than an hour to make! Something else that makes this recipe so great is the fact that it’s also keto-friendly, and really easy to substitute cinnamon extract into.
- Keto snickerdoodle: Snickerdoodles are one of the most well-known recipes that use cinnamon – except this recipe is also keto-friendly! It uses ground cinnamon, but you can easily replace that using the substitutions I mentioned earlier for cinnamon extract.
How to choose the best cinnamon extract
Cinnamon used to be a rare and valuable spice, but is easily accessible by basically everyone these days! That’s why it’s important to know exactly what to look for when choosing a cinnamon extract.
First, you need to be aware of the three different types of cinnamon that affect your extract:
- Cinnamon Bark: This is the traditional way of making cinnamon extract. The bark is derived from a tree that’s native to Sri Lanka, and contains cinnamaldehyde, which is the chemical that’s responsible for that tasty and delicious smell we all know and love.
- Cinnamon Cassia: This is the “not true” cinnamon that’s extremely popular in grocery stores, coming out of China and Indonesia. Cassia is likely the stuff you buy in the store, and smells very similar to “real” cinnamon bark – although you could tell the difference when smelling them side-by-side!
- Cinnamon Leaf: Cinnamon leaves can be turned into an oil, which is commonly done through steam distillation. The leaves are dried for a couple of days before being steam distilled, which extracts the oil from them.
I just mentioned cassia, which is not true cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon is the stuff that’s imported from Sri Lanka, and is called “true” cinnamon.
It’s considered to be the best ingredient for cinnamon extract out of the three, as well as the healthiest – cassia has been shown to contain a substance called coumarin, which could potentially be harmful in large doses. Ceylon has a much lower coumarin content, making it more ideal for the health-conscious.
However, extracts made from Ceylon do demand a premium…
Now, I used the types of cinnamon to determine the best brands of cinnamon extract, as well as:
- Ingredients: We like the purest ingredients, and the highest quality. Since there are several different types of cinnamon, with some being better than others, we want to ensure that we’re getting only the best!
- Consumer feedback: Since cinnamon is a spice that’s been around for ages, we can get a really good idea of how good a product is based on reviews. They’re not influenced by the brand’s marketing, and can give us a deeper perspective on each individual product.
- Track record: Reputation is everything – a brand with a good track record is much more trustable, and likely makes some darn good products. People tend to support brands they like.
- Price: We’ve included products with low prices, medium prices, and high prices, so you’ll find a cinnamon extract that fits your budget!
I’ve also given options for cinnamon extracts that are non-GMO, best organic, best to buy in bulk, kosher certified, etc., so that your specific needs can be met!
Let’s jump into the rankings:
#1 Best Overall: Cook’s
Cook’s is an awesome family-owned brand started back in 1918 that’s been a frequent member on our “bests” lists.
Their cinnamon extract is wonderful, being made from Ceylon cinnamon (the premium and “real” stuff native to Sri Lanka). That means this cinnamon extract is the real stuff – you’ll experience an all natural, gluten-free, vegan, and kosher certified product that’s proudly made the way it was originally intended.
Cook’s recommends using their cinnamon extract for baked goods and candies, as well as using it in sauces for salad dressings! You can also add it into your smoothies, tea, protein shakes, and even hot chocolate (I recommend looking up Mexican hot chocolate).
Trust me, you won’t regret Cook’s cinnamon extract!
Ingredients: Alcohol, glycerine, natural cinnamon oil, and water
#2 Trusted Brand: Watkins
Watkins’ cinnamon extract is a close second to Cook’s, but just falls short because they use cassia instead of the superior Ceylon.
They still offer a kosher certified and non-GMO cinnamon extract that’s absolutely delicious – plus, their 1200 shining reviews prove how awesome this stuff is and why it’s a baker’s favorite!
Now, Ceylon is superior, which is why Cook’s is number 1, but don’t underestimate Watkins – they’ve been in the business for over 150 years, and are known for providing high-quality products made from minimal ingredients – which I’m a personal fan of (minimal ingredients usually means minimal artificial flavors and additives).
It is just a touch more expensive than number 1 on this list, but I would say it’s also a great choice!
Ingredients: Alcohol, Water, Cassia oil
#3 Best Value: OliveNation
OliveNation is a bit of a newcomer in this field, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t already earned our respect!
Their cinnamon extract is great, providing a delicious and balanced taste for the cheapest price on this list – it really is a mind-blowing value! Plus, it’s gluten-free and kosher certified as well.
However, this cinnamon extract is made with cinnamon oil, which is made from the steam-distilling process we talked about earlier. Cinnamon oil tends to be quite potent, but OliveNation has done a great job combining it with other ingredients to provide a high-value and highly-rated product!
Ingredients: Alcohol, Water, Glycerin, and Cinnamon Oil
#4 Best Organic: Frontier Co-op
For all of you that prefer organic products over all others, Frontier Co-op has created an impressive cinnamon extract that meets your exact needs!
It’s organic and kosher certified, but is also the second most expensive (next to Watkins).
Keep in mind that it’s also oil-based, so it’s not up to par with the Ceylon versions. I would even recommend cassia over this for a more balanced flavor, but you can’t get better if you’re looking for an organic cinnamon extract.
Quick note: it’s got the lowest and least amount of reviews on this list, but that’s mainly because there aren’t a ton of organic cinnamon extracts out there.
Ingredients: Organic Sunflower Oil, Organic Cinnamon Oil
#5 Best in Bulk: Native Vanilla
Another cinnamon oil based cinnamon extract, Native Vanilla has created a product that comes in many different sizes ranging from 2-8 fluid ounces. They’re great to buy in bulk, and even offer a discount if you buy more at once!
They’re also the second cheapest (next to number 3 on this list), and have 1500+ reviews that describe how people love this stuff. That’s especially impressive considering that Native Vanilla started as a vanilla extract brand and more recently diverged into other products, like cinnamon extract.
I would love it if they used Ceylon or even cassia, but that would make buying this in bulk much more expensive, so I appreciate the strategic ingredient choice here.
Ingredients: Alcohol, water, glycerine, and cinnamon oil
#6 Honorable Mention: Vanilla Bean Kings
These guys are no strangers when it comes to extracts, as they have many wonderful options! One of their best (in my opinion) is the cinnamon extract. It has a great balanced taste, especially for being made from cinnamon oil.
It didn’t rank higher on the list because the price is right in the middle of the pack, and it doesn’t really have anything “amazing” about it that makes it stand out.
Simply, it’s a solid cinnamon extract that’s kosher certified, non-GMO, and also made in the USA (which we love to support).
As far as cinnamon extracts go, Vanilla Bean Kings’ is a safe option that will likely meet your needs!
Ingredients: Alcohol, Water, Glycerin, and Cinnamon OilLinks on this page may be affiliate links, for which the site earns a small commission, but the price for you is the same