cinnamon shelf life

Cinnamon Shelf Life: Can It Go Bad?

Fragrant and versatile, cinnamon is definitely the kind of spice you should always have at home.

What could be better on a cold winter night than a cup of hot chocolate sprinkled with ground cinnamon? Your compote and apple pie won’t taste as perfect without a dash of this sweet aromatic spices. And don’t forget the classic cinnamon rolls!

Let’s be honest. We all love stocking up and collecting a hundred kinds of spices. Many of them are probably left untouched for a few months, even years.

One time a curry recipe you’re making calls for ground cinnamon. You don’t remember how old that bottle of cinnamon is. Does cinnamon go bad?

Fear not! In this article, we take a closer look into cinnamon’s shelf life, its storage, and signs of cinnamon going bad. If that’s what you’re looking for, read on!

How To Store Cinnamon Stick and Ground Cinnamon

Storing cinnamon stick or ground cinnamon is similar to storing other spices, such as nutmeg, mustard, cumin, etc. It’s simple and straightforward, no preparation needed.

You can keep a cinnamon stick or the ground one in its original bottle or jar⁠—before and after opening. If you prefer buying cinnamon in bulk, transfer it into a sealed airtight container, likewise, if the original packaging is not resealable.

Don’t forget to close the lid after each use. Write a date on the container to remind you when this tree bark spice was purchased or opened.

The main goal of storing cinnamon (and other spices) is to keep it dry and protected from moisture. Hence, find a cool, dry area, away from moisture, heat, and sunlight.

If you have a spice rack or shelf, that’s where cinnamon belongs to. Otherwise, keep it in the pantry or somewhere in the pantry as long as it is not near a window, stove, sink, or dishwasher. Your kitchen cupboard is preferable, mainly for frequent use.

One more thing to point out, always use a dry, clean spoon instead of directly pouring ground cinnamon into a hot pan. This little tip helps to prevent excess moisture from getting into the container.

With a cinnamon stick, grind it in a small amount and use it immediately. Ground cinnamon tends to lose its flavor more quickly. Place any leftover in a sealed container.

How To Tell If Cinnamon Goes Bad

Similar to most foods, cinnamon is not immortal. Cinnamon also goes bad, in the sense of losing its potency and flavor.

In general, dried spices like cinnamon last for a long time. But the flavor slowly diminishes as time goes by. Inadequate storage, such as excess of moisture and heat, speeds up this process.

Hence, keeping a cinnamon stick that’s been a decade old is not a good idea. Older cinnamon won’t give that sweet, warming aroma to your dishes and baked goods. Consider buying in a small amount or smaller size if you don’t use it regularly. A little cinnamon goes along the way.

Take a good whiff. Good cinnamon should smell fragrant, and sweet. If it smells flat or the distinct cinnamon aroma is not there, it’s better to move on.

When exposed to moisture or if it’s too humid, ground cinnamon can get clumpy and hard. Fixing this issue is easy. Simply loosen it up by tapping the bottom of the bottle or shake it with a long object, such as a chopstick or the hand of your spoon.

If you’re in doubt, give it a second look. Check if there is a presence of molds in the stick or powder. If that’s the case, it’s no longer safe for consumption.

How Long Does Cinnamon Last?

In general, spices last for a considerable time. Whole spices, such as cinnamon sticks, are slightly more durable than ground cinnamon.

A jar of cinnamon stick or ground usually carries a “best by” or “best before” date on the label. With ideal storage, you can expect it to stay in prime quality until this date and possibly longer.

Cinnamon sticks last for at least 4 years, while the ground cinnamon powder lasts for 2 to 4 years. These time frames are only applicable when proper storage is followed.

Cinnamon TypesPantry
Cinnamon stick3 to 4 yearsor,Best by date + 1 to 2 years
Ground cinnamon2 to 4 yearsor,Best by date + 1 year

The periods above are general estimates. The actual shelf life depends on the initial quality, preparation method, and storage condition. As always, check for signs of spoilage before use.


Can you freeze cinnamon?

Both ground cinnamon and the stick are long-lasting items. They are dried ingredients and do not necessarily require refrigeration or freezing. On the contrary, the condensation may pose more damage than benefit to the shelf life.

Is it okay to use out of date cinnamon?

The expiration date on the cinnamon package is for quality purposes rather than a safety date. In general, cinnamon stays safe after this date, subject to proper storage.

As long as no spoilage signs are spotted, and you are satisfied with the aroma, feel free to use it.

What are substitutes for cinnamon?

Choosing the right substitute for cinnamon depends on how you want to use it. In general, nutmegs, mace, allspices, and cloves are compatible alternatives for both baking and cooking.

Final Thoughts

Cinnamon is a versatile spice that goes into many baking and cooking recipes. Although cinnamon⁠—both stick and ground cinnamon⁠—can last for years, it slowly loses its aromatic flavor.

Keep cinnamon in a cool, dry area, out of moisture and heat. Your pantry or cupboard should do the job⁠—or anywhere else in the kitchen as long as it is not humid and too warm.

Cinnamon sticks are best used within 4 years, while ground cinnamon lasts for at least 2 to 4 years. Don’t use it if the flavor is not there anymore or if you spot spoilage signs such as the presence of molds.

Up next: Best Substitutes For Cinnamon

cinnamon sticks

*Photo by AndreySt/depositphotos

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