Cinnamon is one of those spices you can identify straight away just from its aroma. The warm, sweet smell of cinnamon, as well as the taste it gives, is a must in many different recipes, both sweet and savory.
Cinnamon is sold either in sticks or in powder form, and if you have some sticks at home, you can easily grind them down to make them easier to use.
How do you grind down cinnamon sticks?
There are a few different ways to grind down cinnamon sticks, but the best methods include using a coffee or spice grinder, using a microplane, or a simple Ziploc bag and meat tenderizer. How you grind cinnamon sticks will largely depend on the tools you have at home!
Read on to find out the best ways to grind cinnamon sticks and the different tools you need to do so successfully!
What Are Cinnamon Sticks?
Cinnamon sticks, otherwise known as cinnamon quills, are pieces of bark from the cinnamon tree, which have been rolled into hollow tubes, and measure around 7 to 10 centimeters in length.
Cinnamon sticks have a red-brown color, and the interior of the sticks is darker and powdery, with a smooth texture.
Cinnamon sticks and cinnamon powder are used to flavor dishes, drinks, sauces, and various meals. The sticks can be used to flavor meals, but then need to be thrown away before the meal is served.
Why Should You Grind Cinnamon Sticks?
There are some recipes that call for cinnamon sticks to be used, and this usually involves the cinnamon sticks soaking in a liquid, or with other ingredients, seeping their flavor into the meal, before being removed later on.
This isn’t the case for all recipes that use cinnamon however, and there are some that require the use of cinnamon powder, whether to add flavor to a dish while it bakes, or to top onto a baked item at the end.
Cinnamon powder adds a lot of flavor, and it is easy to eat as well, as the fine powder melts into the other ingredients, rather than being an actual stick full of flavor, that really isn’t so easy to eat.
You will likely find that you need both cinnamon sticks and cinnamon powder in your kitchen, and if you want to save some money, you only need to buy cinnamon sticks.
Cinnamon sticks, when stored properly, hold their flavor well. You can keep the cinnamon sticks stored away for as long as needed until you need cinnamon powder, and then you can grind the cinnamon sticks down to create this powder.
Keeping cinnamon sticks gives you the option of using the cinnamon whole or as a powder, so it is definitely the better option of the two to keep.
How to Grind Cinnamon Sticks
When looking at the various ways to grind cinnamon sticks, you can choose to grind them manually or use an appliance.
How you choose to grind down cinnamon sticks will probably depend on the tools and appliances you have at home, or which method you feel is easiest to use.
These are the best three ways to grind cinnamon sticks:
1. Coffee/Spice Grinder
One of the easiest, fuss-free ways to grind cinnamon sticks is to use a coffee or spice grinder. These are made specifically to grind down spices, which means they will give you the best results you could hope for.
These grinders are usually quite small, so you will only be able to grind down a few sticks, but you usually don’t need more than this for most recipes. If you wanted to grind down more, you would have to work in batches, but the grinder works quickly so this won’t take too long.
This is how to grind down cinnamon sticks in a spice grinder:
- Make sure that the coffee/spice grinder is clean and that there are no coffee or spice grinds in the bowl, as these could alter the taste of the cinnamon.
- Pick out how many cinnamon sticks you need to grind down, and measure them against the coffee/spice grinder. If the sticks are too long to fit into the small bowl, then snap them in half.
- Make sure to not overcrowd the grinder, as this could cause it to not grind the cinnamon sticks properly, and you might be left with larger pieces. If necessary, work in small batches until all of the cinnamon sticks are ground down.
- Place a few cinnamon sticks into the grinder, and set to grind down. Check the cinnamon to see if it is at the right consistency. If not, grind for longer.
- Pour the powdered cinnamon into a small bowl, and grind the next batch if there is.
You will be able to achieve the finest powder using a grinder, compared to some manual methods of grinding. For this reason, it is considered the best way to grind down cinnamon sticks, as it also prevents there being fibrous pieces left over.
It is also the quickest way to grind down cinnamon sticks, which is always a huge bonus in the kitchen when you want to save some time!
If you are looking to grind down a whole bunch of cinnamon sticks to fill a container with powdered cinnamon, then working in batches using a coffee/spice grinder will still be the best and most efficient option.
2. Microplane Zester
A microplane zester can be used for many different things, for zesting citrus or shaving some hard cheese over pasta. It is also a great way to grind down some fresh cinnamon, especially if you just need a small amount to top a dessert or flavor a smoothie.
Using a microplane zester to grind cinnamon is super easy, but you just have to be careful when doing so. Here is how to use a microplane zester to grind down cinnamon:
- Make sure that the microplane zester is clean, it is easy for zest, cheese, or chocolate to become logged in the little holes, so give it a good clean before grinding down the cinnamon sticks.
- Choose a cinnamon stick that is not too long, and not too short. If you try to microplane a stick that is too long, it could snap halfway through and cause you to grate your fingers, which isn’t pleasant.
- Hold the cinnamon stick near the base, but give enough space that your fingers will not rub against the microplane zester.
- Depending on the type of microplane, work the cinnamon stick up the blades, or up and down, slowly shaving off tiny bits of the cinnamon stick.
- If you are using the microplane directly over a desert, move the microplane over the surface of the desert to spread the cinnamon powder evenly.
- When you get to the end of the cinnamon stick, stop grating it, as it would be difficult to hold the cinnamon stick so close to the microplane without hurting yourself.
Using a microplane zester is possibly the best option for when you only need a small amount of powdered cinnamon, specifically to top a dessert or flavor a smoothie. It is a quick and easy way to grind down a stick or two, and you don’t need to put in much effort to get it done.
If you had to grind down a few cinnamon sticks, it might become a bit laborious to grind them down one by one using a microplane zester, and you will have some waste, not being able to grind the last end bits of each cinnamon stick.
The resultant powder from a microplane zester will be consistent and even, and you have control of how much you grind down over the baked food or meal you are cooking.
3. Ziploc Bag and Meat Tenderizer
Sometimes, the simplest options work best, and you really do not need anything fancy to grind down some cinnamon sticks at home!
If you do not have access to a Microplane zester or a coffee/spice grinder, then you can go back to basics and use a Ziploc bag and a meat tenderizer or rolling pin (or anything heavy and durable you can find in your kitchen).
Using this method, you can grind down quite a large amount of cinnamon sticks in one go. Here is how to do it:
- Grab as many cinnamon sticks as you want to grind down, and any broken pieces or shards that might not have been used otherwise.
- Open up a resealable Ziploc bag, making sure it is a strong bag that will not break too easily.
- Place the cinnamon sticks into the Ziploc bag, and squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible before sealing it shut (not removing the air will just cause the Ziploc bag to pop when you try to crush the cinnamon sticks)
- Seal the bag tight and place it onto a stable, non-glass chopping board or surface. To add more stability, you could place a dishcloth under the bag.
- Make sure the cinnamon sticks are spread out evenly in the bag before crushing.
- Using the meat tenderizer or the rolling pin, smash down onto the cinnamon sticks, crushing them under the weight.
- Continue doing this until the cinnamon stick has been ground down to your preference, and make sure there are no large pieces left that might not be so pleasant to eat.
When using this method, you need to make sure that you use a strong Ziploc bag, so that it does not break easily, and that the heavy tool you use to crush the cinnamon sticks is not sharp, so that it does not pierce the bag.
You can use this method to grind a single stick or a whole bunch of them!
Can I Use a Mortar and Pestle to Grind Cinnamon Sticks?
A mortar and pestle is a traditional tool used to grind down spices and various ingredients, and it offers some amazing results when doing so.
For this reason, it is a great option to use to grind cinnamon sticks, but the reason we didn’t list it as one of the best three ways is that they are not as popular in households as they once were.
The concept of a mortar and pestle is ancient, and it has been used for centuries to grind down various foods, and the design of the mortar and pestle allows for proper, even grinding.
When grinding cinnamon sticks in a mortar and pestle, you might need to snap the cinnamon sticks into smaller pieces first, to ensure they fit into the mortar, and you can start grinding them from there. The rounded shape of the bowl makes it easy to grind back and forth.
Can I Grind Cinnamon Sticks in a High-Speed Blender?
If you do not have a coffee grinder at home and don’t want to use any of the manual methods to grind cinnamon sticks, you could try to use a high-speed blender.
Some blenders come with blades that are suited to grind down spices, but otherwise, you could use the standard blade that most come with.
You can pop the cinnamon sticks into the blender, and blend it on high for 30 seconds, or use the pulse setting until the cinnamon sticks are ground down to a powder. If you leave the blender on for too long, it could end up ruining the flavor and aroma of the cinnamon sticks.
While you will be able to grind down cinnamon sticks with a blender, you might not get the most consistent results, but it is an easy option for when you do not want to grind the sticks down by hand.
How Should You Store Cinnamon Powder?
Once you have ground down the cinnamon sticks, and have some powder left over, you would want to store it in the best way, to keep the quality.
For leftover cinnamon powder which you are not using, you should place the powder into a glass jar, sealable plastic bag, or container, which shuts airtight, to prevent air or moisture from coming into contact with the cinnamon.
Then, store this in a dark, cool place, out of the way of direct sunlight and heat. A dark, cool pantry is a good option for this.
How to Grind Cinnamon Sticks
Grinding down cinnamon sticks gives you fresh, flavorful cinnamon powder to use in your cooking, and there are a few different ways you can grind down cinnamon sticks at home.
The three best ways to grind down cinnamon sticks include using a coffee/spice grinder, a microplane zester, or a simple Ziploc bag and meat tenderizer. Which method you use will depend on the tools you have at home, as well as how many cinnamon sticks you need to grind down.
It is really a great idea to keep some cinnamon sticks stored away in the pantry, as they can be used in so many different ways!
Is Ground Cinnamon the Same as Cinnamon Sticks?
Ground cinnamon is made from cinnamon sticks, but it is mostly made from the inner part of the cinnamon stick that is powdery and flavorful. You can make cinnamon powder from cinnamon sticks by grinding them down.
Should You Roast Cinnamon Before Grinding?
You do not have to roast or toast cinnamon sticks before grinding them, but it is a good idea, as it enhances the warm flavors more, and it dries the cinnamon sticks out further, which makes it easier to grind them down, to a finer, drier powder.