Cinnamon vs. Cardamom

June 27, 2018
by Nicole Gulotta for Thrive Market
Cinnamon vs. Cardamom

Cinnamon and cardamom are such good flavor friends that they’re often paired together in recipes from savory (like curry) to sweet (like apple pie). But these two spices have some key differences, and today we’re opening up the spice cabinet to see what really sets these sticks and pods apart.

What Is Cardamom?

Look up, because cardamom can grow up to 10 feet tall! This seed from the ginger family is native to India and Indonesia, and thrives in tropical climates when partial shade is involved. Don’t let the tiny flowers distract you, either, because the cardamom seeds are what you’re after, and you’ll find them tucked inside tiny pods.

What does cardamom taste like?

Cardamom’s complex flavor has notes of lemon, mint, and even a slight smokiness. From Swedish pastries to Indian lassis, cardamom’s versatility makes it a pantry staple in kitchens around the world.

How do I grind cardamom?

It’s often sold ground, but the flavor can deteriorate more rapidly. If you purchase pods, gently crush them with the back of a knife until they split and the seeds release easily. Transfer the seeds to a spice grinder (or use an inexpensive coffee grinder) and pulverize until a fine powder forms.

Black vs green cardamom

The ground spice in your jar starts as whole cardamom, either with a black, white, or green shell. Green is by far the most popular and easily found in most grocery stores. According to Cook’s Illustrated—who conducted a taste test in both a sweet dish (sugar cookies) and savory dish (chicken biryani)—green cardamom claimed the victory for being most balanced in flavor. Black cardamom is more intense and pungent, and white cardamom is actually bleached and has very little flavor to begin with. When in doubt, go green!

Recipes With Cardamom

Turn on your oven, get out your whisks, and open your spice drawer because we’ve got 10 top recipes to celebrate cardamom.

Mango Lassi

Get moving on this five-ingredient mango lassi! It combines fresh fruit, honey, cardamom, pea milk (a great nut-milk alternative) and ice for a frothy sip.

Magnesium Moon Milk

You’ll be over the moon for this “milk” that stirs up a comforting blend of spices, creamy coconut milk, plus a serving of orange-flavored magnesium to help encourage better sleep. Serve it warm and enjoy it as part of your evening routine!

Vietnamese-Style Iced Coffee

This iced cup of joe is fun to drink once you blend up a sweet coconut milk infusion flavored with vanilla, dates, and cardamom, and swirl it into your favorite cold brew. Without using condensed milk, vegans can sip, too!

Orange-Cardamom Madeleines

We promised dessert, and here it is. Our version of these delectable little seashell-shaped cookies include refreshing orange and spiced cardamom. (And we dunk them in a sticky orange glaze to add even more flavor.)

Paleo-Berry Crumble Pie

Serve up a slice of this Paleo-friendly pie at your next summer gathering. Summer berries burst on top of a gluten-free crust, and the juicy filling is laced with a sprinkle of fresh thyme leaves and a pinch of cardamom for a surprising twist.

Raspberry Coconut Ice Cream

Here’s a no-churn ice cream recipe that’s easy to make with a high-speed blender! Raspberries, cardamom, bee pollen, and cacao nibs give a wholesome spin to a classic treat.

Earl-Grey Peach Slab Pie

Who says tea is just for a tea cup? This Earl Grey-infused peach pie will be the talk of your next outdoor party, especially when you shape the stunning lattice crust. Vanilla extract, cardamom and cinnamon round out the flavors.

Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins

For busy mornings, muffins are the way to go. This gluten-free batch is studded with sweet berries, spiced with cardamom and cinnamon, and sweetened with honey. Eat a few fresh from the oven, then freeze the rest for later!

Dairy-Free Spiced Creamer

Vegans who like to live caffeinated will swoon over this dairy-free spiced creamer. The rich coconut milk base is mixed with allspice, cardamom, black pepper, and maple for the perfect pour.

Sweet Saffron Rice Bowl

For a savory spin, think rice. For this quick dinner, perfumed jasmine rice is topped with a coconut milk-based sauce that’s spiced with cinnamon, cardamom, and golden saffron. Top it with quick-grilled shrimp and plenty of herbs.

What Is Cinnamon?

Before it heads to a spice jar, cinnamon begins as a tree—a tropical evergreen tree, to be exact. Sri Lanka produces much of the world’s cinnamon, but it also grows in places like Indonesia, India, and Brazil. Bark from the tree trunk is rolled into sticks, ground to powder, or even steamed and distilled into an oil (perfect for diffusing!).

Is cinnamon good for you?

This spice has been used medicinally for centuries and is known for being an antioxidant that may help fight free radicals.

Is there more than one type of cinnamon?

The short answer? Yes! Ceylon cinnamon is the most popular version on store shelves with a strong, distinctive flavor. Cassia cinnamon is a bit more difficult to find, and hails from Sri Lanka where it’s ground from the bark of evergreen trees and known for a milder, sweeter taste.

How can I use cinnamon?

There are lots of ways to incorporate cinnamon into your day that don’t even need a recipe! Here are a few ideas.

  • Spice up your morning: Add a pinch of cinnamon to your morning latte or stir it into tea. It’s also a great addition to smoothies! Try some blended up with nut butter, almond milk, banana, and ice.
  • Here’s the rub: Mix up a little dry rub with garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, and yes, cinnamon! A little goes a long way, but it’ll add more depth to your next grilling sesh.
  • Happy holidays: Make apple cider even more comforting by simmering it with cinnamon sticks and an orange studded with cloves.
  • Easy oats: Oatmeal doesn’t have to be complicated. Just add 1 cup of rolled oats, 2 cups of your favorite liquid (nut milk or water) to the stove and simmer it for 5 minutes with a pinch of salt and ½ teaspoon cinnamon.

Can dogs eat cinnamon?

We know you love your four-legged friends and are always concerned about their health! According to the American Kennel Club, cinnamon is non-toxic to dogs, but before sprinkling it on a bowl of kibble, check with your vet!

Recipes With Cinnamon

From breakfast to dessert, we’re spicing up your recipes. From classic dustings of cinnamon and sugar to Mexican chocolate pie, here are seven ways to use this favorite flavor.

Cinnamon Sugar Donuts

Certainly not the healthiest way to start your morning, but everything in moderation, right? We err on the side of wholesome the best we can by using sprouted white wheat flour in the dough and frying them up in coconut oil before adding a final dusting of cinnamon and sugar.

Paleo Cinnamon Raisin Bread

This bread recipe is almost too good to be true—no yeast, no proofing, and no kneading required! Novice bakers will love how easy it is to enjoy fresh bread at home, especially when the scent of cinnamon starts wafting through the house. Enjoy a slice toasted with nut butter, or save it for sandwiches.

Orange-Molasses Cinnamon Rolls

Need a holiday breakfast recipe? You’ll love this version with a hint of orange, warm cinnamon, and molasses to keep every bite sticky and sweet.

Salted Mexican Chocolate Pie With Cinnamon Cereal Crust

This thick, luscious pie will satisfy your chocolate cravings, guaranteed. The cinnamon cereal crust adds the perfect crunch and the velvety filling made with dark chocolate, cream, cinnamon, and cayenne is surprisingly airy.

Granita Affogato

Here’s a caffeine-boosted mash-up of two Italian treats—affogato and granita. This dessert and post-dinner coffee in one is made with a base of cold brew concentrate, honey, and a dash of cinnamon—while the cool, coffee granita will give you the chills (in a good way). Non-dairy creamer finishes off this treat that might keep you up a few hours past your bedtime.

Chai Granola Overnight Oats

We’re all about a meal you can set and forget. Prep it the night before so breakfast is ready to go when you are! The chai flavor mixes four spices—cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and allspice—with honey, applesauce, and chia seeds for a comforting meal that might become your new morning go-to.

Banana Bread Granola

This recipe comes from blogger Joy the Baker and mimics the flavor of warm banana bread. Spices like nutmeg and cinnamon are tossed with oats, dehydrated bananas, and chopped pecans for just the right texture in every bite.

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