Can Cinnamon Lose Its Potency?

by Teresa Bergen ; Updated November 20, 2017

Cooks liven up baked goods and entrees with a sprinkle of cinnamon. Herbalists of long ago and modern physicians alike have experimented with the spice's healing effects. But you’ll miss out on any health benefits – and cinnamon’s delicious spicy taste – if your cinnamon loses its potency. This happens over time or when it's not properly stored.

Determining Potency

It’s likely you don’t know how long your container of cinnamon has sat on your spice shelf. To test the potency of cinnamon, pour out a little and rub it between your fingers. If you have cinnamon sticks, break off an end and crush it between your fingers. If the cinnamon is potent, it should smell fresh and strong. A weak scent means your spice is over the hill.


To prevent a loss of potency, practice good storage techniques. Store cinnamon in an airtight container inside a cool, dry cupboard. A tight lid helps ensure potency. Many cooks like to display their spices on a pretty rack for general kitchen viewing. However, this makes your spices more vulnerable to sunlight streaming through your kitchen window or steam wafting off saucepans on your stove. Keep them tucked away, and never store cinnamon in the refrigerator or freezer.

Expiration Date

Organizing Spices

Organize your spices according to your favorites. If you want to remember to reap cinnamon’s health benefits by adding it to coffee, curries and yogurt parfaits, place the cinnamon container front and center. This will ensure that you use it up before it loses potency. Don’t be shy about throwing away old spices. Weak and impotent spices don’t do your cooking justice.

About the Author

Teresa Bergen writes about fitness, health, yoga, travel and the arts. She is the author of "Vegetarian Asia Travel Guide" and has written hundreds of articles for publications online and off. Bergen also teaches yoga, spinning and group fitness classes, and is an ACE-certified personal trainer.