Give Burgers A Boost With A Hint Of Cinnamon

When you think of cinnamon your mind probably goes to something sweet, like a Cinnabon cinnamon roll. While the spice may be best known for its sweet applications, cinnamon is a sleeper hit for savory foods: When it comes to your burgers, cinnamon is the unlikely spice you need to add to amp up the flavor. Cinnamon is considered a warm spice, and though cinnamon is often thought of as sweet, it also has a spicy note. The slight hint of heat comes from a small amount of capsaicin, which is also found in chili peppers. The combination of warmth, sweetness, and spiciness results in an added complexity of flavor in any dish cinnamon is added to, whether savory or sweet.

When it comes to making the perfect burger, seasonings are key. Adding cinnamon along with other spices gives the meat a subtle kick that sets it apart from burgers seasoned simply with salt and pepper. You can add the spices to the ground beef before you form the patties, and you can play around with a variety of combinations. Cinnamon, allspice, and smoked paprika will give your burger a smoky jerk-style flavor. Add cinnamon and chipotle pepper to amplify the heat. You can also add cinnamon in the form of barbecue sauce, whether you make your own or find a brand that already includes it. You can add the sauce to your burger as a topping, or mix it right into the ground beef for extra moisture and flavor. 

Why does it work so well?

Many cultures have been using cinnamon in savory meat dishes for centuries. Cinnamon works perfectly in combination with spices like cumin, coriander, pepper, and nutmeg. Play around with a variety of spices, and remember: When cinnamon is used in savory applications, a little goes a long way. Take inspiration from some of the many spice mixes found in cuisines around the world. Garam masala, which is an Indian spice, is often used to finish a curry. Moroccan Ras el Hanout combines cinnamon with many of the usual suspects, including cumin, ginger, coriander, and turmeric. Cinnamon is also a component in the Mexican dish, mole poblano. 

While cinnamon works well in beef burgers, there is no rule that says burgers have to be made with beef. Lamb burgers would pair especially well with cinnamon, as in the Middle East lamb is often seasoned with sweeter spices. Lamb burgers, seasoned with cinnamon, coriander, and cumin, bring out the Mediterranean flavors and can be eaten with pita instead of hamburger buns. For those who don't eat meat, veggie burgers offer a wealth of seasoning options. Cinnamon has long been used to flavor lentils and chickpeas. Combine these with spices like curry powder, smoked paprika, or turmeric along with the cinnamon. As you're discovering new ways to use cinnamon in savory dishes, remember that you should incorporate cinnamon into your everyday diet due to its numerous health benefits.