Cinnamon sugar’s popularity is understandable. It contains one of the most popular spices along with the most popular sweetener. If you run out of it, you will need a replacement that can come close to replicating its qualities. You’ll be pleased to learn that there are a few good options. Here are some of the best cinnamon sugar substitutes.
Your best bet: Make your own cinnamon sugar
A simple spice mixture, cinnamon sugar has two ingredients: cinnamon and sugar. You can combine the cinnamon with brown sugar, but the most common blend uses refined white sugar as the sweetener. The cinnamon provides spicy warmth and the sugar provides sweetness.
It is simple enough to throw these two ingredients together but finding the right ratio is where it can get tricky. Add too much cinnamon and you wind up with a bitter mixture; too much sugar and the cinnamon disappears into the background. A tablespoon of cinnamon to a cup of sugar is a great ratio for most people but you can increase or decrease the cinnamon content to taste. Note that this also works out to a teaspoon of cinnamon to 1/3 cup of sugar if you want to make a smaller batch.
If sugar is out of the question for you, you can whip up a sugar-free cinnamon sugar substitute with some of your favorite artificial sweeteners. When using a stevia-based sugar substitute (not pure stevia), you will want to use about 2/3 of the amount that your recipe specifies for sugar. In other words, use two tablespoons of the sweetener if your recipe requires three tablespoons of sugar.
A decent second choice: Streusel crumb topping
Cinnamon sugar is most commonly a topping for sweet baked goods. It gets sprinkled over muffins, cakes and even pies to provide sweetness and flavor as well as a crunchy texture. Streusel topping is another traditional topping for baked goods that will provide you with many of the same benefits as cinnamon sugar. It can contain cinnamon but it often does not.
The ingredients are typically sugar, flour, and butter with a little salt. The streusel topping components are blended with a fork until they take on the texture of a coarse meal. Sprinkle the topping over baked goods the way you would cinnamon sugar. It will not be as sweet as cinnamon sugar but it will provide an even crunchier texture.
Streusel topping only works with baked goods since the flour and butter mixture will have to be baked to get the crisp texture that you want from it.
In a pinch: Icing
Icing is another classic topping for baked goods, but it is a liquid or paste so it is poured or spread on rather than sprinkled like cinnamon sugar. The most common icing recipe involves mixing powdered sugar with a liquid like milk or water along with vanilla. In some recipes, butter is used instead of or along with the liquid. They will get poured over or slathered onto cakes, cookies and other sweet treats.
Icing is not quite as versatile as cinnamon sugar. It’s another topping that usually only gets used on baked items rather than on fruit. It also won’t give you the crunchy texture that you would get from cinnamon sugar.
Brown sugar won’t give you the spiciness of cinnamon sugar, but it will give you its sweetness accented by the caramel notes of brown sugar.