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When it comes to cupcakes, I find that inspiration can always be found near and far – and this recipe is no exception. These easy, homemade chai latte cupcakes combine deliciously warm chai spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger with soft and fluffy cupcakes. Topped with my chai spice buttercream, it’s the ultimate coffeehouse-inspired treat. Sip and savor, my friends!

chai latte cupcake with a cinnamon stick garnish

Can I confess something? I’m over pumpkin spice lattes. Am I even a real foodie if I don’t like pumpkin spice lattes? They’re too sweet for me, which is ironic given the mountain of buttercream in these photos. (I also don’t like matcha lattes. They taste like grass-flavored milkshakes. Can someone – anyone – please say they feel the same?!)

So, when brainstorming new cupcake recipes, I naturally turned to my favorite fancy coffeehouse beverage: a warm chai latte. A dessert you can prepare ahead of time, these chai latte cupcakes are fall must-try whether that means a batch of seasonal cupcakes for your coworkers, a unique contribution to a fall bake sale, an impressive ending to a Friday night dinner party, a Sunday football treat, or even if you just freakin’ love chai tea lattes like I do!

What’s not to love? When you combine the airy cupcake base with the rich chai spice buttercream, this dessert pushes all other fall-flavored desserts to the back of the line. I have a feeling you’ll appreciate this autumnal, beverage-inspired cupcake as much as I do!


Tell Me About These Chai Latte Cupcakes

  • Ease: There are 3 simple parts to these chai latte cupcakes: making the homemade chai spice blend, preparing the chai-infused cupcake using my basic vanilla cupcakes recipe as the base, and mixing up the chai spice buttercream. 
  • Texture: The best cupcakes are light and airy, and this chai latte is no exception. Soft, fluffy, and moist, it has an irresistible texture that will delight the most discerning cupcake lovers! In fact, here’s a run-down of my vanilla cupcakes recipe explaining why cake flour, sour cream, and egg whites are KEY to an irresistible texture.
  • Flavor: Chai may be an unusual recipe flavor, but you’ll be impressed with the outcome. Infused with deep, aromatic notes of warm spices, the cupcake is intensely flavoured with a double-jolt of chai flavor by combining the chai latte cupcake WITH the chai spice buttercream.
  • Time: You’ll need to steep the tea for 20-30 minutes, then make the batter and bake the cake for about 20 minutes. That lush buttercream frosting can be prepared while the cupcakes are in the oven. You can complete this recipe in a little over an hour, allowing for cool time before frosting the cupcakes. (If you plan on making mini cupcakes, you’ll shave off about 10 minutes of the total time.)
chai latte cupcakes

chai latte cupcakes on a wood slice cake stand

When cooking or baking, I encourage you to use the best-quality spices you can. While spices don’t necessarily expire, they do tend to lose their flavor and intensity over time and it’s worth replacing them every three to four years.

Overview: How to Make Chai Latte Cupcakes

The full printable recipe is below, but let’s walk through it so you understand each step before you get started.

  1. Make the homemade chai spice mix. This blend of 4 readily available kitchen spices makes the delicious chai spice flavor you love. Grab some cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and allspice. This mix will be used in both the cupcake batter and buttercream, as well as the garnish on top.
  2. Prepare the chaiinfused cupcakes. We’ll use my basic vanilla cupcakes as the base, adding a generous amount of our chai spice mix. Instead of regular milk, we’ll use chai tea milk made from a bag of chai tea steeped in 1/2 cup warm whole milk (steep it the night before to save time). This concentrated amount of chai flavor turns our spiced cupcake batter into a delicious chai cupcake batter. It’s the secret sauce. Let the milk cool before adding to the batter. 
  3. Whip up the chai spice buttercream. Remember when I said rainbow chip frosting is the best frosting in the world? Lies. This richly flavored vanilla buttercream is spiced with our homemade chai spice mix. It’s unbelievable how much flavor dry spices can add to frosting.
  4. Decorate the chai latte cupcakes. This chai spice buttercream, in all its creamy, silky-smooth glory, sits at the top of the frosting world. I used the Wilton 8B piping tip (which I love) for this recipe. (Remember my white chocolate strawberry cupcakes and lemon buttercream photos?) You simply start in the center of the cupcake and swirl upward. You can watch me use it in this frosting tutorial video (1:09 mark).
  5. Garnish cupcakes. A cinnamon stick and a sprinkle of sugar/leftover chai spice mix adds a rustic chic garnish to our chai latte cupcakes. 
chai spice mix in a white measuring cup

First, here is our chai tea milk that we’ll use in the cupcake batter. This stuff is potent!

Chai tea milk in a glass measuring cup

Because of the chai tea milk and chai spices, the chai cupcake batter is a beautiful shade of caramel. 

Chai latte cupcake batter in a glass bowl

chai cupcake batter in a cupcake pan before baking

Tip: Fill the cupcake liners only about 2/3 full to avoid overflowing.

When it comes to leavening in baking, balance is key. You can learn all about it in my baking powder vs baking soda post. Find out why some recipes – like these chai latte cupcakes – call for both.

chai buttercream in a glass bowl
chai buttercream swirled on cupcakes with cinnamon stick garnish

More Chai Inspired Recipes

And here’s the separate page for chai spice buttercream in case you want to pair it with other flavor cakes and cupcakes!

Print
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chai latte cupcake with a cinnamon stick garnish

Chai Latte Cupcakes

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 20 minutes
  • Yield: 14 cupcakes 1x
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Soft and moist chai latte cupcakes prepared with chai tea, chai spices, and topped with whipped chai buttercream. This simple cupcake recipe tastes exactly like your favorite coffeehouse chai latte drink.


Ingredients

Scale

Chai Spice Mix

  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

Cupcakes

  • 1 bag chai tea
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (207g) cake flour* (spoon & leveled)
  • 3 and 1/2 teaspoons chai spice mix (above)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature*
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120g) sour cream or plain yogurt, at room temperature

Chai Spice Buttercream

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (345g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 5.56 cups (660-720g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons chai spice mix, divided
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • optional for garnish: cinnamon sticks + mix the remaining chai spice mix

Instructions

  1. Prepare chai spice mix: Mix all of the chai spices together. You’ll have 5 and 1/2 teaspoons to use between the cupcake batter, buttercream, and garnish.
  2. Steep the tea*: Bring milk to a boil or heat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. Pour over tea bag and steep for 20-30 minutes. This chai milk is the milk you’ll use in the cupcake batter. This can be done the day before and refrigerated overnight. Make sure the chai milk is room temperature before adding to the cupcake batter.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Line a second pan with 2-3 liners – this recipe makes 14-15 cupcakes. Set aside.
  4. Make the cupcakes: Whisk the cake flour, 3 and 1/2 teaspoons of chai spice mix, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
  5. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamed, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Beat in the egg whites on high speed until combined, about 2 minutes. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients until just incorporated. With the mixer still running on low, slowly pour and mix in the chai milk *just* until combined. Do not overmix. Batter will be slightly thick and smell incredible!
  6. Pour/spoon the batter into the liners. Fill only 2/3 full to avoid baking over the sides. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. For around 35 mini cupcakes, bake for about 11-13 minutes, same oven temperature. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
  7. Make the frosting: With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and add 5 and 1/2 cups (660g) confectioners’ sugar, the heavy cream, 1 and 3/4 teaspoons chai spice mix, the vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. If frosting looks curdled or greasy, it’s best to beat in more confectioners’ sugar to smooth it out. Beat in up to 1/2 cup (60g) more confectioners’ sugar to smooth out if needed. If frosting seems too thick to pipe or spread, beat in another Tablespoon (15ml) of cream. Taste and beat in another pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet.
  8. Frost cooled cupcakes and serve. I used Wilton 8B piping tip, stuck a cinnamon stick in some of them, and sprinkled with a mix of the remaining chai spice mix and a pinch of granulated sugar.
  9. Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: An easy way to get a head start is to prepare the chai spice mix and steep the milk/tea 1 day ahead of time (steps 1 and 2). Cupcakes can be made ahead 1 day in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator. Frosting can also be made 1 day in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Frosted or unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Glass Measuring Cup | Chai Tea | Cupcake Liners | Cupcake Pan | Cooling Rack | Wilton #8B Piping Tip | Reusable Piping Bags or Disposable Piping BagsWood Pedestal Cake Stand
  3. Step 2: You’ll steep 1 bag of tea in 1/2 cup of hot milk to use in the cupcake batter. You could also steep a 2nd chai tea bag with the heavy cream to use in the buttercream, if desired! Make sure it’s hot when steeping, then cool to room temperature when adding to buttercream.
  4. Cake Flour: If you can’t get your hands on cake flour, use this homemade cake flour substitute. I suggest doing this twice, mixing it all up in 1 bowl then removing 1/4 cup since you need 1 and 3/4 cups in this recipe.
  5. What to Do with Leftover Egg Yolks? I have some recipe ideas for you!
  6. Why is Everything at Room Temperature? All refrigerated items should be at room temperature so the batter mixes together easily and evenly. Read here for more information.
  7. Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking the BEST cupcakes before you begin!
  8. Cake Version: I suggest following my white cake recipe as the base, which is almost double this cupcake recipe. Use 2 tea bags for the milk since that recipe calls for 1 cup. For the chai spice mix, increase the cinnamon to 2 and 3/4 teaspoons, ginger and cardamom to 1 and 1/2 teaspoons each, and the allspice to 3/4 teaspoon. You’ll have 6 and 1/2 teaspoons of chai spice mix. Use 4 and 1/2 teaspoons in the cake batter and 2 teaspoons in the vanilla frosting recipe listed with the cake.

Keywords: chai latte cupcakes

chai latte cupcake with a bite taken from it

Reader Questions and Reviews

    1. Hi Kate, this batter is the perfect amount for a 3 layer, 6 inch cake — or a 2 layer + a few cupcakes.

  1. Hi Sally! I love your recipes! I try almost all of them when I want bake something, always turns out amazing! For this recipe, am I able to use regular 2 percent milk instead of whole milk?

    1. Hi Priankah, lower fat milk like 2% will work in a pinch. Hope you enjoy these!

      1. Thank you so much for replying so quickly! Can’t wait to try this!

    2. My cupcakes turned out a little bit dense. Any recommendations??? I don’t think I overmixed and all ingredients were room temp to start! Cake flour was sifted!

  2. Hi sally I don’t have chai tea bags can I use chai powder or syrup?

    1. Hi Nadia, You can use your chai powder to make the chai milk instead of a tea bag.

  3. I made the cake version for my birthday and it was delicious! My whole fridge smelled deliciously like chai and all my kids are it from 2 to 11! Thank you!

  4. I make this recipe for cakes, cupcakes, baked donuts… everything! it’s a favourite and always gets tons of applause!

  5. I am new to cupcake decorating. These chai cupcakes were very good. I plan on doing a cupcake tower for my future daughter-in-laws shower. Is there a way to make the frosting less sweet? I did use your tip of adding more salt but they were still a bit too sweet. Many thanks. BASW

  6. Hi Sally!
    I LOVE your website, use it all the time!
    I am going to make my husband very vanilla cupcakes and frosting for his bday this weekend, but wanted to put this chai frosting as a filler. I just make the frosting but I didn’t have all spices so I used Oregon Chai Tea Latte concentrate. It wasn’t chai enough, so I added 2 more tablespoons, lol. It’s still kinda subtle. What do you think of the concentrate. You have converted me to using room temp ingredients, but, I admit, I still am really impulsive when it comes to baking. 🙂

    1. It’s me again… with an update: I added the spices after getting ahold of cardamon (and I had to microplane fresh ginger), and it really made a difference. It still has the chai concentrate too, so it’s extra! I am glad I added the spice though, it’s got that real chai flavor I was after!

  7. Hi Sally!
    Thank you for this recipe! I have been a follower of your frosting recipes and now cake recipes too. I made your pistachio cake twice and it was awesome!
    This cake was great too, but i had a thick streak of unbaked batter at the bottom of each layer (i baked this in two 6″ pans for 45mins just like i did the pistachio cakes). Although the cake flavour was perfect, the unbaked part of the cake was very bad.
    How do i prevent this?

    1. Hi Dakshy, it sounds like the cakes simply were not baked long enough, which could also be a culprit of an overfilled pan. We recommend spreading the batter out over 3, 6 inch pans for most of our cupcake recipes. Or, if you only want two layers, you can fill your two pans half way with batter, then use any leftovers for a few cupcakes. Hope this helps for next time!

      1. Thank you very much Sally. I’ll try this next time round. To be honest, the pan was less than halfway filled. But I shall increase the baking time or split it over 3 pans in the future.

  8. Hi Sally,

    I’ve tried many of your recipes and have your cookie cookbook too. I’ve never been disappointed and neither has my family (especially the kids). These cupcakes were fantastic and are one of my favourites. I always make them with chocolate chai tea, sprinkle chocolate powder on the frosting, and add a cinnamon stick. I’m making them again to bring on a camping trip, but need to freeze them with the frosting so that they keep a day or two in the cooler. How do I do that? I usually freeze baked goods by covering them with plastic wrap after they have completely cooled, wrap them again with foil, and then place in a freezer bag. …but how do you freeze frosted cupcakes and cakes? Please help!

    1. Hi Liz! You can cover/wrap them individually, or you can place them in an air tight container and freeze. That is your best bet if you want to keep the frosting looking nice and the cupcakes upright during transportation. Hope they are a hit!

  9. These are AMAZING. The only “issue” (and what a terrible issue to have) is that I only used less than half the frosting made. Can I freeze just the frosting in a freezer bag?

    1. Hi Emily! Absolutely, freeze up to 3 months in the freezer. After freezing, thaw in the refrigerator then beat the frosting on medium speed for a few seconds so it’s creamy again. After thawing, beating in a splash of heavy cream or milk will help thin the frosting out again, if needed.

  10. Can you use water to steep the tea instead of milk? I can’t use any nut base milk either….

    1. Hi Celia, water will be too thin to use as a substitute for whole milk in this cupcake batter. Best to stick with milk!

      1. Regular coconut milk (from a carton) would be great in the cupcakes.

    1. Hi Ajay, egg whites are key to this cupcake’s light and airy texture, so we recommend sticking to just the recipe as written. Using whole eggs would weigh down the batter too much. Here are some other recipes where you can use your leftover egg yolks.

    1. Hi Auds, We don’t usually include nutrition information as it can vary between different brands of the same ingredients. Plus, many recipes have ingredient substitutions or optional ingredients listed. However, there are many handy online calculators where you can plug in and customize your exact ingredients/brands. Readers have found this one especially helpful: https://www.verywellfit.com/recipe-nutrition-analyzer-4157076

  11. Hi Sally,

    What chai tea bag brand would you recommend for this recipe?

    Thanks,

    Zainab

    1. Hi Zainab, we link to our favorite in the recipe notes under “Special Tools,” but any brand will work. Hope you enjoy the cupcakes!

  12. I want to cut the recipe in half since it’s only me and my bf eating them lol but how would you halve 3 eggs? What do you suggest?

    1. Hi Denise, our general rule for halving an egg is to crack it open, beat the yolk and white together with a fork, measure the volume (should be a few Tbsp), then use half. Enjoy!

  13. This recipe looks amazing but I was wondering if I can bake it in a 9 x 13 pan? I am planning on cutting the cake into different sized disks so that I can assemble/stack into a cup shape for a special birthday cake.

    1. Hi Shosh, You can follow the cake version listed in the recipe notes, and then bake that in a 9×13 inch pan for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

  14. Hi Sally:

    Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful recipe. Can’t wait to try it! Do you think i could color the frosting a light pink? I’m looing to make these for a baby shower and wondering if the frosting would lend itself to food coloring or if the spices would affect the color. Thanks!

    1. Hi Lauren! You could definitely color this frosting pink, though the flecks of spices will still show through. Let us know if you give it a try!

  15. Hi Sally, I am looking for a chai cake recipe to use in my mini bundt pan (makes 12 so similar size to cupcakes ), do you think the texture would work well for a mini bundt? I was thinking of doing a chai latte glaze for them. Just not sure if that would be good or if it really needs the buttercream to be complete. So excited to try this, love all of your recipes!

  16. I made these using a convection oven so I shortened the baking time to 16 minutes. Unfortunately the cupcakes were very dry.

  17. These tasted great, but they formed a crust on the bottom and the texture is weirdly gummy/chewy. Any ideas what that might be? Did I overbeat it when I added the dry ingredients and milk?

    1. Hi Bethany, If the cupcakes are browning on the bottoms your oven may be too hot. Are you baking on conventional settings (not convection/fan heat)? The flow of air from convection heat can cause baked goods to rise and bake unevenly and it also pulls moisture out of the oven which causes dry/crispy exteriors and under baked interiors. If you do use convection settings for baking, lower your temperature by 25 degrees F and keep in mind that things may still take less time to bake.

    1. Hi Anu, We have not tested this recipe with an egg substitute but let us know if you try anything. If you are interested, here are all of our egg free recipes.

  18. Yum yum! The flavor was wonderful! The frosting was very stiff, even after I added extra cream to it.
    My question is do you need to use the whisk attachment? The perfect vanilla cupcake recipe calls for the paddle and it seems almost the same method as this recipe. The whisk is so much harder to clean and batter gets stuck there and not mixed in unless one removes it after every step.

    1. Hi Mary, You can use the paddle attachment if desired. Next time be sure to spoon and level the sugar for the icing – if you scoop it you may be using too much which would make a very thick frosting. But if this happens you can always add even more milk until you reach the desired consistency.

      1. I weigh my ingredients, so the amount shouldn’t be an issue. I will use my paddle next time I make the cupcakes! So tasty!

  19. Hi Sally, I don’t have all the ingredients to make the chai spice mix but i do have chai tea bags. Would it be possible to grind up the teabags and use them as a substitute for the spice mix or would that alter the flavour too much?

    1. Hi Sofia, We don’t recommend it. Tea bags are filled with tea leaves which are different than just using the spices.

  20. Thanks for this recipe!! It’s delicious. A couple of subs I found that worked: I didn’t have regular milk, but I did have heavy cream, so for the milk instructions, I just used a 1:1 ratio of cream and water for the measurement. Also, I didn’t have sour cream or yogurt, so I made a buttermilk with my watered down cream and ACV. Both seemed to work great, the cake is light and fluffy and delicious. ALSO, I didn’t have cardamom, but I did have chai tea. I made the spice mix out of the rest of the ingredients, and still made the steeped milk in chai. It definitely tastes like chai and not just spice cake – I think it’s super tasty!

  21. I made these before and they were delicious! I was wondering if you’ve ever tried to create it in a muffin form as a breakfast? I’ve tried a few other Chia latte muffin recipes, but have yet to find one that really captures the full Chia flavor and doesn’t just taste like a spice cake. Maybe a new adventure! 🙂

  22. Hi sally! My cupcakes turned out a little dense. I had room temp ingredients, sifted cake flour and used yogurt instead of cream cheese. I don’t think that I overmixed the batter. Do you have any recommendations??

  23. Hi there! Could I use loose chai tea? Or does it have to be tea from a tea bag? (sorry I don’t drink tea so total dunce when it comes to this stuff)

    1. Hello! Yes, you could use loose leaf chai tea but you’ll need a strainer or infuser to properly steep. Hope this helps!

      1. Thank you so much, sorry one last question! I realised the recipe says 1 bag chai tea, any idea how much that would be when using loose leaf chai tea?

    2. These cupcakes are soo delectable. And bursting with chai flavor! I LOVE them!

  24. These turned out perfectly! The texture was fabulous. I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Cup4Cup flour blend.

  25. Hi,
    I love this recipe and was wondering if I could steep the chai tea bag using buttermilk or will this not work?
    Thank you so much.
    Simone

    1. Hi Simone, milk would be best instead of buttermilk here!

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