Chai Latte Cupcakes

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. Find out why some recipes – like these chai latte cupcakes – call for both baking soda and baking powder.

chai buttercream in a glass bowl

chai buttercream swirled on cupcakes with cinnamon stick garnish

More Chai Inspired Recipes

Print
clock clock icon cutlery cutlery icon flag flag icon folder folder icon instagram instagram icon pinterest pinterest icon facebook facebook icon print print icon squares squares icon heart heart icon heart solid heart solid icon
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
  • 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

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
  • 56 cups (600-720g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons chai spice mix (above)
  • 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. Add 5 and 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, the heavy cream, 1 and 3/4 teaspoons chai spice mix, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. Add up to 1/2 cup more confectioners’ sugar if frosting is too thin or another Tablespoon of cream if frosting is too thick. Add 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 | Piping Bags | Wood Slice Cake Stand | Wood 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.

chai latte cupcake with a bite taken from it

220 Comments

  1. Sally I thought you loved PSL’s!! Whenever Starbucks starts advertising them I straight away think of you and your love for scarves and pumpkin desserts. (Remember years ago you used to show us the scarves or sweaters you’d buy for fall). And I can’t wait to see what you created for the birthday desserts. Take care

    1. I used to love pumpkin spice lattes, but now I’m just sort of… ehh… about them! I still have big love for any and all pumpkin baking, don’t you worry. And I’m so excited to share all the birthday dessert details with you all!!

  2. Happy belated to Noelle! And I’m with you- chai tea lattes are my very favorite thing. They taste like a hug in a cup. That said…. pumpkin spice chai lattes are totally my jam this time of year.

    1. That sounds amazing!! 🙂

  3. I love chai latte! These cupcakes look and sound so delicious!

    1. Thank you Natalie!

  4. These sound incredible, I need to make them ASAP! Could I sub almond milk for the whole milk?

    1. Definitely. Almond milk would be great in these cupcakes!

  5. Michele Mallory-Davidson says:

    These look and sound amazing! I just added chai tea to my grocery list, can hardly wait to try them.
    I don’t get pumpkin spice lattes, maybe it’s because I am 51? Just not one of my favorites, though I like pumpkin baked goods.

    1. I hope you love them- let me know what you think!!

    2. I’m 51 too, and I don’t get PSLs, and I never did, even though I love pumpkin baked goods!!!!! And don’t get me started on matcha anything! Yuck! I like my lattes plain! But I do love chai, and these cupcakes look dreamy Sally! Happy Belated Birthday to your sweet Noelle!

      1. Michele Mallory-Davidson says:

        Too funny Marilu!
        I don’t get the matcha thing either, tastes like wet grass! LOL

      2. I too don’t get matcha anything and I’m 35… but chai spice yes, these cupcakes look incredible.

  6. sheenam | thetwincookingproject.net says:

    Lovvve chai latte! This looks great sally. Thanks for sharing another amazing recipe.

  7. do you have a brand of chai you’d suggest

    1. nevermind I just found it

    2. I use and love Stash brand chai tea bags for drinking + for this recipe!

  8. OMG Sally! I’m embarrassed to tell you just how excited I am to make these, I too am a Chai Latte fan (although I prefer them iced) so I can’t wait to make these this weekend! However, I am with you on being over Pumpkin Spice but may I recommend you try a Pumpkin Spiced Chai Latte, my mind was blown and my basicness level skyrocketed with that one! Thank you for the recipe, your blog continues to be amazing and remains my all time favorite spot for recipes 🙂

    1. I’ll have to try the PSCL! lolol!! I hope you love these – happy baking 🙂

  9. Patricia @Sweet and Strong says:

    I am SO with you! Chai Lattes are > than Pumpkin Spice! And omg I just want to eat all that buttercream!

    1. It’s sooooo creamy!

  10. These sound incredible. I’ve been having a chai moment for like 8 months. Chai spice in my oatmeal every time, chai snickerdoodles, and chai spiced muffins. I don’t get back to your blog often enough – it always makes me so happy to read! Also, I am totally with you on the matcha/grass thing – I will not ever get the fascination. I’m an iced mocha girl myself…grown-up chocolate milk, as I like to call it lol. Happy birthday wishes again to your sweet girl!

    1. I’ve never thought to put chai spice in my oatmeal and literally can’t make a bowl quick enough. Best suggestion ever, thank you!!!!

  11. The Better Baker says:

    Sally-I am wild about chai tea! You are brilliant to come up with this idea. I’m a big fan of yours too. Keep on keeping on! Must make this soon.

    1. Thank you so much! Hope you enjoy these cupcakes 🙂

  12. I feel the same way about Matcha! I’m glad I’m not the only one. I’m excited to try these cupcakes. Chai is my favorite..all year round!

    1. YES! Happy baking!

  13. Catherine Smith says:

    Oh my goodness, this sounds amazing!!! Can it be made into a layer cake?

    1. Hi Catherine! Definitely! I suggest using my vanilla layer cake recipe. You can slightly increase the amount of chai spice mix. Use 2 tea bags for the milk since it calls for 1 cup.

      1. I was wondering about a making a layer cake as well. Do you think the cupcake recipe as is would make a 6” cake?

      2. Hi Tammy! Yes, this cupcake recipe fits into 3 6-inch cake pans. Check out my 6-inch funfetti cake which was made with my funfetti cupcakes batter, the same cupcake batter as today.

  14. i’m with you Sally! I cannot get into matcha- i have tried and tried! it absolutely tastes like grass! i’m sure these cupcakes taste 1,000 x better.

    1. Lol!! I guarantee these taste a million times better 😉

  15. I’m with you on the chai spice latte being the best! I like the pumpkin spice latte, but I definitely prefer sweet chai and plain old vanilla. Can’t decide whether I love the chai cupcake or frosting here more! I’m so ready for fall and Halloween baking 🙂

    1. The BEST, right?! I hope you get a chance to try these 🙂

  16. I am not a fan of pumpkin anything, so I am thankful for this chai spice oasis this time of year!! Can’t wait to try these ASAP! Love the chai snickerdoodles too, by the way. One of my favorite cookies to make!

    1. I’m so happy you love the chai snickerdoodles- such a cozy fall recipe!

  17. These look amazing! Drink-inspired cupcakes always catch my eye.

    1. Thanks Elizabeth!

  18. I seriously could not agree with you more! Matcha totally tastes like grass and PSL’s are horribly overrated. Chai sounds infinitely more comforting to me this fall! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  19. I am with you on the Matcha lattes tasting like grass. And I too this year have thought that PSLs are too sweet. Though I can’t get enough London Fog Lattes in my life. Oohh that would make a good cupcake too.

  20. Hi Sally! I was so excited to see these in my email just now because I just bought a box of chai tea to make Goodie Godmother’s Chai Banana Muffins and they were amazing! Now these are next on my baking list! And that giant mound of chai spiced buttercream!. I can’t wait!! P.s. there’s something I’m over too!! Sshhhhh…..mermaids and unicorns Everywhere!!!

  21. Oh my! These look amazing. I just learned from some new Indian friends that chai actually means “tea.”

  22. I love PSL’s but with half the syrup I always ask for one pump, two in a medium coffee is over the top way to sweet. I tried the CTL’s at two different coffee shops and I thought they were way to sweet too but the cupcakes look and sound really good so I may have to try them! Sounds like the birthday party festivities were amazing for Noelle can’t wait to see next weeks post 🙂

  23. These look to die for! Absolutely delicious! You’ve done it again! So, yes, not only is it awesome as and addition in oatmeal, we’ve been doing this at my house for ages. But, sprinkle your chai over leftover plain rice….any kind plus a bit of honey…so yummy! Kids love this! So now, you’re going to have to maybe incorporate this into a cheese cake or some type of bar for the holidays. There are different intensity levels of chai that I’ve seen at coffee houses. Some have a spicy chai…yum..like a boost of a cinnamon red hot. Also, a chocolate chai…mmmmmm. Come on Sally, you can do it! Thanks again for the sunny spot in my day!
    We love you in Tucson!

  24. I was just thinking about making chai cupcakes a few days ago and then you posted this. It’s a sign that i need to bake some lol. Plus i just bought some chai tea bags last night!

  25. I have always loved a good Chai Tea Latte. Turning it into a cupcake is just inspired. Way to go!

  26. I love the flavouring idea but would love it in a cake instead. Would this recipe work? How would I adjust baking?

    1. Definitely! I suggest using my vanilla layer cake recipe. You can slightly increase the amount of chai spice mix. Use 2 tea bags for the milk since it calls for 1 cup.

  27. I would like a recipe for chia latte

  28. cupcakes in St. Louis says:

    Wow. These look fantastic. I can’t wait to try this recipe.

  29. Brittany Audra @ Audra's Appetite says:

    If I get a PSL, I ask for half the syrup/sweetener so it’s just the perfect amount for me! Love how you added chai spice both in the cupcake and frosting! 🙂

  30. Hello Sally
    This is my first visit to your vlog, and when I took one look at that Chai Latte Cupcake with that luscious swirl of spiced buttercream, you had this vegan hooked.
    I am CRAZY for Chai spices, and I make my own frequently with soymilk and brown rice and sugar for a nice comfot food when I need it.
    I hope you don’t mind, but I am going to try my very best, and everything I learned (maybe not THAT MUCH) in the last 13 months of being a vegan, to veganize this inspired recipe of yours. Before I attempt it, any suggestions from the Master of the Recipe on converting it to plant based?

    1. Hey Susan! Welcome to my blog, thanks for visiting! I am very inexperienced in vegan baking, so I leave that to the experts. I know for sure that you can use a nondairy milk and nondairy yogurt (in place of the sour cream). 🙂

1 2 3 5

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

With kitchen-tested quality recipes and step-by-step tutorials, my goal is to give you the confidence to bake and cook from scratch.

Sally's signature

Recipes You’ll Love

Archives

Categories

Join the community on the 1st of every month as we tackle a new challenge recipe. Review Sally's Baking Challenge FAQ page if you have any questions.

View More

A tradition since 2013, every December we countdown to Christmas with 10 new cookie recipes in a row!

View More

The first week of every November is all about Thanksgiving Pies.

View More

My Cookbooks

Sally's Cookbooks

About Sally

Welcome to my Kitchen!

I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally

×
Skip to toolbar