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!
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.)
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.
- 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.
- Prepare the chai–infused 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- Garnish cupcakes. A cinnamon stick and a sprinkle of sugar/leftover chai spice mix adds a rustic chic garnish to our chai latte cupcakes.
First, here is our chai tea milk that we’ll use in the cupcake batter. This stuff is potent!
Because of the chai tea milk and chai spices, the chai cupcake batter is a beautiful shade of caramel.
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.
More Chai Inspired Recipes
- White Chocolate Chai Snickerdoodles
- Chai Cinnamon Swirl Bundt Cake
- Easy Chai Spice Donuts
- Frosted Chai Spice Snickerdoodles
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.
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
- 1 bag chai tea
- 1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk, at room temperature
- 1 and 3/4 cups (210g) 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
- 5–6 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- What to Do with Leftover Egg Yolks? I have some recipe ideas for you!
- 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.
- Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking the BEST cupcakes before you begin!
- 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.