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

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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
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


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 (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


  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.


  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


  1. Hi sally can you use normal tea bag if you can’t find chia tea

  2. These are amazing!! I’ve been eyeing the recipe since last year but only just made them – half batch with same amount of steeped tea, milk cream Cardamom pods and cinnamon stick,
    cream cheese chai spices frosting and Biscoff speculoos cookies crumble topping – perfectly spiced and so good!!! Thank you Sally!

  3. Kaylee Caba says:

    would these be good with a plain buttercream frosting? Trying to stick to white for a bridal shower….

    1. Absolutely! Here’s my vanilla buttercream recipe.

  4. Hey Sally,
    Love the recipe. Just made it with my sister. The only problem is the final product (cake) was a little bit dense. It didn’t really rise at all. I believe my baking soda and powder were fresh. I used all purpose flour instead of cake flour. Could that be the cause? I saw your diy cake flour which I will try next time. Would love any advice!

    1. Hi Kate! Yep, it’s important to use cake flour in this recipe.

  5. The aroma of these are as appealing as the taste. Thank you so much for the recipe. It’s easily a favorite.

  6. Was curious if this could be done baked in tea cups? It would look very cute.

  7. I have wanted to make these since you posted the recipe last year. I do not like coffee, but I love chai! I was so excited to try this recipe! I did use your white wedding cupcakes recipe instead and modified it with the addition of the chai spices and chai milk (and left out the almond). They were amazing!!! I found a new favorite!

  8. Any tips on converting this to mini cupcakes (how full to fill the cups, baking temp & time)?
    Also wondering what you think about using this chai spiced buttercream and then coloring it? I know the chai makes it that nice creamy tan color, and i’m wondering if I can add red food coloring to make it red. I’m making mini cupcakes that look like caramel dipped apples!

    1. For around 35 mini cupcakes, bake for about 11-13 minutes, same oven temperature. You can certainly color the frosting- they sound like they will be adorable!

  9. These look delicious! We travel to relatives a lot, so I’m looking for a covered cupcake holder that I could place inside a large cooler to transport these. Do you have any recommendations?

    1. Hi Sera! I have a few travel cupcake holders and this one is my favorite. It has a tall top which is helpful if you pipe the frosting on the higher side!

  10. These look fantastic! If I’m avoiding tea, would it be alright to just use the milk with some of the spice mix in it?

    1. Yes, that should work Cindi. Enjoy!

  11. What can you substitute to make dairy free? Coconut milk, shortening and soy yogurt?

    1. Hi Nina, I have not tested these with dairy free ingredients but let me know if you do!

      1. Just made these with coconut milk, coconut yogurt, and vegan butter. Did a combo of 2/3 crisco and 1/3 vegan butter on the frosting. Turned out perfect!

    2. Thank you for these substitutions! I’m dairy free and this is perfect 🙂

  12. Hey Sally!

    I LOVE chai lattes, and this frosting was AMAZING!
    However, my cupcakes were a little dry and tasted a little gritty….
    Could they have been over-baked??


    Love your stuff,


    1. Thanks Alyssa! The cupcakes could have been over-baked, yes. Keep a close eye on them. Start checking at 18 minutes. Also, make sure you are spooning and leveling the cake flour. (Or weighing it!) Packing flour into the measuring cup almost always guarantees you have more than the recipe calls for.

      1. Thanks! I always weigh my ingredients, so that wasn’t an issue…Any idea why they may have tasted grainy???

  13. Hi Sally!
    Would this chai spice buttercream be a good option (consistency) for a cake roll? Specifically your pumpkin cake roll? – Thanks!

    1. YES!!! This would be so delicious in a pumpkin roll!

    2. Ashley Schwanebeck says:

      What’s the difference between using yogurt and sour cream? Is one better to use? And also, if using yogurt, does fat content matter?

      Thank you!

  14. Hi! I had a question about making these into a cake. Your vanilla layer cake recipe calls for 1/2 cup of sour cream, but so do the cupcakes. Should I increase the amount for the chai spice version of the cake, or just leave it alone?

    1. Hi Chelsea! Just leave it alone and follow the recipe in my notes 🙂 It’s not exactly double the recipe, but close! Same great taste and texture.

  15. I want to make these next week so I looked for cardamom at the store. Finally found it $13 for a 1/2 C jar! I didn’t buy it. I do have some cardamom pods at home I may try to grind somehow. Any tips?

    1. I have never used cardamom pods before! But you can also just leave it out or increase the cinnamon in it’s place or even substitute it for nutmeg if you have that. Let me know if you try the pods!

  16. Love the idea of Of this recipe. But if I don’t hv chai teabag
    Can i use loose chai mix to infuse the the milk?

    1. Absolutely!

  17. they are amazing!!! made them non-dairy with no problems at all! love love love i will be making them again!

  18. Cassie McGough says:

    Hey Sally! Any tips for how to incorporate coffee/espresso to make a ‘dirty chai’ cupcake? Love your blog!

    1. Hi Cassie! You can definitely add espresso powder to this cupcake batter. I recommend 1-2 teaspoons.

  19. Hi Sally, what would you think about using this chai buttercream with gingerbread cupcakes?

    1. Sounds incredible to me!

  20. Hi Sally! this sounds amazing, can i made a cake instead of cupcakes with the same amount of ingredients?

    Love your blog!

    1. Hi Edith, This recipe will fit perfectly into three 6-inch pans. Follow the baking directions on my post 6 inch cakes. Enjoy!

  21. I am trying this as a “tumeric spiced chai cake” as I’m modifying to account for tumeric flavour I just wanted to let you know that I really appreciate you putting measurements in metric for those of us international. Thank you!

  22. Wondering if I could add the Chai spice to the Swiss meringue buttercream???

    1. Absolutely. I would add a little at a time when you add the vanilla extract and salt to the Swiss meringue buttercream. Taste, then add more as needed/desired.

  23. HI! I;m wantint to make this into a loaf with a light simple glaze for a sweet breakfast treat. Do you think i could do the cupcake recipe and just alter the baking time? Or should I make other adjustments? Thanks!!

    1. Hi Sarah, This batter should fit nicely into a 9×5 loaf pan. I’m unsure of the bake time needed though.

  24. This is SOOOOO good! Especially if your a lover of chai tea like me! IT was so fluffy and almost melt in your mouth, it was a hit with my family and I can NOT wait to make it again! Thank Sally!!

  25. Hello! I just made this recipe GF and Dairy free, I used dairy free butter in the cake itself, and replaced sour cream with a homemade oatmilk heavy cream, but you could use coconut cream (turn can upside down, chill in fridge overnight or in freezer a couple of hours, and then scrape just the cream off top and use it 1:1 sour cream/yogurt. I’ve also seen folks make their own sour cream by using any sort of dairy free milk and mixing a teaspoon of baking SODA in it, letting it sit and develop bubbles for a bit before adding it to the mixture. Also, I used vegetable shortening (organic Nutiva brand, it’s red palm shortening) entirely for the frosting, plus the heavy cream mix and powdered sugar, a super stable buttercream! I love the cake of these, I could eat it by itself for days! However, the frosting is a bit too sweet for my liking, which is what I feel is what often happens when making a dairy free/vegan buttercream is that it just ends up too sweet. I am still trying to figure out the right balance for myself, but this recipe was super easy!

  26. Just made these a couple days ago and the cupcakes were more dense than I was expecting – almost a bit chewy. I think I may have overmixed after adding the milk because I mistakenly added it all at once rather than slowly pouring as it mixed, and that forced me to then mix longer in order to make sure it was all incorporated. Does that sound likely, or is there some other likely cause?

    1. Hi John, Yes that was likely the culprit! When you overmix the batter, you run the risk of over-developing the gluten. This results in squat-looking cupcakes, dense-textured cupcakes, and heavy-tasting cupcakes. Here are more of my Tips for Baking the Best Cupcakes if you are interested!

  27. I’m not a huge fan of chai so I used this recipe as inspiration for a London fog cupcake instead. I steeped the milk with loose leaf earl grey tea (then strained the leaves out of course) and replaced the chai spice mix with 3.5 tsp of finely ground loose leaf earl grey tea (ground in a coffee grinder and then passed through a sieve worked the best) and BOY are they good. I topped them with your vanilla buttercream and garnished with some loose tea leaves. When I initially dug into them they were delicious but the tea flavor was really subtle and somewhat overpowered by the buttercream. But when I tried one the next day the tea flavor really developed in the cupcake and it really tasted like a London fog!! I think the flavors need a day to blend together just like with a good french macaron. I’m so happy with how they turned out so thanks for this great recipe! I’m never going back to all purpose flour again!!

  28. Made these yesterday exactly as written and they were delicious! I halved the frosting and still had a ton leftover as mine were not as beautifully frosted as Sally’s. The cupcakes were soft, and not dense with a strong chai flavor. It smelled like autumn in my kitchen while these were baking.
    Anyways.. I do still have 3 egg yolks in my fridge that I need to make tomorrow — maybe one of your pudding recipes??

  29. Hi Sally, I wanted to try these because they looked so delicious! And I have done many of your recipies and that’s why I was surprised when they didn’t come out as expected. I followed perfectly the recipe and it tasted delicious! But when I put them in the oven they got bigger and they got the perfect form, I didn’t open the door of the oven or anything like that, but then they got all the way down, do you know why this could have happened?

    1. Hi Camila! Do you mean they rose perfectly, then sank down? Two things can come into play here– first, make sure you aren’t over-filling the cupcake liners. Second, the cupcakes could have been under-baked. A couple extra minutes in the oven will help for next time.

  30. Madeleine Cogbill says:

    Quick question: Can I use milk in the frosting if I don’t have heavy cream?

    1. Yes, milk works in a pinch!

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