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

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

213 Comments

  1. My friend and I made this recipe and it was delicious. The only modification we made was we added just 5 cups of powdered sugar to the recipe instead of 5.5. We are both definitely in the mood for fall now! Would definitely make these cupcakes again!

  2. Hiya, what alternative can you use if you can’t get hold of cake flour? Can I use self raising flour instead?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Aisha, See the recipe notes for how to make a homemade cake flour substitute. We don’t recommend self rising flour – that would take additional recipe testing.

  3. Can I use boxed white vanilla from Duncan Hines?

  4. Hi Sally!
    I wanted to make this recipe but in an 8-inch cake pan version. How do I adjust the measurements of the ingredients? Thanks in advance!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jenifer, See the recipe notes for the full cake directions 🙂

  5. This recipe looks so amazing!! Do you know if Rose Chai tea would work in this recipe?

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ann, we haven’t tested this recipe with rose chai tea, but if you try it out let us know how it goes!

      1. What about chai tea concentrate like from Tazo?

  6. Safiya Hernandez Spencer says:

    These cupcakes were amazing. Sally never disappoints.

  7. Love these. Only sub was I used SMBC instead of ABC. I could eat the frosting right out of the bowl. Made a second batch, but I feel they were a bit drier or maybe denser?? I did mini cupcakes instead of regular, took them out at 11min. I think I may have had one of two issues. The sour cream may not have been warmed up enough, or I over mixed. Not sure which one, or both contributed to the drier, maybe denser texture. Still a winner. I think that frosting would be amazing on pumpkin anything.

  8. Do you think I can use this recipe and follow your Tie-Dye Cake/Cupcakes instructions to make it multicolored?
    Also, if I followed the cupcake directions and not the cake directions, what size cake pan would I use?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Cheni, You can color this batter, just be careful not to overmix. This batter works perfectly for a three layer 6 Inch Cake – or see the recipe notes for detailed directions for a 9 inch cake.

  9. Hi! Can I use a box cake mix for the cake?

  10. Absolutely fab! Turned out perfectly.

  11. Hi! Made this recipe today. Instead of cupcakes I used a 9×13. The flavor is great but I find the cake rather dense and feel like it should have risen more. I used the AP flour/corn starch alternative and followed directions precisely and sifted 3-4 times.

    Next time I made beat the egg whites separately and fold into the batter.

    What crumb should I have achieved with the recipe? Would my cake flour substitute have caused this?

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Carol, it could have been the cake flour substitute but I’m concerned about the size of the cake pan. This batter isn’t enough for a 9×13 inch cake so it may have tasted flat and dense because there simply wasn’t enough. Whipping egg whites separately does help lift up the crumb, but you may have better luck using the cake version linked in the recipe notes. I also wrote an article about preventing dense cakes if you want to give it a read as well.

  12. I made these today been looking at the Recipe, for a week . So today was the day. They did not disappoint . So delicious, and taste just like a chai Latte … so yummy Thanks for the recipe, and your instructions. I am so enjoying going through them all keep them coming , and all your tricks

  13. Hi Sally!
    Absolute love you. I’m making this recipe on a pretty big scale (distributing many in lieu of having a party) I know for the cake version, you mentioned a different recipe but I want to stick to this one. If I makes this recipe x5 can you advise on how best to freeze and then thaw out accordingly when needed? Also same thing for your “favourite carrot cake + cream cheese frosting” recipes. I’ll be preparing these three things tomorrow and just want to ensure they turn out as amazing as they usually do, if I freeze them for a few days prior. Thank you!!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Anita, We actually have a whole post on How to Freeze Cakes that you will find helpful! One thing to note is that for the best results we do recommend making any cake or cupcake recipe one at a time instead of doubling or more. It helps to avoid over or under mixing which results in a dense and heavy texture.

      1. Thank you so much for the quick reply. I’ll take a look at the post – does it mention freezing frostings as well?

  14. hi for the whole milk can i substitute it for almond milk

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Brianna, Yes! Almond milk works in these cupcakes!

  15. Hi Sally, I made these today and I am pretty sure I followed the directions precisely; however my cupacakes have the texture similar to a banana bread. The only change I made was the almond milk, which a previous person had asked and you said it would work well so I don’t know what happened. Thanks for all our recipes, tips, and videos by the way!

  16. So so so so SO good. Everyone LOVED THEM!

  17. How long do you bake of you make 6 jumbo muffins?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kelly, I’m unsure of the exact bake time needed for jumbo cupcakes but use a toothpick to check for doneness. When a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, they will be finished baking.

  18. Elizabeth Forbes says:

    Hi! These cupcakes were amazing in flavor. I went exactly by the recipe. The texture was too dry and spongy/ dense. I don’t know if an egg you’ll would help? Not using a mixer? What happened?? I really want to make them again. Thank you!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Elizabeth, We are so glad you enjoyed the flavor of these cupcakes! For the best texture be sure you are using cake flour and that you are measuring it correctly – spoon and level (or weigh) instead of scooping. It’s also possible they were slightly overbaked, next time try reducing your overall bake time by a minute or two. For more troubleshooting help you can visit the post 10 Tips for Baking the BEST Cupcakes.

  19. Hi Sally! I love this recipe and have made it many times– do you think I can color this frosting (purple) without it turning into an ugly mess? Thanks in advance 🙂

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Heather, Yes you should be able to color this frosting purple – we highly recommend gel food colors over the liquid.

      1. thanks for the quick response! just an update this did not work lol. used gel as always but the color went grayish brown– I think the frosting is too brown to begin with.

  20. I made this recipe into a 3 layer 6 inch cake for my birthday. I love chai lattes and this cake tastes exactly like a delicious, warm, cozy chai latte! Followed the recipe exactly except I used 2 chai tea bags in the steeped milk. And I think you’re right, the frosting is the best thing I’ve ever tasted!

  21. Hey Sally,
    I love this recipe! Wanted to try in a mini bundt cake form. Would that work and/or would cook times be different?

    Thanks!

  22. I’ve made these cupcakes with a chai SMBC, and they were delicious. I want to make an Earl Grey cupcake. I was thinking to seep the milk with Earl Grey tea and grind up early grey tea to replace the chai spice. It makes sense in my head. Any thoughts or do you see any forseeable problems?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jenn, that sounds incredible! We haven’t tested any Earl Gray tea desserts but would love to hear what you try.

  23. Sally, these were absolutely amazing!
    I appreciate the “make ahead” instructions when you’re preparing for a larger party.
    Thank you for all you do, and sharing your love of cooking, and baking!

  24. I love love all your recipes Sally! This one is no exception! These cupcakes were amazing! So soft and full of chai flavour. Yummy. I made SMBC with 2 tsps of chai mix and it was divine.

  25. May I use enriched cake flour, that’s what I have on hand. The recipe looks delicious.

  26. This was totally amazing! It took me awhile to make because midway through I forget I didn’t have vanilla. I refridgerator the dough and baked it the next day and it came out perfect. Everything about it all was truly wonderful and a great blend. Chai tea latte cupcakes are my new favorite. I originally hopped on this site for chocolate cupcakes and I saw this recipe in the corner and couldn’t resist.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Thank you so much for giving these cupcakes a try, Fin!

  27. Hi Sally,
    My daughter asked for a Chai cake for her birthday cake. So I wanted to use this recipe. You said to use the white cake as a base for this cake. So does that mean I do not double the the eggs and sour cream in the recipe? For clarification, I should use 5 egg whites and a half of cup of sour cream and the same amount of sugar (1 3/4 cups) and vailla (1TBSP) used in the white cake recipe. The vanilla extract for chai cake calls for 2 tsp. Thanks in advance for your help. By the way my daughter loved the chai cookies I made last summer. We really enjoy your recipes.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Stacy! Yes, just follow the recipe for white cake with the adjustments listed in these recipe notes, do not double it. Would love to hear how the chai cake goes for you!

      1. Trina,
        The Chai cake was so delicious. I followed the recipe as stated according to the white cake recipe. It was a huge hit with my family. Thank you so much for the quick response and advice. I will post a picture of the cake to the Sally’s Facebook page.

  28. Is this recipe suitable to make a 2 or 3 layer 6 inch cake?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

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

  29. 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. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      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!

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

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

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

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