These frosted chai spice snickerdoodles are soft, chewy, and rolled in robust chai spices. Covered in a swirl of thick vanilla bean frosting, this sweet twist on traditional snickerdoodles is the perfect addition to your holiday cookie tray.
Tell Me About these Frosted Chai Spice Snickerdoodles
- Texture: The snickerdoodle cookie itself is just as soft as our original snickerdoodles. Today’s variation, however, uses melted butter and a little less flour. These changes promise an even chewier cookie with a more pronounced buttery flavor. You will LOVE it. Plus, the smooth frosting on top adds a lovely contrast to the sugary crunchy coating.
- Flavor: The snickerdoodle cookie dough is rich and buttery. Aromatic vanilla frosting combined with powerful chai spices – like ginger and cardamom – means each cookie tastes like a sweet ‘n’ spicy, creamy chai tea latte. Lots to love here.
- Ease: These are so simple! Prepare your dough, chill it for at least 45 minutes in the refrigerator, roll cookie dough balls in a chai spice mix, and bake.
- Time: With minimum dough chilling time and an optional frosting, these cookies don’t require a ton of time to prepare. There’s even a make-ahead option (see Recipe Note).
Choosing the Right Ingredients: Sugar and Spice
Snickerdoodles are usually rolled in a mix of cinnamon and sugar. Of course we’ll include that in today’s homemade cookies, but we’re also adding a bold and spicy chai mix as well as creamy vanilla bean frosting to kick up the sweet and spicy flavors. If you love chai spices and cookies, try these white chocolate chai snickerdoodles next. (That dough recipe is more similar to my original snickerdoodles!)
- Homemade chai spice. We’ll add a trio of flavorful chai spices to the cinnamon and sugar in this cookie’s coating: ginger, cardamom, and allspice. Traditional chai tea is also infused with black pepper and Chinese star anise, but Chinese star anise is hard to come by in many grocery stores. Still, the chai spice mixture used here is bold, spicy, and aromatic.
- Vanilla bean frosting. The frosting is optional in this recipe, but the sweet vanilla pairs perfectly with the spices in the cookie. It’s a scaled down version of this vanilla buttercream and includes the flavorful addition of vanilla bean. As an alternative and if you want even more chai flavor, try buttercream from our chai latte cupcakes on top. (Do it! So good!)
Overview: How to Make Frosted Chai Spice Snickerdoodles
The full printable recipe is below, but let’s walk through it quickly so you understand each step before we get started.
- Divide the butter. Take out 1 ½ cups of butter from the refrigerator. Set ½ cup aside on the counter to soften to room temperature for the frosting. Melt the remaining 1 cup of butter for the dough.
- Combine dry ingredients together.
- Whisk wet ingredients together.
- Combine the wet and dry ingredients. The dough will be thick but slightly crumbly.
- Cover + chill. To prevent the cookies from over-spreading, chill the cookie dough in the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes. Many cookie recipes that call for melted butter, such as these chocolate chip cookies, benefit from dough chilling.
- Make the homemade chai spice. Mix the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and allspice until combined.
- Shape the dough into balls. Roll each ball into the chai spice mixture and arrange on baking sheets.
- Bake. When you remove them from the oven, they will look puffy and underbaked. Let the cookies cool for at least 10 minutes on the baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack.
- Make the frosting. If you want to get fancy, you can pipe the frosting on the cooled cookies with a piping bag/tip. I like to keep things simple and spread it on the cooled cookies with a knife.
Vanilla Bean in the Frosting
If you’ve never scraped the seeds from a vanilla bean before, it can sound intimidating. But it’s SO much easier than you think. Plus, once you taste that real vanilla flavor in your desserts, you’ll want to use it in everything! Here’s how you do it:
- Where to Buy Vanilla Beans: You can find vanilla beans in the spice aisle at most major grocery stores or just buy them online. We highly recommend these options – they’re what we use to make homemade vanilla extract and homemade vanilla sugar – Madagascar vanilla beans, these Tahitian vanilla beans, or these Tahitian vanilla beans. (Note that each are different quantities.) We’ve made vanilla with them all.
- How to Scrape the Seeds from a Vanilla Bean: Once you have your vanilla beans, you want to extract the seeds. First, cut the bean down the middle lengthwise. Then, use your knife to scrape out all the black vanilla seeds you find on the inside. Those little black specks pack intense vanilla flavor.
- Substituting with Vanilla Extract: If you don’t have vanilla beans, you can simply leave it out of the frosting in this recipe. Or add ½ – 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract in its place.
If you can’t get enough of today’s cookies, there are several variations of these cinnamon-sugar coated treats you might also enjoy, including these maple pecan snickerdoodles and peanut butter snickerdoodles.
More Sweet & Spiced Baking Recipes
- Snickerdoodle Cake
- Chai Spiced Cinnamon Swirl Bundt Cake
- Caramel Apple Spice Thumbprints
- Spice Cake
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Frosted Chai Spice Sugar Cookies
- Prep Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
- Yield: 20-24 cookies
- Category: Cookies
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
Soft & chewy cookies rolled in a blend of chai spices and covered in creamy vanilla bean frosting. These frosted chai spice snickerdoodles are a chai tea latte in cookie form!
- 2 and 3/4 cups (344g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup (70g) packed light brown sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 cups (240g) confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 Tablespoons (45ml) heavy cream or milk
- seeds scraped from 1/2 of a split vanilla bean
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- When you take the butter out of the refrigerator to make the cookie dough, take out 1/2 cup more (1 stick) and allow to soften as you make the cookies. This softened butter is for the frosting.
- For the cookies: Toss the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the melted butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar together until smooth. You must use a whisk in order to prevent the butter from separating from the sugars. Whisk in the egg, then the vanilla until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together with a large spoon or rubber spatula. The dough will be very thick and heavy, yet slightly crumbly. Cover the dough tightly with plastic wrap and chill for at least 45 minutes and up to 2 days. (If chilling for longer than a few hours, be sure to let the cookie dough sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes because it will be quite hard.)
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside. Remove the cookie dough from the refrigerator and roll 1.5 Tablespoons of dough into each ball. You’ll have about 20-24 balls, give or take.
- For the rolling: Mix the sugar and spices together in a small bowl. Roll each dough ball into the mixture to coat evenly. Place 10 balls of dough onto each cookie sheet. Bake the cookies for 10-11 minutes. The cookies will look very puffy, soft, and under baked. That’s ok. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the cookie sheet for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- For the frosting (frosting is optional): With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy – about 2 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract, cream, and vanilla bean seeds with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 full minutes. Add 1 Tablespoon more cream if frosting is too thick. Taste and add 1/8 teaspoon salt if frosting is too sweet. I always add the salt.
- Frost cooled cookies. There may be leftover frosting depending how much you use on each cookie. Sprinkle with extra sugar/chai spice topping if you have any left, if desired. Cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for 1 week.
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Unfrosted cookies freeze well, up to 2 months. Coated cookie dough balls freeze well, up to 2 months. Allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bake as directed.
- Be sure to check out my top 5 cookie baking tips AND these are my 10 must-have cookie baking tools.
Keywords: chai spice sugar cookies, chai spice snickerdoodles
Reader Comments & Reviews
This is one of my go to recipes! It is such a reliable recipe that has never failed me. My friends devour these every time I bring them over. Thanks!
Hi Sally, question for you. Would I be able to use the easy non-royal icing recipe for your sugar cookies on this cookie and just add a dash of nutmeg to it? I’m looking for an icing that will set up so I can stack and ship them.
Hi Allison, that should work great! Let us know how it goes.
These are so delicious! The texture and thickness of these cookies makes them for me. Some in my family thought they were too sweet with frosting, perfect without. I loved them with and without. One of my favorite Sally’s recipes so far!
Hi Sally! Your recipes are my go-to and I check your blog daily for new baking ideas. 🙂 I had never really experienced trouble with your recipes in the past, but when I made these cookies last Sunday, they didn’t turn out quite as expected. Long story short, the cookies had to be made into bars in a 9 by 13 pan since the dough was too crumbly to form into balls. I have no idea how this happened, since I triple checked my measurements and was careful to follow the chilling instructions exactly…. It wasn’t disastrous; in fact, the bars were delicious and no one guessed that they were supposed to be cookies, but I am wondering how I can prevent an overly-crumbly dough next time. Any thoughts on this? Thanks again for sharing all of your tried and true recipes and baking tips with the world. We love your blog!
Hi Samantha! We’re happy to help troubleshoot. How were you measuring your flour? Be sure to spoon and level (or weight measure) your flour to ensure just the right amount. Adding too much flour can make the dough dry and crumbly as you mention. These 5 tips for improving your next batch of cookies might also be helpful for next time. We’re glad they were still a hit!
Hi Lexi, Thanks so much for your feedback! It’s weird because I remember being especially careful to properly spoon and level my flour as I made these cookies. So the issue probably doesn’t lie there, but after looking at Sally’s cookie-improving tips link, I think maybe I overmixed the dough?? I will make a special effort to be gentle with the dough next time, and also err on the lighter side with flour. Thanks again so very much!!
I have vanilla bean paste, and NO vanilla beans. Would I just use one teaspoon in the frosting in place of the extract, or would I increase as you suggest if only using extract?
Hi Kathleen, You can simply use 1 tsp of vanilla bean paste. Enjoy!
I have made these twice. The first time they were eaten too quickly to get any frosting on them. The second time I made them without family present, frosted them and was told to nix the frosting next time. They are DELICIOUS!
I am thinking of making these for one of my Christmas cookies that I give away – I am wondering how the frosting sets up? I usually stack some in holiday bags and wonder if the frosting will get sticky in the bags. Last year I did your chocolate mint ones with white chocolate, BIG hit! Your recipes are amazing!
Hi Beth, This frosting isn’t ideal for stacking or bagging the cookies. It’s like a buttercream frosting that you would put on a cake, so it stays pretty soft.
Would cream cheese frosting go well here?
Hi Joanna, definitely! Cream cheese frosting would be delicious.
These were so good and so pretty all on their own, I didn’t even frost them! Thanks for another great recipe!
I was wondering if it would be okay to freeze these with the frosting in them?
Hi Tina! That would be fine, but the frosting definitely tastes better fresh! 🙂
I don’t have any vanilla beans. How much vanilla extract would I use to substitute?
You can simply leave it out, or you can add 1/2 – 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in its place.
I was wondering how these might be if I used a chai tea frosting instead of the vanilla bean frosting? I’m super interested in the idea of combining a snickerdoodle with chai!
Would be delicious! Chai tea flavored frosting sounds really good.
These cookies are amazing. So soft and moist. However, I would like a little more of the chai spice inside the cookie. They taste just like a regular snickerdoodle to me. Would it be too much to add the ginger, cardomom, and allspice to the dough mixture for more chai spice flavor?
Brought these to family gathering, and they were well received. The cookie is soft, and the chai spices added goodness to traditional snicker doodle taste. I frosted mine and dipped in the sugar spice mix. Great cookie!
These cookies were delicious! I followed the recipe exactly as written and they turned out great. The cookies had a soft texture with a lovely flavor. Will definitely make these again!
Hi Sally! I’m sure it isn’t ideal, but would almond milk be an okay substitute for cream in the frosting for these cookies?
It would be fine- just not as creamy!
I made these last Christmas for a cookie exchange with some friends. They were excellent and everyone loved them. I plan to make them for the cookie exchange again this year.
Currently make these. I know they said puffy but when I took mine out they still looked like rolled raw dough balls. I tried smooshing them but then they starts to crack on the side. I put them in for a few minutes longer since it tasted like raw dough. I don’t know how yours looks so flat and mine arent anything like that and I followed the recipe excatly. Did you smoosh them before baking? What I tasted was delicious but concerned on how they should look after in the oven! Maybe post a picture of what it should look like?
Ashlee, I don’t press them down. I wonder if you overmeasure flour? That’s usually the culprit behind cookies not spreading in the oven. Be sure to spoon and level or weigh the flour for the best possible results.
I just made these, and they are so very good. Followed the instructions to a t and weighed my ingredients. No joke, guys, this frosting tastes like vanilla ice cream. Thanks for the recipe, it’s a keeper. Would be great at a cookie exchange!
These are crazy good. I like my chai deeply spiced – so for my own use, I might jack up the spice mixture for rolling a bit more next time. Regardless, this recipe is perfect as is! Thanks for helping me convince my husband that yes there are, in fact, cookies worth making beyond oatmeal chocolate chip (yawn). 🙂
These were absolutely delicious! They are going to be put into the holiday cookie exchange rotation! Thanks Sally!
These are great! You have amazing recipes that a beginner baker, such as myself, can follow with A+ results. Thank you for all the time you have put into this website.
Just made these tonight and they are delicious! I didn’t have any cardamom so I used nutmeg instead which seems to work well. I really like them plain but I’ll have to try at least one with frosting (I cheated and just bought pre-made frosting). Thanks for the tasty seasonal recipe : )