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 our chai spice buttercream 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.
More Sweet & Spiced Baking Recipes
- Snickerdoodle Cake
- Chai Spice Bundt Cake
- Caramel Apple Spice Thumbprints
- Spice Cake
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
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