Vanilla Chai Cupcakes

I absolutely love chai.  Ever since college, it is still hands-down my favorite drink to order at coffee shops. (And even lately – I’ve been experimenting with recipes making it at home!)  Whether it’s cool and iced in the summer, or warm and cozy in the winter, a good chai is definitely my “comfort” food of the warm drink world!

So when I recently saw some chai cupcake recipes popping up on the blogosphere, I knew I had to give them a try.  Then I also found out the theme for this week’s Holiday Recipe Exchange was vanilla, I figured this was the perfect week to try some vanilla chai cupakes – yum!

Unfortunately, to be honest, my first batch was a total disaster, thanks to accidentally adding just 1/2 cup flour instead of 1 1/4 cups flour. Arggggg.  But thankfully once I actually followed the recipe, they were extraordinary!  The vanilla and chai spice flavors are absolutely delicious, and the cupcakes came out with a perfectly light and fluffy texture.  Then once they were iced with this simple but rich cinnamon buttercream…look out.  Completely irresistible.  :)

So if you love chai, you must give these a try!

Vanilla Chai Cupcakes

All of the goodness of chai in a DELICIOUS (and easy!) cupcake! You will love this Vanilla Chai Cupcakes recipe!


Cupcake Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract, store-bought or homemade
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. chai spice mix (recipe below)
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar

Chai Spice Mix Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

Buttercream Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract, store-bought or homemade
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • remainder of the chai spice mix
  • 1 Tbsp. cold milk, if needed to thin out the buttercream


Cupcake Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare a cupcake pan with liners.

In a small bowl or plastic bag, combine the chai spice mix ingredients. Set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the vanilla and beat in one egg at a time. Stir in 2 teaspoons of the chai spice mix. Fold in the flour and buttermilk alternately and stir until combined, don’t over mix. Mix together the baking soda and vinegar in a separate bowl, then add it to the batter and mix until combined.

Spoon into prepared cupcake tins until 3/4 full and bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Buttercream Directions:

In a stand mixer, beat the butter until it is creamy. On low, mix in the vanilla and the rest of the chai spice mix. Carefully beat in the powdered sugar about ½ cup at a time. If the buttercream is too thick add 1-2 tbs of cold milk until the desired consistency is reached. Then pipe onto cooled cupcakes with your favorite frosting tip. (I used a 1M Wilton tip.)

If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and hashtag it #gimmesomeoven. I'd love to see what you cook!

Ali’s Tip:

I’ve mentioned this before, but an easy way to get perfectly sized cupcakes (and muffins!) is to scoop the dough into the muffin tins with an ice cream scoop.  I like this one.


Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Beanilla.

Leave a Comment:


  1. McKenzie — November 17, 2010 @ 9:39 am (#)

    I honestly don’t think I have ever had chai anything! What rock have I been living under? These look amazing.

  2. Karen (Let There Be Food) — November 17, 2010 @ 9:56 am (#)

    These look delicious and I love your other cupcakes so I’ll give these a try. I don’t have cardamom in the house – it is crucial enough that I need to go out and purchase some?

    I made the salted caramel icing the other day and had leftover caramel for some apples the next day. AMAZING! Thanks for showing me how easy it was to make my own.

  3. Katie — November 17, 2010 @ 10:23 am (#)

    Oh my gosh, I am a chai lover. I can’t wait to try these! My beverage of choice is anything pumpkin chai…so I may add a pumpkin twist to these!

  4. Sara — November 17, 2010 @ 10:31 am (#)

    Looking forward to your chai recipe!

  5. Julie — November 17, 2010 @ 1:10 pm (#)

    i can’t wait to add it to my chai repertoire! i love chai and your recipes are always fabulous!

  6. Sharon — November 17, 2010 @ 2:00 pm (#)

    I’ve got to try these, and soon!!

  7. Jamie | My Baking Addiction — November 17, 2010 @ 7:27 pm (#)

    Oh my goodness! I am a HUGE Vanilla Chai Tea fanatic! I have to make these asap! Thanks so much for submitting these beauties to our Holiday Recipe Exchange. Best of luck in the contest!

  8. Meister @ Eat This Neighborhood — November 17, 2010 @ 8:59 pm (#)

    I love chai, too! Have you ever had a “dirty chai,” or a chai with a shot of espresso in it? It’s this professional barista’s guilty pleasure—tastes like pumpkin pie in a cup. Yum.

  9. Kelley — November 17, 2010 @ 10:02 pm (#)

    I love chai! These look delicious!

  10. CaSaundra — November 18, 2010 @ 8:58 am (#)

    Glad they turned out so good for you the second time around–I will have to add these to my list of “to-make-cupcakes”! :-)

  11. Teri [a foodie stays fit] — November 18, 2010 @ 10:40 am (#)

    oh my goodness…these sound like my DREAM cupcake!!!

    Gorgeous pictures (found this through Tastespotting!).

  12. UrMomCooks — November 18, 2010 @ 10:04 pm (#)

    I am a huge fan of coffee, but chai cupcakes I can get excited about! Thanx for the chai recipe – I always wondered what the flavors were! These look beautifully delicious!

  13. Nikki Burns — November 19, 2010 @ 9:10 pm (#)

    Crazy world. I just made something very similar to these on the 11th. Mine are gluten free though. If you ever need a gluten free version, check ’em out. They were absolutely to die for. Rave reviews with the coworkers :)

  14. Amy — November 21, 2010 @ 12:39 pm (#)

    These sound AMAZING!!!!!!!

  15. Lisa B. — November 22, 2010 @ 8:35 am (#)

    What are those little decorative balls? Can anyone point me in the right direction? I really want to use something similar to decorate mine! They look wonderfully fancy. : )

  16. Leanne — November 22, 2010 @ 10:54 pm (#)

    Hi! I thought of something you might like. I was at a restaurant where they served Hot Apple Chaider (apple juice or apple cider, heated up with chai drink mix.) It’s AMAZING! I thought that these cupcakes would be delish as is OR with some tweaks to get the apple cider flavour. I can’t decide whether the cider flavour should go in the cupcake itself or in the icing (b/c honestly I can’t figure out how to make butter cream apple-ish) but your recipe has inspired me to test it out!! :)

  17. Sam — November 23, 2010 @ 12:46 pm (#)

    I made these last night. They are delicious and a huge hit with the fam! Thank you for the post and the inspiration!

  18. Lisa — November 24, 2010 @ 3:03 am (#)

    These sound delightful. I absolutely love chai and even have a chai biscotti recipe on my blog. Gorgeous cupcakes.

  19. Wendy — December 6, 2010 @ 10:28 am (#)

    These look absolutely amazing! I want to try this recipe out for a couple of upcoming Christmas parties – how many cupcakes does one batch make?

    Thanks again!

  20. Manu @ Chez Manu - Italian Home Cooking — January 21, 2011 @ 4:56 pm (#)

    These look sooo yummy! Will give it a shot for sure! :-)

  21. Nannette Minley — February 28, 2011 @ 11:10 am (#)

    Just so you know, I successfully turned this recipe into a vegan and gluten-free cupcake recipe. It was sooo delicious! Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting!

  22. Megan — April 21, 2011 @ 12:01 pm (#)

    These were incredible! A big hit among friends. I had more than one person tell me they were the best cupcakes they’d ever eaten. What a way to make a baker blush!! :)

  23. Sharon — July 30, 2011 @ 11:00 am (#)

    Fabulous!! I doubled the recipe, added the seeds from a vanilla bean, and baked it in a bundt pan (about 50 minutes). Then I halved the frosting recipe. Amazing cake, flavorful and delicious. :)

  24. Phoebe — August 2, 2011 @ 6:12 am (#)

    lovely looking cupcakes!

  25. Rachel — September 13, 2011 @ 8:04 pm (#)

    I just made these and they were delicious!! I wanted to make these with stuff I had around the house, and chai spices were not on that list–so I steeped some chai teabags in warm cream and substituted that for the buttermilk. If you squeeze the teabags when you remove them, you get a lot of the flavor out. The flavor was still probably not as strong, but they turned out very well all the same. Thanks!

  26. morgan — September 23, 2011 @ 7:18 am (#)

    What do you mean by plain flour? I’m a culinary student very close to graduating specializing in baking there for I’m assuming your meaning All-purpose flour, but for people who don’t know what you classify as “plain” flour you should put that in the recipe and just assume that the person your making the recipe for knows nothing in the kitchen and be more specific than just saying “plain”….. just a suggestion

  27. Nelson — January 22, 2012 @ 4:25 pm (#)

    I was excited to try these, I absolutely LOVE chai tea. Honestly, though, I thought they just tasted like carrot cake minus the carrot.. not totally impressed. :(

  28. Dessa — February 13, 2012 @ 8:25 pm (#)

    I was so excited to try them! I made them tonight and unfortunately about half of my batch did not cook properly even when adding another 10 minutes to the bake-time. My Buttercream was also too runny ): . Next time I’ll add a little more powdered sugar, a little less of the spices, and up the temperature! Other wise these are delicious and if I could just make them properly they’d be even better!

  29. Liese — February 14, 2012 @ 3:20 pm (#)

    Made these today for my Son in Law’s birthday-Very grownup taste and the chai flavor hit the mark perfectly-Will make these again most definitely

  30. Jordan — March 21, 2012 @ 11:27 am (#)

    YUM! I have made these several, several times over the years! Always a hit! If you dont like chai these are not for you but i love love love them, eating them when they are still a little warm is the best!

  31. Meagan — March 25, 2012 @ 8:45 pm (#)

    Hi, these look so yummy! I went into the supermarket to look for ground cardamom and it said on the package that it was dehydrated garlic made from mature cloves, is this what I would use in this recipe? Please help I really want to make them!

  32. Karen — April 5, 2012 @ 2:17 pm (#)

    I made these cupcakes last week. Although the flavor was really good, they were very dry. I would add some sour cream or buttermilk to them if I made them again. I liked being able to buy cardamon at Sunflower Market in a very small quantity.

  33. Katy — August 7, 2012 @ 12:50 pm (#)

    Just made these, they’re excellent. Thanks!

  34. Stephanie — February 24, 2013 @ 7:43 am (#)

    I baked those cupcakes and they were a total hit – amazingly good. Thanks!

  35. Megan — May 5, 2013 @ 9:43 pm (#)

    I’ve made these about 6 times now and everyone always asks me to make them again! Such a hit… delicious :) ‘Chai’ love them!!

  36. Shelly — September 25, 2013 @ 11:14 am (#)

    Hey Ali,
    I have made these cupcakes several times. Always rave reviews! Anyways, I spilled on my printed recipes, and am back to print a new one, and can’t find where to make a printer friendly version? Am I missing something?

  37. Emily — October 12, 2013 @ 9:22 pm (#)

    I made these a few nights ago and just to change things up a bit I mixed up a batch of homemade apple pie filling that I spooned into the center of each cupcake. It was an AMAZING surprise when I served them for dessert!

  38. Krissy — November 20, 2013 @ 9:04 pm (#)

    These are delicious. I made two batches, one using this recipe and I adapted this recipe for the second batch to make them dairy free for my dairy allergic child, using rice milk and earth balance spread, they turned out even better!

  39. Keith — February 17, 2015 @ 8:56 am (#)

    I made these for a Valentines Day cupcake contest at work. While my wife thought that they tasted more like spice cake than chai, they were a huge hit at work. In fact, they won the flavor category. Will definitely make these again.

  40. Amy — May 12, 2015 @ 4:02 pm (#)

    I made these for a bake sale yesterday and they were a hit! I did add cream cheese to the frosting and it put them over the top! Thanks!

    • Ali — May 12th, 2015 @ 10:25 pm

      Thanks Amy, I’m glad they were a hit!


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