With cinnamon, cardamom, and vanilla packed into each delicious bite, these spiced chai cupcakes will quickly become your new favorite cupcake recipe!
The best fluffy chai cupcakes
What makes these classic homemade cupcakes even better than any box of cake mix you’ve ever tried before?
For starters, these have so much more bold chai flavor.
Topped with a thick layer of frosting, their melt-in-your-mouth soft and fluffy texture is so completely irresistible, you will never go back to boxed cake mix again.
You may also like this Chocolate Mug Cake
How to make chai cupcakes
Begin by combining the water, vinegar, oil or banana, and pure vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl. Whisk the liquid ingredients, then let sit for at least ten minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a muffin or cupcake tin with liners, or grease each cup very well.
Stir all remaining ingredients into the whisked mixture to form a cupcake batter. Do not overmix.
Divide the batter evenly into the prepared cupcake pan, filling each cup around two thirds of the way full.
Place the pan on the center rack of the oven. Bake for eighteen minutes or until the cupcakes have risen and a toothpick inserted into the center of a chai cake comes out mostly clean.
Remove from the oven, and let cool before frosting. If you can wait, I recommend refrigerating the healthy chai cupcakes overnight, very loosely covered. The liners will peel off easily after a day, and the frosting adheres better (without melting) to a cupcake that is not still warm.
If you prefer mini chai cupcakes to standard size pastries, simply decrease the baking time to nine minutes. Bake in a lined mini muffin tin
Ingredients for chai tea cupcakes
The recipe calls for flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, cardamom, salt, nutmeg, water, vinegar, pure vanilla extract, and optional oil, star anise, and cinnamon sticks for decoration.
There is no actual black tea in the chai spice cupcakes, just the spices and flavors often used to make coffee shop masala chai tea lattes.
Packed spelt flour or loosely measured white flour, oat flour, or gluten free all purpose flour will work in the recipe. I have not tried almond flour, whole wheat flour, or coconut flour and therefore cannot recommend any of those options here.
Coconut oil is wonderful in the cupcakes, and sunflower or vegetable oil also work. For oil free cupcakes, substitute an equal amount of mashed banana, applesauce, plain yogurt, almond butter, or even sweet potato or pumpkin puree.
For refined sugar free cupcakes, choose coconut sugar. Or for sugar free cupcakes, xylitol or a cup-for-cup granulated monk fruit blend can be swapped.
Star anise is beautiful but imparts a strong licorice flavor onto the cupcakes. Only use it as a garnish if you enjoy this flavor.
The recipe was adapted from my Applesauce Muffins
These cupcakes are wonderful to serve guests at a Thanksgiving brunch or for Christmas dessert. I brought them to a Friendsgiving party and they were a huge hit.
Chai spice cupcake recipe video
Above – watch the step by step recipe video
Chai latte frosting ideas
Vanilla bean icing
You can make a fancy vanilla bean glaze instead of frosting if you wish.
Simply combine half a cup of powdered sugar with one tablespoon milk of choice and the seeds from half a vanilla bean or a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste.
Spoon the vanilla icing over the chai pastries, and let it sit to harden.
Easy chai buttercream frosting
My favorite way to top the tea cakes is with the following whipped homemade chai latte buttercream icing.
Combine one cup of salted butter or plant based butter with three cups of powdered sugar or erythritol, one teaspoon of pure vanilla extract, half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, a fourth teaspoon each of ground cardamom and ground ginger, and a pinch each of ground cloves, ground allspice, and ground nutmeg.
Whip the ingredients until thick and smooth, using hand beaters or a stand mixer for best fluffy results.
Once the frosting achieves a smooth buttercream texture, turn off the beaters.
Spread the frosting onto the cupcakes with a knife or spoon. Or scoop it into a piping bag or pastry bag. I like to use this Wilton 8B star decorating tip.
Sprinkle on cinnamon sugar if desired, and garnish with cinnamon sticks.
Buy frosting at the grocery store
If you are pressed for time, feel free to frost the cupcakes with your favorite store bought icing.
Frosting flavors that pair well with the cupcakes include vanilla, chocolate, cinnamon, coconut, caramel, coffee, white chocolate, or cream cheese frosting.
Use leftover frosting on this Vegan Carrot Cake
Vegan chai cupcakes
It is easy to make this recipe dairy free and vegan.
Use plant based ingredients if making frosting from scratch. Or look for nondairy frosting at the grocery store. Surprisingly, many packaged containers of frosting are accidentally vegan, including options from Pillsbury, Duncan Hines, and Betty Crocker.
The unfrosted chai tea cupcakes, themselves, are already naturally milk free and nondairy, with no eggs required.
Dirty chai cupcakes
To turn the recipe below into a dirty chai cupcake recipe, replace half of the water with half a cup of brewed espresso or strong coffee.
Add a small pinch of black pepper along with the dry ingredients. If desired, you may also add a half teaspoon of instant coffee granules to the chai latte frosting.
Decorate with coffee beans and a dusting of cocoa powder.
Coffee lovers will enjoy this Frappuccino Recipe
Using gram measurements for the recipe
If your preference is to use a food scale instead of tablespoons and measuring cups, here are the cupcake ingredients in grams.
240 grams of water, 20 grams of vinegar, 7 grams of vanilla extract, 36 grams of oil or applesauce, 240 grams of flour, and 200 grams of sugar.
Also remember to add the baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt, allspice, cloves, cardamom, and nutmeg.
- 1 cup water
- 4 tsp white or cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp oil or mashed banana or applesauce
- 2 cups spelt, white, oat, or gf all purpose flour (or see keto option above)
- 1 cup sugar (unrefined or xylitol if desired)
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp each: salt, ground allspice, cloves, and cardamom
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- optional star anise and cinnamon sticks for decoration
- chai frosting recipe above, or frosting of choice
- To make the chai cupcakes recipe, preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease or line a cupcake tin. Whisk wet ingredients in a bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients just until evenly mixed. Divide among the tins. Bake 22 minutes. Cupcakes should look domed when you take them out. Allow to cool fully before frosting. If you let them sit very loosely covered overnight, the liners peel off easily by the next day.View Nutrition Facts
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