Are you a fan of Chai Tea Lattes? Well, these Chai Cinnamon Rolls are for you! Fluffy homemade cinnamon rolls, make with a brioche dough and packed with chai tea spices. All finished off with a super creamy and easy chai latte frosting.
Why you'll love them
- Brioche dough - if you've not tried a brioche based cinnamon roll recipe yet, then this will be a fantastic introduction to the softest and fluffiest style of cinnamon roll ever! The homemade brioche does take a little work, but this is mostly taken care of by a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Leaving you with a buttery soft enriched dough.
- Homemade chai spice mix - my DIY chai spice mix is a blend of some cupboard staples into a warming and cozy flavour combination. You can buy pre-prepared spice mixes, but making your own means that you have control to tweak this to your tastes.
- Creamy chai latte frosting - the icing on these Chai spiced cinnamon rolls is also loaded with a mix of spices, packing the classic punch of a chai latte. Plus, with the secret ingredient of heavy cream, your frosting will be smooth and meltingly cream as you lather it over the warm rolls.
Chai Spice Mix
So, to start this recipe, you might be thinking, what is chai? Well, in practice chai has become synonymous with a spice mix and beverages like chai spice lattes. This mix of spice is usually made up of a combination of flavours dominated by cardamom, cinnamon and ginger.
To make the homemade chai spice in my recipe here, you'll need:
- Cardamom - I like to use store bought ground cardamom, but you can also (in some places, more easily) find cardamom pods. You can remove the seeds from the pods and crush these with a mortar and pestle to achieve the same effect.
If you're looking for more Chai inspiration, check out my Chai Marshmallow recipe.
This recipe is fundamentally divided into three parts: the dough, the filling and the frosting.
The dough for this recipe is my standard brioche cinnamon roll dough. For a more detailed breakdown of the ingredients and tips specific to these, see my dedicated recipe for Brioche Cinnamon Rolls.
The key tips to always remember with a brioche dough are:
- The dough takes a bit longer than you may be used to for kneading together. This is because it is a super enriched dough - using both milk and a significant amount of butter to get the classic brioche texture.
- Don't be alarmed by the stickiness - brioche dough stays quite a wet and sticky dough. While it should hold itself together by the time you're scraping it into a bowl to proof, it will probably not pull itself clean of your mixing bowl and will feel quite slick.
- Brioche is best handled chilled, don't remove from the refrigerator until you're nearly ready to roll it out and shape your cinnamon rolls. This is because the butter in the dough will begin to melt (especially if it's hot out) and these will become more difficult to manage.
To make the filling for these rolls, you'll need:
- Butter - unsalted butter, softened at room temperature. You can use salted butter here, but it will add a bit of saltiness to the overall recipe.
- Chai spice mix - either a store bought version of a mix of ground spices to create this yourself. I've included the measurements for a homemade Chai Spice that works well in these rolls as part of this recipe.
- Brown sugar - light brown sugar, firmly packed measurements. You can substitute with dark brown sugar, but this will have a more intensely molasses flavoring, which you may find overpowers your chai spice. Alternatively, you can use granulated sugar here.
This recipe uses a Chai Latte frosting made with:
- Powdered sugar - sometimes called icing sugar or confectioners sugar. This doesn't normally need to be sifted for use in a cinnamon roll frosting. You may wish to sift your if it has particularly stiff or unyielding lumps.
- Heavy cream - or double cream. This ingredient is sometimes referred to by different names. You're essentially looking for a thick cream that you would normally use for making homemade whipped cream.
In the frosting I use a pared down chai spice mix from the one I use in my cinnamon roll filling. You can amend the spicing here to your personal preferences and/or utilise a shop bought Chai spice mix.
How to Make Chai Cinnamon Rolls
To make these cinnamon rolls, you'll first need to prepare your brioche dough. To find a more details description of the process, see my Brioche Cinnamon Roll recipe.
Let's pick up from the point where your dough has completed its overnight slow proof.
Filling and Rolling
- Start by lining a square baking pan with parchment paper. Set this aside while you prepare the rolls.
- In a small mixing bowl, use a spoon or spatula to mash together the softened butter, sugar and spices until you have a smooth and spreadable mixture.
- Next, scrape the dough out of the bowl and place on a well floured work surface. Use your hands to press this into a rectangle and then use a floured rolling pin to roll it out larger to about 12" wide by 15" long.
- Spread the spiced butter mixture over the surface of your dough, leaving a bit of a gap around the edges.
- Then, roll the dough from the bottom to the top to form a tight log.
Cutting and Second Proof
- Using thin kitchen twine or flavorless dental floss, trim the ends of the log. Remove about an inch or two off each end to ensure that you discard uneven and unfilled dough.
- Now mark out nine rolls and slice these using your twine.
- Place the rolls in your lined baking pan and cover with a clean kitchen towel to proof for a second time - this time at room temperature for about 2 hours until doubled in size.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven and prepare an egg wash using the reserved egg yolk and a splash of milk - brush this over your rolls.
- Bake in the centre of the preheated oven until well risen and golden.
- Once baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes while you prepare your frosting.
Making Chai Latte Frosting
To finish off the BEST Chai Cinnamon Rolls, you need the ultimate Chai Latte Frosting! This thick creamy chai frosting is a simple cinnamon roll icing made with heavy cream and a combination of spices.
All you'll need to do is mix together your powdered sugar with the spices and heavy cream until smooth.
There are many reasons you may find that you need to adjust the frosting here. Some common ones include:
- Weather and temperature in your kitchen. The heat and humidity can play a part in your frosting's consistency and how your ingredients come together.
- Brand of ingredients. Different powdered sugars, creams and even ground spices will mean slight differences in consistency. The combinations of these generally imperceptible differences can result in you needing to add either extra cream or extra powdered sugar.
Like other cinnamon roll frostings, consistency can be adjusted easily here. The measurements provided should give you with a thick spreadable icing. If you want this thinner or thicker, follow the below steps to adjust this to your preferences:
- For thinner, runnier icing - add extra heavy cream. Heavy cream is thicker and creamier than milk, but should still be added sparingly to avoid over doing it. If adding more cream, add a small spoonful, mix to incorporate and check the consistency before adding more. Repeat until you are happy with the glaze.
- For thicker frostings - if you find the frosting here too thin or need to readjust after adding too much cream, add some extra powdered sugar. This can be added a couple of tablespoons at a time and then stirred in until smooth. Repeat until you reach your desired consistency.
Many of the tips and tricks I utilise in these rolls will be familiar to you if you've tried any of my other cinnamon roll recipes.
- There is a lot of kneading in this recipe - this is because of the way in which the butter is incorporated into brioche. Doing this slowly will give you soft and fluffy rolls as your finished product.
- Lining your baking pan for these cinnamon rolls isn't a requirement, but it is super helpful! Once baked, this means you can just pop the whole tray's worth of rolls out of the pan and onto a serving dish.
- Blending the butter, sugar and spices for the filling is a quick way to evenly add the filling to the dough. It means that you have a spreadable mixture, rather than relying on sprinkling which can yield uneven patches. It is also cleaner and quicker. As an alternate process, you can just spread the softened butter and then sprinkle the sugar and spices across the surface of the dough.
- Spice mixture - my homemade chai spice can be amended to suit your preferences and spice availability. For example, if you're not a fan of ginger, simply reduce the amount here. Similarly, if you don't have allspice, pumpkin spice mix contains allspice and similar other spices which mean it can work as a substitute here.
- Different frostings - my chai latte flavoured frosting really compliments the spices in the rolls and works well to give that creamy touch of a chai latte to the bake. You don't have to use this frosting though! Maybe try my coconut cream cheese frosting from my Pistachio Coconut Cinnamon Rolls or my maple cream cheese frosting from my Blueberry Cinnamon Rolls. Both would work great here!
- Dirty chai cinnamon rolls - if you've not heard of a dirty chai latte, this is a chai latte with added espresso. You can turn these rolls into a dirty chai version by adding a bit of espresso powder to the frosting. Start with half a teaspoon and add to taste.
- Dairy free - this recipe has not been tested with dairy free alternatives. Non-dairy milk alternatives such as soy or oat milk should work here. Just be sure to check that the yeast activates prior to proceeding. Similarly, if you have a trusted non-dairy butter, give it a go! The non-dairy butter should be a type that you would use in substituting for other recipes, like bakes or frostings.
A Chai roll is essentially a bread with Chai tea flavorings. In the case of these Chai tea cinnamon rolls, the dough is rolled up with butter, sugar and a homemade Chai tea spice mix. The fresh baked rolls are then topped off with a Chai frosting adding even more Chai to the bake.
Yes! In fact Chai regularly includes cinnamon as a spice within the mix. This makes it ideal as a flavor option for a cinnamon roll.
These cinnamon rolls with chai spice filling are best fresh - they'll be guaranteed at their softest, fluffiest and most flavorful when they've come out of the oven, cooled slightly and been frosted in the creamy chai icing.
That isn't to say that leftovers can't be enjoyed in the days to come! Wrapped well, these rolls keep for a couple of days.
Yes, these rolls can be frozen. Once baked, allow to cool completely before wrapping well (or placing in a ziploc bag) and storing in the freezer for up to three months. Defrost the rolls before serving.
I would recommend freezing unfrosted as the icing may be prone to melting or seeping during defrosting.
Looking for more brunch time treats? Try:
- Cardamom Pistachio Buns
- Almond Streusel Coffee Cake
- Cardamom Pistachio Cake
- Coconut Pistachio Cinnamon Rolls
Chai Cinnamon Rolls
- 8" square baking tray
- stand mixer fitted with a dough hook
Ingredients for Dough
- ¼ cup full fat milk or whole milk, warmed to 104°F (40C)
- 2¼ teaspoon dry active yeast
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar or caster sugar, divided so that 1 teaspoon will be used in the activation of the yeast and the remaining will be added straight to the dough
- 1 cup all purpose flour or plain flour
- ¾ cup bread flour or strong flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs ideally at room temperature, one egg divided into white and yolk
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened at room temperature and cut into small cubes
Ingredients for the Filling
- 6 tablespoon unsalted butter softened at room temperature
- ⅓ cup light brown sugar firmly packed
- 1½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Ingredients for the Frosting
- ¾ cup powdered sugar or confectioners sugar or icing sugar, sifted in particularly lumpy
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- 4 tablespoon heavy cream or double cream
Instructions for Dough
- Begin by sprinkling your yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar over your warmed milk. Give this a stir and set aside until it becomes foamy (about 10 minutes).
- Meanwhile, add the flour, bread flour, remaining sugar and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Stir this together.
- Once the yeast is activated, add this to the flour mixture immediately followed by 2 eggs and one egg white. Reserve the remaining egg yolk to make an egg wash before baking.
- Turn the mixer on to a low setting and knead for about 15 minutes, stopping early on to knock any flour off the sides of the bowl and into the wet dough as it comes together.
- After 15 minutes, you should have a sticky wet dough that is showing signs of pulling itself away from the sides of the bowl.
- Keeping the mixer on a low setting, slowly add the butter a few pieces at a time.
- Once all the butter is added, continue kneading for 15 minutes until the dough is again slapping the sides of the bowl and starting to pull itself away. It is a wet dough and will likely continue to stick, especially to the base of the bowl.
- Scrape the dough into a greased mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator to proof slowly overnight (or for about 8 hours).
Instructions for Filling
- Line an 8" square baking pan with parchment paper.
- In a small mixing bowl combine the softened butter, sugar and spices. Mash and stir this together with a spoon or spatula until you have a smooth spreadable paste.
- After the dough's first proof, scrape this out of the bowl and on to a well floured work surface.
- Press the dough into a rectangle and use a floured rolling pin to roll it out until it is about 12" wide by 15" long.
- Spread the spiced butter mixture over the surface of the dough leaving a gap around the edges.
- Roll the dough from the bottom to the top to form a tight log.
- Using flavorless dental floss or a thin kitchen twine, trim the ends of the log to remove uneven and unfilled dough. Then divide the dough into 9 rolls, cut these with the floss and place them in the lined baking pan.
- Cover the pan with a clean kitchen towel and allow to proof at room temperature for about 2 hours, until doubled in size.
Instructions for Baking
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175C/155C Fan) and prepare an egg wash. Beat the reserved egg yolk with a splash of milk (about half a tablespoon).
- Brush your egg wash over the top of the rolls.
- Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes, until they are well risen and golden on top.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes while you prepare the frosting.
Instructions for Frosting
- To make the Chai Latte Frosting, stir together the powdered sugar and spices. Then add the cream slowly (a tablespoon at a time). You may find that you don't need quite all of the cream or need a little more, dependent on the consistency you prefer.
- Spread this over top your warm cinnamon rolls and serve.