chai spiced cinnamon rolls

Another fall food I love is cinnamon rolls! My earliest memories of cinnamon rolls is getting Cinnabon at the local mall because my mom didn’t know how to make them from scratch. When I started to learn how to bake, cinnamon rolls were one of the things at the top of my list to learn, and I’ve learned a lot in the past two years! These homemade chai spiced cinnamon rolls are my favorite version I’ve made so far. They’re super easy to make, and not too sweet because of the chai spice mixture.

chai spice mixture

Ingredients, Substitutions & Adjustments

Dough

  • Buttermilk – Adds moisture to these cinnamon rolls. In past recipes, I’ve used whole milk, but I find that buttermilk adds more flavor. If you can’t find buttermilk, use whole milk.
  • Active dry yeast – This helps the dough rise and gives it its fluffy texture. Make sure to dissolve it in warm water (about 110 degrees F) before using.
  • Granulated sugar – Adds sweetness to this recipe. You can also use brown sugar for this recipe, but it will add more moisture to this dough. You might need to add more flour if you use brown sugar.
  • Unsalted butter – Make sure to use unsalted butter, so you can control the salt in your dough.
  • Egg – Provides richness to the dough.
  • Salt – Brings out the flavor of the other ingredients.
  • All purpose flour – This is the main dry ingredient in this dough.

Chai Spiced Filling

The filling is one of my favorite things about this cinnamon roll recipe because I love chai. For my chai mixture, I used 1 tablespoon of earl grey tea and equal amounts of ground cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, and ginger. I use this chai spiced mixture in all my chai flavored desserts like in my chai spiced shortbread sandwich cookies and my chai spiced pecan cookies. In addition to the spice mixture, I also added butter and light brown sugar for a bit of sweetness. The warm spices balance out the sweetness from the brown sugar.

Maple Glaze

The glaze for these sticky buns is a yummy maple glaze made with coconut milk, maple syrup, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. In a traditional cinnamon roll recipe, a cream cheese icing is used, but I personally don’t like it. If you want to make a cream cheese icing instead, swap out the coconut milk for 4 ounces of cream cheese and 2 tablespoons of softened butter. Whisk everything together until you get a fluffy cream cheese icing.

dough

Making my homemade chai spiced cinnamon rolls

Making the dough

These chai spiced cinnamon rolls are so easy to make! First, heat buttermilk for 40 seconds in the microwave. I like to do this in a liquid measuring cup. Add the yeast and sugar and mix. Next, add butter to a large bowl. Pour sugar/buttermilk mixture into the bowl. Whisk with a hand mixer or stand mixer until the butter has broken down. Add the egg and salt. Mix until incorporated. Lastly, add the flour and combine until a dough forms. Empty the dough onto a floured surface. Knead for 3 minutes and let it rise for an hour. You can also knead the dough in a stand mixer for the same amount of time. If the dough still seems wet, add a tablespoon of flour at a time until it doesn’t stick to your hands.

Rolling out the dough and baking the cinnamon rolls

Cover with a wet towel or aluminum foil and let the dough rise for 1 hour until it doubles in size. While the dough is rising, make the spice mixture for the filling. Combine cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, star anise, and earl grey tea in a bowl. Mix and set aside. Once the dough is done proofing, punch out the air. Then roll it out into a 12×12 inch square. Smear the top of the dough with butter. Top with brown sugar and the spice mixture. Roll into a log and cut into 9 equal pieces. Cut the log into 3 equal pieces and then divide each piece into 3 equal pieces.

Place the cinnamon rolls into a greased 9×9 pan. Let the dough rise for an hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C). After the last proof (rise), bake for 20-25 minutes uncovered until the edges are light brown. While the cinnamon rolls are baking, combine all the ingredients for the glaze and mix. Set aside. Cool for 5-10 minutes before adding the glaze.

cinnamon rolls before baking

Tips on how to make the best homemade chai spiced cinnamon rolls

Use the correct technique to measure out your flour

One of the biggest mistakes I see when measuring flour is using the measure cup to scoop out the flour. This is a mistake because when you use your measuring cup as your scoop, you are actually compressing the flour into the measuring cup. Compressing the flour means you are using more flour than you intended to. The correct way to measure flour is using a spoon to scoop flour into the measuring cup and then leveling it off with a straight edge. This might sound a little crazy, but trust me it makes a difference. It’s little things like this that take your baking from good to great.

Try not to use flour when kneading or rolling out your dough

When you first start kneading the dough, it may stick a bit, and it may be tempting to dust a little flour on top but try to resist the urge. As you knead the dough, it will stop sticking. Keeping the dough as moist as possible results in a fluffier cinnamon roll. So try not to use flour, but definitely do it if it’s sticking too much to the surface.

How do you get the perfect swirl in your cinnamon rolls?

The real key to the perfect swirl is to roll out your dough into a perfect 12×12 square. No you don’t have to be absolutely perfect, but you do want it to be as close as possible.

Use a sharp cerated knife to cut your cinnamon rolls

The other trick to getting a good swirl is using a nice, sharp cerated knife to cut your cinnamon rolls. Make sure to use nice, long strokes when cutting. The sharp knife and long strokes prevent you from squishing your buns and helps you get that nice swirl.

Adjusting the spice mixture to your tastes

I chose the spice mixture according to what I like best in chai. However, you can use any amount of each spice for your chai mixture. You can use more tea or less ground ginger. You can even not use certain spices. Experiment and find the combination that works for you.

chai spiced cinnamon rolls

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chai spiced cinnamon rolls

Get the Recipe:
Chai Spiced Cinnamon Rolls

These easy homemade cinnamon rolls include warm spices and sugar, rolled between pillowy dough.
4.50 from 16 ratings

Ingredients
 
 

Dough

Chai Filling

Maple Glaze

Instructions
 

  • Heat buttermilk for 40 seconds in the microwave. I like to do this in a liquid measuring cup. Add the yeast and sugar and mix.
  • Next, add butter to a large bowl. Pour sugar/buttermilk mixture into the bowl. Whisk with a hand mixer or stand mixer until the butter has broken down.
  • Add the egg and salt. Mix until incorporated.
  • Lastly, add the flour and combine until a dough forms.
  • Empty the dough onto a floured surface. Knead for 3 minutes and let it rise for an hour. You can also knead the dough in a stand mixer for the same amount of time. If the dough still seems wet, add a tablespoon of flour at a time until it doesn’t stick to your hands.
  • Cover with a wet towel or aluminum foil and let the dough rise for 1 hour until it doubles in size.
  • While the dough is rising, make the spice mixture for the filling. Combine cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, star anise, and earl grey tea in a bowl. Mix and set aside.
  • Once the dough is done proofing, punch out the air. Then roll it out into a 12×12 inch square. Smear the top of the dough with butter. Top with brown sugar and the spice mixture.
  • Roll into a log and cut into 9 equal pieces. Cut the log into 3 equal pieces and then divide each piece into 3 equal pieces.
  • Place the cinnamon rolls into a greased 9×9 pan. Let the dough rise for an hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C).
  • After the last proof (rise), bake for 20-25 minutes uncovered until the edges are light brown.
  • While the cinnamon rolls are baking, combine all the ingredients for the glaze and mix. Set aside.
  • Cool for 5-10 minutes before adding the glaze.
Serving: 1cinnamon roll, Calories: 372kcal, Carbohydrates: 60g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 47mg, Sodium: 98mg, Potassium: 121mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 29g, Vitamin A: 373IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 50mg, Iron: 2mg
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