If you enjoy warm spices and ordering chai tea at your favorite coffee shops, this cozy vanilla chai buttercream is the perfect frosting for you to decorate a layer cake, cupcakes, and more. While it pairs well with my moist chai cake, you could use it as the filling between my Biscoff cookie sandwiches or on top of a simple vanilla cupcake recipe. Chai tea lovers will appreciate the warm spiced flavors here that add a nice complexity to a variety of baked goods.
Ingredients for Vanilla Chai Buttercream
This frosting is a hybrid buttercream frosting. It combines unsalted butter with cream cheese for a bit of tanginess. The full recipe is in the card below, but I’m highlighting a few key ingredients.
- Unsalted room temperature butter – Butter is a fat, and fat equals flavor. And it’s important to use room temperature butter. This ensures that the end result is easier to mix, creating a softer, super smooth buttercream frosting.
- Vanilla extract – You don’t need expensive vanilla extract for good flavor; the options at your local grocery store are perfectly fine. I never taste much difference between pricier extracts and more basic ones.
- Chai spice mix – Chai spice refers to a blend of aromatic spices commonly used in chai tea. While the precise combination of spices it contains varies, you’ll often find some combination of a blend of cinnamon, along with cardamom, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and even black pepper. Using similar ingredients, you’ll make your own chai blend of spices. I prefer making a homemade chai spice mix to add to the frosting instead of making black tea and infusing it with chai tea bags. This way, you can adjust the spices to your liking instead of relying on the particular tea brand or taste for your chai flavor.
How to Make Frosting Less Sweet
Some people really love desserts where you can easily taste the sugar.
But that flavor can be overwhelming or off-putting.
If you find yourself wishing that the buttercream or frosting that you’re eating weren’t so cloyingly sweet, add lemon juice, lime juice, or white vinegar to your frosting.
Those liquids are all acidic. A drop or two of one of these ingredients will help cut back on an overly sweet taste. The resulting frosting will have a much less cloying test.
This chai cream cheese frosting is less sweet than your typical frosting because of the tanginess from the cream cheese. But you may still want to add a drop or two of one of the acids mentioned above.
Making Chai Spice Buttercream Frosting with Cream Cheese
To begin, in a small bowl or ramekin, create your chai mix by combing all ingredients for your own spice blend before setting them aside.
With a hand mixer or the bowl of a stand mixer and paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Do the same with cream cheese, mixing for another minute until smooth.
Add powdered sugar, pinch of salt, and vanilla extract. Continue mixing for about a minute, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
Add your chai spices to the mixing bowl, incorporating until well-combined.
Next, place your frosting into a piping bag and start decorating!
FAQ for Easy Chai Buttercream
Ingredients like butter and other dairy products whip up much more easily when they’re room temperature. Trying adding a firm stick of butter to your mixing bowl, and you’ll see what I mean!
Buttercream is traditionally made with heavy cream (or milk), powdered sugar, butter, and extract for flavoring. As you noticed, there’s no cream cheese in buttercream frosting, though.
While there are many variations on cream cheese and buttercream frostings, generally, cream cheese frosting is a bit smoother and less stiff in comparison to buttercream.
For an example of a cream cheese frosting, check out my carrot cake recipe. The frosting uses a combination of cream cheese and butter for a thicker frosting that still spreads easily.
This frosting freezes very well. Store it on its own in an airtight container for 3 months in the refrigerator. Let it thaw and come to room temperature before attempting to use it to decorate cakes or cupcakes.
You can also freeze fully decorated cupcakes or cakes that use this frosting.
Either on baked goods or by itself, you may store this buttercream in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
Tips for Using and Perfecting this Recipe
- Let baked goods cool before using this frosting on them. Adding a buttercream or frosting to a warm, freshly baked dessert will cause your frosting to melt.
- Want super smooth frosting? Once your stand mixer has done the hard work, spend a few more minutes with a spatula and your mixing bowl. Use the spatula to pop air bubbles in the frosting. To do this, push frosting with a spatula from the middle of your bowl to its edges, watching as the tears and bubbles in your buttercream disappear. Spend 3-4 minutes doing these motions is one of my favorite methods to achieve nice, smooth frosting.
- If you need to thin out this frosting, add a few splashes of heavy cream or milk. That said, I found this hybrid buttercream really nice and easily spreadable thanks to the consistency of cream cheese. It is softer at room temperature than butter is.
- If you need to make a thicker frosting, add about 1/4 cup of powdered sugar at a time. Mix until you’ve reached your desired consistency.
- Dress it up – However you use this this frosting, feel free to dust the end result with some cinnamon, cinnamon sugar, or even add a cinnamon stick on top of the cake or cupcake.
Bake Like a Pro: Use a Kitchen Scale
Weighing your ingredients and writing or following a recipe using a standard metric like grams ensures consistency. The sizes of measuring cups vary. Using them for a recipe can result in noticeable issues and differing end results for baked goods.
I highly recommend investing $30 or less in a kitchen scale.
More Recipes Like this Chai Frosting
Looking for more spiced treats? This carrot cake recipe is moist and aromatic, thanks to a combination of spices in it.
Or try this cookie butter frosting the next time you need a unique frosting or buttercream. It also has the perfect balance of sweet flavor with strong spices.Print
Chai Buttercream Frosting with Cream Cheese
Warm spices add flavor to this easy chai buttercream frosting, perfect for decorating cupcakes and layer cakes. Chai tea fans will love it!
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 2 cups 1x
- Category: Dessert
- Cuisine: American
Homemade Chai Mix
- 1 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp ground cardamom
- 3/4 tsp allspice or cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 stick of butter, room temperature
- 3/4 block (170 grams) of cream cheese, room temperature or slightly softened
- 4 cups (460 grams) of powdered sugar
- 2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- Optional: A few drops of lemon or lime juice (or white vinegar) to cut sweetness; add to your preference
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using a handheld mixer, beat the butter until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the cream cheese and mix for another 1 minute until well combined and smooth.
- Mix in the powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Add chai mix to bowl and incorporate until well-combined.
- Use a rubber spatula to smooth out the frosting and create
This recipe produces enough frosting to coat a six-inch, three-layer cake or 12-18 cupcakes, depending on how much frosting you use.
Keywords: frosting recipe, chai frosting, cupcake decorating, cake decorating