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Chai Spiced Cinnamon Rolls

chai spiced cinnamon rolls on small plate

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Chai Spiced Cinnamon Rolls feature warm chai spices, brown sugar and butter wrapped around a pillow soft homemade dough that’s slathered with cream cheese icing. It’s the ultimate holiday breakfast – with overnight instructions included – so you can wake up to freshly baked cinnamon rolls the next morning!

Ingredients

Scale

Dough

  • 1 cup unsweetened cashew milk (see notes)
  • 1 packet instant yeast (rapid rise yeast, equal to 2 1/4 tsp)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted & cooled, plus more for greasing
  • 1 large egg
  • 3.54 cups bread flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

 

Filling

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tablespoon chai spice (see notes)

 

Icing

  • 4 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Pinch of cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cashew milk

Instructions

  1. ​​Warm milk: In a microwave safe bowl or glass measuring cup, heat milk for about 20-30 seconds. Allow temperature of mixture to reach 110ºF (or lukewarm). If it’s too hot, it will kill the yeast. Add yeast and sugar into large mixing bowl of stand mixer and slowly add milk. Stir until combined and allow to sit for 10 minutes, until top is foamy.
  2. Combine wet & dry ingredients: Once the milk and yeast mixture is foamy, whisk in melted butter and egg until combined. Use a wooden spoon to stir about 1/2 cup flour at a time. After 1 cup, add in salt and continue stirring gently while adding more flour, stopping at 3 cups. Dough should be soft but not overly sticky. Knead the dough by hand on a floured surface, using a couple additional tablespoons of flour. If dough feels very sticky, add in more flour.
  3. Let dough rise: Lightly oil a large bowl and shape dough into ball. Place dough in the greased bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm environment until dough has doubled in size, about 45 minutes. TIP: Set the oven to warm or preheated to 170ºF, then turn it off. Place the bowl in the warmed oven and allow to rise.
  4. Prepare rolls: Grease a 9×13″ baking dish with butter; set aside. Once the dough has about doubled in size, lightly cover rolling pin and flat surface with flour. Roll out dough into a 15×9 inch rectangle. Be patient, and roll gently. Don’t use too much flour or your dough will be stiff. Spread on softened butter, sprinkle brown sugar, cinnamon and chai spices; gently pat to let sugar absorb into butter slightly. Using the heels of your hands and thumbs, gently roll dough into a long roll, placing seam side down. Trim ½” of dough off ends and discard. Then use floss method to slice rolls or a serrated knife to gently cut into about 1.25″ width. Discard the ends. You should get about 12 rolls for a 9×13 pan. Place rolls in greased pan, leaving room to rise, and put pan in a draft-free environment. You can use the warm oven tip above. See notes below for overnight adaptation. 
  5. Bake: Once the rolls have risen again slightly (about 15 minutes), preheat oven to 350ºF (take rolls out and wait for oven to get up to 350ºF). Bake cinnamon rolls for 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned. Then, if necessary, cover top of rolls with foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Covering the rolls for the last 5-10 minutes will prevent them from getting too brown on the top.
  6. Make the frosting: In medium bowl using electric hand mixer (or stand mixer with paddle attachment) beat softened cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add in vanilla extract, powdered sugar, cardamom and milk; mix on low speed until combined. Spread on slightly cooled cinnamon rolls. Best served warm – enjoy!

Notes

MILK – Use any dairy-free milk or regular dairy whole milk.

CHAI SPICE – Combine 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, 1 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger, 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon cloves and 1/4 teaspoon allspice. Use the 1/2 tablespoon of this mixture and save the rest for plenty more chai recipes!

OVERNIGHT DIRECTIONS:

  1. Prepare, roll and cut the cinnamon rolls.
  2. Place in the prepared baking dish and cover tightly with plastic wrap.
  3. Leave in the fridge overnight.
  4. The next morning, remove from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature. This should take about 1 hour.
  5. During the last 10 minutes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  6. Remove the plastic wrap and bake for 30 minutes, or until the cinnamon rolls are golden brown and risen. Note: You can follow the same steps and tent the rolls with aluminum foil during the last 5-10 minutes of baking if browning too much.
  7. Slather with cream cheese frosting while still warm and enjoy!

STORAGE – Store in an airtight container or covered with plastic wrap for up to 3 days in the fridge.