chai cupcakes with brown butter chai frosting

happy first birthday to husbands that cook

Exactly one year ago today, on April 29, 2015—at 5:43 pm to be precise—Ryan was moments away from pressing a small white button with the word “enter” displayed in small glowing letters. And as he confidently pressed this rectangular key it made a faint click as the plastic struck the cold aluminum. Moving at the speed of light, trillions of signals were simultaneously dispersed across the planet, into computers, phones, tablets, and electronic devices all over the world. At that very split second, even before he could take his hand away from the keyboard, those electrical currents were translated into words, sentences, photos, and recipes, and Husbands That Cook was born.

simple ingredients that may already be in your kitchen
six aromatic spices to make the chai blend
sifting flour makes the cupcakes light and fluffy
clouds of sifted flour
a spoonful of chai-spiced cake batter

Today is our first birthday so of course we had to celebrate with something sweet! We have the perfect dessert for this historic day: an incredibly soft and moist chai cupcake warmly spiced with cinnamon, vanilla, ginger, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice, generously topped with a swirl of smooth brown butter chai frosting and sprinkled with spiced turbinado sugar to give these exceptional treats a delicate crunch. The chai spice flavors taste like autumn in a cupcake, but they are a delicious way to celebrate any time of year.

filling each one 3/4 full
before baking
after baking, ready to frost
all the ingredients for the chai frosting

The amazing thing about this dessert (besides the flavor) is that when we decided it was the clear winner to bake for our first birthday, we realized that we already had all the ingredients in our kitchen and didn’t even need to make a trip to the store! The simple, pantry-staple ingredients like flour, eggs, spices, and vanilla were just waiting in our cabinets, anxiously hoping to be combined and baked into delicious spiced cupcakes. And if you’re not running to your kitchen this very moment to see if you have the ingredients too, we will be considerate, stop typing, and let you do this immediately. Your chai cupcakes await you. Happy Birthday from Adam and Ryan!

toasty brown butter
a sprinkle of chai-spiced turbinado sugar
chai cupcakes with brown butter chai frosting
soft fluffy cupcakes topped with creamy chai frosting

Chai Cupcakes with Brown Butter Chai Frosting
adapted from
makes 12 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk

For the frosting:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons milk

For the crunchy topping:
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

Make the cupcakes
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a muffin pan with paper liners and set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, all the spices, and salt, then whisk well to combine and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, beat the butter until it is light and creamy. Add the granulated sugar and continue to beat, scraping down the sides as needed, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the egg and egg yolk one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Pour in the oil and vanilla extract, and beat until combined. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add half of the flour mixture, followed by the milk and then the remaining flour mixture. Stir briefly by hand to combine. Divide the batter evenly between the 12 cupcake liners, filling each one about 3/4 full. Bake until the tops are set and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then transfer cupcakes to a rack to cool completely.

Make the frosting
While the cupcakes are cooling, place the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stirring frequently, melt the butter, then keep cooking it until the milk solids sink and begin to turn a dark nutty brown. When browned, transfer to a heatproof container and cool until it is solid and at room temperature (putting it in the fridge will help it cool faster). Once the browned butter is at room temp, place it in a mixing bowl and beat it until light and fluffy. Sift in the powdered sugar and spices, and beat until creamy. Add the vanilla and beat until smooth, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk to thin it out if needed.

Assemble cupcakes
In a small bowl, combine the turbinado sugar, cinnamon and cardamom, and set aside. Divide the frosting equally among the cupcakes, piping it using a bag or simply by spreading it on with a spatula. Sprinkle the sugar-spice blend over the tops, serve, and enjoy!


8 Comments on chai cupcakes with brown butter chai frosting

    • husbandsthatcook
      May 2, 2016 at 7:40 pm

      Thank you so much Rebecca! They’re so fluffy and moist!

  1. Kim W
    May 2, 2016 at 7:36 am

    Congratulations!!! Here’s to many more years! And these look amazing!

    • husbandsthatcook
      May 2, 2016 at 7:40 pm

      Thank you Kim! Cheers to all the recipes to come in the years ahead!

  2. Jennifer
    January 10, 2017 at 9:00 am

    These looks delicious gonna have to try them

    • husbandsthatcook
      January 11, 2017 at 12:07 am

      Great!! Let us know how they turn out! We might have to make these again soon too… 🙂

  3. Ellen
    December 6, 2020 at 3:35 pm

    Hello! The ingredients say 1 egg + 1 egg white and the instructions say 1 egg + 1 egg yolk. Can you clarify for me? Thanks!

    • husbandsthatcook
      December 6, 2020 at 4:48 pm

      Good catch! Thank you so much for pointing that out to us. It should be 1 egg + 1 egg yolk. We will correct that now.

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