Chai Spices Blend

This mix of chai spices is full of cozy flavor! Use this Indian-inspired blend for masala chai, or add to baked goods like cookies or muffins.

Chai spices

Love the cozy, nuanced flavor of a great cup of masala chai or a chai latte? Here’s how to make an easy DIY blend of these chai spices! There’s a myriad of variations on the spices used in this classic Indian recipe. This recipe is a quick and easy mix that works for beverages like masala chai or for throwing into baked goods like cookies and muffins. It’s great to use for DIY gifts, too! Here’s what to know about this traditional Indian spiced beverage and how to whip up this spice mix at home.

What are chai spices?

What is chai spice made of? The word chai translates to “tea” in Hindi, so saying chai tea is an American invention and technically like saying “tea tea.” The more correct term for the Indian tea blend is masala chai. The word masala refers to a blend of spices used in cooking. Just like the word curry, a Westernized reduction of a complex blend of Indian spices, the American concept of chai can oversimplify and appropriate a rich Indian cultural tradition.

Masala chai spices can include many different ingredients based on the cook, just like curry powder. This mix uses the most common chai spices: but there are many more used regionally in Indian blends. Here’s what is in this masala chia spices mix:

  • Cinnamon
  • Ginger
  • Cardamom
  • Black pepper
  • Nutmeg
  • Cloves
  • Fennel seed

There are lots more unique spices that are used regionally, like bay leaves, mint, coriander, lemongrass, mace, saffron, star anise, and more. Here’s the way our Indian friend Ruchi makes masala chai.

Masala chai spices

Ground chai spices vs whole

This chai spices mix is intended as an easy DIY blend to use in masala chai, chai lattes, and baked goods. Traditionally these spices are simmered whole: like whole cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg, and cardamom pods. Because this can be expensive and hard to find in America, this blend uses ground spices. This also allows you to use the flavoring in breads, cookies and muffins. Keep in mind that traditional Indian chai uses whole spices.

Notable ingredients: caradmom and fennel seed

Most of the ingredients in these masala chai spices you can easily find at your local grocery. There are two unique ingredients to mention:

  • Ground cardamom: This is the ingredient that gives chai spices their unique floral flavor! It’s becoming easier to find ground cardamom in the US. Do not make this mix until you can locate cardamom.
  • Ground fennel: Fennel is most often sold as fennel seeds: it’s difficult to find ground. Buy the seeds and then grind it using a mortar and pestle, spice grinder, or a dedicated coffee grinder. (It leaves behind flavor, so don’t use your standard grinder.) This spice is optional, but it adds an earthy, savory flavor that gives even more intruige.

Storage for this chai spices blend

You can store your homemade masala chai spices blend in an airtight container for 6 months to 1 year. This blend is best when it’s freshest, so the sooner the better. Spices generally last in a cool, dry place like your pantry or a spice drawer for 8 months to 1 year.

Chai latte

10 ways to use chai spices

These masala chai spices are very versatile. Because this mix is ground, you can use it for tea or in more creative uses like baked goods. Here are 10 great ways to use chai spices:

  1. Masala chai: Try this quick masala chai, an easy version of the traditional Indian drink.
  2. Chai latte: Make a frothy chai latte like at your favorite coffee house, or vegan chai latte with oat milk. Or, add espresso to make it dirty chai!
  3. Coffee: Place 1 tablespoon chai spices in your coffee grounds when you make your morning coffee.
  4. Muffins: Use instead of cinnamon in muffin recipes.
  5. Banana bread: Substitute for cinnamon in this Banana Bread.
  6. Oatmeal: Or, use it instead of cinnamon in your morning oatmeal or baked oatmeal.
  7. Cookies: Use in these chai snowball cookies (substitute 2 teaspoons for the listed spices), or add 1 teaspoon to oatmeal cookies.
  8. Waffles: Add 2 teaspoons to make chai waffles.
  9. Pancakes: Use 2 teaspoons instead of the spices in apple cinnamon pancakes or Greek yogurt pancakes or banana oatmeal pancakes.
  10. Jam or compote: Add it to homemade jam or compote, like cherry chai jam.

There are so many more ways to use this blend: let us know how you use them in the comments below!

Masala chai

This masala chai spices recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.

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Chai spices

Chai Spices Blend


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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: About 6 1/2 tablespoons 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

This mix of chai spices is full of cozy flavor! Use this Indian-inspired blend for masala chai, or add to baked goods like cookies or muffins.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground fennel seed (optional)

Instructions

  1. Mix together all the spices. (Note that fennel is usually sold as fennel seeds: you can grind it in a mortal and pestle, spice grinder or coffee grinder.) Store 6 months to 1 year in a sealed container in a cool, dry place. 

  • Category: Seasoning
  • Method: Mixed
  • Cuisine: Indian inspired

Keywords: Chai spices, masala chai spices, chai tea mix

More seasoning blends

Making DIY seasoning mixes at home is so easy! They taste incredible—much better than storebought—and are fun gifts, too. Try all our seasoning blends (listed by style):

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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