Vanilla Chai Doughnuts

A coffeehouse favorite, baked up and begging to be dunked.

Chai tea, while not a new item at coffee shops, has moved to the conductor’s seat on the tasty train when it comes to being incorporated into baked goods.

I spent a few years manning the steam wand and just being an all-around kick-butt barista, and let me tell you, there are A LOT of chai-sters. You know… chai monsters. People that practically sprout hair and mutate if the chai runs out and they’re forced to settle for perfectly brewed, crema-topped (I know, toot-toot goes that horn) espresso instead. Chai-sters; abbreviations are hip.

Iced, hot, lukewarm, with soy, skim, 2%, even a couple that wanted it made with heavy cream, but settled for half & half after some unusual stares… They eat, sleep, and breathe chai, and simply must have it – preferably multiple times a day.

There are those of us who feel that same way about doughnuts. Must. Have. Often. A logical combination of two yummy, satisfying, addicting treats, wouldn’t you agree? On to chai doughnuts!


First things first, brew a strong cup of chai tea in hot water. Brew it strong; you’re going to need around 1/3 cup cooled for the recipe, so feel free to sip the rest while you’re gathering ingredients. No milk! Just tea and water for now.

“Chai” translates to “tea” in many parts of the world. So really, we’re calling it “tea tea” in America, but what we’re referring to is the same; a creamy drink made with black tea, milk, spices, and sweetener. There is no set recipe for the spices contained in this heady drink, but coriander always seems to take a lead role. A perfect opportunity to taste some tea and “go with my gut.”


The spice combination to make my version isn’t too too fussy: cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, and coriander. There are some that call for white pepper and nutmeg, but I didn’t find them necessary. No need to pull EVERY jar out of the pantry.


What’s coriander? Also known as cilantro, we generally refer to the seed as coriander and the leaves as cilantro. In the UK, they just call the whole thing coriander. As long as we can all keep it straight, we’re good. It has a fragrant flavor that’s a cross between a citrusy lemon and spicy nutmeg, and it really adds a pleasant extra something to the end note of the spice combo.


Preheat the oven to 375°F. Get out your large doughnut pan and give the wells a spritz with cooking spray or swipe with butter, whichever you choose.


In a medium bowl, add 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, 1/2 teaspoon cardamom, 1/4 teaspoon cloves, 1/4 teaspoon coriander, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in little piles so you don’t lose track. It’s kind of a laundry list of ingredients, so it’s good to take precautions.

I had already measured out my spices in the cup for the above shot, so I just dumped them in this time around. It’s not necessary to dirty the extra dish.

Don’t have coriander and don’t plan on ever purchasing it? No sweat. Just up the cardamom to 3/4 teaspoon.


Whisk it all together so it’s fully combined. No one wants a sneeze-inducing mouthful of clove or to accidentally do the cinnamon challenge. It’s a step well worth doing. Set the dry ingredients aside for now.


In your mixing bowl, add 1/4 cup of the cooled tea, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons vanilla bean paste, and 1 egg.


Mix together until combined. It’ll separate a bit once you stop; that’s ok.


Turn the mixer on low and slow, and gradually add in the dry ingredients. Once it’s all combined, stop and scrape the bowl before briefly mixing again, just to make sure it’s all fully combined.


Using a pastry bag, spoon, or my favorite, the liquid measuring cup, fill each doughnut well 2/3 full.


Pop the doughnuts in the preheated oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. When they’re done, they’ll spring back when touched lightly.


Remove them from the oven. Allow them to rest in the pan for a few minutes before you remove them from the pan and onto a cooling rack. I find that a light smack on the rack when the pan is inverted usually does the trick to get them to come out smoothly.


While the doughnuts cool, make the chai glaze. Mix together 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar and 1 to 2 tablespoons of the remaining cooled tea. You want to add enough that it makes a thick, but fluid glaze.

Pour the glaze into a shallow, flat-bottomed dish. Something that will fit a whole doughnut, but you can pull it back out easily.


Dip the top of the doughnuts into the glaze and then place them back onto the rack to dry. The glaze is going to spread and drizzle down a bit; artsy AND delicious.


You certainly can (and should!) enjoy them while the glaze is ooey gooey.  Just let them dry if you plan on packing them up and sharing. They’re baked, not fried, so feel free to indulge and eat them just like the chai-sters; multiple times a day, with a big satisfied grin on your face.

Gwen Adams

Gwen Adams grew up in northern New Hampshire, on top of a mountain, surrounded by nature and not much else. After graduating from Lyndon State College in 2010, Gwen sought a career that combined her passion for writing with her love of baking. She found ...


  1. Rockycat

    I do have a donut pan, but let’s just say for argument’s sake that I’d like to bake these in a muffin pan. 1) Do you think this recipe would make good muffins?
    2) How many standard size muffins would this recipe yield? and
    3) What would be your guess as to baking time?


    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We haven’t actually done this before, but I think you could try these in a muffin pan. I’m guessing you will get about 6 muffins/cupcakes, and they will likely bake a bit longer than the doughnuts, but I would still check at 12 minutes and then go from there. Barb@KAF

  2. Justin P

    I’ve always wondered what the texture looks like on the inside of these donuts since they are baked and not fried. Is there anyway to get a photo of that?

    1. PJ Hamel

      Justin, generally speaking the interior of baked doughnuts looks like a rather craggy cake, or muffin – check out our pumpkin doughnut blog post for some visuals. I highly recommend baked doughnuts – I make them often, and they’re universally well-received. PJH

  3. Kalisa

    Oh man, I am a big Chai Tea fan. I don’t like coffee so it is the perfect drink when I’m out for coffee with friends! Hot, cold, and now in doughnut format, yum. The timing of this blog post is funny because my MIL just sent me a link to your Vanilla Chai Cakelets (which also look amazing).

    Could you use a doughnut hole/cake pop pan for this recipe? Should I go with the Cakelet recipe instead? The doughnut holes would be smaller, but still dense, so I’m not sure what the change in baking time it would be. Going to try this for a weekend snack!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I don’t see why you couldn’t use the doughnut hole pan, give it a try and see how it works! Jon@KAF

    1. PJ Hamel

      Carolyn, 2 tablespoons is correct. Vanilla is a hard flavor to “carry,” and we wanted strong vanilla flavor in these doughnuts. Enjoy – PJH

  4. SANDI


    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I’m sorry to say that we have not tried a gluten free version of this recipe, but I will certainly suggest it to our Test Kitchen. Jon@KAF

  5. Laurie

    I used vanilla bean paste in another recipe and it ruined it – throw it away nasty type of ruined. The flavor was too bitter. Could I use extract?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy the vanilla bean paste you had used. We found that this recipe works quite well with our vanilla paste, but you can use the same amount of extract as well. Jon@KAF

  6. Ruth

    I’m waiting for mine to cool enough to glaze as I type this. They smell delicious! I didn’t have a donut pan, but I did have a mini-bundt pan so mine look a bit like crullers.

    My batter was extremely thick for some reason. I followed the directions to the letter, but the batter was gooey and I had to spoon it into the molds, then tease the batter around so it would form a ring. Maybe more tea next time? It’s very humid here today, so I don’t think dryness was an issue.

    My husband is drooling in anticipation.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sounds like a measurement issue, Ruth. We have a pretty specific method for measuring flour by volume (if that is what you used). We have a short guide with information that shows how we do so. Jon@KAF

  7. Kim

    How about whole wheat or white wheat flour ?
    Would cake flour work to make a lighter consistency ?
    Thanks !!
    Ps -love this blog !

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      If you want to use whole wheat flour, then please make sure to add an additional tablespoon of tea per cup of whole wheat. You can certainly give the cake flour as try as well, but it isn’t something we have tested. It may require a little experimentation on your part. Jon@KAF

  8. Jacque

    I recently made some donuts with your GF boxed mix…fantastic! Do you think I could cheat by using the boxed mix and just add the various spices, chai, etc.?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Jacque, We’ve never actually tried this, but I think it would probably work as long as you don’t change the liquid amount called for in the mix. The mix makes 12 doughnuts and the recipe makes 6, so you may want to use part chai, part milk for your liquid. Let us know how they turn out! Barb@KAf

  9. ann lorish

    I am a doughnut devotee and these sound very good, but only really like yeast-raised doughnuts. If someone would come up with a wonderful yeast doughnut that isn’t fried I would be delighted! Does anyone have a recipe or at least a doughnut recipe that tastes close to a “yeast-raised”?

    1. PJ Hamel

      Ann, I hope your fellow readers can help and will answer you here – I’ve tried several times, but can’t get that distinctive fried-doughnut flavor in a baked yeast doughnut. Good luck! PJH

  10. Karen LW

    I used a muffin-tops pan, lacking one for doughnuts. The results were more like morsels, but good anyway. We thought the Cardamon was too strong, even with the 1/4 tsp. I used. To use 3/4 tsp. of it would be over-the-top! I will try it again w/o any of it. But the idea of baked doughnuts is most agreeable. Funny that mine had to be spooned, not poured; I wonder why?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Karen-
      I’m guessing you may just have been a little heavy-handed in your flour measuring, I would recommend giving this tutorial a read through before your next batch and see if that helps: If you have any further questions, please feel free to give our baker’s hotline a call at 855-371-2253. Happy baking! Jocelyn@KAF

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