Recipe: Chai Tea Cookies

updated May 2, 2019
Chai Tea Cookies
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(Image credit: Faith Durand)

While glossy sugar cookies and stylish Christmas bars get the glamour shots during holiday cookie season, my heart belongs to the quieter cookies, the buttery yet simple ones that are meant to lie beside a cup of afternoon tea and join the respite a tea break offers in busy days. These chai tea cookies, a riff on my old favorite of Earl Grey Tea Cookies, fill that spot on the tea saucer sweetly and neatly.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

This thin, crisp, flaky shortbread flecked with black tea and spices is one of the simplest cookie recipes I know, and it comes together in just a few moments in the food processor. (If you don’t have a food processor you can make the dough by hand, working the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender until it holds together in a rough, moldable mass.) You don’t need a big food processor; I usually make this recipe in my 3-cup food chopper.

Once the dough is made, you chill or freeze it in a log, ready to be sliced and baked; and like any other good icebox cookie, it can then be gifted either as baked cookies or in its frozen state. I like to wrap up logs of this dough in white freezer paper, tie a ribbon around one end, and write the baking instructions right on the paper. This is a sweet offering for the freezer and for a busy cook who might appreciate a crisp, buttery wafer of a cookie, redolent with spice and the smoky savor of black tea, during her afternoon tea break.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)
(Image credit: Faith Durand)
(Image credit: Faith Durand)

Chai Tea Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

Nutritional Info


  • 1 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 1/4 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1/4 cup

    powdered sugar

  • 1 tablespoon

    chai tea mix, from several chai tea bags (see Tea Note below)

  • 1/2 tablespoon

    ground cardamom (optional)

  • 1/2 tablespoon

    ground cinnamon (optional)

  • 1/4 tablespoon


  • 1

    stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

  • 1/2 tablespoon



  1. Place the flour, sugar, powdered sugar, chai, and salt in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Process until the tea is pulverized and distributed throughout the dry ingredients. If desired, pulse in the cardamom and cinnamon, which will give a more pronounced chai spice flavor to the cookies.

  2. Add the butter and vanilla. Pulse just until a rough dough is formed. Scrape the dough onto a piece of wax or parchment paper. Form into an 8 to 9-inch long log. Wrap the paper around the log and roll until smooth. Freeze the dough, or refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

  3. To bake, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Use a sharp knife to slice the chilled or frozen log of dough into 1/3-inch-thick rounds. Place on the baking sheet and bake until the edges are just beginning to brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Store cooled cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Tea Note: The word 'chai' or 'masala chai' is a catch-all for a spiced black tea drunk in great quantities throughout Southwest Asia and parts of Africa. Any bagged spiced black tea would be lovely in this recipe, as would an equal amount of homemade masala chai mix.