Dirty Chai Cinnamon Rolls

October 9, 2015 § 2 Comments


I think since Baltimore has had a few warm and sunny days recently, a celebration is appropriate, especially after dealing with almost a whole week of frigid rain before this. So in honor of this warmer weather, I’m holding off on inundating you with all the fall-inspired foods (get excited for an easy and delicious soup recipe coming soon!) and sharing these Dirty Chai Cinnamon Rolls instead!DSC_0990

Breakfast is arguably the most important meal of the day so I take it very seriously. These cinnamon buns are the epitome of dessert for breakfast. I mean it has caffeine in it so it must be a breakfast food, am I right? The fact that it has chai, espresso, cinnamon, and brown sugar all wrapped up in a cute swirly treat makes waking up early well worth it. Now that’s what I call being efficient. DSC_0999


The inspiration for these delicious, pillowy rolls came from my best friend’s and my common love for dirty chai lattes so I surprised her with these for her birthday – I was so happy and relieved that she loved them! Carolyn and I can both attest that dirty chai latte is the gateway drug to coffee. I’d still say it’s an accomplishment that we held off drinking coffee for the first two years of college though!


These dirty chai cinnamon rolls are everything you want and more. Simply the aroma of these baking in the oven make me go ahhhh with a contented smile. If someone could capture this scent in a candle for me, you would be my favorite person.

Still warm from the oven, these rolls are soft, gooey, and melty – it’s like it wants to give you a nice big hug. They’re definitely sweet but the addition of chai tea leaves in the dough and espresso powder in the filling help to balance that.

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These buns are also so much fun to eat! I love enjoying it by slowly unraveling it and then savoring the best part – the soft, squishy center. It’s the only way to do it. These rolls are truly what dreams are made of so what are you waiting for? Make these over the weekend and be well armed with dirty chai cinnamon rolls for all of next week. It might be the best week you’ve ever had.

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Dirty Chai Cinnamon Rolls

Yield: 12 large rolls

Adapted from Allrecipes 



  • 1 tbsp loose chai tea (3 tea bags)
  • 1 cup lukewarm milk
  • 2 1/2 tsp active-dry yeast
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (5 1/3 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour


  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 1/3 cup (5 1/3 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened


Yield: ~1 cup

  • 6 tbsp milk
  • 2 chai tea bags
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar


Heat milk over the stove on medium-low heat until small bubbles start to form at the edges. Steep loose chai tea in milk for 15 minutes or until milk is lukewarm. Remove tea leaves.

In bowl of stand mixer, sprinkle yeast over lukewarm milk and let sit for about 5 minutes so yeast has a chance to activate and mixture is foamy and frothy. Combine eggs, melted butter, sugar, and salt on low speed using paddle attachment on the stand mixer. Add flour and mix until combined. Transfer dough to clean work surface; dust hands and work surface with flour and knead into large ball. Place dough in large greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow dough to rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 – 2 hours.

Meanwhile, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and espresso powder in small bowl; set aside.

When dough has doubled in size, roll it into a 16 x 21-inch rectangle. Spread softened butter on dough, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges. Sprinkle evenly with brown sugar mixture. Starting with long end, roll dough into a tight log to prevent filling from falling out. Using a sharp knife and gentle back-and-forth motion, cut log into 12 even pieces.

Place rolls in greased 9 x 13-inch baking pan or two 8 x 8-inch baking pans, making sure the rolls are close together and touching. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°F. Bake until golden brown, about 12-15 minutes.

While rolls are baking, heat milk until hot in microwave or over the stove and allow chai tea bags to steep in it for 5 minutes; remove tea bags. Whisk chai-steeped milk and confectioners’ sugar in medium bowl until smooth and sugar is completely dissolved.

Remove rolls from the oven and let cool in the pan(s) on cooling rack for about 5 minutes. Spread or drizzle icing on the warm rolls and serve immediately.

Leftovers can be stored at room temperature for a day; refrigerate if kept for longer. When ready to eat again, warm the rolls in oven or microwave.


§ 2 Responses to Dirty Chai Cinnamon Rolls

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