Easy Masala Chai Recipe

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Behold, a seriously dreamy cup of chai. It’s creamy, dairy-free, naturally sweetened, caffeine optional, and perfectly spiced.

We already have recipes on the blog for Caffeine-Free Chai Mix and a Vegan Chai Latte. But as we’ve played around more with customizing the spices and perfecting the flavor, we came up with this version, which uses fresh ginger and whole spices.

We must say, this is our perfect cup of chai. Swoon! Let us show you how easy and totally not intimidating this recipe is.

This masala chai recipe is the perfect balance of spicy and sweet. And it comes together in just 25 minutes with 8 ingredients in 1 pot.

What is Masala Chai?

Masala chai is a creamy, spiced tea that’s most popular in India but is increasingly enjoyed around the world. The primary difference between chai and masala chai is that masala chai includes spices, while chai is simply tea and milk.

Chai is typically made with four components:

  1. Black tea (we prefer bagged or loose-leaf, decaf when possible)
  2. Milk (we went dairy-free with coconut and/or cashew )
  3. Sweetener (we went for a little maple syrup)
  4. Spices (ginger, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, black pepper)

The spices vary depending on the recipe, but our favorite combination is cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, cloves, and ginger.

For a more authentic recipe and to learn more about this delicious Indian tea, see this video from Bhavna’s Kitchen.

How to Make Chai Tea

Our inspired version begins by lightly crushing the spices in a mortar and pestle (or a cutting board and heavy pan will do!).

Slightly crushing the spices opens them up more and makes for a stronger infusion (so you get more flavor out of a lesser amount), packing more of a punch with fewer ingredients and less cost.

The crushed spices are added to a saucepan with water and freshly grated ginger and left to simmer for about 15 minutes. Grating the ginger makes for a stronger ginger flavor. But if gingery chai isn’t your thing, slice instead of grating and/or slightly reduce the amount.

We prefer steeping first in water alone because we find it makes a stronger infusion than adding the milk too soon.

The black tea and dairy-free milk are then added and heated slightly. For a full-bodied drink, we like using thick, rich dairy-free milks such as our Cashew Coconut Oat Milk.

Then all that’s left is to add your sweetener of choice and strain.

It’s the perfect drink to enjoy cuddled up with a blanket and a good book. Or make a big batch and reheat on the stovetop or in a milk frother on busier days.

We hope you LOVE this chai! It’s:

Spicy
Warming
Caffeine optional
Comforting
Naturally sweetened
& Simple to make

More Chai Recipes

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Easy Masala Chai Recipe

A delicious and easy dairy-free chai recipe made with whole spices. It's spicy, comforting, naturally sweetened, and made in just 1 pot with 8 ingredients!
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
4.72 from 25 votes
Prep Time 5minutes
Cook Time 20minutes
Total Time 25minutes
Servings 3(Cups)
Course Beverage
Cuisine Dairy-Free, Indian-Inspired, Vegan
Freezer Friendly No
Does it keep? 3-4 Days

Ingredients

  • 1wholecinnamon stick
  • 6-8greencardamom pods
  • 1tspwhole black peppercorns
  • 3-4wholecloves
  • 2 ½cupswater
  • 2Tbspgrated ginger (for less intense ginger flavor, slice instead of grating)
  • 3Tbsploose leaf black tea (or ~3-4 black tea bags // use decaf as needed)
  • 2cupsdairy-free milk (we favor oat milk, coconut milk, and cashew milk // use thicker, richer dairy-free milks like canned coconut milk or our Oatly recipe for creamier chai!)
  • Sweetener such as stevia, organic cane sugar, or maple syrup to taste

Instructions

  • Add cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, peppercorns, and cloves to the bowl of a mortar (or cutting board) and use pestle (or heavy pan) to slightly crush the spices. You aren’t pulverizing into a powder, just slightly crushing into small pieces (see photo).
  • To a medium saucepan add crushed spices, water, and grated (or sliced) ginger and bring to a boil over high heat. (Note: For a less gingery chai, reduce amount of ginger and slice rather than grating). Then reduce heat slightly to medium/medium-low and maintain a simmer for 15 minutes or until it reduces by about one-third.
  • Add tea (loose leaf or bags) and dairy-free milk of choice (we love light canned coconut) and lower heat to low. Cover and continue cooking for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Then turn off heat and let steep for 5 minutes more (covered) or longer for deeper flavor.
  • Add sweetener of choice to taste (we prefer stevia or maple syrup, but sugar is more traditional). Strain through a fine mesh strainer before serving.
  • Keep strained, cooled leftovers covered in the fridge up to 3-4 days. Reheat on the stovetop or in a milk frother. Not freezer friendly.

Video

Notes

*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with our homemade Cashew Coconut Oat Milk and sweetened with stevia.

Nutrition (1 of 3 servings)

Serving: 1cupCalories: 200Carbohydrates: 19.4gProtein: 5gFat: 13.5gSaturated Fat: 5.9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1.61gMonounsaturated Fat: 4.7gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 21mgPotassium: 283mgFiber: 3gSugar: 4.9g

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Reader Interactions

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  1. Suesays

    Hi there,
    wondering if you can blend the spices together and store in a small glass mason jar or whatever and gift it :) My friend loves chai tea, so would love to surprise her this weekend when she comes over ! and how long would it keep you think ?
    I have earths own 2L carton oat milk, can of coconut milk, in house. what would be the best to make this you think? thanks

    Reply
    • Support @ Minimalist Bakersays

      Hi Sue! Yes, that’s a great idea! The dry spice mix should keep for at least 1 month.. possibly more. If it’s made with the milk and you’re gifting it that way, it will keep for a few days in the refrigerator. Either milk would be yummy, maybe a mix of both?

      Reply
  2. Sarah Alyeasays

    Best chai recipe out there, and I have chai’d many!! I experimented with different levels of sweetness— 1/4 c organic cane sugar (per batch of chai) balanced the ginger spice perfectly for my taste; we make dirty chai lattes at home with 1 espresso shot + ~6 oz masala chai. Thank you Dana and MB crew, you’ve done it again!

    Reply
    • Support @ Minimalist Bakersays

      Woohoo! We’re honored to hear that from someone who has tried many! Thank you for the lovely review, Sarah! xo

      Reply
  3. PEDRO GALVAOsays

    Great recipe, but would be MUCH easier if everything was just weighed in grams. Working with ingredients that vary a lot in size. Of course these proportions don’t have to be perfect, but as a baker I just love precision.

    Reply
    • Support @ Minimalist Bakersays

      Hi Pedro! Thanks so much for your review. If you look right above the ingredients list you’ll see the option to click on “metric”, which will change the ingredient values to grams and milliliters. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  4. Leonardsays

    I’m a coffee drinker –6 or more cups a day–but 2 things conspired this morning to prompt me to try this recipe. First, a friend gave me a large quantity of very special, high quality black tea and second, my teen age daughter wanted me to stop at a drive in place for some chai. The prices they charge at these drive-ins really bug me (more so if it’s not for coffee) and so I declined. But then it struck me, chai is tea and I just got a packet of better black tea than we could buy in town . So I asked her about the spices she thought were usually put in chai and we have most of them. Long story made short, I checked the internet and came across this recipe, which I picked because it mentioned maple syrup. Because I had the tea already steeping while we looked up the recipe I had to improvise a bit but in the end the result met completely with my daughter’s approval. And I thought it was pretty good too. Good enough for me to decide to once or twice a week make a pot and keep some in the refrigerator. Being convinced of the nutritional value of milk we used organic non-homogenized whole milk. Thank you for making this recipe available.

    Reply
  5. Fionasays

    Is this a concentrated mix that we add more liquid to each time we want to have some? Or is it a straight, non-concentrated drink? The ingredients are very expensive and three cups worth seems not very cost-efficient to me.

    Reply
  6. nicolasays

    This Masala Chai brings all the goodness! I was looking for one that had a lot of flavor and this does not disappoint. I compare it to the Chai I get at Grand Central Baking, they use Metolius Chai. Absolute heaven. Crushing the spices in a mortar and pestle & grating the ginger really releases the flavors. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Support @ Minimalist Bakersays

      Yay! We’re so glad you enjoy it, Nicola! Thanks so much for sharing! xo

      Reply
  7. Tamarsays

    This was lovely, fragrant and comforting! I used silan (date honey) as my sweetener and it added a nice depth of color and flavor. I do wish I used a homemade nut milk as it would have turned out even better.

    Reply
  8. Mariasays

    Love this recipe! I’ve made it about 4 times in <2 weeks. Added some fennel seeds to the spice mix and sweetened with honey, both worked well! Tried with oat milk and cow milk, both delicious. I also halved the amount of ginger and sliced it (as suggested) as I found it too much when I used the full amount originally.

    Reply
  9. Sophiasays

    I made this using oat milk (for myself) and regular milk (for Dad). The regular milk version came out smelling naturally sweeter and definitely is a nod to the traditional versions served in India. I let the oak milk version sit on a simmer for a few minutes longer than the regular milk to really infuse the flavors since it didn’t carry as fragrant of flavor when I took the regular milk version off the stove.

    For first timers making this recipe, watch the ginger. It can be overwhelming if not managed. Fortunately I mellowed out the flavor using the maple syrup at the end. When making this recipe in the future, I’ll use 1/2 the ginger Dana calls for so I don’t have to add as much sugar to neutralize the ginger.

    Overall, a keeper of a recipe that everyone can adjust to their taste on the ginger, sugar amount and milk choice!

    Reply
  10. Rachelsays

    I went overboard with the ginger! I LOVE ginger, and I love drinks that are a bit spicy, so I grated about two inches of a thin ginger root into the mix. The tea tasted delicious but the ginger was so intense, ticklish, and spicy that it was actually uncomfortable to drink. Next time I will try slicing the ginger instead! Otherwise, I really enjoyed this recipe. Thank you!

    Reply
  11. Sonia Ssays

    As someone who is ethnically Indian, you have no idea how happy I feel that you’ve called this masala chai and not masala chai tea .. chai literally means ‘tea’, people!

    Reply
  12. Sarahsays

    This was so delicious – but I used my favorite rice milk and it curdled… do you have any idea why? Maybe because of the ginger or maybe the heat? x

    Reply
    • Support @ Minimalist Bakersays

      Hi Sarah, We’ve noticed heating homemade nut milks can have that issue if they boil or get too hot. We’d suggest cooking the rice milk at a lower temp and making sure it doesn’t boil. Hope that helps!

      Reply
    • Megansays

      Rice milk gelatinizes from the inherent starch around 150-160* — it can be a tough non-dairy milk to work with, especially if its homemade.

      Reply
  13. Alisonsays

    I am always baffled at how amazing the recipes are on this site. This chai is AMAZING. 10/10!!

    Reply
    • Support @ Minimalist Bakersays

      Aw, we’re so glad to hear it, Alison! Thanks so much for your kind words and lovely review! xo

      Reply
  14. Olenasays

    Love this recipe! I’ve made it 3 times already. If you are trying to avoid caffeine, I forgot to add the tea one time and it still tasted amazing! Definitely a recipe I’ll keep repeating.

    Reply
    • Support @ Minimalist Bakersays

      Thanks for sharing, Olena! We are so glad you enjoyed it!

      Reply
  15. Hanasays

    Hi there! I couldn’t find cardamom anywhere (tried three different stores nearby), pods or ground :( is there a replacement I could use?

    Reply
  16. Shannonsays

    Get outta here! This recipe is amazing and super simple to make. I used a cast iron skillet to crush the spices, substituted a teaspoon of ground cardamom for the whole pods because I couldn’t find them at our store, made it with unsweetened almond milk, strained it with a section of cheese cloth, and used somewhere between 6-8 spoonfuls of maple syrup. My husband even added a shot of spiced rum to his for a lil hot toddy. Delicious!

    Reply
    • Support @ Minimalist Bakersays

      Whoop! We’re so glad you both enjoyed it, Shannon! Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
  17. Laurasays

    While I am new to veganism and am perhaps missing the taste of dairy in this drink, I love the ceremony of making this tea from scratch!! I used cashew milk and I’m going to try coconut milk next time. Also not a big fan of the stevia so I’m going to swap that for maple syrup. Will definitely make this again and again.

    Reply
    • Support @ Minimalist Bakersays

      Hi Kayla, we haven’t tried it that way, but maybe 1/3 of the amount of fresh?

      Reply
    • Indysays

      I see you said to use clove but was confused as to what you meant. Did you mean clove of garlic? Although I’m hoping that’s not what you meant, lol.

      Reply
      • kikisays

        Cloves are a spice! Called laung in Hindi. You can find it at your local supermarket’s spice section.

        Reply
  18. Lindasays

    This recipe was so delicious that I’m going to make it cold once the weather warms up. I do have a question about the little white pot with wood handle your using in the photo, could you please tell me what kind it is and where I can purchase one?
    I’ve been looking for one like that for a while with no luck.

    Reply
  19. Trishsays

    Completed recipe exactly as written except used almond milk. I think it would be better with oat milk as it is a bit more creamy. Wasn’t crazy about the chai. Perhaps I could add more spices? I don’t know what it is, but I just can’t make any authentic flavour and I’ve tried so many recipes. I’ll keep trying, but I unfortunately won’t make this again.

    Reply
    • Support @ Minimalist Bakersays

      Hi Trish, sorry to hear this one wasn’t for you! We would recommend a combo of coconut milk and another non-dairy milk for a creamier consistency. If you found the spice flavor too mild, you could definitely try doubling. Good luck!

      Reply
    • kikisays

      I’m a chai enthusiast from Delhi and I hate to see you give up :) In addition to the above, try these things as well:
      1. The taste of water affects the chai! Use filtered or spring water
      2. Try simmering the tea for a shorter period of time. When you simmer for too long, you run the risk of making it too bitter, which might cause the off-taste. Once the water with spices is boiling, add tea leaves and put on low for about 2-3 mins. Then add the milk *slowly* and simmer for 5-6 mins until its creamy on the top.
      3. Vegan milks will never taste the same as dairy milk – its worse when the vegan milks have their own flavor. If you must go this route, then choose oat milk-cashew milk blend
      4. You can try using a lower quality tea like Lipton or Brooke Bond (from Indian stores) – they brew a really strong flavor.

      Reply
  20. Stacysays

    I made this as the recipe states, with a little extra cardamom, maple syrup, and coconut milk… it is quite possibly the best damn thing I have ever tasted. Seriously, it is sooooo good. Thanks so much for this and all your vegetarian recipes – I love them all!!!

    Reply
    • Support @ Minimalist Bakersays

      Thanks so much for the lovely review, Stacy. We are so glad you enjoyed it! Next time, would you mind leaving a rating with your review? It’s super helpful for us and other readers. Thanks so much! Xo

      Reply
  21. Jamiesays

    This is mind-boggling tasty! I made it without black tea and instead added a bit more of each whole spice + extra grated ginger so that it was a concentrate of sorts. Then I’d foam a good amount of oat milk – and voila. Masala chai latte, sans caffeine. I’m hooked and about to make my second batch now. Sidenote – it’s sweet enough for me without adding any sweetener, but maybe it’s the natural sweetness of the foamed oat milk that does it for me.

    Thank you so much!! This is my first rating and comment though I’ve made a ton of your recipes and loved them ALL. I solemnly swear to review more!

    Reply
    • Jessicasays

      I’ve made this recipe several times and absolutely love it! The grated ginger and the spice blend is perfect to me. I’ve doubled the batch and left out the milk, so I can keep it as concentrate. I heat equal parts chai and milk to make a cup. Without the milk, is there any concern in freezing this as ice cubes? I’d love to store a larger batch and pull it out as needed.

      Reply
      • Support @ Minimalist Bakersays

        Ooo great idea! That should work. Thanks so much for the lovely review and for sharing your experience, Jessica!

        Reply
  22. Alissa Knowlessays

    Absolutely loved this and have been making it non-stop! It is creamy and perfectly spiced. I used store-bought oatmilk and it was still great, but hope to try to homemade some time as well.

    Reply
  23. Helen Wangsays

    The tea is delicious! I made a big batch and stored in refrigerator so I can have it in the morning. Thank you for the recipe!

    Reply
  24. Jenny Russellsays

    Thanks for the recipe! I have a question. I LOVE chai, but due to kidney stone issues, I cannot have black tea any more. Do you have any suggestions for substitutes?

    Reply
  25. Courtneysays

    This was sooo easy and delicious! I made a few tweaks (more cinnamon no ginger) and actually just put the spices in a tea strainer and cooked in my electric tea pot before adding the tea milk and cane sugar. Soooo easy! Like easy enough to make while rushing to get ready for work.

    Definitely worth a try!

    Reply
  26. Rileysays

    Would this recipe also work for an iced chai? I so, would you change anything or simply drink once chilled in the fridge? This looks so good and I want to try and make it…but I am a wimp with hot drinks.

    Reply
    • Dana @ Minimalist Bakersays

      I wouldn’t change anything! Other than you don’t really need to add the dairy-free milk to the pot. You could add it to your drink upon serving. Let us know how it goes!

      Reply
      • Rileysays

        It definitely works for an iced chai! I would just recommend increasing the water a little bit since you don’t add the milk with the tea. I also added some vanilla and it was AMAZING! Never going back to store bought chai-thanks!!

        Reply
  27. Abigail Janesays

    This recipe sounds wonderful and as usual, the photos are gorgeous!
    I wonder if I could add in some helpful herbs like lemon balm or nettle? I’d imagine that they wouldn’t affect the test much and would create an extra powerful drink to enjoy!

    Reply
  28. Amaliasays

    Just wanted to come back to rate! Giving four stars because I think there are things I will tweak next time to taste more tea (steep before adding milk) and more balance of the spices (less ginger, more cardamom and cloves). It’s a really nice recipe, though, and I’ve loved being able to pull it out of the fridge and reheat a portion in the mornings.

    Reply
  29. Sujathasays

    Loved the recipe. I used rice milk (which I usually use for tea) and jaggery for sweetener. I will try with almond milk soon. Also, adding a pinch of turmeric when heating the milk will be highly beneficial to health.

    Reply
  30. Cathysays

    Found this recipe late and night and just had to try it!! Now I’m enjoying my lovely cup of tea at midnight.

    This is a really delicious recipe, it’s spicy but not too spicy (: I used lactose free milk and sweetened it with raw sugar.

    Reply
  31. Lucisays

    This is easy and delicious to prepare.
    I used high quality organic black tea bags and homemade organic cashew milk which are key to a great taste.
    The leftovers today tasted even better as the flavors were intensified after a very slow reheat with an additional cinnamon stick topped w fresh organic mint.

    Reply
    • Dana @ Minimalist Bakersays

      Any loose leaf or bagged black tea will do. I avoid caffeine, so I used bagged decaf black tea :D

      Reply
  32. Amaliasays

    I made this with Califia Farms toasted coconut almondmilk blend. I was initially a bit disappointed by the somewhat bland (albeit spicy) flavor, but found that a little pinch of salt brought it all together. A very delicious and cozy beverage!

    Reply
    • Dana @ Minimalist Bakersays

      Lovely! Thanks for sharing, Amalia!

      Next time would you mind adding a rating to your review? It’s super helpful to us and other readers! xo

      Reply
  33. Minaalsays

    I’m so excited that you’re sharing a recipe for masala chai because it is such a staple in our household as I’ve grown up with chai. Since going dairy free, I’ve found it hard to recreate the richness that my mum’s has. I’m looking forward to trying this and will definitely add a review and rating. Have you tried adding some fresh mint when you add the ginger? It adds a little something special and tastes lovely :) Would love to know what you think of that if you try it out.

    Minaal

    Reply
    • Dana @ Minimalist Bakersays

      Ooh, I haven’t! But if you do let us know what it’s like. Thanks for sharing, Minaal!

      Reply
    • Dana @ Minimalist Bakersays

      You can grind them, I just find it easier to steep and strain when they aren’t ground :D

      Reply
      • kikisays

        I have this problem with ground spices too as I grind all the spices to create a chai masala mix (masala = spice). Once I pour it into the cup – its too hot for me to drink anyway. I let it sit for 2-3 mins before I start drinking and then drink it over time :P The finer particles just settle at the bottom of the cup

        Reply
  34. Anitasays

    I think this is a really respectful and informed take on masala chai, well done! I’ve never tried making it with plant based milk, I’ll give it a try. But I do prefer boiling the milk and the sugar, I find the sugar gains a certain “cooked” flavour, if that even makes sense… Beautifully filmed as always!

    Reply