Easy Masala Chai Recipe

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Holding a mug of homemade Masala Chai Tea next to ingredients used to make it

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.

Ginger, cinnamon sticks, cloves, black pepper, cardamom pods, and black tea for making our homemade Chai Tea Recipe

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.

Using a mortar and pestle to slightly grind whole spices for making homemade Chai Tea

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.

Tea bags in a saucepan with spices for making our Masala Chai Recipe

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.

Pouring dairy-free milk into a saucepan to make our Masala Chai recipe

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

Using a wooden spoon to stir a pot of our Easy Masala Chai recipe

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!

Pouring mugs of dairy-free Masala Chai

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
Pouring dairy-free milk into a saucepan of homemade Masala Chai
4.78 from 18 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 3 (Cups)
Course Beverage
Cuisine Dairy-Free, Indian-Inspired, Vegan
Freezer Friendly No
Does it keep? 3-4 Days

Ingredients

  • 1 whole cinnamon stick
  • 6-8 green cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 3-4 whole cloves
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • 2 Tbsp grated ginger (for less intense ginger flavor, slice instead of grating)
  • 3 Tbsp loose leaf black tea (or ~3-4 black tea bags // use decaf as needed)
  • 2 cups dairy-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: 1 cup Calories: 200 Carbohydrates: 19.4 g Protein: 5 g Fat: 13.5 g Saturated Fat: 5.9 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.61 g Monounsaturated Fat: 4.7 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 21 mg Potassium: 283 mg Fiber: 3 g Sugar: 4.9 g

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  1. Sonia S says

    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!

  2. Sarah says

    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

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      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!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

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

  3. Olena says

    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.

  4. Hana says

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

  5. Shannon says

    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!

  6. Laura says

    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.

    • Indy says

      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.

      • kiki says

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

  7. Linda says

    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.

  8. Trish says

    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.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      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!

    • kiki says

      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.

  9. Stacy says

    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!!!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      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

  10. Jamie says

    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!

  11. Alissa Knowles says

    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.

  12. Helen Wang says

    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!

  13. Jenny Russell says

    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?

  14. Courtney says

    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!

  15. Riley says

    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.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      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!

      • Riley says

        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!!

  16. Abigail Jane says

    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!

  17. Amalia says

    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.

  18. Sujatha says

    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.

  19. Cathy says

    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.

  20. Luci says

    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.

  21. Amalia says

    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!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      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

  22. Minaal says

    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

      • kiki says

        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

  23. Anita says

    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!