Chai Spice Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream (Vegan)

Chai Spice Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream (Vegan) | Veggie and the Beast

So. I made myself a vegan birthday cake. If you knew me in real life you’d realize how funny this is. If you knew me in real life you’d know that birthdays are a BIG DEAL in my family, and they are usually wrapped up by diving head first into a bucket (literally a bucket) filled with oreos, chocolate pudding, and cool whip. Dang girl, is it good.

I plan on eating both cakes today. It’s my birthday, so I get to cake myself as much as I want to! Birthdays are the BEST, aren’t they?

Chai Spice Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream (Vegan) | Veggie and the Beast
As I’ve mentioned before, I love vegan baking. Regular baking with dairy and eggs is a challenge in itself, so once you take away those magic ingredients it’s kind of like a sick, addicting torture to try to get it right. Read into that what you will.

Spiced Chai Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream (Vegan) | Veggie and the Beast

Baking layer cakes puts me in a strange zone of concentration where time zooms past and daylight fades far too quickly. There’s so much detail and planning involved, and so much riding on what happens when you flip that cake pan upside down and hope everything baked evenly and no cake bits got stuck in the process. It’s exciting and heartbreaking at the same time. It’s an unpredictable, sugar-filled drug, and it’s definitely my drug of choice (unless we’re counting wine, because wine wins everything).

Speaking of sugar-filled drugs…can you ever frost a cake and not run your finger through it for a taste? I apparently can’t.

Chai Spice Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream (Vegan) | Veggie and the Beast

This birthday cake, which we’ll refer to as Birthday Cake #1, is fluffy, sweet, and spiced like my favorite wake up/warm up drink: Chai Tea. I drink 2 very (VERY) strong cups of chai tea every morning. Without my tea I’m lost, crabby, and fairly non-functional. It ain’t pretty.

Chai Spice Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream (Vegan) | Veggie and the Beast

I like to drink my chai tea out of the mug I brought back from studying abroad in Greece. It has a couple chips in the rim. That’s how you know its loved.

I also like to drink my chai tea in cake form, it turns out.

Spiced Chai Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream (Vegan) | Veggie and the Beast

On top of the chai-spiced cake goes a thick, creamy [butter-free] buttercream with that wonderfully decadent and sweet hint of vanilla bean. I’ve only recently discovered how much I love baking with real vanilla bean, so it needed to make an appearance in my [1st] birthday cake.

The 2nd birthday cake, the [VERY] non-vegan birthday cake, is the filling to these cupcakes. I’ll take one of each. Please and thank you.

Vegan Chai Spice Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream

A fluffy vegan cake infused with the spices of Chai tea, and topped with a decadent vanilla bean buttercream.

Yield: 10-12 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes


Chai-Spice Cake

  • 2 cups minus 2 tbsp vanilla almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cups unbleached cake flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups raw sugar, processed until fine
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup brewed chai tea
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Vanilla Bean Frosting

  • 2 cups (4 sticks) vegan butter, at room temperature
  • 3 1/2-4 cups powdered cane sugar, sifted
  • 1 vanilla bean, split down the middle and scraped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons vanilla almond milk (optional)


For the Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine the apple cider vinegar and almond milk. Set aside (make sure it sits for at least 5 minutes).
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, beat together the sugar, oil, and chai tea. Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts.
  5. Alternate adding the flour and the almond milk to the batter, starting with the flour. Before adding the last splash of almond milk, mix the batter enough to eliminate any lumps. Add the remaining milk, mixing until just combined.
  6. Grease two 9-inch pans and line with parchment paper. Divide the batter between the two pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Let sit in the pan for at least 10 minutes before carefully flipping onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in the fridge until you're ready to frost.

For the Frosting

  1. Beat the vegan butter until creamy. Gradually add the powdered sugar to the butter, scraping the sides with a spatula as needed.
  2. Mix in the vanilla bean and vanilla extract. I added about 1 tablespoon of almond milk at this stage, but you can vary the amount of liquid based on your consistency preference. Whether adding milk or not, beat the frosting for another 2-3 minutes until whipped and creamy.

To Frost the Cake

  1. Place one cake half on a piece of parchment paper. Spread about 1/2 cup of frosting on the top of the cake, then top with the other cake half. Cover the cake with a thin layer of frosting (this will be your crumb coat). Place the cake in the fridge for another 30 minutes to allow the crumb coat to set.
  2. Remove the cake from the fridge, and cover with another layer of frosting. You can be done now, or you can place the cake in the fridge for another half hour, and then add another layer of frosting. I added a third layer, and then used a fork to make hatch marks in the sides of the cake.

Cake recipe adapted from Oh, Ladycakes.

For the sugar, I processed Sugar in the Raw in my food processor until very fine - almost the texture of powdered sugar.

The tea should NOT be the sweetened chai tea liquid (i.e. what Caribou/Starbucks use to make chai lattes). Use a chai tea bag (black tea with spices), and steep it normally before measuring out 1/2 cup.


47 Responses to “Chai Spice Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream (Vegan)”

  1. Liz — January 7, 2014 @ 8:07 am (#)

    Where did you get your cake stand?? I love it!

    • Veggie — January 7, 2014 @ 10:47 am (#)

      Home Goods! They have another one with a rounded top that says “Sweets” – really cute :)

  2. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar — January 7, 2014 @ 8:39 am (#)

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! Vegan baking is so fun, and YES! You definitely need to eat all the cake possible. By your next birthday you’ll have a little baby to celebrate with – how fun is that?!

    • Veggie — January 7, 2014 @ 10:32 am (#)

      Thank you Katrina! My boss brought in cinnamon and pecan rolls, so my sweet-intake is off to a good start :)

  3. Katie — January 14, 2014 @ 6:51 pm (#)

    New follower here. LOVE your blog! Keep up the awesome work!

    • Veggie — January 14, 2014 @ 9:37 pm (#)

      Thank you so much! :)

  4. Sabrina - A Spoonful of Photography — January 19, 2014 @ 12:10 pm (#)

    Happy (late) birthday! Hope you enjoyed your day and the (cup)cakes! This cake caught my eye on foodgawker and you can be sure that I’ll give it a try as soon as possible – I mean what’s better than having chai as a beverage and food?? Keep up the awesome work!!

    • Veggie — January 19, 2014 @ 12:53 pm (#)

      Thank you so much! :)

  5. Liz — April 9, 2014 @ 2:13 pm (#)

    Is cake flour the same as all purpose flour?

  6. jessica — April 17, 2014 @ 12:01 am (#)

    is the chai tea that you put in brewed chai tea or loose leaf chai tea leaves?

    • Katie — April 17, 2014 @ 7:59 am (#)

      Brewed chai tea :)

  7. Pingback: simply click the up coming site

  8. Pingback: Chai Cake | Kim Makes Things

  9. Pingback: chai tea spiced cake with coconut frosting (dairy-free, plus vegan optional) | butter loves company

  10. Kaitlyn — June 14, 2014 @ 12:21 am (#)

    My friend is allergic to dairy and gluten and loves chai. So I made her this cake by just replacing the flour with gluten free flour and It was delicious!!! I had attempted to make her vegan and gluten free cakes before and they have all been fails, this is the first one to ever work and taste good. Definitely a keeper. Thanks so much! xoxo

    • Katie — July 9, 2014 @ 9:57 pm (#)

      For some reason I’m just seeing this comment – I’m so happy to hear gluten free flour works! Glad it’s a keeper :)

  11. BellaMara — June 21, 2014 @ 1:30 pm (#)

    Made this last night for a graduation party. Much easier than I expected – I don’t know why I found it so daunting! I had 10 non-vegans and they went insane for this cake. Thanks so much for wonderful recipe!

    • Katie — June 21, 2014 @ 3:37 pm (#)

      Awesome, so glad it was a hit!

  12. Pingback: Narendra Modi's 'chai pe charcha' with Shinzo AbeChai Tea™ | Chai Tea™

  13. Kris — September 19, 2014 @ 5:47 pm (#)

    Great recipe, going to try it soon. I have a question, I am vegetarian not vegan , can I use regular milk in place of the almond milk? Thanks!

    • Katie — September 20, 2014 @ 12:02 am (#)

      Yes that should be fine!

  14. Sally — November 18, 2014 @ 3:13 pm (#)

    This looks amazing! Can’t wait to try it. Are there any alterations if I want to make these cupcakes?

    Thanks! I look forward to checking out more vegan recipes from your blog!

    – Sally

  15. Kaitlyn — November 19, 2014 @ 7:33 pm (#)

    For a few months I was testing vegan cake recipes and they were all flops. I used this recipe to make my friend’s wedding cake and it was lovely! I made it gluten free and added a vegan cinnamon cashew cream cheese filling and everyone at the wedding kept coming up to me and raving about it, Thank you!

    • Katie — November 19, 2014 @ 9:29 pm (#)

      This comment made my night! Also I want to know more about this cinnamon cashew cream cheese filling! :)

  16. Kate — November 21, 2014 @ 11:17 am (#)

    I wanted to make a new cake for my son’s birthday so I texted him and asked, “What’s your favorite flavor?” His reply – “Garlic.” I asked him to think of something else and he said chai. I thought I could work with that, but didn’t expect to find a vegan recipe. I made this with a pineapple filling and caramel icing. He loved it. Thanks!

    • Katie — November 21, 2014 @ 9:42 pm (#)

      Ha! Garlic cake. I love it. I’m so glad this cake was a hit!

  17. Serene — November 29, 2014 @ 5:08 am (#)

    Can you use coconut oil in place of the canola oil and agave in place of the sugar? So excited to try this!!!

    • Katie — November 29, 2014 @ 8:59 am (#)

      You can definitely use coconut oil in place of canola. I wouldn’t recommed agave instead of sugar, since it will change the consistency of the cake. You could use coconut sugar, but you’d want to blend it up until fine before using. Hope that helps!

      • Serene — November 29, 2014 @ 9:07 am (#)

        Awesome! I’ll try with coconut sugar. Thanks so much! :)

  18. Susan — December 10, 2014 @ 1:59 pm (#)

    I just made the recipe and baked it as cupcakes for a potluck dinner. It smells so good! It did yield 24 cupcakes baked for 15 minutes. My chai tea had cocoa in it and I used coconut sugar that I out through the blender first. Now I wish I had doubled the recipe.

  19. Jean — March 11, 2015 @ 10:55 pm (#)

    This recipe turned out so well for my daughter’s birthday –  very light and perfect spicing! I received many kudos from my family. I made it exactly as written except I only used 2 sticks of Earth Balance for the frosting – it was plenty creamy and light. I’ll definitely be making this again for another birthday :)

    • Katie — March 12, 2015 @ 12:04 pm (#)

      That’s so great to hear! Thank you for the comment!

  20. Dianne — March 21, 2015 @ 3:15 pm (#)

    made this today for my newly vegan sister-in-law’s bday.
    DELISH!!!! Everyvody loves it! My son said “this is GOOD CAKE- not just good for being vegan”. Thank you for sharing!!

  21. Pingback: » Sunday Reading 05-11-15 #35 One Raw Bite

  22. Becky — September 15, 2015 @ 7:36 pm (#)

    Can this cake be made into a bundt? And if so, are there any adaptations?

    • Katie — September 16, 2015 @ 9:18 am (#)

      hi there! I haven’t tried making it into a bundt cake so I can’t say for sure. Let me know if you try it!

  23. Pingback: 18 Chai Spiced Recipes to Warm Up Your Winter - I bake he shoots

  24. Logan — December 4, 2015 @ 8:50 am (#)

    Would using regular granulated sugar be okay for this recipe? Should I be using the same amount? Thanks in advance!

    • Katie — December 4, 2015 @ 9:48 am (#)

      Yes granulated sugar will work, and the same amount should be fine!

  25. Danica — February 18, 2016 @ 7:37 pm (#)

    Yum yum yum! This cake is soooooo good!  I just made it this past weekend and plan on making it for a baby shower that I am going to next month.  I just ordered this chai spice blend on etsy and it put this cake over the top!

    • Katie — February 18, 2016 @ 8:28 pm (#)

      Thank you for the comment! So glad you like the cake!

  26. Lauren — March 4, 2016 @ 2:11 pm (#)

    How strong is the chai flavor? I’m wondering if i should make a tea concentrate so that it comes through in the cake a little stronger. Last time I made a cake flavored with brewed coffee it had barely any coffee flavor at all!! Recipe looks great :) thank you for sharing. 


    • Katie — March 4, 2016 @ 3:46 pm (#)

      Hi Lauren! Much of the chai flavor comes from the spices, not the brewed tea, so if you want a strong black tea flavor I’d try the concentrate! Hope you love it!

  27. Larissa — July 30, 2016 @ 2:17 am (#)

    Stumbled across this as I searched “vegan chai spice cake”. I kept making those unladylike snort noises as I read the funny parts. Thank you for a fabulous recipe and a very enjoyable read :-)

    • Katie — July 30, 2016 @ 1:12 pm (#)

      Ha! Thank you for reading :)

  28. Pingback: Fall Reading and Links - Honest Beans