One of the downsides to living in Santa Barbara is that the closest Cinnabon is more than 50 miles away. Lucky for you, I have a super easy chai cinnamon roll recipe to share! These rolls are very soft and yummy, and the taste of chai will transport you to winter break. You don’t have to wait in a long line at Starbucks for a cinnamon roll because you can whip these out fresh in no time. Since these are yeast-free, they do not require extra time for the dough to rise, making this recipe come to life in less than an hour! Although these rolls are perfect at any time of the day, there is nothing more comforting than a warm cinnamon roll the morning after a long night out; plus, the caffeine from the chai may give you a little boost to start your day. For all of my vegan or gluten-free friends, this recipe can be adapted for you as well!

Rinah Anatalio / Daily Nexus


For the dough: 2 ¼ cups of all purpose flour*, 2 tsp of cane sugar,1 tbsp of baking powder, 1 tsp of salt, ¼ cup of butter (cut into small chunks, not melted)**, 1 cup of your choice of milk

For the filling: ¾ cup of brown sugar, 3 chai tea bags, 1 tsp of vanilla extract, 1 tbsp of cinnamon,  ¼ cup of butter (melted)***

For the icing: 1 cup of powdered sugar, 2-3 tsp of your choice of milk (depending on how thick you want your icing), 1 tsp of vanilla extract


  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and prepare your 8 x 8 dish with parchment paper or nonstick spray.
  2. In one bowl, combine your flour, cane sugar, baking powder and salt.
  3. Slowly add in your chunks of butter and milk and mix into a large ball (depending on the stickiness of the dough, more flour may need to be added to form a ball). Set aside once the dough is formed.
  4. Take your chai tea bags, cut one end of each of them and put the leaves in a bowl, separate from your dough. In the same bowl as your leaves, combine the other filling ingredients, mix, and then set aside.
  5. On a clean surface that is sprinkled with flour, roll your dough out into a large rectangle that’s roughly 12 x 15 inches. Rolling dough without a rolling pin can be very difficult, but you can easily substitute the following: a large Hydroflask, a bottle of wine or a beer die glass. Just make sure you clean the item first and sprinkle a little flour so the dough doesn’t stick to it!
  6. Taking your filling mix, evenly distribute it to your dough, leaving about a pinky-sized inch around the border.
  7. Starting on the long side, tightly roll your dough and cut into nine pieces.
  8. Place your rolls on your prepared baking dish and bake for 25-35 min. (until the the tops are slightly brown).
  9. Cool for 5 min. and spread your icing on top.

These rolls will last in a airtight container for two days, or you can store them in the fridge for about a week. My reheating recommendation is placing a roll on an oven-safe dish and broiling for 2-3 min.

* For a gluten-free alternative, gluten-free all-purpose flour should be used! I recommend the Trader Joe’s gluten-free all-purpose flour.

** For the dough, the butter can be substituted for coconut oil for a vegan/ dairy-free alternative, but it should still be in a solid form.

*** For the filling, the butter can be substituted with melted coconut oil

Recipe adapted from