This Starbucks-inspired Chocolate Chai Latte is a delicious cup of spiced Hot Chocolate: aromatic from the cinnamon, cloves and cardamom, and super creamy and warming, it's done in under 10 minutes! The perfect cosy drink for fall or winter.
⭐ Why This Recipe is a Star
- Chocolate Chai Latte is delicious: creamy and aromatic, it's great on cold winter days!
- It's easy and quick to make: done in under 10 minutes, in a few simple steps, but just as good as any Starbucks latte (and cheaper!)
- Flexible: I use whole spices in my recipe and simmer everything on the stove, but I also show you how to make an Instant Mix for this drink- you'll only need to add the powder to hot liquid and stir! (It's great as an edible Christmas gift!)
What is Chai?
Chai is actually the Hindi word for tea but, outside of India, is now used as to refer to Masala Chai, a spiced tea. So my Chocolate Chai Tea recipe is actually an aromatic spiced Chocolate drink!
This is India's most popular type of tea, with the exact spices and quantities varying in different regions. Amongst the most common spices in traditional Chai are cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, star anise and cinnamon.
As such, my Chocolate Chai Latte recipe can be made:
- with black tea
- without any tea, as a nightcap (There's nothing like hot chocolate to lull one to sleep but caffeine does made it hard to zzz!)
- with different spices- feel free to leave out or include any spices you don't like/ love!
Note: The different spices in Masala Chai are thought to have different health benefits. For example, turmeric is used for its anti-inflammatory effects.
Fun fact: did you know that Chai goes well with Matcha?
You will need simple ingredients, such as:
- milk: I recommend cream (tastes better!) or whole milk (you will need to use 2x the amount of milk compared to cream, and I recommend adding a bit of cornstarch to thicken the drink up. Remember to whisk the cornstarch well to avoid lumps!) I have yet to test this with vegan milks- not all plant-based milks go with the spices, so I'll need to test almond milk, oat milk, coconut milk, soy milk, hazelnut and cashew milk etc individually before recommending 1.
- unsweetened cocoa powder, Dutched: Dutched tastes more chocolatey than natural cocoa powder. Cocoa powder can become lumpy so break any hard bits before adding them to the pot, to make it easier to whisk the cocoa into the milk. you can also substitute with chopped up dark chocolate (I recommend using 2.5 oz per Cup of milk.)
- spices such as Ceylon cinnamon, cloves, green cardamoms, star anise, black peppercorns, green fennel and coriander seeds. I like to use whole spices as they have more flavor, but you can also substitute with powdered spices/ instant Chai Spice Mix. (See the Recipe card for the suggested quantities and Tips for more on how to make your own Masala Chai Powder Blend.) Feel free to add ginger or other spices such as coriander seeds and nutmeg if you like (but note that ginger may make the milk curdle) or to omit any of the above that you are not a fan to!
- sweetener such as sugar, maple syrup, Chai syrup or honey (I don't recommend substituting the spices and sweetener with Chai syrup as you will need a lot of Chai concentrate for the spiced flavor to come through, which would make the drink overly sweet. (I've tried and compared, if you were wondering.) For more caramel notes, use brown sugar or brown sugar simple syrup then pair the chocolate with a brown sugar cookie!
- whipped cream: this creamy topping makes the hot Chai Chocolate Latte taste even better! If you are using milk and not cream, stir in 4 Tablespoons of whipped cream into the drink for every cup of liquid used before spritzing on more at the end.
- vanilla essence or extract: you can make the drink without it but it does make the Chocolate Tea taste better!
- pinch of salt, optional: you may find it weird, but salt does enhance the flavor. Don't use too much though as no one likes salty hot chocolate!
Alternatively, you can replace:
- the spices and tea bag (if using) with a Chai Tea bag (If you're going for a copycat Starbucks chocolate Chai, use the Teavana Chai tea bags, which is the brand used on the Starbucks website)
- Spicy Chai Hot Chocolate: Did you know that chocolate was originally drunk with chili? Add some cayenne pepper to your spices if you feel like going more traditional!
- Chocolate Chai Tea: I find that adding some black tea to the pot makes this warming winter drink taste even better! I like strong teas like Assam. Toast the spices, add the water, bring to the boil, then steep the tea bag in the covered pot for 3-5 minutes. After that, add the milk/ cream and cocoa powder, sweetener, vanilla etc as per the directions below.
- Nutmeg Cinnamon Chocolate Tea: I recommend using nutmeg and Cinnamon only to fully taste the flavors!
- Winter Warmer Latte: add some marshmallows and garnish with cocoa nibs!
- Iced Chocolate Chai: in the summer, you can serve this drink with some ice cubes (or blend it with the ice, Coffee Bean style!)
- For a more regular cup of hot chocolate, try this Starbucks copycat peppermint hot chocolate.
🔪 Step-by-Step Instructions
- Lightly bash the spices and toast them in a dry pot till fragrant.
2. Add 2 Cups of water and boil for 5 minutes on medium-high to high heat.
3. Reduce fire to medium or medium-low, then add 1 Cup of heavy cream. If you can't get cream, you can substitute with 2 Cups of half-and-half or whole milk, and stir in 3 Tablespoons of whipped cream later.
Gently heat till steaming but not boiling. You don't want the temperature to be more than 200F (but honestly, using a food thermometer here is just overkill! Watch for steam rising above your pot- once you see it, it's time to turn the heat down slightly.)
Note: we reduce the fire as we don't want the milk to curdle!
4. Whisk in 2 to 6 Tablespoons of cocoa powder. The more you use, the stronger the chocolate flavor will be (but the more sweetener you will need to use, and the more whisking you will need to do. I've even used 8 Tablespoons previously!)
Stir in 1 Tablespoon of vanilla flavor then sweeten to taste (I find a minimum of 1.5 Tablespoons of sugar necessary.)
Add the pinch of salt, if you like desserts like salted caramel and want to enhance the flavor.
Pour the drink into a cup through a sieve, so that you can fish out the whole spices.
Spritz on the whipped cream and decorate with marshmallows or a cinnamon stick. Dust cinnamon or cocoa powder on top to make latte art!
Note: add the vanilla before the sweetener, as it will reduce the amount of sugar required. (Vanilla helps to naturally sweeten tea a bit.)
🥡 How to Store
Extra Chocolate Chai can be kept in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
You will need to stir again before drinking!
👩🏻🍳 Expert Tips
Tip #1: You can make Instant Hot Chocolate Chai Powder/ Latte Mix by grinding up the spices in the recipe (after drytoasting), then mixing with sugar, milk powder and cocoa powder. Run everything through the food processor again to make sure all the flavors really blend together.
This will keep for 3-6 months stored in an airtight container in a dark, cool place but do note the the spices will lose their potency with time.
To make the instant Chocolate Chai Latte, add a tea bag and 4 Tablespoons of the mix to 1 Cup of hot water, steep for 3-5 minutes, then stir in the cream or milk. (Alternatively, you can add powdered creamer and powdered instant tea to the mix if you really want to make it all-in-one!)
🥗 Other Chai Recipes
Enjoyed this easy Hot Chocolate Chai Latte Recipe? Please leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟rating in the recipe card below! If you REALLY liked this winter drink, please consider supporting it by buying me a coffee! 🙂 (No obligation though!) Thank you and have a great day!
Chocolate Chai Latte
- 1 Ceylon Cinnamon Stick Not to be confused with Cassia Cinnamon
- 7 cloves You can substitute all the spices with a Chai Tea bag (If you don't mind a caffeinated hot chocolate.)
- 12 green cardamoms
- 1 Star anise
- ¾ teaspoon black peppercorns
- ¼-½ teaspoon green fennel
- ¼ coriander seeds
Chocolate Chai Tea Latte
- 2 Cups Water
- 1 Cup heavy cream Substitute: 2 Cups whole milk + 3 Tablespoons whipped cream
- 2-8 Tablespoons unsweetened, Dutch cocoa powder
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla essence or extract Add this before the sweetener as vanilla can be used as a sugar substitute
- 1.5 Tablespoons sugar Substitute: honey, simple syrup, chai syrup, brown sugar syrup or maple syrup.
- Pinch of salt to enhance the flavor, optional
- Bash the whole spices with the back of a knife or rolling pin, then toast them in a dry pan till fragrant.Note: if using ginger, don't add till the milk and water have come to a boil, to avoid curdling the ginger
- Add the water and boil for 5 minutes on medium-high or high heat. If adding tea, switch off the fire after boiling, add the tea, cover and steep the tea for 3-5 minutes.
- Bring the fire back to medium or medium-low, then add 1 Cup of heavy cream (or 2 Cups of half-and-half/whole milk, and stir in 3 Tablespoons of whipped cream after the liquid has started steaming.)
- Gently heat till steaming but not boiling. You don't want the temperature to be more than 200F (but honestly, using a food thermometer here is just overkill! Watch for steam rising above your pot- once you see it, it's time to turn the heat down slightly.)
- Whisk in your desired amount of cocoa powder. The more you use, the stronger the chocolate flavor will be (but the more sweetener you will need to use, and the more whisking you will need to do. I've even used 8 Tablespoons previously!)
- Stir in the vanilla, then sweeten to taste and stir in the pinch of salt (if using)
- Pour the drink into a heat-proof mug through a sieve, so that you can get rid of the whole spices. (They're probably good for another boil though, if you're the budgeting sort.)
- Spritz on the whipped cream and decorate with marshmallows, cocoa nibs and cinnamon sticks. Dust cinnamon or cocoa powder and brown sugar on top.
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