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Dirty Chai Cinnamon Rolls

These dirty chai cinnamon rolls have swirls of warm chai spices and are perfectly balanced with a coffee glaze. They’re a cozy and gooey version of a dirty chai latte.

Chai Cinnamon Rolls

As a cinnamon roll and dirty chai latte lover, I firmly believe these dirty chai cinnamon rolls are a perfect breakfast. They use a King Arthur cinnamon roll recipe — which was King Arthur’s 2021 Recipe of the Year and has more than 750 reviews and 4.8 stars — as the base dough. We then layer in a brown sugar chai spice filling and top the rolls with a coffee glaze.

These dirty chai cinnamon rolls stay soft for days, thanks to an easy Japanese technique called tangzhong that we use in the dough, so you can easily make them a day ahead.

Dirty chai cinnamon rolls are an ideal cinnamon roll. They’re soft and gooey, they’re warm from the chai spices and have the perfect edge from the coffee glaze.

Get ready for dirty chai cinnamon rolls.

Dirty Chai Cinnamon Rolls

What is dirty chai?

Dirty chai is a drink made with espresso, steamed milk, black tea, sugar and spices (ginger, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg). It’s milky and sweet, warm from the spice blend, and has a slight edge from the espresso.

A dirty chai is a variation on a chai tea latte (aka masala chai), which is the same drink sans espresso. Masala chai has longstanding roots in India and a complex and interesting history if you want to learn more.

These dirty chai cinnamon rolls take the wonderful flavors of masala chai and espresso and combine them into one great roll.

Ingredients for these homemade cinnamon rolls

Dirty chai cinnamon rolls use mostly pantry staple ingredients, but have a few ingredients you might need to pop by the store to grab. This is your dirty chai cinnamon rolls grocery list:

How to make dirty chai cinnamon rolls

If you’ve never made cinnamon rolls before, the number one thing is to follow the recipe. Making yeasted dough for the first time can be a little intimidating, but biting into your own homemade cinnamon rolls is SO rewarding. Follow the process and don’t stress — we’re out here baking to have fun!

To make these dirty chai cinnamon rolls, we’ll first follow the directions to make the dough. We’ll then knead the dough either using the dough hook attachment of a stand mixer or old fashion hand kneading. If you’re kneading by hand, you’re going to emulate all the classic scenes of bakers kneading dough. You want to press the heel of your hand into the dough, fold the dough over in half, rotate it a quarter turn, and then start again. This is a great video that showing kneading if you’re more of a visual learner.

After kneading the dough, you’ll let it do a bulk rise for 60-90 minutes. You’ll then roll out and assemble the rolls, let them rise one more time as you preheat the oven, and then bake them! While the rolls are still warm from the oven, top them with a coffee glaze, and enjoy your warm homemade cinnamon rolls like the hero you are.

Tips for the best dirty chai cinnamon rolls

Dirty Chai Cinnamon Rolls FAQs

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Did you make these dirty chai cinnamon rolls? Please leave a rating and review below and tag me on Instagram or TikTok at @loaves.and.such!

Dirty Chai Cinnamon Rolls

Recipe rating: 5.0 from 2 votes
Recipe by Maddie | loaves & such
Servings

8

rolls
Prep Time

45

minutes
Baking Time

25

minutes
Total Time

2 1/2

hours

Cinnamon rolls dough from King Arthur Flour

Cook Mode

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Ingredients

  • For the Tangzhong
  • 1/2 cup (113 grams) whole milk

  • 3 TBS. (24 grams) bread flour

  • For the Dough
  • 2/3 cup (151 grams) cold whole milk

  • 2 1/2 cups (300 grams) bread flour

  • 1 tsp. (6 grams) salt

  • 2 TBS. (25 grams) granulated sugar

  • 2 tsp. instant yeast

  • 4 TBS. (57 grams) unsalted butter, softened

  • For the Filling
  • 4 TBS. (57 grams) unsalted butter, melted

  • 3/4 cup (160 grams) light brown sugar

  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon

  • 1 tsp. ground ginger

  • 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom

  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves

  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice

  • Pinch of salt

  • Heavy cream (optional, to pour over the buns before baking)

  • For the coffee glaze
  • 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar

  • 2 1/2 TBS. espresso or strongly brewed coffee

  • 3 tsp. milk

Directions

  • Make the tangzhong. Add the milk and flour in a saucepan and whisk until you have an even liquid with no lumps of flour. Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring continuously with a small spatula. Somewhere beween 1 and 3 minutes, the mixture is going to thicken to a paste. When that happens, remove from the burner and scrape the tangzhong into a large mixing bowl.
  • To your large bowl, add the milk and then the rest of the dough ingredients (butter, flour, sugar, yeast, salt). The heat from the tangzhong will help warm the milk.
  • Mix the ingredients together using the dough hook attachment on your stand mixer, or by stirring together with a spatula. Then knead the dough until it is smooth and tacky to the touch. This should take either 15 minutes by hand or 10-12 minutes on the medium-low setting of a stand mixer.
  • Shape the dough into a ball in the bowl and cover the bowl wth plastic wrap or a reusable cover. Let the dough rise until it’s puffy and at least doubled in size, about 60 to 90 minutes. If you have a warmer kitchen, the dough may be proofed quicker, and if you have a cooler kitchen it may take more time.
  • When the dough is almost done proofing, make the filling by thoroughly mixing all ingredients together in a small bowl.
  • When the dough is done proofing, spread it on a lightly floured surface and roll into a 12×15-inch rectangle (30.5 x 38cm), with the short side as the bottom. Use a ruler for reference and try to get real rectangle corners rather than shaping it like an oval in order, so that you get evenly shaped cinnamon rolls.
  • Sprinkle the filling evenly across the dough, leaving a 2-inch gap at the top. Roll the dough into a tight log from the bottom up. Using a knife, score out the log into 8 rolls. Then cut the rolls using a sharp knife or a serrated bread knife.
  • Evenly space the cinnamon rolls into a greased 9×13 baking pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let them proof a second time until they’re puffy and the dough doesn’t spring back immediately when you gently press a finger into it. This should take about 30-60 minutes.

    When the rolls are almost done with their second proof, preheat the oven to 375°F. When the rolls are ready, you can pour a little bit of heavy cream in between and over the rolls if you’d like (this helps keep them super soft). Then bake the rolls, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes. They’re done when all the tops of the buns are golden brown and don’t look very raw/doughy.
  • While the rolls cool slightly, make the icing by mixing together all ingredients in a small bowl. Since the strength of your coffee — and maybe overall interest in coffee — varies, I would ice just one roll and do a taste test. If the coffee flavor is too strong, mix in a little more milk and powdered sugar. If the coffee flavor isn’t strong enough, mix in a little more espresso and powdered sugar.

    Spread the icing over the warm rolls, sprinkle just a bit of espresso powder on top if you’d like, and eat immediately 🙂
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