Soft and chewy, these vegan chai-spiced brown sugar cookies are about to become your go-to fall dessert! They're easily made in one bowl and are perfect for a cozy night in with friends or for a holiday dessert.
Whether or not you're a chai tea fan, I promise you'll love these cookies! They're warm, cozy, chewy, and everything that is good in this world. They're basically like a classic sugar cookie but with more (and only) brown sugar and a blend of yummy spices to create that signature chai flavor.
These cookies are vegan, dairy-free, eggless, made in one bowl, are fall-inspired, and can easily be made gluten-free.
- Vegan Stick Butter: whenever I bake I always use vegan stick butters like Earth Balance or Melt. I feel like they add the best flavor and the best texture. Tub butters will work but they do have more oil in them so I would suggest adding an additional 1-2 tablespoons of flour to counteract that, should you choose to use them.
- Brown Sugar: we'll be using a mixture of dark brown and light brown sugar for this recipe. Using only brown sugars is the key to the soft and chewy texture of cookies! Brown sugars contain more moisture than white sugar because of the molasses, so these will be perfectly gooey.
- Spices: a TON of 'em. A combination of cinnamon, cardamom, ground ginger, ground all-spice, ground cloves, nutmeg, and salt will give us a homemade chai spice blend!
- Flax Egg: to help bind all of the ingredients together. If you don't want to use a flax egg, check out the other vegan egg substitutes here. A replacement egg powder would work well too.
- Vanilla Extract: a MUST in any baked good, I don't even know why I bother listing it!
- Flour: all-purpose flour works great and acts as our base for the cookies. If you're gluten-free, I'd recommend using 1-to-1 gluten free flour and not anything different to ensure the other ingredient quantities don't need to be messed with.
- Leavening Agents: we're using both baking soda and baking powder to help these bad boys rise.
- Start by prepping your flax egg and letting it set for at least 5 minutes, until thickened.
- Add room temperature butter, dark brown sugar, light brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, ground ginger, ground all-spice, ground cloves, and nutmeg to a bowl. Cream together using a hand-held mixer or kitchen-stand mixer until combined and fluffy.
- Add the flax egg and vanilla to the bowl and whip together until combined.
- Add in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the bowl. Mix until just combined and the cookie dough has formed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
- About 10-15 minutes before removing the dough from the fridge, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Using a cookie scoop or your hands, scoop out and roll 12 evenly sized cookies, placing on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart. You will need to use at least 2 baking sheets - only put one batch in the oven at a time to ensure they're evenly heated and baked!
- Sprinkle the cookies with white granulated sugar, then bake for 10-12 minutes, until the bottoms and edges are lightly browned but the centers are still soft. They will continue to cook after you take them out of the oven.
- After removing the oven, drop the baking sheet onto the counter to deflate them and get that crinkle effect. Let cool for 5-10 minutes then serve and enjoy!
Variations & Substitutions
I love this recipe as is but here a few variations & substitutions you can try that would be just as delicious:
Make these chai cookies gluten-free by subbing out the all purpose flour for gluten-free flour at a 1:1 ratio.
Feel free to replace one of the brown sugars with regular white sugar. However, the cookies won't be as soft. You could also just one brown sugar or the other entirely, rather than using both.
Instead of all of the spices, use the contents of a chai tea bag. I know not all of these spices are pantry staples so this could be a more accessible solution. Replace all of the spices with ½ tablespoon of a chai tea bag.
Omit/change the spices. Omitting the spices will give you vegan brown sugar cookies, YUM! Or, you could swap the spices with different ones such as star anise and black pepper.
- To get more crinkly cookies, drop the baking sheet onto the counter to help the cookies deflate a bit.
- Do not skip the chilling step!! Because these cookies use only brown sugars, they more moisture than regular cookies. If you don't chill the dough for at least 1 hour, they will be a thin, brittle mess.
- Do not flatten the cookies before baking. Again, because the dough has a bit more moisture, they will flatten and spread out on their own. Flattening them will only make them super thin and dry.
- Make sure your baking soda is fresh! Baking soda is only good for 30 days after it has been opened. Wild, I know. So make sure you have a fresh/active baking soda to get the optimal flavor and texture of these cookies.
- All of the cookies will not fit on one baking sheet so bake one tray at a time rather than putting both trays in the oven at the same time. This will allow for even heating.
Yes, yes, yes! I know it's the worst, most agonizing thing ever to have to wait for cookies but trust me on this. Vegan butter is already more oily than regular butter as is and now we've added only brown sugar to the dough, which has more moisture than regular sugar because of the molasses. These cookies are incredibly moist and if they aren't chilled, the moisture will seep out and you'll be left with flat, thin, and brittle cookies.
Store the leftover baked cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-4 days, in the fridge for 7 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let them cool completely before storing them. You can freeze the raw cookie dough as well for up to 3 months!
Chai is made up of multiple spices and originates from India!