Chai Vanilla Bean Shortbread

You may have noticed from other recipes that I love chai tea. Chai lattes, plain chai, chai cake, chai panna cotta, chai body scrub, chai ice cream, it’s all wonderful. The warm, toasty, comforting spices – cinnamon, cloves, ginger, cardamom, and coriander – makes a cozy blend that’s perfect for winter.

And since I’m a huge fan of chai, I obviously needed to put it in cookies. What better cookie base than a buttery, crisp shortbread. Shortbread cookies are SUPER easy to make, and use minimal ingredients. Butter, sugar, flour – that’s pretty much it. With a simple base like that, it’s easy to get creative with the flavouring. The cookies are lightly laced with spicy chai and vanilla bean and then dipped in a cinnamon vanilla glaze. A latte in a cookie!

Vanilla beans can be a little tricky to find. You can get them for a good deal on Amazon year round, but since it’s the holiday season they have them pretty readily available in grocery stores. I don’t know why they’re more available during the holiday season, I guess it’s because a lot of people are doing holiday baking? Anyways – if you can’t find vanilla bean then vanilla extract works perfectly!

While I don’t really like hard, crispy cookies, these cookies are the perfect amount of crisp. The way a shortbread should be. They snap when you bite into them, and then almost instantly that spiced buttery goodness melts in your mouth! These are a roll out cookie so you can have fun and use whatever shaped cookie cutter you like! I don’t actually have cookie cutters (weird, right?) so I just use a small glass and make cute little circles. Since there’s no liquid in these cookies to steep the tea in, just bust the tea bag open and dump all that chai goodness right into the batter.

The batter will seem dry and crumbly at first. And you are going to think to yourself “Wow this recipe sucks, it doesn’t work. Thanks for nothing, Dani”. But you just have to keep mixing and kneading and I promise you it will come together beautifully! My trick to cookies is to chill them a bit before I bake them to keep them flaky – if you don’t have time to do that, they’ll still turn out great!

Oh and these can be made vegan! Replace the butter with earth balance and you’ve got yourself a vegan shortbread.

Whether you’re baking for friends or family, a cookie exchange or just for yourself, these chai shortbreads are a must-have in your cookie arsenal. They are:

  • Buttery, flaky, and melt-in-your mouth;
  • Made with minimal ingredients;
  • Easy to switch up the flavours and add-ins to your taste;
  • Vegan accessible (just switch the butter for earth balance!);
  • Lightly spiced and freckled with beautiful chai and vanilla bean;
  • Easy and quick to make;
  • Made with a whole lot of cozy!

Chai Vanilla Bean Shortbread

Cookie base:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (or earth balance for vegan)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 vanilla bean (scraped for the seeds)
  • 2 bags of vanilla chai tea (loose leaf, just cut open the tea bag!)
  • Bit more flour for rolling


  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp cinnamon (to your taste)
  • 3-4 tbsp. water (depending how thick or thin you want your icing)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 fht. Prepare your cookie pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Cream butter and powdered sugar in a large bowl. Add in salt, flour, tea leaves, and vanilla bean seeds. Continue to mix until a dough forms. The dough will be very dry and crumbly at first – but keep mixing and kneading and it will come together!

On a floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4 of an inch thick. Use a 2 inch round cookie cutter (or glass in my case) or cookie cutter of your choice to cut cookies.

Bake on your parchment or silicone lined baking sheet for 18-20 minutes until the cookies are brown around the edges. Transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.

While cookies are cooling, prepare glaze by whisking together powdered sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract. Slowly add water until your glaze becomes smooth, and thinned out. If you like it thicker, add less water – or keep adding a little bit of water at a time until you have a consistency that you like.

Once cookies are cooled, dip half of each cookie in the glaze and let the excess glaze drip off. Put on parchment paper to set.

Will yield around 36 cookies depending on your cookie cutter! The bigger the cookie cutter- the less cookies you will have! 🙂

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