Chai Snickerdoodles

chai snickerdoodles

¬†Traditions are very well and good, as are traditional recipes. But every tradition can use a little spice now and again, if for no other reason than to cultivate a new appreciation for the original. This is evidenced to an extreme by the rise of the molecular gastronomy movement, which was accompanied by a hugely renewed interest in traditional comfort food. Here, we’re taking the “spice” literally and merely updating a classic cookie with a few new flavors.

Snickerdoodles, which I have mentioned before, are one of the great standards in American cookies. In spite of their plain appearance and total lack of chocolate (often a deal-breaker for some cookie eaters), the chewy vanilla cookie with the crunchy cinnamon sugar coating is pretty close to perfect in both texture and flavor. It is a unique and hugely satisfying balance that you won’t find in many other cookies. They’re the kind of cookie that absolutely everyone enjoys.

The standard recipe calls for you to roll the unbaked dough in cinnamon sugar before placing the cookies on a cookie sheet. For these, I updated the flavors from the old standbys to a somewhat trendier combination of chai spices, using cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and allspice both in the dough itself and for the coating.

These spiced up cookies¬†cookies are wonderfully crunchy on the outside – thanks to their sugary coating – and chewy on the inside, just like the classic. The chai flavors come through enough to twist the traditionally basic flavor of the cookies, but aren’t strong enough to dissuade die-hard¬†traditionalists from enjoying a classic.

Chai Snickerdoodles
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup butter, soft
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine sugar and spices; remove 1/2 cup of this mixture and place in a medium-sized, shallow dish or bowl (like a soup plate). Add butter to bowl and cream with sugar mixture until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and vanilla extract.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, cream of tartar and baking soda. Add to sugar mixture and stir until fully incorporated.
Shape dough into 1 inch balls and roll in reserved sugar-spice mixture. Place on baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between balls to allow for spreading.
Bake for about 12 minutes, until edges are firm to the touch, but not quite browned. Cool for 3-5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 4 dozen.


  1. This is a great idea. I think I would add a bit of pepper, too.

  2. Beth – A bit of pepper (white would probably be best, since the color would blend in the with cookie better than black) would be a great addition to these. I’d start with 1/8 – 1/4 tsp and work up, if necessary, depending on how much bite you want to add.

  3. I think these sound amazing! I’m saving this recipe to try soon!

  4. Wow…I love chai and these look great!!! Can’t wait to give them a try!!!

  5. I love the sound of these, especially because Snickerdoodles are one of the favorite cookies in our household. I think I’ll work up a batch of ‘em tomorrow.

  6. These sound awesome. Now I want to bake.

  7. …total lack of chocolate (often a deal-breaker for some cookie eaters). Ha ha! I can name a couple in my office :) These sound great!

  8. This is on my list of cookies to try! Thank you!

  9. Hi, I was passing by and was wondering what classes you took for baking. Me and my friend were looking for a baking school/classes in LA downtown …somewhere around. well, thank you

  10. These sound marvelous! I especially like the idea of adding the pepper. We’ll have to bake some this week!

  11. Yum – that sounds really great! :)

  12. I made these today, and I did add some pepper, though I could have gone to 1/4 tsp, I think–I just ground some in with my pepper mill, probably more like 1/8 tsp. The flecks don’t show, because these already have flecks from the cinnamon, cardamom, and allspice. They are delicious, by the way…

  13. These were great, subtle but interesting just like you said. I replaced about 1/3 of the butter with crisco to make sure they stayed nice and chewy and didn’t spread much. Thanks for the idea!

  14. I really like snickerdoodles and I like chai. I haven’t made snickerdoodles in a very, very long time. I am definitely going to try this recipe!

  15. Nicole, I made these today and they were amazing! My husband and I can’t stop eating them! I’ve never been a huge snickerdoodle fan but these are now one of my favorite cookies! I’ll be writing about them soon! Thanks!

  16. I definitely tried these and they turned out awesome!
    Thanks for this recipe =)

  17. Holy Hannah these are absolutely fantastic! Not only are they heavenly to eat, but my whole apartment smells utterly divine. I fully regret only making a half batch– two dozen of these puppies will disappear fast!

  18. I haven’t made snickerdoodles in years and I had to buy cardamom for this version. I was shocked at the price. Almost didn’t do it in case I didn’t like the recipe, but it was worth it in the end. I looked it up online…only the second most expensive spice next to saffron. But again, it’s worth it!

  19. I just made these and they’re delish, I think I’m addicted! Love how quick and easy they are since I usually forget about cookies in the oven and end up burning them. Made my kitchen pretty smokey (maybe the butter?) but otherwise a wonderful recipe.

  20. Am in the middle of baking one of your most excellent oatmeal cookies and not in a chocolate mood, dare I say. You are right on all counts abot the dear snickerdoodle! Made some traditional ones two weeks ago, yum. Will definitely make these next, a good Spring taste, too. Thanks!

  21. This sound tasty, but isn’t it a misnomer to call them “chai” snickerdoodles? Chai means tea, and there doesn’t seem to be any tea in the recipe.

  22. I love your recipe! I featured it on a chai roundup of recipes :)

  23. Just made these tonight for an after-dinner treat when we had company over. SUCH a huge hit. Thanks so much =)

  24. I have made these several times and they are wonderful. Everyone loves them and they have a permanent place on my holiday baking. Thanks for the lovely recipe!

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