Brown Butter Chai Cake

This Chai Cake is the perfect cozy cake. It’s made up of brown butter vanilla cake layers frosted with a silky chai spiced brown butter cream cheese frosting!

Why you’ll love this recipe:

  1. The flavor combo *chef’s kiss*. This is one of my very first recipes that I recently updated and my inspiration just came from tying together different flavors…like brown butter and chai.
  2. Uses my tried and true 6 inch cake as a base.
  3. Recipe is simple to follow and allows for dietary changes like dairy free butter and milk and/or gluten-free flour.

If you love chai, check out my homemade chai concentrate and my iced chai recipe. I think you’ll also love my brown butter cookie butter cake and my brown sugar espresso cake.

How to make Vanilla Chai Cake

Vanilla Chai Cake has three main flavors: brown butter, vanilla, and chai spices. The actual cake layers are a vanilla cake using brown butter and the frosting is a brown butter cream cheese chai spice frosting (try saying that 10 times ?). 

Brown Butter Vanilla Cake 

My Vanilla 6 Inch Cake Recipe is a great basic vanilla cake to use that you can add so many flavors to. By simply adding the nutty essence of brown butter, it pretty much becomes the Cinderella of cakes after her fairy godmother enters the scene. The best part is I did a whole blog post on How To Brown Butter so you have all the steps and visuals you’ll need. 


  • Fat: For this cake I used oil and brown butter, which you will need for both your cake and frosting. In the cake, brown butter will pretty much replace regular butter. For the frosting we are adding it as a flavor to regular butter.
  • All Purpose Flour: I prefer to use all purpose flour rather than cake flour because most people have all purpose flour at home. I don’t find that cake flour makes a big enough difference in my cakes to justify an extra trip to the grocery store.
    • I HIGHLY recommend using a digital scale, as over-measuring the flour is the most common baking mistake!
  • Sugar: People are always trying to cut corners with sugar, but it has an important function in cakes. You cannot just take out sugar from a recipe and expect the cake to come out perfect. Besides adding flavor, it creates moisture and helps with leavening so I don’t recommend it.
  • Liquid: Sour cream and milk is my favorite combination to use in cakes because I love the texture and flavor it gives. That being said, if you don’t have sour cream you can use greek yogurt as a 1:1 substitute.
  • Whole Eggs: I always use large, room temperature eggs for cakes. If you’re in a pinch, just warm them in some hot water while you prepare the rest of your ingredients. 

Brown Butter Cream Cheese Chai Frosting 

Yes, it’s a mouthful to say, but that’s only alluding to how lovely this frosting actually is! I had a lightbulb moment when I realized the nutty brown butter combined with the flavor of chai and tangy cream cheese would make the perfect frosting for this cake. Plus the speckles in the brown butter and the chai spices are gorgeous.

I decided to go with a cream cheese frosting because it’s not too buttery. I really wanted the flavors of the chai to balance with the brown butter so cream cheese helped level out the playing field. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

Can I make this chai cake without brown butter?

You definitely can. I love the addition of the brown butter and I kept it that way because that’s how I first made the recipe years ago but if you’re in a pinch, you can definitely just replace all the brown butter with regular butter.

What other frosting can I make if I don’t have/like cream cheese?

If you don’t have cream cheese, you can make a classic American Buttercream like in my Marble Cake recipe or my 8 inch cake recipe. It essentially uses the same base ingredients, just omits the cream cheese and uses double the butter. You would add the chai spices in when you add the sugar.
For more frosting ideas, my book Frosted is a great resource and gives you plenty of frosting options!

Can I make this cake in different sizes?  

Yes! There are a few different sizes I suggest: 
Two layer 8 inch cake, bake for about 35 minutes
Two layer 9 inch cake, bake for about 30 minutes
One 9×13 inch cake, bake for about 45 minutes

Can I turn these into cupcakes? 

I recommend a recipe developed specifically for cupcakes, you can use this vanilla cupcake and replace the butter with browned butter (make sure to weigh the butter after browning and let it come back to room temperature before using).
If you really want to, you can use this recipe to make cupcakes. However, because it was created to make a cake, your cupcakes will turn out more flat as opposed to that nice dome shape in cupcakes. If you do use this recipe it should make 23 cupcakes. 

Can I make this dairy free?

Yup! The butter and milk can be dairy free.

Can I make this gluten-free?

Yup! You can make any of my cakes with a 1:1 substitute of gluten-free flour.

How to store cake 

Because of the cream cheese frosting, this cake needs to be stored in the refrigerator. If the cake has been sliced, cover the open slices with plastic wrap or place them in an airtight container. 

You can also store it in the freezer for up to 2 months. Place the slices in an airtight container, place the container in a freezer bag and remove all the excess air. 

Thanks so much for reading today’s post! Comment down below with any questions- I’m happy to answer! If you make this Chai Cake  I would love to see the results, so please make sure to tag me @baranbakery on instagram and order my cookbook, Frosted. As always, have a blessed day and happy baking!

Love, B

Yield: 10 slices

Brown Butter Chai Cake Recipe

vanilla chai cake on cake stand

This chai cake has a nutty essence from the brown butter mixed with warm chai flavors. It's frosted with a Brown Butter Cream Cheese Chai Frosting is the perfect cake to enjoy once the weather starts to cool down!

Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 35 minutes
Additional Time 4 hours
Total Time 5 hours 35 minutes


Brown Butter Vanilla Cake

  • 2 1/4 cup (270g) all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (113g) brown butter
  • 1/4 cup (59mL) canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups (300g) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 3/4 cup (170g) sour cream
  • 3/4 cup (177mL) milk, room temperature

Brown Butter Cream Cheese Chai Frosting

  • 5 cups (600g) powdered sugar, spooned and leveled
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • Rest of the brown butter, room temperature (should be between 1/4-1/2 cup (56-113g))
  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (112g) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
  • 2-4 Tbsp (30-60mL) heavy whipping cream


  1. Brown 1 cup of butter to make Brown Butter, allow it to cool completely to room temperature before using.

Brown Butter Vanilla Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F/177C convection (325F/163C conventional) and grease and line three 6 inch cake pans.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt until they're evenly distributed.
  3. Place the room temperature brown butter, the oil and the granulated sugar in a large bowl and use an electric mixer with the whisk attachment to beat them for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating on medium speed until each egg is fully incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and sour cream and beat just until combined.
  5. Add half of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, turn the mixer on low speed and then pour in the milk, followed by the rest of the dry ingredients.
  6. Distribute the batter evenly among the three cake pans, about 14oz in each pan and bake for 30-35 minutes. When the cake is fully baked it will release itself from the edge of the pan and it will spring back if you press on the center of it.
  7. Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting.

Brown Butter Cream Cheese Chai Frosting

  1. Combine the powdered sugar with the spices and set aside.
  2. With an electric mixer at medium-high speed, beat the room temperature brown butter, butter, cream cheese and vanilla until the mixture is pale and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.
  3. Lower the speed and slowly add in the powdered sugar mixture. Add in the cream, a little at a time, until consistency is spreadable. Beat for at least 5 minutes until all of the sugar is dissolved and doesn't feel grainy.


  1. If you are making the poofs on top, set aside some frosting.
  2. Place the first layer of cake on a cake board or stand. Top with 1/3 of frosting. Repeat with the second layer and then place the third layer on top. Frost the outside of your cake with the remaining frosting.
  3. For the poofs on top, fill a piping bag with a star tip and pipe little poofs every where. Dust with cinnamon.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 807Total Fat: 39gSaturated Fat: 20gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 145mgSodium: 423mgCarbohydrates: 110gFiber: 1gSugar: 86gProtein: 7g

Nutrition information may not be fully accurate.

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    • Hi Taylor, I’m sorry I’ve never really worked with boxed cake mix so I don’t know for sure but I would assume you could swap the oil or butter from the cake mix with melted browned butter and use the this frosting.

  1. For the buttercream, it says 1 cup butter and a dash of brown butter. How much is a dash? I have a cup of brown butter left from the cup and a half it says to melt in the biggining.

    • Hi Elizabeth,
      Sooo sorry! It was a mistake, the ‘dash’ was meant to say ‘cup’ (so the extra cup you have left!)
      Hope you love the cake, would love to see your turn out <3.
      Love, B

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