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Dirty Chai Cinnamon Rolls

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  • Author: Elizabeth Buuck
  • Prep Time: 25 min
  • Cook Time: 25 min
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 12 Rolls 1x


Classic cinnamon rolls with a dirty chai twist! Soft, fluffy, and chewy spiced rolls topped with silky smooth espresso cream cheese buttercream ready in under an hour!



For the Dough

  • 5 1/2 C (685 g) All Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 C (75 g) Granulated Sugar
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 Packages Rapid Rise Yeast (about 5 tsp)
  • 1 1/2 C Water
  • 1/2 C (113 g) Salted Butter

For the Filling

  • 4 TBSP (55 g) Salted Butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 C (100 g) Light Brown Sugar
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 2 tsp Cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp Allspice
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cloves
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1/2 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
  • 1/3 C Heavy Cream to pour on rolls before baking

For the Frosting

  • 4 oz (112 g) Full Fat Cream Cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 TBSP (55 g) Salted Butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 C (125 g) Powdered Sugar
  • 2 TBSP Heavy Cream
  • 1 tsp Espresso Powder (more or less depending on how strong you’d like it)


For the rolls

  • Melt the butter and let cool slightly. Warm the water in the microwave just until it’s warm to the touch or about 110 degrees F.
  • In the bowl of your stand mixer, add 2 C flour, sugar, salt, yeast, cooled melted butter, and warm water. Use the dough hook to mix until combined.
  • Add the remaining flour and knead on medium speed for 7-8 minutes or until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball on the dough hook. To test the dough, press a clean finger into it and pull it away. The dough shouldn’t stick to your finger and should “spring back” when you pull your finger away.
  • Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for 20 minutes, or until it has doubled in size.

For the Filling

  • While the dough rises, make the filling. Add all of the ingredients to a bowl and mix with a rubber spatula until well combined. Set aside
  • Preheat the oven to 350.
  • Once the dough has doubled in size, roll it out on a lightly floured surface to roughly the size of a cookie sheet – 13″ X 18″
  • Spread the filling out onto the dough in a thin even layer almost to the edges. Then, start from the longer side and roll into a log as tightly as possible.
  • Use unflavored dental floss to cut the rolls. First trim the edges, then slice the entire log in half. Slice each half in half again so that you have 4 equal pieces. Slice each piece into 3 rolls so that you have 12 total.
  • Place the rolls into a greased 9 X 13 baking pan. Pour the heavy cream evenly over the rolls.
  • Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

For the Frosting.

  • While the rolls bake, make the frosting.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Make sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed so that no clumps of cream cheese remain.
  • Mix in the vanilla until combined. Then, mix in the powdered sugar until smooth.
  • Warm the heavy cream in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. You want it to be warm enough the dissolve the espresso powder, but not so hot that it will melt the frosting.
  • Stir the espresso powdered into the warm cream until dissolved, then mix it into the frosting until well combined.
  • Remove the rolls from the oven when the edges are just starting to turn golden brown. Let them cool for 10-15 minutes.
  • Spread the frosting on the warm rolls and serve immediately.


  • To make ahead of time, prepare the dough as directed, then cover and place in the fridge overnight. Roll out, fill, slice, and bake the following morning.
  • Baked a frosted rolls will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-5 days. I’d recommend popping in the microwave for 10-15 seconds before serving.