chai spiced apple cupcakes with tahini buttercream

the longer the title, the more delicious the recipe, right?! what can i say…the more flavor, the better! and these chai spiced apple cupcakes with tahini buttercream check all the fall spice boxes (with no pumpkin spice in sight!).

sweet ingredient list

these chai spice apple cupcakes come together rather quickly and easily. you most likely have all the ingredients in your pantry, but if not here’s the list!

  • all purpose flour
  • baking soda + powder
  • chai spice
  • salt
  • unsalted butter, browned
  • light brown sugar
  • eggs
  • whole milk greek yogurt
  • vanilla bean paste (and/or extract)
  • tahini
  • powdered sugar

apple pairs well with so many things!

i was inspired to use this apple, chai + tahini flavor for these chai spiced apple cupcakes with tahini buttercream after making my apple tahini crisp and chai tahini blondies (both, so delicious). its no surprise because apple pairs well with so many things! here’s a few of my favorite flavors for autumn baking.

  • almond, peanut + walnut
  • anise, cinnamon, clove, hazelnut, nutmeg
  • blackberry, blueberry, orange + pear
  • butternut squash + carrot
  • sage + vanilla

tips for frosting these cupcakes

  • the first time i made this buttercream with the sole purpose of piping on top of cupcakes, i used 1-2 cups less sugar. the flavor was perfect, but lacking the structure provided by the powdered sugar and it didn’t hold very well. if you plan on piping like in the photos, use the higher amount of powdered sugar. if you plan on spreading the frosting, 2 1/2 cups of powdered sugar is perfect.
  • the butter should be softened, but not warm. a good test is to press into the butter. an indentation should be left and the butter should still feel cool to the touch. whip the butter alone before adding anything else.
  • it helps if the tahini and butter are the same temperature. just pull your tahini out of the fridge about 15-20 minutes before you plan on using it. same for the butter.
  • ive tried making this frosting without sifting the powdered sugar. my best advice is to take the extra few minutes and sift the sugar. it blends more smoothly and dare i say….tastes better!
  • the recipe calls for vanilla bean paste because i really wanted the flecks of vanilla spread throughout the frosting. you can absolutely sub with the same amount of regular vanilla extract.

happy baking! -megs

chai spice apple cupcakes with tahini buttercream
chai spice apple cupcakes with tahini butter cream
chai spice apple cupcakes with tahini buttercream
chai spice apple cupcakes with tahini buttercream

craving more chai recipes? you’ll love these!

chai spiced apple cupcakes with chai tahini buttercream

nothing goes together quite like apples, chai and tahini. the apple cupcakes are tart, sweet, perfectly moist with a hint of chai spice. the tahini brings a rich nuttiness to the butter cream, perfectly complementing the sweetness of the sugar and spiciness of the chai.
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Prep Time 35 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Cooling Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr 40 mins
Course Celebrations, Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 16 cupcakes


  • 12 ct muffin pan
  • cupcake liners
  • stand mixer with paddle attachment
  • heavy bottom pan


chai spiced apple cupcakes

  • 2 1/2 c all purpose flour (300g)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp chai spice (see notes)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 10 tbsp unsalted butter, browned and cooled (113g)
  • 1 c light brown sugar, packed (220g)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 c granny smith, pink lady or honeycrisp apples, peeled and chopped (see notes)
  • 1/2 c whole milk yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

chai spiced tahini buttercream

  • 1 c unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 c tahini, well stirred
  • 2 1/2 – 4 c powdered sugar, sifted (see notes)
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 2 tsp chai spice
  • 1/4 tsp salt


chai spiced apple cupcakes

  • To make the brown butter, melt butter in a clear heavy bottom pot. Once the butter starts to foam, whisk continuously until brown bits start to form. Remove from heat, pour into clean bowl, skim the foam from the top and cool to room temperature (20-25 minutes).
  • Line 12 ct muffin pan with cupcake liners and preheat oven to 350F. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and chai spice. Set aside.
  • In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat browned butter and sugar until smooth and well combined (3-4 minutes). Add eggs, beating well after each one until well combined. Add vanilla and almond extracts, beating until well combined.
  • In this order (dry ingredients, yogurt, dry, yogurt, dry), add dry ingredients to the wet alternating with the yogurt. Slowly beat each time until JUST combined. A few flour streaks is okay! Gently fold in the chopped apples until most pieces are combined into the batter.
  • Using a 2" cookie scopp with trigger release or a large spoon, fill each cupcake liner 3/4 to the top. Place muffin pan into preheated oven and bake at 350F for 22-25 minutes. Tops should be golden brown and a tooth pick inserted into the center should come out mostly clean.
  • Let cupcakes cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Genlty remove the cupcakes and cool completely before frosting (45 minutes).

chai spiced tahini buttercream

  • In a stand mixer, with paddle attachment, beat butter until light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. On the lowest speed, beat in the tahini with butter until well combined. Add powdered sugar, a generous tablespoon at a time, beating slowly to combine. After adding about half the powdered sugar, add in the chai spice, salt and vanilla bean paste. Beat until well combined. Add the remaining half of the sugar, a generous tablespoon at a time, beating until well combined. Once all the sugar is added, beat frosting on med-high until smooth. Using a frosting bag with your desired tip, pipe frosting onto each cupcake.


apples: the apples baked better when chopped into smaller pieces. any combination of the listed apples works well in this recipe. 
powdered sugar: if piping onto the cupcakes, its best to use at least 3 cups of powdered sugar. this gives the frosting some structure. If spreading with a palette knife, 2 1/2 c is just fine.
chai spice
This is my personal favorite chai mix. If you have a chai mix you like, feel free to use it in this recipe.
3 tbsp ground ginger 
2 tbsp ground cinnamon 
1 tbsp ground allspice 
1 tbsp ground cardamon 
1 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg 
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves 
Place all ingredients in a bowl. Mix well to combine. Store in a spice jar or small mason jar. 
Keyword apple cupcakes, celebration, chai spiced apples, tahini desserts
did you make this recipe?tag @olivesnthyme on Instagram

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