My recent favorite healthy snack/breakfast/dessert are these Chewy Vegan Chai-Spiced Cookies. Last year, I developed a Healthy Breakfast Cookie that you all seemed to like quite a bit. And I get why— they’re cookies that are healthy enough to eat for breakfast but are actually tasty (they don’t taste like wheat germ or bran flakes).
With fall quickly approaching, I thought it would be fun to develop a similar oatmeal-style cookie with fall flavors. Enter these Chewy Vegan Chai-Spiced Cookies.
They’re made with wholesome ingredients like oats, almond butter, and seeds and feel like a classic oat meal cookie, but they have the warming flavors of Indian masala chai floating throughout. Which means they are extra delicious and perfect for the fall baking season!
What is Chai?
Chai simply means “tea” in Hindi, so when you’ order a “a chai tea latte,” you’re basically saying “I’d like to order a tea tea latte”). Chai refers to black tea, though you can use decaffeinated black tea.
Indian masala chai (“masala” means a mixture of ground spices), then, is spiced black tea. It can contain a number of different spices and there’s great variety across Indian households, with each family having its own preferred blend. My mom typically makes masala chai with cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and black pepper, so that’s what I use in this recipe (along with a tad of allspice).
My mom also adds lemongrass and mint to her chai, which are bit less traditional and excellent in tea but not really great in cookies, so I left those out too.
Why you’ll like these Chewy Vegan Chai-Spiced Cookies
Easy to make. This is one of the easiest cookie recipes. No creaming required, the cookies don’t spread, and they’re so straightforward that even the kids can help make them.
Delightfully chewy. If you’re like most people, you like chewy cookies. These cookies are incredibly chewy with crunchy bites of seeds and even more chewy bites from the dried fruit.
Wholesome. These are cookies you can feel good about! They’re made with ingredients that are perfectly acceptable for breakfast, which means you can happily eat cookies for breakfast. They’re vegan, gluten-free, oil-free, refined sugar-free, and soy-free.
Chai-Spiced. If you enjoy the warming, aromatic flavors of Indian chai, you’ll love the warm flavor in these cookies. My homemade chai spice blend is made with lots of cinnamon, along with freshly ground cardamom (makes a huge difference!).
Versatile. You can eat these cookies for breakfast, but they’re also a great post- or pre-workout snack. And of course, you can also eat them for dessert.
Easy to customize. Feel free to get creative with this recipe and mix and match your favorite ingredients. Customization ideas are in “substitutes” section below.
How to make Chewy Vegan Chai-Spiced Cookies
Start by making your flax eggs. Mix together the flaxseed meal with water, and set aside for 15 minutes to thicken.
Then, make the chai spice blend. Split open the cardamom pods and crush the black seeds using a mortar and pestle (or spice grinder). Mix the ground cardamom with the other chai spices.
Then, finely chop your pistachios.
Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl: oats, coconut, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and Chai Spice Blend.
And mix together the wet ingredients in a medium bowl until smooth: prepared flax egg, almond butter, maple syrup, and vanilla.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk together until the mixture resembles cookie dough.
Then, fold in your mix-ins: dried fruit, seeds, and nuts.
Scoop about 3 tablespoons cookie dough onto lined baking sheets, 1/2-inch apart. Bake at 350ºF/175ºC for 17-20 minutes. Wait 5 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack.
Tips for making these Chewy Vegan Chai-Spiced Cookies
Make sure you use a drippy, smooth nut butter. Do not use a crunchy variety, or the dried remnants from the bottom of a jar. You need a smooth, creamy variety, as it’s the oil replacer in this recipe.
If you can get whole cardamom, it makes a world of a difference when you crush it finely. This is how traditional Indian chai is made, and it brings an indescribable and complex sweet yet spicy flavor to this cookies.
You can find whole green cardamom pods online or in South Asian grocery stores. McCormick carries one in a spice bottle as well). If you can’t find whole cardamom pods, you can use whole cardamom seeds like this.
Check the oven at the 17 minute mark, as every oven is done. Use an oven thermometer if you have one, as most home ovens take longer to preheat than they state.
Substitutes for these Chewy Vegan Chai-Spiced Cookies
Not a fan of coconut? Omit the shredded coconut and just add more oats.
Allergic to almonds or don’t have almond butter? Use any nut butter you like, such as cashew butter or peanut butter. Just be sure to use a smooth, not crunchy, variety, as the nut butter is the replacement for oil in this recipe.
To make these cookies nut-free, substitute the nut butter with tahini, but make sure to use a smooth, non-bitter variety like Soom Tahini, Seed + Mill, or the Whole Foods 365 brand, and stir well so the sesame paste mixes with the oil. Or you could try Sunbutter sunflower seed butter. It will likely tinge your cookies green (that’s what happens when you bake with sunflower seeds) but the taste will be great. Also, replace the pistachios with pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds.
For the dried fruit, I used a mixture of finely chopped dates and apricots, but you could really use any variety you like. Other options include cranberries, cherries, raisins, or finely chopped mango.
And if you’re not a fan of dried fruit at all, feel free to substitute with dairy-free chocolate chips. I love the chewiness that dried fruit brings, but you can also never go wrong with chocolate.
And if you don’t have pistachios, you can try chopped walnuts, almonds, or pecans; or even pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds.
If you give this Chewy Vegan Chai-Spiced Cookies recipe a try, be sure to tag me on Instagram with your recreations and please comment with your feedback below!
- 2 tablespoons (16g) ground flaxseed meal
- 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (190g) (certified gluten-free, as needed)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 3/4 cup smooth, creamy almond butter or cashew butter**
- 1/2 cup (120 mL) pure maple syrup
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Chai Spice Blend
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly crushed cardamom*, plus more to taste as needed
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more to taste as needed
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- Pinch of black pepper**
- 1/3 cup (50g) hemp seeds
- 1/2 cup finely chopped dates (90-100g), or other dried fruit (see “substitutes” section in blog post)
- 1/3 cup shelled pistachios (45g), chopped
- Prepare the flax eggs. Combine the ground flaxseed meal with 5 tablespoons water. Stir and let sit for 15 minutes to gel together.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF/175ºC. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Make the Chai Spice Blend. Mix all the spices until well combined.
- In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: the oats, coconut, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and Chai Spice Blend.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the wet ingredients: flax eggs, almond butter, maple syrup, and vanilla. Whisk until smooth.
- Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients, using a silicone spatula to mix everything until the mixture resembles a cookie dough. Fold in Mix-ins: dates or raisins, hemp seeds, and pistachios. Taste the dough. If desired, add a bit more cardamom or nutmeg to taste.
- If the dough is too sticky to handle (more likely if you’re kitchen is warm), refrigerate it for 10-15 minutes to firm up slightly.
- Use an ice cream scoop to scoop about 3 tablespoons of dough onto the prepared baking sheets (this scoop holds about 3 tablespoons), spacing them about 1/2 inch apart. Alternatively, measure out 3 tablespoons and shape the dough into a round using your hands. Lightly flatten the top of each cookie with your hands or a fork.
- Bake the cookies for 17-20 minutes, or until cookies are baked through, slightly brown on the bottom, and chewy. After 5 minutes, use a spatula to transfer them to a cooling rack. These cookies aren’t too delicate, so you can start enjoying them shortly afterwards. Store leftover cookies in an airtight container or resealable bag on the counter for 2-3 days.