cranberry chai cupcakes

Cranberry Chai Cupcakes with Spiced Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

These moist and fluffy cupcakes are studded with cranberries and topped with a tangy spiced maple cream cheese frosting. The perfect treat for the holidays!
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American, Canadian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 12 cupcakes
Calories 400 kcal
Author Kiki Johnson


For the chai spice seasoning

  • 1 tsp ground fennel
  • 3/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly-ground black pepper

For the cupcakes

  • 1/2 cups unsalted butter 1 stick, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp chai spice seasoning
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 3/4 cups chopped fresh cranberries

For the frosting

  • 1 block cream cheese 8 oz., at room temperature
  • 4 tbsp butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp chai spice seasoning
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp maple syrup


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 20-24 muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium-high speed for 30 seconds to loosen. Gradually add sugar, about ¼ cups at a time. Leave butter and sugar to cream until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together flour, chai spice seasoning, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Return to butter and sugar. Lower speed to medium and add in vanilla, then eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated.

  5. Scrape down sides of the bowl, then turn to low speed and alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down sides of the bowl and fold in cranberries.
  6. Using a standard-sized scoop or a scantly filled ¼ cup measuring cup, fill each muffin well two-thirds full. Bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  7. Cool on a wire rack, in the pan, for 5 minutes, then remove cupcakes and allow to cool completely.
  8. While cupcakes are cooling, make frosting by creaming together cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer on the medium setting. Add vanilla and chai spice seasoning and beat until fully incorporated. Add confectioners’ sugar, ½ cup at a time as well as the maple syrup, until frosting reaches desired sweetness and consistency. Frost cupcakes when they are completely cooled.