Pumpkin Spice Chai Shortbread Cookies

These easy slice-and-bake chai shortbread cookies are buttery, flaky, and tender, and full of wonderful spices like cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, clove, and black pepper! 

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My freshman 15 can be attributed almost exclusively to chai tea lattes. Yeah, I really don’t think it was the frat parties – it had to be the chai lattes. They weren’t from Starbucks, believe it or not! I went to college in the olden days before Starbucks really boomed, and way back then, approximately right before the new millenium, we had 1 Starbucks in the whole town. There’s probably 30 of them by now.

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I passed through the main student center, The Hub, every morning to get to my 8am class (because I was one of those lucky souls to score ALL 8am classes). I would quickly stop for a chai tea latte nearly every day though. In fact, I ran out of money on my meal card very early on because I was spending $3 on them, along with a fruit and cream cheese tart. So good. Breakfast of champions! I can’t believe my metabolism kept up as well as it did considering the meal I’d start my days with. I should thank my lucky stars it was only the freshman 15.

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These days I drink a ton more coffee than I probably should, but I’m still very much a tea drinker too. I don’t order chai tea lattes all that often because my understanding of them is that they’re crammed with sugar (and that’s a problem?), but I drink plain chai tea quite a lot, and it satisfies the craving for something warm and spicy.

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These flaky and buttery shortbread cookies will also satisfy the chai tea craving! But in a cookie, which is always going to trump tea, don’t you think? They’re light, delicate, and to me they taste *exactly* like a hot mug of chai tea. The flavor of these is so wonderfully authentic and spicy! These have something extra special going on in the spice department though. Besides several conventional spices like cinnamon, clove, and cardamom, these also have a few unusual suspects like nutmeg and pumpkin pie spice for extra warmth and fall flair.

Because…. pumpkin pie spice. If these cookies can’t have pumpkin in them, this is the next best thing.

Also? A little black pepper.  It might sound odd, but it lends just enough kick and pepperiness to be perfect.

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Btw, black pepper makes me sneeze every time. Anybody else? I thought that only happened to cartoon characters, but apparently it happens in real life too.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Pumpkin Spice Chai Shortbread
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A buttery shortbread cookie, flavored with chai tea spices, like cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and black pepper!
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 36 cookies
  • 1½ c. flour
  • ¼ tsp. cardamom
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • ⅛ tsp. nutmeg
  • dash of clove
  • generous pinch of black pepper
  • ¾ c. powdered sugar
  • 10 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  1. In a medium bowl, combine flour and spices. Mix until well-blended.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine powdered sugar and butter.
  3. Beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.
  4. Gradually add flour mixture to mixing bowl, beating at low speed until just combined.
  5. Shape dough into a 12-inch log, about 1 inch thick, and wrap in plastic wrap.
  6. Chill dough for at least 1 hour, or until firm.
  7. Unwrap dough and cut into 36 slices, about ¼-inch thick.
  8. Place dough slices on ungreased baking sheets 1-2 inches apart.
  9. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes.
  10. Remove cookies from pans and cool completely on wire racks. Enjoy!

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Soooo… I wrote this up while burning the midnight oil and I’m definitely getting a little punchy and bleary-eyed. Let’s forgive any nonsense and incoherent sentences if you find them, k? :)


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  1. says

    I am such a huge chai tea lover too, Sarah! I actually am drinking a Starbucks chai as I type this! :) But when I was in college, Starbucks wasn’t booming, either. I actually didn’t discover chai tea until after college, and fell in love with them. So of course, I’m loving these pumpkin spice chai cookies! What a fantastic flavor, Sarah! They sound amazing! And I love the addition of black pepper in these beauties. Pinned!

    • says

      Thanks so much, Gayle! I’m glad you like them! Yes, back in the day when I never worried about a calorie, I drank one almost every day! Now I save them for more special occasions and around holidays, but if I could drink a Starbucks chai daily, I totally would! I love them! :)

  2. says

    I cannot wait to make these – love chai and really love shortbread. Thanks!

    Silly girl, just before the millenium is certainly not the olden days! :) But I’ll forgive you due to the late night blur you must have been experiencing.

    Enjoy the day.

  3. says

    Hahaha, olden days? You totally just called me old, cause Starbucks certainly wasn’t booming when I was in university either! Oh well, one of my kids asked me about “the olden days” last week as if I would know all about it since I’m oh so old! I love the flavour of chai tea, but it always makes me feel sick so I stick to coffee, but if I can have that flavour in a shortbread cookie that sounds incredible! Cookies definitely trump tea!

    • says

      Lol! I was really calling myself old, but I guess I dragged down a few people with me, huh? Ooops! :) But there was a time, many moons ago, before Starbucks owned the coffee world, right? Haha! Hard to imagine! I love tea, but cookies > tea, ALWAYS!

    • says

      Thanks, Manali! Definitely try them and let me know what you think, if you get a chance! Really these are versatile so you could change up the spices too! That’d be so easy to do! Have a wonderful weekend! :)

  4. says

    Pepper always makes me sneeze! I love how you included it in these chai cookies, along with all the other amazing spices. Cardamom seems to be overlooked in baking, but I love it! It reminds me of my mom’s cardamom bread at Christmas:) I haven’t made cookies in a roll in ages and had forgotten how perfectly round they turn out! Thanks for sharing these lovely shortbread cookies and I hope your trip home is safe:)

    • says

      Haha! That makes me feel better! I *always* sneeze when I use pepper! The spices in the cookies are in-credible!!! I agree that cardamom doesn’t get enough love, but it’s one of my favorite spices! You are too sweet – thank you for thinking of my while I was traveling! I got home last night and I’m settling in today, planning for a big day of baking since it’s rainy and chilly here in FL. Guess I brought the cold weather back with me! Have a great Sunday, Heather. :)

  5. says

    I’m going to need to try these cookies out!

    Myself and a couple of other bloggers are hosting a Christmas Cheer Exchange for bloggers and would love for you to join! If you get a chance you can check it out on my blog!

    • says

      Definitely! Thanks so much for the invite! I’ll take a look. I hope you try these cookies – I absolutely love them. The chai flavor is so authentic!! :)

    • says

      Lol! We did devour them! Wish I could share some with you so you could devour them too! LOVE LOVE LOVE those brown butter blackberry bars you posted! That combo sounds incredible! Thanks, Jocelyn! :)

  6. Pamela says

    Sarah … these cookies were delicious! I took them to a special event at my son’s school Friday evening, and everyone raved about them! So thank you for such a wonderful recipe! I do have one question, though … the dough seemed very dry, and it was difficult shaping it into a log … it kept falling apart. Refrigerating it helped, but the logs weren’t nice and round because I just couldn’t mould and shape it easily. Do you have any ideas as to what I did wrong? I followed the recipe to a T. Could I add a bit more butter maybe?

    Thank you!


    • says

      Hi Pamela! I’m so glad you liked them! They’re so spicy and I love the flavors and spicy kick! I’m thrilled to hear that you liked them too – thanks so much for reporting back! I do think you could add just an extra teaspoon or two or butter – not even a tablespoon, OR a teaspoon of milk to help the dough be a little more cohesive. Sometimes with shortbread dough (tends to be dry), I’ve found that forming and molding it while it’s rolled up in plastic wrap is a little easier, versus, just my hands. The plastic wrap keeps a barrier around it that makes it harder for it to crumble. Maybe try forming a log, wrapping it in plastic wrap tightly, refrigerating, and then molding it a little more in the plastic wrap once it’s firm. Does that make sense? I hope that helps!

  7. Jennifer M says

    I love chai but my sister dislikes the taste. I want to bring pumpkin spice shortbread cookies to her party so I don’t want the chai flavor to come out in one batch. How do you suggest i switch up the recipe to just have the pumpkin/fall flavor come out? Omit the cardamom, cloves, and black pepper? Thanks and I can’t wait to try these!


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