Best Ever Vanilla Chai Mix – Sounds Southern if you say it right :)


In the mood for more traditional Southern cooking? Click here to check out Crispy Breaded Pork Chops with MeMe’s Mashed Potatoes and Milk Gravy, or try some fried cabbage and Sweet and Sour Green Beans. For dessert, how about peanut butter  or  coconut pie? YUM! Now that we’ve done all that mental cooking, it’s time to sit down with a nice hot drink….

A few months back I met my friend Lisa in a local coffee shop for a little chat and when I got there she had ordered me their Spiced Vanilla Chai. I had never had this stuff before and one sip had me leaping over the moon, it was so good! I was really surprised that it wasn’t coffee because it has such body to it and depth of flavors. It was like a perfectly baked ginger cookie dipped into perfectly made coffee – I was in heaven. Lisa was quick to tell me that this Chai was exceptional and not to get it anywhere else expecting it to be this good. She told me not to even attempt to try it at Starbucks because theirs can’t come close. I took another sip as my eyes just about rolled back in my head it was so good!

However, I don’t drink sugar for a multitude of reasons so when the lady behind the counter told me she couldn’t make it sugar free, I was pretty disappointed. Good thing I don’t give up too easily!

Me and Kelly :)

I set about on a mission to recreate their recipe. Since they could only make it one particular way I assumed they were using a mix of some sort, and it had to be one they made themselves to boot. At first I started making tea and adding in little spices here and there, but then I tried out several recipes online and eventually found myself at my friend Kelly’s blog. Lo and behold, Kelly’s recipe turned out to be an exact flavor match.

The great thing about this recipe is that I could easily make it sugar free (or significantly lower in sugar) and that is what I’m bringing you today. If you’d like Kelly’s original recipe please click here to visit that and be sure and tell her I sent ya! I want to thank her for generously giving me permission to share her recipe with you today.

Update: Mama and I were out of town recently and I brought a little jar of this mix with me. Mama really doesn’t like hot tea at all. I know that seems odd to 90% of the world’s population but you’ve got to understand that where I’m from we only drink tea iced all our lives so the thought of suddenly drinking it hot really does strike us as odd, but like I said, this stuff tastes so much like coffee that I just knew she’d love it. So that morning I ran some hot water through the little coffee machine in our room and made her a cup. She took one sip and said “Are you serious? This is really tea?” Since then I’ve made her two batches of this mix. She and I have both got to drinking it more than we do coffee. I told her I was going to do this tutorial yesterday and she said “Well if you’re going to be making some more I’m down to only half a jar…”

You’ll need: Powdered milk, Ideal Sweetener*, Instant unsweetened tea, Sugar Free French Vanilla Creamer, and non dairy coffee creamer.

*You can use regular sugar or splenda in place of the Ideal Sweetener. I found Ideal at Krogers packaged under their own label, but with “Ideal” listed on the front.

You’re also gonna need a lot of spices, but they’re what MAKE this tea so stinking good.

Ginger, Allspice, Cloves, Nutmeg, White Pepper, Cinnamon, and Cardamom*.

Go for the cheap here wherever you can. I know some folks really get a thrill out of spending $20 plus on a little bottle of spices and if you’re in that camp, knock yourself out. I cruise the store brands and sale bins for mine. Nothing but the cheapest for my family! ~grins~

*Now this cardamom is going to cost a fortune. I spent around ten dollars for my bottle. However, you’ll have enough of it to make several batches. I have no idea how many times I’ve made this and I’m still using the same bottle.



Place all ingredients into a food processor.

Now this is where you decide if you like stronger or weaker beverages. If you prefer stronger flavors, use heaping measurements with your spices. I use heaping teaspoons, rather than teaspoons. If you prefer your flavors a little milder, use the exact measurements listed in the recipe.


Once you have all ingredients in your food processor, put the lid on that puppy and get ready to make some mix!

I’m using my workhorse Hamilton Beach Big Mouth Food Processor. They now have a deluxe version that is even less expensive than mine was (click here to see it).

I’ve had this for a few years now and really put it through the ringer and it’s held up like a champ.

If you don’t have a food processor, you can also use a blender but you may need to make it in smaller batches to have room. Just put your tea, spices, and powdered milk in first and mix those up really good, then you can stir the rest in by hand.


This is what it will look like when done.

Now, just store this in an airtight container to keep fresh.

I like to put mine in little 8 ounce canning jars so I can have one or two to give away to friends.

To make your chai, simply add two heaping tablespoons of mix to 8 ounces of hot water or milk and stir (I use hot water).

Vanilla Chai Mix
  • 1 Cup Non Fat Dry Milk Powder
  • 1 Cup Powdered Non Dairy Creamer (Coffee Mate)
  • 1 Cup Sugar Free French Vanilla Powdered Non Dairy Creamer
  • 2-1/2 Cups Ideal Sweetener, Splenda, or Sugar
  • 1-1/2 Cups Unsweetened Instant Tea (can use Decaf)
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  1. Place all ingredients into a food processor or large blender. Blend until it is a fine powder. Store in airtight container.
  2. To make Vanilla Chai, add two to three tablespoons of mix to 8 ounces of hot water or milk (I use hot water).
Makes about 6 cups of mix. For more information about substitutions and ingredients, please see the recipe post.

 Train up a child in the way that they should go –

and make sure you go that way, too!

Saw on Facebook courtesy of Janie Upchurch. Thanks Janie!


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  1. says

    May I just say that this is the 2nd thing to make my day today! I love Vanilla Chai…started drinking it at Dunkin Donuts when we did a stint in Boston but had to just really stop the sugary drinks as well (if only I could stop the sugary foods now!!). This is a perfect recipe and one I am going to have to do soon. Maybe today! Thanks for perserving until you figured it out. :-)

  2. Casey says

    This sounds great!! Now, I know you are all about making things your own (which is one of the MANY things I just love about you!), but I do have to say, I’m not a fan of Nutmeg… would it make a huge difference if I left it out?

    • says

      Hey Casey, I’m *really* *really* not a fan of nutmeg, which just makes us have even more in common! Usually, whenever a recipe calls for nutmeg I just double the cinnamon or replace it with cinnamon instead. However, in this, I use it because all of the spices are kinda strong and work together so the nutmeg doesn’t stand out. However, leave it out, or double the cinnamon if you like! I totally feel ya on that usually ucky spice, lol!

  3. Laurie Madson says

    Well…..I am also of the camp that says hot tea is GROSS and I will only drink it when I am sick.

    Gonna give this a chance. Mainly because the cold brewed coffee concentrate was so amazing, but also because I think I have everything on hand already except the vanilla creamer from making homemade hot cocoa mix to give as gifts at Christmas, ;o)

  4. Sandy says

    I’ve never tasted chai tea before, but I love giving drink mixes as gifts. This is one I’m definitely going to try! Do you think it would taste as good without the nutmeg? That’s one spice on my “don’t like” list.

  5. Kathy Davis says

    Oh Christy, I have used this recipe for about five years and I’ve even made up big batches and given them with homemade biscotti and pretty mugs for Christmas. I love this and the fact that it is sugar free makes it so well received. I am so glad you posted it on here. I also want to tell you I”ve been reading your blog for years and I bought your book and love trying all the recipes. My hubby loves them too. And for those who asked Chai is pronounced CHIY. Blessings to you and your family Christy.

  6. Penny Laich says

    For those of y’all that think nutmeg is “icky”…try using only 1/2 teaspoon of it, and choose cinnamon for the extra 1/2 teaspoon…this gives the blending of spices but NOT the power of nutmeg!! This stuff is soooo good. hugs and blessings to all y’all.

  7. Mama Jane says

    i love vanilla chai too! I started out with that Oregon brand in the purple carton that you just dump in some milk. This recipe sounds wonderful and a ton more diabetic friendly. thanks for posting! I agree St. Arbucks is less than wonderful.

  8. Su says

    I’m so glad you like chai. I’m a big fan of chai too but I generally tend to get the chai tea bags only because I don’t want to drink the powdered mixes too much. Of course the powdered stuff is wickedly good though, what with all the creamer and stuff. But the actual bags are still nice and I just make it up like a normal hot tea with milk and a tiny bit of sugar.

    I do have a funny tea story when we were in Vegas my mum ordered tea and I was quick to add “not ice tea, she doesn’t want ice tea. She wants breakfast tea with milk.” The waiter had a funny look on his face and brought out ice tea and a glass of milk!!!!! I explained again and he said “OH! You mean HOT tea!” lol If you ask for tea here you automatically get hot tea. Lol

    • Sonya in NWFL says

      I’m with you, Su! I’m considering making this mix, but it sounds like a lot of work and I might be tempted to overindulge if I had a lot of it and it is tasty.

      Funny story about getting the ice tea and milk in Vegas! Yes, we always have to specify hot tea if you don’t want to get cold! I guess since coffee is the American hot beverage of choice, no one really thinks of drinking tea hot! Of course, now people are making iced coffee, too, but you’d have to specify if you’d want that cold instead of hot!

  9. maribel says

    I don’t like vanilla nothing but this recipe sounds yummy. Never tried chai tea I know were have I been but I like to stick with the basics. Spices are pricey but this drink sounds so tempting. Thanks

  10. Trish says

    I, too, have been making this chai mix for several years…and I have made it sugarfree for my friends who need sugarfree. They love, and so do I. I’m glad you have posted this for others to enjoy!!

  11. Becka says

    This sounds really good! Regarding your spice purchases: When we were first married my husband said to me “Only second best is good enough for you, Baby!” That’s been our mantra ever since. :)

  12. says

    Very similar to the recipe I’ve always used except yours has more tea. I think I like that, I’ll have to try it. Another idea for those who can’t have sugar is to leave the sweetener out entirely so that each person can use the sweetener of their choice. I actually found the mix I made using vanilla creamer to be sweet enough without adding anything.

    If Huntsville is anything like Memphis, you should be able to find an ethnic store (Indian or Mexican) that sells spices in bulk. You would not believe how low their prices are. My daughter picked up some cardamom for me for a fraction of Kroger or Walmart price. I have also bought bulk spice on Amazon for very reasonable amounts. I have 2 huge jars of dried cilantro right now that were very little over the price of a tiny bottle at local stores (if I could even find it).

  13. PATIKAKES says

    This sounds great. My son was on a kick where he had to have this everyday. I bought all the spices at an East Indian store. They were very resonably priced. I don’t know if you have anything in your neck of the woods. I remember the cardamom (whole) was only $4.00. Looking at all the ingredients; the only ones I don”t have is the white pepper and the sugar free french vanilla powder. I’m going to surprise him with a some.

  14. Bev says

    I grew up with a Russian Chi tea which is an entirely different drink. So, I was excited to try chai tea the first time I was in an Espresso shop. I thought my taste buds and died and gone to heaven! Now to have a sugar free recipe really makes my day. I’m diabetic and couldn’t have it as much as I would have liked.
    That’s all over now!! Thank you so much, I can’t wait to get this mixed up, but I have to get some spices first. I don’t have white pepper.

  15. Lisa says

    Never had Vanilla Chi Tea before. Can’t wait to try the recipe. I’m in Huntsville and was just wondering if you would reveal the local coffee shop you had it at. Thought I might try my first taste there. Love what you do! Thanks!

  16. Kimber says

    Christy, thanks for sharing this recipe. I love chai tea, but the mixes never seem right. I’m definitely going to try this. I’ve already tried the Ideal sweetener at your recommendation and I like it so much better than Splenda! My boyfriend is on a low carb diet and both his parents are diabetic so I always appreciate your recipe with low sugar or sugar substitutes.

  17. Sandy says

    I have made this recipe 5 or 6 times since I found the recipe a couple of months ago. I was, and am, totally addicted! Now…my doctor tells me powdered creamer has been linked to heart disease!!! HELP…somebody please help…what can I do or use instead? I’ve got to make more of this…somehow!

  18. Sandra says

    If you want a true indulgence,try using half hot water and half milk combined before stirring in the chai mix – wow!

    Upon recently being diagnosed with IBC,one of the first things my oncologist told me was to stay away from was artificial sweeteners of all types! Sometimes you just need to enjoy the “real” thing but in moderation. :-)

  19. Amy White says

    I like Chi drinks but the spices and cost of those has stopped me from making this in the past…any tips on finding them at a more reasonable cost? – esp the cardamom

  20. Denise says

    Love chai tea, can’t wait to try this. Christy, do you collect Jadeite? I noticed that your cup and saucer are Jadeite! I’ve collected a few pieces over the years, not really enough to call it a collection, but I love each one!

  21. Caroline says

    My daughter turned me on to the Chai tea when she was working for Arabica during college. It has a LOT of caffeine so the kids used to drink it when they were staying up cramming for classes. She still makes it from scratch with the cardamom pod brewed with tea bags and added spices, but I have to admit, I’m stuck on the Oregon brand (liquid). Just mix half and half with milk and done. I think they have a sugar free version now at Target but I don’t use sugar free so haven’t tried it. I love it hot, but my fave for summer is Iced with whip cream on top!! MMMmmmmm The Starbucks version is very bland by comparison.

  22. Laurie Madson says

    Okay, no shocker, to you…but this is FANTASTIC!!
    I am surprised, because me drinking hot tea generally means I am not feeling well at all.

    Taking a big batch to my cousin’s bridal shower Sunday to share.
    It’s highly possible I will be converting a bunch of my actual family to Southern Plate family with this and the Nilla Wafer Cake! ;o)

  23. Diane says

    Want a tip of where to get spices at a very good price – opps I just had a senior moment and can’t think of the store name. BUT if you drive north on Jordan Lane from I565 look to the right just before you reach Holmes Ave. It is a Middle Eastern market, the owners are friendly, and the spices are CHEAP!

    • says

      If you have a blender I would use that, that way the spices get chopped up into finer pieces. The mixer will just simply mix it and the pieces will not be as fine. It will work but you will have more spices floating to the top instead of being mixed in well.

  24. patsy says

    A friend introduced me to Vanilla Chai from our coffee shop at our local library, It’s delicious but a little sweet. I can’t wait to try your sugarfree version and I’ll give some to my friend, Amy, to try, too.

  25. Christina says

    You are seriously the best ever!!! At my local market they have regular chai mix, and sugar free…. But I cannot have caffeine due to migraines. With your recipe I can use decaf instant tea – whoohoo! Now I can drink chai again, and im betting yours is way better than store mix anyway!!!!

  26. Diane M. says

    Christy, this is soooooooo good. I made some last night, I didn’t add the sugar because I figured that everyone can add or not add sugar to their own and I also added a bit of no sugar, nestle chocolate. So Yummy! Thank you!

  27. Regina Clower says

    Having a cup right now! It’s fabulous! Cardamom was too pricey for my budget so I left it on the shelf – but used all of the other spices and made sugar free (I am diabetic also) and the rest fat free and decaf. This would be great over ice….oh – and for gifts too! Thanks for the great recipe!

  28. Kathy says

    I ordered a Chai mix online ($10+ouch) so I could have a sugarfree mix. Wish I’d discovered your recipe before I ordered. You can bet I’ll be making my own from now on! Thanks, Christy: )

  29. says

    I will have to “bookmark” this one for sure. My daughter really loves Chai but seems to have “lots and lots” of mixes that she tries and then decides just “doesn’t do it” for her. Lots of opened but not finished cans/bags of mix – not the best for storage or the pocketbook.
    Thanks for this one – I think I might even have all the required ingredients too!

  30. says

    For religious reasons, I don’t drink coffee or tea so I’m going to try subbing out hot chocolate mix for the tea and sweeteners. I think it will taste just fine as I’ve had cinnamon and nutmeg in my hot chocolate and it’s good.

  31. Tamela in Central FL says

    I’ve never had chai tea before but decided to try it with this recipe for the first time. I liked that it was sugar free and sounded pretty easy. Oh my goodness gracious, this is the best thing since slice bread (as my grandma used to say). Really, really, really good!!! Also, I did a calorie count on MFP website and with 2 tbls of the mix in hot water it is only 18 calories. Perfect!!!!!

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