pumpkin chai doughnut muffins

Yeah, I did. I did mention pumpkin already. But in my defense, also chai. doughnut. muffins.

And maybe it’s not quite yet time for flannel and chunky sweaters and scarves and colored leaves and crisp, cool air, but friends — it is always time for these muffins.

(And secretly, I think it is always time for those other things, too, but don’t tell any summer lovers I said that.)

pumpkin chai doughnut muffins in muffin tin

I really blame (thank?) the school supplies section at Target for my early pumpkin obsession. I was there the other day, as I always am, perusing the shelves for new pillows and candles instead of the groceries that I actually went there to buy. After deciding that, OK, having approximately two dozen throw pillows at home and an equal number of candles is probably enough, I walked out of the pillows/candles section and straight to the school supplies. Seeing the pencil cases and rubber erasers and fresh, clean notebooks ignited within me fond memories of first days of school (that means my memories skipped over those awkward days of middle school, obvi). My thoughts then moved on from school to fall, and in thinking about how much I love fall, with all its pretty colors and cooler weather and apple picking and pumpkin patching, suddenly I found myself in the baking aisle shoveling cans of pumpkin into my cart.

And the day after that, I was baking these delightful muffins o’ pumpkin goodness in my kitchen.

(And the day after that, I noticed they also turned the school supply section at Target into the Halloween candy section, which is actually NOT OK. I still have my standards and it will be at least three more trips to Target before I cave for the candy corn.)

close up inside of pumpkin chai doughnut muffin

There aren’t any photos of the process of making these muffins and that’s because I baked them at night, and the one downside to fall is that nighttime (also known as “lack of sunlight” in food blogger land) comes quicker. But you pretty much just missed out (unless you’re following me on Snapchat! –> stephmwise) on some batter being mixed together, spooned into a muffin tin, baked into muffins, brushed with butter and rolled in a cinnamon-sugar mixture that I swear is accompanied by the sounds of a choir of angels. So that might seem like a lot to miss but really, the most important part is the final product. Because you get to eat it.

A few more notes: I used pumpkin chai tea to steep in the milk before adding it to the batter, but regular chai works just as well. The chai flavors are subtle, mostly because they are so similar to that of pumpkin spice, but they pair perfectly with the sweet cinnamon sugar. The texture and crumb of these muffins is just like a baked cake doughnut, all soft and tender and delicious-like, which I really love. And don’t be tempted to skip out on the butter-cinnamon-sugar coating to make them healthier. Trust — it’s worth the indulgence.

Also, DO be tempted to brown the butter before brushing it onto the muffins. I almost did this, but my impatience got the best of me and, like an adult, I shoveled one of these muffins into my mouth as soon as it was coated. WINNING.

pumpkin chai doughnut muffin on table

In case you forgot: Pumpkin. Chai. Doughnut. Muffins. Four little words to carry you through the fall baking season.

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pumpkin chai doughnut muffin

Pumpkin Chai Doughnut Muffins

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  • Author: Adapted from Martha Stewart
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 12 muffins 1x



For the muffins:

  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 bag chai tea
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs

For the sugar coating:

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted


  1. Pour milk into a mug or small microwaveable bowl. Heat in microwave 40 seconds until hot (but not scalding). Steep tea in milk 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour 12 standard muffin cups. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, allspice, cardamom and baking soda until well combined.
  3. Remove tea bag from milk, squeezing out any extra liquid and flavor from bag. Pour milk into a small bowl and stir in canned pumpkin until mixture is well combined.
  4. In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and brown sugar on high speed 1 to 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Using a spatula, wooden spoon or stand mixer on low speed, alternate stirring in flour (in 3 additions) and pumpkin mixtures (in 2 additions), beginning and ending with flour mixture, just until batter is combined.
  6. Spoon batter evenly into prepared muffin cups. Bake 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool muffins 10 minutes in pan on a cooling rack.
  7. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together sugar and cinnamon. One at a time, remove muffins from pan and brush tops and sides with butter, then roll in sugar-cinnamon mixture. Transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.