In my kitchen, sweetened condensed milk is a staple. I grew up with this rich, creamy sweetener in my Vietnamese household, where a dollop was always drizzled into coffee, warmed and served with bread, or mixed into flan.
These days, I use it to make a very addictive Vietnamese coffee every morning and in the spirit of the season, I use it to whip up a weekly batch of this very addictive homemade chai concentrate. Try it and I promise you’ll be addicted, too.
Homemade chai can be a daunting recipe to tackle, with a plethora of exotic spices to mix and match to spicy perfection. But! This homemade chai concentrate is so effortless, you still have time to make it as a gift for Christmas! And so delicious, your loved ones will be impressed at the effort they think you put into it!
Related: 13 Cozy Scents That Make Your Home Smell Like Christmas
What other spices can you use in chai?
In my opinion, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves are the core ingredients of a good chai. Any other spices you mix in simply kick up the flavor to your liking.
I like to play around with varying amounts of star anise, allspice, coriander, fennel, black pepper, mace, and nutmeg, depending on what I have in my kitchen.
Most of these are whole spices that I also use for pickling, so I give them a quick whirl in my coffee grinder to add to my chai concentrate. An old-fashioned mortar and pestle also works.
Grind up only one batch at a time, since oils released from the spices during grinding cause the flavors to deteriorate quickly.
What kind of sweetened condensed milk to buy
Once you get addicted to this chai, you’ll probably start buying lots of sweetened condensed milk. It starts with a can. Then a few cans. Then you’ll wish Costco carried them.
So here’s a tip: Sweetened condensed milk is cheaper at a Chinese/Vietnamese market. There may be a bunch of characters and words on the label that you don’t understand, but it’s the same stuff. Just beware of brands (in any market) that use additives—the only ingredients should be milk and sugar.
Homemade chai concentrate
Makes 2 half-pints
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground star anise (optional)
Pour sweetened condensed milk into a mixing cup. Add in all the spices. Stir well and decant into clean jars. Done!
The chai concentrate should keep for several months in the refrigerator, but it won’t last that long anyway!
This recipe makes enough for two half-pint jars. To give as a gift, prettify with ribbon and decorative paper, tie on a tag with simple instructions, and wrap it all up with a box of black tea. Quick and cute!
To make your tea, simply stir a couple spoonfuls of your homemade chai concentrate into a cup of strong brewed black tea, such as Assam, English Breakfast, or Earl Grey. It’s also delicious with Darjeeling (a lighter black tea usually blended with green or oolong tea) or rooibos (a red tea from Africa).
View the Web Story on homemade chai concentrate.
This post updated from an article that originally appeared on December 21, 2011.
KatieDecember 24, 2022 at 7:05 am
I’m really excited to try this, I’ve already imported it into my paprika app! Thanks so much!!!
KatieDecember 24, 2022 at 7:07 am
Also, how weird…I just noticed this is a very old post…or the comments are! But it just showed up in my Feedly blog reader today! Crazy….anyway, happy new year, still can’t wait to try it!
Linda LyDecember 26, 2022 at 11:52 pm
It’s an old post but one that I’m updating with new info and new images because it’s a longtime favorite! I hope you enjoy it!
Tonia FergusonJuly 7, 2020 at 3:32 am
Thank you so much! It is hard to find chai tea mixes here and my kids and I LOVE chai. I make it from scratch sometimes, but this is my favorite go to when I want an easy cuppa.
Linda from Garden BettyJuly 30, 2020 at 4:43 am
You’re welcome! I’m so glad you guys like it!
Susan RubinskyJuly 23, 2019 at 4:08 pm
What kind of coffee/spice grinder do you reccomend? My coffee grinder just broke after grinding a bunch of different spices — it was over 25 years old. I’d like to invest a good one with multiple coarseness settings but there are so many on the market it’s hard to cull the great from the mediocre.
DodieDecember 9, 2013 at 2:11 pm
Can u store in a plastic Tupperware bottle with the same duration?
Linda LyDecember 9, 2013 at 4:38 pm
Katie HatchApril 10, 2013 at 5:57 am
I am so excited to try this! Looks delicious!
BeaMarch 11, 2013 at 6:57 am
Do you think it would spoil the shelf life to make this with fresh ginger? And how much would you suggest using? Thanks, this recipe looks so easy and tasty!
Linda LyMarch 11, 2013 at 3:44 pm
If you use fresh ginger, the concentrate should keep in the fridge for a week or two. I’d recommend starting with 2 teaspoons of fresh grated ginger and see how you like the flavor.
MJNovember 7, 2012 at 11:02 am
Can this concoction be processed for canning in a hot water bath? Would increase the shelf life, if possible.
Linda LyNovember 11, 2012 at 3:57 pm
I’m unsure, as I’ve never canned condensed milk. I only preserve items that are perishable (fruits and veggies) and since condensed milk comes out of a can, I just make this recipe as I need it.
Since it naturally contains a lot of sugar, it will keep in the fridge for at least 3 weeks (maybe more – but the longest I’ve kept it is 3 weeks). If you can’t use up the chai concentrate within that month, you can freeze it. The fat might separate, but you can simply thaw it out and give it a good stir.
KatieDecember 24, 2022 at 7:05 am
My local extension says dairy products can not under any circumstances be safely home canned. I wouldn’t mess around with it.
AyFebruary 22, 2012 at 6:11 pm
Definitely trying this out right now–finally an easier way to make chai using things I already have on hand! 🙂
Linda LyFebruary 22, 2012 at 6:25 pm
And it can easily be switched up depending on what spices you have on hand!
LizDecember 21, 2011 at 4:11 pm
Oh this looks so yummy! I want some chai now….