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If there’s anything that truly screams Christmas, it’s gingerbread. Therefore, I can’t think of a better way to kick the holiday season off than with this Cream Cheese Swirled Chai Gingerbread Cake. This sweet, super moist gingerbread cake is made with brown sugar, molasses, and a touch of vanilla extract. It’s spiced up with the warming flavors of chai and baked with a swirl of cream cheese throughout the center. The final touch is a generous drizzle of buttery lemon glaze. This perfectly sweet and spiced up version of gingerbread cake is so delicious. Perfect for baking on cold December days while cozied up inside!

This post is sponsored by Land O’Lakes.

overhead photo of Cream Cheese Swirled Chai Gingerbread Cake with 3 pieces of cake cut

There’s nothing I love more than a festive dessert. I know I’ve said this many times, but this time of year is truly my favorite. Something about the holidays always brings out my most creative side. I love the types of recipes I share in November and December more than any others throughout the year. This gingerbread cake turned out even better than I envisioned, so I am so excited to share the recipe with you guys.

Not only is this cake delicious, it’s also simple to make. This truly is a wintery cake…warming, lightly spiced, a touch buttery, and slightly decadent… just about as close to perfect as a cake can get.

overhead photo of Cream Cheese Swirled Chai Gingerbread Cake before baking with the cream cheese layer showing

overhead photo of Cream Cheese Swirled Chai Gingerbread Cake before baking

Here are all the details you need to know.

This time of year, my fridge is stocked with my favorite Land O Lakes® Extra Creamy Butter. You may not know this, but the variety of butter you use can really make a difference, especially when baking. I love the rich buttery flavor and hints of salt in Land O Lakes® Extra Creamy Butter. It creams wonderfully into batters and always turns out a moist delicious cake.

The first step is to cream the butter with brown sugar and molasses. The sugar adds sweetness, while the molasses adds that classic gingerbread color and rich flavor. Once the wet ingredients have been thoroughly mixed in, add the dry.

side angled photo of Cream Cheese Swirled Chai Gingerbread Cake with the glaze being drizzled over the cake

For my dry mix, I use the basics…flour, baking powder, and baking soda.

But for the spices? I didn’t use just ginger. I also incorporated the spices used in a steaming cup of chai tea…ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, and pepper. It’s the ultimate spice blend that gives you a very gingery gingerbread cake, hinting of the flavor of chai.

side angled photo of Cream Cheese Swirled Chai Gingerbread Cake

Once the batter is mixed up, there is one last key ingredient, cream cheese. At the last minute, I decided to add a swirl of creamy cream cheese to the center of this cake. Something about all the spices and rich molasses paired with cream cheese sounded so good to me.

And you know? The cream cheese ended up truly complementing all the spices. It adds a nice creaminess to every bite…so delicious.

Layer the batter with the cream cheese and bake. As the cake bakes, your house will be filled with the smells of ginger and cinnamon. At this point, holiday music should be playing. And in a wintry movie world, a fire will be roaring, snow will be falling, and the lights on your tree will be twinkling away.

The perfect picture, right? To me, yes. But again, I love this cozy time of year. If it snowed every day this month, I’d be happy. It’s a great excuse to stay inside and bake…specifically this gingerbread cake.

overhead close up photo of Cream Cheese Swirled Chai Gingerbread Cake with multiple slices of cake cut

Finish with something extra sweet…and lemony.

Originally, I had a completely different icing in mind for this cake, but after my first round of testing, I knew I wanted an icing that would lighten the cake while enhancing its flavors.

Enter this lemony, buttery, vanilla icing. It has hints of sweet butter, lemon, and plenty of vanilla. It’s perfect for finishing this spiced gingerbread cake and adds just the right amount of sweetness.

overhead photo of Cream Cheese Swirled Chai Gingerbread Cake with multiple slices of cake cut

Serve this cake…

every chance you get this month.

No really, I can’t begin to tell you how much I love this cake. I’ve already made it several times over the last two weeks. It’s the easiest cake to mix up, and it always comes out looking impressive with the swirl of cream cheese inside and that pretty off-white icing on top.

I’ve enjoyed this cake slightly warm with a cup of cocoa. I’ve also gifted it twice to friends as a holiday thank you (it wraps up beautifully in a cute little gift box).

So my suggestion? Take some time off this weekend for a little holiday baking. Nothing is better than a gingerbread cake baking in the oven on a cozy wintery weekend.

PS. Looking for more gingerbread recipes…check out some of these oldies but goodies!

side angled photo of Cream Cheese Swirled Chai Gingerbread Cake with bite taken out of cake slice

If you make this cream cheese swirled chai gingerbread cake, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

Watch the how to video:

Cream Cheese Swirled Chai Gingerbread Cake.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings: 12
Calories Per Serving: 482 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

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Ingredients

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) Land O Lakes® Salted Extra Creamy Butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground all-spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

Vanilla Lemon Icing

Instructions

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 10-cup Bundt® pan with butter, making sure to get into all the nooks and crannies.
    2. To make the cake, in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, brown
    sugar, and vanilla until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated. Add the molasses, beating until smooth. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Mix on low speed until just combined, making sure the batter is completely mixed.
    3. Slowly add in the milk. Beat until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Be careful not to overbeat the batter.
    4. Spoon half the cake batter into the prepared pan. Gently dollop the softened cream cheese over the batter and spread in an even layer. Spoon the remaining batter over the cream cheese. Transfer to the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool 15 minutes and then invert the cake onto a plate.
    5. To make the glaze, in a medium bowl, mix together the melted butter, powdered sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla, and milk until smooth. If needed, thin the glaze with additional milk.
    6. Drizzle the glaze evenly over the cake and let set 10 minutes. Serve at slightly warm or room temperature.

Notes

Storing: this cake keeps well for 3-4 days at room temperature. 

horizontal photo of Cream Cheese Swirled Chai Gingerbread Cake

{This post is sponsored by Land O’Lakes. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep Half Baked Harvest cooking!}

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Comments

    1. Hey Lauren,
      Sorry I haven’t but for a sweet recipe like this I would stick with the ground ginger. I hope you love the recipe! xTieghan

  1. 5 stars
    Just made this for my family yesterday on Christmas and we all loved it! I loved the smell of the spices and even though I couldn’t find the individual spices like cardamom and all-spice, I used a “pumpkin spice” mix and it still turned out great. The cream cheese was a fun surprise inside the cake, though next time I will whip it to be creamier. Thank you for an amazing cake!

  2. This looks so good! Do you know if it would be ok to make the batter in advance and bake it a day or two later? We are traveling across the state so I figured maybe I would make the batter rather than bringing all of the ingredients with me.

    1. Hey Kristen,
      I have never tried that, but honestly I would just bake the entire cake and travel with it. Should be great! Happy Holidays! xTieghan

  3. Loved, loved, loved this “twist” on the gingerbread bunt cake! It was delicious!!

    We are a dairy free household, I omitted the cream cheese and used unsweetened coconut milk (full fat) in place of the milk and used a basic lemon juice, zest and confectioners sugar for the icing.

  4. This cake looks amazing! Do you think I could make it in a mini Bundt cake pan if I reduced the baking time? I would love to gift smaller versions to family members for Christmas.

    1. Hey Rachel,
      Sure you could do that! I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan

  5. 3 stars
    The savory cheese a bit of an odd contrast – next time I’d whip it first next time with powdered sugar and lemon juice, and add rum soaked rasins. The cake wasn’t sweet enough.
    .
    I like it but wouldn’t make it again. Pumpkin/veg cakes confuse me tbh.

    1. Hi! I am sorry this did not work out well for you. If there is anything I can help with, please let me know! Otherwise, I hope you enjoy some other recipes of mine! xTieghan

    1. Hi Trish! This cake freezes well without the icing. Add the icing before serving. Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you!! xTieghan

  6. I’ve made this lovely cake twice now and it was devoured the first time so I’m excited to bring another to a party tomorrow. The only issue I had both times with the lemon glaze. The flavor was fantastic but it curdled both times like the other comments I read. I’m going to try adding another cup of powdered sugar to the glaze to thicken it and hopefully it will look creamy and not curdled.

    Thanks for the lovely recipes!

    1. Thank you so much Elyse! I am so glad you have been loving this cake!! Please let me know if there is anything I can help you with! xTieghan

  7. The cake was delicious. I think I would like it even better without the cream cheese. It is rich and moist on its own. I wound up eating around the cream cheese.
    I did not have success with your frosting. The butter and liquids never became a homogenous mass and was very thin. I did start with room temperature items so maybe the bowl was too cold? Next time, I will make a dark chocolate glaze or a simple lemon juice and powdered sugar.

    1. Hey Sandy! You can certainly omit the cream cheese if you prefer.

      For the frosting, was there anything you did differently? I’m not sure why it would not have come together for your. So sorry for the trouble! Please let me know if you have any other questions. Thank you! xTieghan

  8. 5 stars
    Since Husband and Youngest are not fond of lemon in desserts, I omitted the lemon in the icing….which gave this recipe two thumbs up in their eyes!

    1. HI! I am sorry, that will be too small for this cake. Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you and I hope you had Merry Christmas! Sorry my response is a bit late! xTieghan

    1. HI! I am not sure why your frosting would curdle. Can you give me some more details on what is happening? Very hard to know. I hope you loved this recipe! Thank you and I hope you had Merry Christmas! Sorry my response is a bit late! xTieghan

    1. HI! HI! You should glaze the cake just fore serving. It will look nice and fresh this way. Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you and I hope you had Merry Christmas! Sorry my response is a bit late! xTieghan

  9. 3 stars
    The topping is horribly watery, even when just using the one tablespoon of milk. It does not look anything like what’s pictured, which is the super bummer because I was really excited to take this to a potluck. Hopefully it’ll still taste good, but I was hoping more of the icing would actually stick to the cake rather than just fall down the sides.

    1. Hi Melissa! I am really sorry to hear that! Are there any questions I could help you with or anything that could have gone wrong with the recipe? Please let me know! xTieghan

  10. 5 stars
    Holy Moses this is extravagant and delicious. That glaze is devilishly good! Such a unique holiday and wonderful desert.

  11. Hello!! So, I’m very new to baking and I tried to make this the other day, but unfortunately I used black strap molasses and learned that this is not the right kind of molasses, as my cake turned out pretty bitter. Could you please inform me of the proper type to use? I read online that there are about 5 different types ?

    1. HI! I actually prefer to use blackstrap molasses so I am not sure why your cake was bitter. Did you use all the called for ingredients? Did you add all the sugar? Any info will be helpful to help me problem solve and figure out what might be happening for you. It’s hard to know without knowing any details. Hope I can help you! xTieghan

    1. HI! I have not frozen the cake, but I would imagine it freezes just fine. Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you and happy holidays! xTieghan

  12. I am looking forward to making this for the holidays! Could I make this if I only have a hand mixer or should I buy a standing mixer? Thanks!

    1. HI! A hand mixer works great for this recipe. Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you and happy holidays! xTieghan

  13. Just to clarify- it says ’12 tablespoons 1 1/2 sticks’ – is that 12 tablespoons PLUS 1 1/2 sticks of butter or is it 12 tablespoons (aka 1 1/2 sticks of butter). LOVE your recipes! Currently curating my Christmas dinner menu using only your amazing recipes 🙂

    1. HI! It is 12 tablespoons (aka 1 1/2 sticks of butter). So only use 12 tablespoons total. Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you and happy holidays! xTieghan

  14. Hi Tieghan! Do you think this could become cupcakes with a cream cheese swirl if we follow the same method but in cupcake tins? Thanks!!! Love all the gingerbread you have on offer!

  15. Hi Tieghan,
    This looks incredible! I have a couple tweaks I’d like to make but wanted to get your opinion first. Do you think it would be too bland or not sweet enough if I omitted the cream cheese and just dusted the top with powered sugar? P.S. I LOOOOOVE your blog. Keep up the amazing work, excellent foodography, and inspiring us all!
    Thanks!
    Marissa

    1. HI! I think omit the cream cheese and dusting with powder sugar both sound like great ideas. The cake will still be sweet and delicious! Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you so much and happy holidays! xTieghan

  16. Hey Tieghan,
    Yes! I agree, the gingerbread latte is very ‘you.’
    And I tried on the Sorel boots and absolutely love them! They’re such nice quality and just what I needed. Thank you for the recommendation. 🙂
    I hope you’re enjoying NYC!

  17. This is in the oven right now! I made a bold choice and used garam masala in place of the “chai” spices. Left in the ginger, though! Very excited! I may top with a chocolate ganache, even — I’m feeling VERY inspired by your recipe! Thanks for sharing!

    1. HI! Yes, it is ground! Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you and happy holidays! xTieghan

  18. Could you use lactose free milk instead of whole milk? I know there’s butter in this, and cream cheese (so it’s not dairy free), but I usually only have lactose free milk on hand because a member of my family prefers that. Would it affect the baking/taste profile at all?

    1. HI! Lactose free milk will work great. Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you and happy holidays! xTieghan

  19. This sounds SO good! Will be making as a Bundt cake for family. Would also like to know if I could make in standard loaf pans to give to mail carrier, friends, etc. How many loves do you estimate could be made from a full recipe? Thank you!!

    1. HI! You can bake this between 2 standard loaf pans. That works great! Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you and happy holidays! xTieghan

    1. Hi! I would think that heavy cream should work just fine as a sub. Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you and happy holidays! xTieghan

  20. 5 stars
    I just made this cake and waiting for it to cool off so I could slice into it was so hard! I followed the recipe exactly as written, I did butter and flour my pan because I always get nervous with Bundt pans. Baked convection 350 for 40 minutes, let cool for 10. Came out perfect! It’s so good, perfect gingerbread flavor with a mild hint of chai..

  21. Hey Tieghan!
    I agree. Haha I love gingerbread! Thanks for passing along those links— I’ll have to try the gingerbread cupcakes! I’ve been eyeing that gingerbread latte for a while now and always think it’s such a Tieghan recipe.??
    And yes! Biscotti are wonderful. Especially dunked in coffee or hot cocoa. 🙂
    Hope you’re staying warm!
    P.s.) I finally got those Sorel boots you recommended and am excited to try them on!

    1. Haha it is such a me recipe, but its SO good!! I hope you try! Also, do you like the boots?! I hope you have a great week! xTieghan

    1. Hi Becky! You can divide the batter between 2 regular loaf pans. That works really well. Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you and happy holidays! xTieghan

  22. Hey Tieghan!
    I love this gingerbread Bundt cake! Haha I was just looking for gingerbread Bundt cake recipes last night but didn’t find any that I liked. This one seems lovely and I’m excited to bake it for my sister over the holidays. 🙂 What gingerbread recipe (that you’ve baked so far on the blog) do you think is your favorite? I always bake your ginger cookies dipped in chocolate (and I don’t often bake the same thing twice!) but have to try this Bundt cake. Have you thought of making any biscotti cookies for the blog? I LOVE making biscotti (it’s so simple) and am wondering your thoughts.
    I’m looking forward to tomorrows post and hope you’re enjoying the holiday season!

  23. 5 stars
    Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous, Tieghan. Thank you for this and the rest of your prodigious recipe sharing. Congratulations on all that you have achieved since launching your successful career at such a tender age. Happy holidays to you and your family. Cheers, Ardith

  24. Have you made this in a loaf pan before? I’m thinking it might make a good gift for a friend this season…

    1. HI! Yes, this works well when divided between 2 loaf pans. Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you and happy holidays! xTieghan

  25. Chai Gingerbread cake OMG. WOW thank you Santa! An early Christmas present. Can’t wait to make it. Happy Holidays

  26. I just bought a bundt pan just to make this recipe! Since I am new to this, I thought you butter and flour the pan for bundt cakes? Your instructions say butter only, is this correct?

    1. Hi Ciarra! I only butter my pans and find that to work really well. I do not think you need any flour. Just make sure to butter the pan and get all the nooks and crannies really well. Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you and happy holidays! xTieghan

    1. Hey Andrea! I have not tested it, but I would imagine this would fit nicely into a 9×13 inch baking dish. You will need to adjust the cooking times, but keep an eye on it and I think it should be great! Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you and happy holidays! xTieghan

    1. Hey Marsha!! Yes, you can easily just omit the cream cheese. The cake will still be delicious! Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you and happy holidays! xTieghan

  27. OH, This Looks Delish!! Need to make this for Christmas!! My grocery store does not carry the Land O Lakes Extra Creamy Salted Butter 🙁 Can I just use the regular Salted Butter from Land O Lakes? If so, would that alter the taste?

    1. Hey Leslie! regular salted butter will be great and will taste very similar! 🙂 Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you and happy holidays! xTieghan