Didier Drogba, whose late equaliser in normal time had kept the London club alive and sent the final into extra time at 1-1, stroked in the winning spot kick after Bayern crumbled from the spot.
It meant Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich could finally boast the ultimate European crown - but ironically, with a caretaker manager at the helm in Roberto Di Matteo. The Russian billionaire had previously hired and fired a succession of expensive and high profile team bosses.
Drogba hailed his side's never-say-die spirit after the team beat Bayern Munich 4-3 in the penalty shoot-out. His 88th-minute equaliser cancelled out Thomas Muller's opener for Bayern five minutes previously.
Drogba said of his team-mates: "The never give up until the end. This team is amazing."
The Ivory Coast international added of the victory: "It was written, I think, a long time ago. I want to dedicate this cup to all the managers we've had before, all the players I've played with before."
Drogba also hailed the performance of goalkeeper Petr Cech, who saved a penalty from Arjen Robben in extra-time and then also played a key part as Bayern missed twice in the shoot-out. "When we have this guy in goal you have to believe," Drogba said.
Frank Lampard hit one of Chelsea's four successful penalties and the 33-year-old, who joined from West Ham in 2001 and captained them tonight in John Terry's absence, savoured the club's glory night.
He said: "I can't believe it. The determination we've shown... we didn't play fantastic but the main man Didier dug us out of trouble there.He's a hero. Without him we're not here. He scores the goals in the big games."
Lampard said of Drogba, who is out of contract this summer: "I'd love him to stay. What he did tonight he's been doing all his career."
Of the club's triumph, Lampard said: "It means everything.We've been so many years trying to do this.This is the one we really wanted and we've got it."
Asked whether the win should lead to Di Matteo being given the job permanently, Lampard said: "It's not a question for this moment.He took us from a struggling team maybe going out of the Champions League and we won it, so look at that."
Ashley Cole, who scored one of his side's penalties in the shoot-out, admits Chelsea rode their luck in the final as Bayern spurned a number of good chances but felt they were deserving winners in the end.
He said: "I'm lost for words. We should have probably lost the game with the amount of chances they had. We rode our luck, you need luck in this competition if you're going to win it. Today we rode our luck but we deserved it today."
Asked if he thought their luck might have run out when Bayern won a penalty five minutes into extra-time, the England international added: "Not really, with the players we've got here we thought, 'ok it's a penalty but we still have time had time left', and when Petr's making great saves like that we always believe."
The victory means it was third time lucky for Cole in the Champions League final having been on the losing side with Arsenal in 2006 and Chelsea in 2008.The 31-year-old said: "This is the reason I came here."
Cech believes Di Matteo has staked a strong claim to be manager on a permanent basis.Cech said: "Whatever happens to him he's got two fantastic cups (including the FA Cup) and he's deserved that.I think he's done enough to get the job but now it's up to the board to decide."
Looking back to Chelsea's last Champions League final four years ago, Cech said: "When we lost the penalty shoot-out against Manchester United in Moscow maybe it was not meant to be our moment.But as a player you hope you will have the same opportunity to play the final.It was a rollercoaster road, we all enjoyed it, and we got there in the end.
"I faced six penalties and six times I went the right way, four times I touched the ball."