Already have an account?
Get back to the
Food & Recipes

Tea Sandwiches Are the Perfect Elegant Treat That’s Actually So Easy to Make — 4 Recipes

Plus, the expert trick for easy cutting that makes them look as amazing as they taste!

An afternoon tea party is pure elegance, but no need to wait for a special occasion to enjoy those tasty nibbles — in fact, it’s surprisingly easy to set out a whole spread of tea sandwiches. They’ll make any day feel fancy even though they take minimal time to make. Seriously, we have 4 delicious variations — from classic cucumber dill to adventurous cranberry chicken. And you can prepare all of them ahead of time in one hour! So keep reading to learn how to build your own with your favorite bread and fillings. And we also got you covered with expert tips on prepping and avoiding dryness. Here’s how to make classic tea sandwiches.

What are tea sandwiches?

If you love afternoon tea, you probably already know of tea sandwiches. Originating in England in the 18th century, this dainty finger food became a quintessential element of upper-class customs. In fact, the Duchess of Bedford first requested a light snack to bridge the gap between a late lunch and an early dinner. Today, tea sandwiches come in a vast array of flavors and fillings. “The most common type of tea sandwich fillings are cucumber and butter, salmon and cream cheese, egg salad and pimento cheese,” says Aleka Shunk, founder of Aleka’s Get Together. “Other popular ingredients are watercress, radishes, asparagus, ham and shrimp.”

Tea sandwiches typically consist of thinly sliced bread filled with savory ingredients and cut into small, sometimes decorative shapes. Everything should be “delicate” enough to eat quickly and handle easily — so, the opposite of a Sloppy Joe.

Building the perfect tea sandwiches

egg and cucumber tea sandwiches on porcelain plate next to tea
Svetlana-Cherruty/Getty

Tea sandwiches may seem simple enough, but a few easy expert tricks will take your bites to the next level.

1. The best bread for tea sandwiches

Choosing a high-quality bread makes a big difference. “Tea sandwiches are usually softer so look for softer pre-sliced sandwich bread that is not too thick,” advises Shunk. White bread is traditional, but consider options like wheat, whole wheat or pumpernickel for a different flavor profile (we recommend this one with salmon!). Remember, freshness goes a long way. Slightly stale bread can crumble and make cutting difficult, so aim for fresh.

Want to make your own bread? Try these homemade recipes for Cottage Cheese Bread and Milk Brioche.

2. The best fillings for tea sandwiches

Keep your fillings light and spreadable. “Uniformity is key — consistent portion sizes make your spread visually appealing,” says Chef Leah Delyte Di Bernardo, founder of EAT Marketplace. Finely chopped vegetables, thinly sliced meats and fish, creamed cheeses as well as well-mashed egg salad work best. Additionally, season your fillings! A pinch of salt, pepper or herbs can truly elevate the flavor.

3. How to prepare in advance

No one wants a dry sandwich. “Remember that tiny things go stale faster, so you need to keep them wrapped up in order to preserve them,” explains Chef April Franqueza, pastry chef at High Hampton Resort.

To prevent this, “a thin spread of softened butter helps fillings stay put and keeps the bread from drying out,” says Chef Di Bernardo. Mayonnaise also works well. Additionally, “place damp paper towels over top” if making ahead and storing, says Shunk. “This will help maintain the moisture and allow you to make them in advance.”

4. Trick to perfectly cut tea sandwiches

Use a sharp serrated knife to cut your crusts off after assembling for a cleaner presentation. You can also use cookie cutters for more decorative shapes. Traditional shapes include triangles, rectangles and rounds, but you can try squares or even stars.  

“For extra clean cuts, especially with softer breads, consider freezing the assembled sandwiches for about 30 minutes before cutting,” says Chef Di Bernardo “This will firm up the bread and fillings, making them easier to handle.”

4 easy recipes for tea sandwiches

cucumber tea sandwiches piled on white plate with tea
Peter Carruthers/Getty

Try making one or all these tea sandwich varieties with recipes from Preppy Kitchen. To save time, you can use a rotisserie chicken instead of chicken breasts for the cranberry chicken sandwich.

  • Active Time: 30 minutes
  • Total time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 12 servings

Cucumber dill sandwich

Ingredients:

  • ½ large cucumber
  • ¼ cup cream cheese, softened
  • Lemon zest
  • 1 pinch salt
  • Dill, chopped
  • 6 slices white bread

Directions:

  1. Chop dill. Combine with softened cream cheese, lemon zest and a pinch of salt.
  2. Cut thin slices of cucumber. Then, spread cream cheese mixture onto white bread and add cucumbers slices. Cut off the crusts, then cut into rectangles.

Salmon sandwich

Ingredients:

  • 1 package smoked salmon
  • ½ cucumber
  • ¼ cup cream cheese
  • Dill, chopped
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 6 slices pumpernickel bread

Directions:

  1. Chop dill. Combine with softened cream cheese, lemon zest and a pinch of salt. Spread on to pumpernickel bread. Add a layer of cucumbers, then salmon.
  2. Cut a circle out of the sandwich. Then, transfer some of the cream cheese mixture to a piping bag and pipe a dollop. Add a dill sprig for garnish.

Egg sandwich

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs, hard boiled (try this trick to keep eggs from cracking!)
  • 2 Tbs. butter, softened
  • 1 Tbs. mayonnaise
  • 1 pinch paprika
  • 6 slices white bread

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, mash hard boiled eggs and chop watercress.
  2. In a separate bowl, add butter, mayonnaise, paprika and watercress and mix.
  3. Butter bread slices, then add egg mixture. After, cut off the crusts and cut into rectangles.

Cranberry chicken sandwich

Ingredients:

  • 3 boneless chicken breasts
  • ¼ tsp. thyme
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • ¼ cup cranberries
  • 1 sprig watercress
  • 1 Tbs. mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 6 slices white bread

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Season chicken breasts with olive oil, salt and thyme. Then, bake for about 30 minutes. Let cool, rip cooked chicken into roughly 1½-inch pieces.
  2. Halve cranberries and smash in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix mayonnaise and Dijon mustard. Then, combine cranberries, chicken and mayonnaise mixture.
  3. Butter bread, then add chicken mixture and watercress. Finally, cut off the crusts and slice into rectangles.

Storage & make-ahead tips

While best enjoyed fresh, tea sandwiches only last a few hours at room temperature. They also store for a short time. First, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or place them in an airtight container. Then, place them in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. However, be aware that the bread may become slightly soggy over time.

Additionally, tea sandwich fillings can be prepared several hours in advance. “Assemble the day of, and really make it easy on yourself by putting the sandwich fillings in plastic bags to make faux piping bags,” says Chef Franqueza. “Piping the fillings instead of trying to spread them saves time and makes less of a mess!” And for an extra precaution, cut the sandwiches just before serving to prevent dry edges.

The best teas to pair with your tea sandwiches

The ideal tea to pair with your tea sandwiches depends on the fillings. Fresh flavors like cucumber and dill pair well with a refreshing sip, so we recommend a light green tea.

Smoked salmon, on the other hand, has a richer flavor that calls for a tea with a bit more body. An English Breakfast tea (or any black tea) works best with its malty flavor profile.

Next, pair your egg salad sandwich with a balanced and bright Darjeeling tea, known for its delicate and floral aroma. It also has a slight astringency that cuts through the egg.

Finally, the sweetness of cranberries and savory chicken calls for a fruity herbal tea. Look for blends with berries like hibiscus or raspberry, which will echo the cranberry flavor.


For more easy sandwich recipes, read some of these stories below:

Kentucky Hot Browns Are the Perfect Bacony, Cheesy Sandwich — Easy Broiler Recipe

Smokehouse Chef’s Easy Secret To Your Best-Ever Fried Bologna Sandwich

What’s Better Than A Grilled Cheese Sandwich? One That’s Dipped in a Light Batter and Fried, Italian-Style — Delizioso!

Use left and right arrow keys to navigate between menu items. Use right arrow key to move into submenus. Use escape to exit the menu. Use up and down arrow keys to explore. Use left arrow key to move back to the parent list.