Easy Make Ahead Tea Sandwiches
Make Ahead Tea Sandwiches: If you’re hosting an afternoon tea, chances are you’re serving finger sandwiches. And would like to find some easy make-ahead recipes and ideas.
We’ve gathered some delicious tea sandwich recipes and ideas. Including the perennial favorite cucumber finger sandwiches. Along with tea recipes, we have beautiful presentation ideas too.
Plus some excellent advice and pro tips on making them ahead.
Pro Advice On Making Ahead Tea Sandwiches
A recent reader asked for advice on making finger sandwiches before an event or tea party. Here is some excellent advice from two pros:
Pro Tip 1:
- Egg salad – make one day ahead, cover tightly, and refrigerate.
- Chicken salad or tuna salad – make two days ahead, cover tightly, and refrigerate
- Smoked salmon with crème fraiche, or else plain yogurt mixed with a little sour cream and dill.
Tips: Smoked Salmon
“You can freeze packaged smoked salmon ahead, defrost it in the refrigerator the night before, and cut into smaller slices for sandwiches on the day of the event.”
“The Crème Fraiche can be made ahead or purchased a few days before. The yogurt/sour cream mixture could be made the day before, cover tightly, and refrigerated. You may need to drain some water off the top on the day of the event.”
Tips: Cucumber Tea Sandwiches
The best way to make cucumber finger sandwiches ahead of an event is to slice the cucumbers the day before.
“Cucumbers contain a lot of water, so line a baking sheet with paper towels or a not-fuzzy dishcloth. Lay out the sliced cucumbers in a single layer on the sheet.”
If you fill up the sheet, add another layer of paper towels or a dish towel, then continue laying out cucumbers. Cover the final layer with a paper towel or dish towel. Refrigerate the tray and keep very cold so that the cucumbers don’t wilt. Assemble the finger sandwiches the day of the event.
Pro Tip 2: Timeline
4 to 5 Days Before the Event:
“We occasionally did finger sandwiches for my 30 year catering company. Fillings were all made ahead (mushroom duxelles, curried egg salad, salmon mousse, no cucumber).”
1 Day Before the Event:
“One day before, the sandwiches were made and cut and layered with damp doubled paper towels in a fish bin (or on a sheet pan, and then saran wrapped) and refrigerated.”
Storage for Make Ahead Tea Sandwiches:
“The amount of filling is pretty minuscule so soggy bread was never an issue, and drying out was not an issue because of the paper towels and containers.”
Preferred Bread for Finger Sandwiches:
“We preferred to use Pepperidge Farm thin sliced white and Pepperidge Farm thin sliced wheat. You can cut the sandwiches into 4 triangles or 3 bars- for variety.”
Pro Advice on Freezing Tea Sandwiches
Questions on freezing ahead finger sandwiches always come up when planning for weddings, larger afternoon teas, and gatherings.
The Easy Ham and Cheese Tea Sandwich above is a great choice for freezing ahead.
Here are some pro tips on freezing:
“Years in event planning have taught me well that anything that can be done ahead of time is a lifesaver. Especially when it comes to events with details. Like afternoon teas. The good news is, finger sandwiches can be frozen ahead, picking which ones is key.”
Tea Sandwich Fillings that Freeze Well
“There are several sandwiches you can freeze ahead for your tea party, but you must select your fillings carefully. Egg, mayonnaise, or salad dressing-based fillings CAN NOT be frozen successfully.”
Some ideas for fillings that freeze well include:
- Cream cheese and fruit/nut combinations
- Pureed shrimp and butter
- Deviled ham (here is an easy recipe for ham salad)
- Thinly sliced ham, roast beef, or smoked salmon
- Cheese spreads with a butter base instead of a mayonnaise base
Pro Tip 2: Pinwheel Tea Sandwich
Spread the filling on a single slice of bread. Roll each slice like a jelly roll, wrap tightly in waxed paper, and double wrap in plastic wrap to prevent ice crystals. Freeze for up to 3 weeks.
On the morning of the party, remove the rolls from the freezer, and thaw just enough to slice into 1/2-inch pinwheel slices with a sharp knife. Place on a serving tray and cover loosely with waxed paper under a slightly dampened tea towel to prevent drying. They will thaw in about an hour.
Pro Tip 3: Freezing the Bread Ahead of Time
Even if you are not freezing the tea sandwiches ahead of time, consider freezing sliced bread alone. Freezing the bread before spreading and trimming makes for easier handling, especially if the bread is very fresh or tender.
Afternoon Tea Everyday Teapot Pick
Best for Everyday Tea
Porcelain Tea Pot
This is a great teapot for everyday use and comes with a stainless steel infuser.
Whistling Tea Kettle
This "whistling" tea kettle is my new favorite for stovetops. It's utterly beautiful and more importantly, is made from non-toxic materials, which makes it healthy for everyday use, keeping tea water free from harmful chemicals. It's a high-quality teapot that looks beautiful in your kitchen.
And the whistle? Absolutely delightful.
3 Tier Stands for Tea
Afternoon Tea wouldn’t quite be the same without a 3-Tier stand. We’ve written about our favorite Afternoon Tea 3-Tier Stands, what to look for, and some ideas on where to get them. Including our standout favorite.
We have more Afternoon Tea ideas listed at our Amazon Store!
Tea Sandwich Recipes and Ideas
Easy Make Ahead Afternoon Tea Sandwiches plus pro tips, afternoon tea sandwich fillings, recipes, presentation ideas and more. Everything you need to know to make tea sandwiches for your next afternoon tea.
Radish-Poppyseed Tea Sandwiches
“These Radish-Poppyseed Tea Sandwiches are a delectable treat. Pictured with English Pea Salad in Phyllo Cups.”
Cucumber Tea Sandwiches with Herb Aïoli
“These Cucumber Tea Sandwiches with Herb Aïoli are a great addition to your upcoming afternoon tea events.”
Smoked Salmon, Cucumber & Pickled Ginger Tea Sandwiches
"Celebrate the coronation of King Charles III on the 6th of May by enjoying a marvelous menu apropos for royalty."
Coronation Chicken Salad Sandwiches
"Originally created for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953, it is still popular to this day."
Blue Cheese-Walnut Finger Sandwiches Recipe
"The sharp blue cheese pairs perfectly with walnuts and preserves for the perfect sandwich spread."
Benedictine Tea Sandwiches
"Created in the early 1900s by Louisville, Kentucky, restaurateur Jennie Benedict, Benedictine is a cool combination of cream cheese, cucumber, and onion. It makes the perfect spread for simple Benedictine Tea Sandwiches and pays homage to the Kentucky-reared author of The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver. "
Prawn Salad Tea Sandwiches
“Prawn” is a term the "British use to refer to all shrimp as well as to true prawns. Either of these crustaceans will work equally well in these simple, yet tasty, tea sandwiches. Pictured with our Roast Beef, Tomato & Cheese Tea Sandwiches and Cucumber & Mint Cream Cheese Pinwheels."
Strawberry tea sandwiches
“These sandwiches bring together sweet berries, fragrant herbs and creamy cheese in an unforgettable afternoon snack.”
Herbed Chicken Salad Tea Sandwiches
"Made with garden-fresh ingredients and garnished to perfection, these savory bite-size sandwiches will be the star of a springtime tea."
Salmon Salad Tea Sandwiches
"Salmon Salad Tea Sandwiches are a delightful combination of delicate flavors and satisfying textures. A beautiful finger sandwich that can elevate any tea party, brunch, or light dinner. Effortless to make and bursting with flavors of fresh dill and lemon!"
Chicken & Bacon Tea Sandwiches
"These crave-worthy Chicken & Bacon Tea Sandwiches are a wonderful addition to the savories course of your afternoon tea menu."
Asparagus, Serrano Ham, and Goat Cheese Tea Sandwiches
“Asparagus, Serrano Ham, and Goat Cheese are perfect for afternoon tea in the springtime.”
Corned Beef Tea Sandwiches
"Corned beef, pickling spices, and marbled rye bread combine to create delicious Corned Beef Tea Sandwiches." Perfect for an Irish Tea.
Radish Tea Sandwiches with Creamy Dill Spread
“In this radish sandwich recipe with a creamy dill spread, the delicate tea sandwiches are served open-face to show off the pretty sliced radishes on top.”
Salmon-Watercress Finger Sandwiches
“Cream cheese, smoked salmon, watercress leaves, chives, and fresh lemon zest give these Salmon-Watercress Finger Sandwiches plenty of flavor.”
Darjeeling-Poached Chicken Salad Sandwiches
"Classic chicken salad sandwiches are given a teatime twist with delicious Darjeeling-Poached Chicken Salad Sandwiches. Darjeeling-Poached Chicken Salad Sandwiches pictured with Deviled Tea Eggs and Assam-Vegetable Tartlets. "
Simple Ham Salad Tea Sandwiches
This simple ham salad recipe is so versatile. When made into tea sandwiches, they are extraordinarily delicious. Layer salad with simple greens, thinly sliced cucumbers, and fresh dill.
Curried-Egg Tea Sandwiches Recipe
"Cookbook author Martha Hall Foose says that in the early 1960s, The Time Life Picture Cook Book inspired Mississippi ladies to "go exotic" by adding ingredients like curry powder and orange zest to egg-salad tea sandwiches."
Strawberry Chicken Salad Tea Sandwiches
“Fresh strawberries and mandarin oranges add a touch of sweetness to Strawberry–Chicken Salad Sandwiches.”
Roasted Chicken Tea Sandwiches with Tarragon-Watercress Aioli
“Tarragon-Watercress Aïoli adds a zip of flavor to these Roasted Chicken Tea Sandwiches.”
Cucumber Tea Sandwiches
"The cucumber sandwich is a tea party staple because it's light yet fancy. In this version, radishes spice up cucumbers on a bed of creamy herbed cheese."
Kentucky Benedictine Tea Sandwiches Recipe
“Cucumber, cream cheese, and fresh herbs make the filling for this delightful finger food. Add a festive trim with spicy micro-greens.”
Viola Tea Sandwiches
"Beautify your brunch party with these colorful and dainty cream cheese tea sandwiches."
British Tea sandwiches recipe
“These classic sandwiches with a delicious twist are perfect for afternoon tea.”
Mosaic Tea Sandwiches Recipe
“Tea sandwiches are back in style! Our Mosaic Sandwiches are colorful updates on the classic finger food that are all flavor and no fuss.”
Smoked Turkey with Cranberry Relish Tea Sandwiches
"Smoked Turkey with Cranberry Relish Tea Sandwiches lend seasonal charm to your afternoon tea savories course."
Almond Butter & Currant Jelly Teddy Bears
Planning a Children's Tea? Can you imagine the joy sparkling in their eyes when presented with this darling tea sandwich?
Asparagus and Smoked Salmon Pinwheel Tea Sandwiches
"Asparagus and smoked salmon pinwheels with lemon chive cream cheese are fancy tea sandwiches perfect to serve as appetizers for baby showers, afternoon tea parties, bridal showers, or anywhere you’re serving finger foods! These easy roll ups are served cold – it’s one of my favorite finger sandwich recipes!"
More Finger Sandwich Recipes
- Artichoke Finger Sandwiches
- Asparagus and Smoked Salmon Pinwheel Sandwiches
- Checkerboard Cheese Sandwiches
- Chicken-Artichoke-Cheese Spread
- Chicken Cashew Mandarin Orange Tea Sandwiches
- Chicken-Cucumber Sandwiches
- Cucumber Watercress Sandwiches
- Cucumber Rye Finger Sandwiches
- Cucumber Sandwiches
- Creamy Vegetable Sandwiches
- Cream Cheese and Olive Party Sandwiches
- Curried Chicken Sandwiches
- Curry-Almond Sandwiches
- Egg Salad Sandwiches
- Goat Cheese-Olive Sandwiches
- Mosaic Tea Sandwiches
- Mini-Muffuletta Party Sandwiches
- Smoked Salmon Tea Sandwiches
- Pimento Cheese Sandwiches
- Tomato and Basil Sandwiches
- Turkey Pesto Sandwiches
- Vegetable Finger Sandwiches
Hosting an Afternoon Tea?
If you’re hosting an afternoon tea, be sure to visit our post on “How to Throw an Easy Afternoon Tea Party”
You might also want to check out our post, “How to Serve an Afternoon Tea” for tips on decor, serving tea courses and their order, afternoon tea etiquette… and even how to host a “no-frills” afternoon tea.
RELATED: 15 Beautiful Edible Flowers to Brighten Your Dishes
And if you love a British-style afternoon tea, be sure to see “Taking Afternoon Tea Like the British” and “Queen Elizabeth Afternoon Tea Recipes.”
Lovely, comprehensive recipes, tips and creativity. I used to make “tea” for my husband and myself instead of dinner, at times. We’d get spruced up and use our nice china, silver, crystal along with candlelight, especially on a blustery day. A healthy, simple, yet elegant meal for everyone. Many thanks for your post…so beautiful.
Thank you so much for your kind comments on the post! I absolutely love your idea of a “tea” dinner with china, silver, and crystal. Not to mention candlelight. What a special evening and a great inspiration, especially during the holidays or these early winter evenings.
AmaZingly helpful article!!! Thank you so much!!!
Brilliant posting. Learnt a lot. Thank you!
If my nephew is getting married on a Saturday, how far in advance would we start making tea sandwiches and freezing them?
Hi Janice! Certain fillings can be made ahead and refrigerated up to 4 or 5 days before the event. They are then assembled the day before, refrigerated with damp paper towels to prevent drying, and served the next day. These fillings would be egg salads, salmon mousse, mushroom, smoked salmon, etc. It’s also possible to fully make the sandwiches ahead and freeze wrapped tightly in saran. There is the possibility the texture won’t be exactly as if they were made fresh. Another option would be to freeze the bread slices ahead of time. On the day of, remove from the freezer, spread the filling, trim and cut the sandwiches. Freezing the bread ahead of time makes the trimming and slicing easier and quicker. Good candidates for fully freezing tea sandwiches would include pureed shrimp and butter, a deviled ham, thinly sliced ham, roast beef or salmon or butter-based cheese spreads.
One more note — cucumber sandwiches need to be made the day of the event, although the cucumbers can be sliced and stored on a paper-towel-lined pan the day before. Also, when filling sandwiches, be sure the filling is no thicker than a single slice of the bread.
Hope this helps! Have a wonderful wedding!
Very good information….thank you.
Thank you, Colette!