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.

Cucumber Tea Sandwiches with Purple Freesia on a White Plate

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.

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.”

English Cucumber Tea Sandwiches

Pro Advice On Making Ahead Tea Sandwiches

A recent reader asked for advice on making finger sandwiches ahead of 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.

“You can freeze packaged smoked salmon ahead, defrost 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.”

Cucumber 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: 

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 mniscule 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 has 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.

Pro Tip 1: 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
  • 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.   

The morning of the party, remove the rolls from the freezer, thaw just enough to slice into 1/2-inch pinwheel slices with a sharp knife. Place on a servings 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.

More ideas on how to freeze sandwiches can be found here >> 

Tea Sandwich Recipes and Ideas


Afternoon Tea Everyday Teapot Pick

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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.

Afternoon Tea Ideas from Amazon

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We have more Afternoon Tea ideas listed at our Amazon Store!

Afternoon Tea Recipes and Ideas at 31Daily

Hosting an Afternoon Tea or gathering of friends doesn't have to be intimidating and it doesn't have to be difficult. We've gathered some easy recipes and ideas for your next tea.

Easy Make Ahead Tea Sandwiches for Your Next Tea Party | 31Daily.com
Easy Tea Sandwiches to Make Ahead | 31Daily.com
Easy Tea Sandwiches to Make Ahead | 31Daily.com

5 thoughts on “Easy Make Ahead Tea Sandwiches

  1. Gerard

    Brilliant posting. Learnt a lot. Thank you!

  2. Janice La Pointe

    If my nephew is getting married on a Saturday, how far in advance would we start making tea sandwiches and freezing them?

    1. Stephanie Wilson

      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!

  3. Colette Jensen

    Very good information….thank you.

    1. Stephanie Wilson

      Thank you, Colette!

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