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.
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.
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.
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.
"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. "
"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!"
"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. "
"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."
"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!"
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.