Making the best finger sandwiches are sure to make your next tea party a success! Learn all the tips you need to know about the best tea sandwiches to make ahead. These tips and recipes will save you time, give you the opportunity to enjoy your event, and make sure everyone enjoys your arrangement of little sandwiches.
If you need more help with food ideas for your party, check out this Budget-Friendly Party Foods with lots of cheap and easy-to-eat snack foods you can serve! Or you can up your party game by adding a Fun Theme for your tea party!
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What Are Tea Sandwiches?
Tea sandwiches, also called finger sandwiches are small, delicate mini sandwiches usually eaten at tea time or as a mid-morning/afternoon snack.
- Made with a variety of fillings.
- Traditionally served on white, crustless bread slices though today they can be served on a variety of textures and color breads.
- No more than a couple of small bites.
- Tea sandwiches are meant to be delicate and contain a small amount of filling.
- Cut into small triangles or long, thin rectangles. For a fancier presentation, they can be cut into shapes using a cookie cutter.
When to Serve Finger Sandwiches
The tea sandwich originally comes from England where it is most often served for afternoon tea or high tea.
The concept of tea parties has been adopted by Americans and other countries and today tea sandwiches are often used for a variety of different types of functions.
- Ladies brunch
- Afternoon or morning wedding
- Traditional high tea for a ladies' gathering
- Baby shower
- Bridal shower
- Mother's day
- Casual garden tea party
- Any mid-morning or mid-afternoon event that you want to serve food but not a full meal.
To make dainty finger sandwiches for tea, start by trimming the crusts. This is important to create the same texture for each bite of the tea sandwich. Then cut the sandwiches into triangles, long rectangles, or squares. Use a very sharp chef’s knife or serrated knife to gently cut without tearing the bread.
If you want to cut the sandwiches into fun shapes using a cookie cutter, it is often easier to cut the bread first into the shapes and then assemble the sandwiches.
Stack the tower by the heaviness of the sandwiches similar to the courses of a meal. Lighter stuff on the top such as egg salad and cucumber sandwiches. Seafood or fish finger sandwiches go in the middle with beef and other meats on the bottom.
Get creative when cutting and serving your tea sandwiches. These pretty 10-piece frame cookie cutters will elevate your tea sandwiches when served.
💭 Tips for Making Ahead
When planning a morning or afternoon tea party, it’s a good idea to consider serving a few options that can be made ahead of time.
Prepping in advance means you are free to enjoy the event along with your guests.
Here are some tips to keep in mind.
- Consider ingredients that can be prepped further ahead to make sandwich fillings Tasks such as cooking chicken, boiling eggs, and grating cheese can all be done 2-3 days in advance.
- Consider alternatives to sliced bread. Using tortillas to make roll-ups, mini cream puffs and even mini puff pastry cups may be better options. They typically hold up a little better than sandwich bread which may dry out when exposed to air.
- Wait to assemble the most delicate sandwiches at the last minute.
- Sturdier sandwiches such as sliced meats and cheese work best for making ahead. Some salad sandwiches such as tuna, egg, and chicken can be made up to 24 hours in advance.
- Avoid soggy bread by making sandwiches with thinner sauces at the last minute.
- Assemble by laying out all the slices of bread and then layering on the ingredients.
Tips for Freezing
I have to be honest, I am not a fan of freezing sandwiches. No matter the steps you take, they won’t be the same. But here are a few hints in case that isn’t an option.
- Avoid freezing anything that contains mayonnaise, as it won’t hold up when frozen.
- Any sandwiches with fresh, sliced, or chopped veggies don’t work to freeze. So cucumber sandwiches and sandwiches with salad fillings that contain chopped onion or other vegetables are not recommended for freezing.
- Use cream cheese and butter as spreads instead of mayonnaise when you want to freeze make ahead tea sandwiches.
- Rather than freezing whole sandwiches, look for other steps you can take ahead of time to make ingredients that are freezable. Cooking chicken, cutting out shaped bread, sliced meats, some cooked vegetables, and fillings such as salmon mousse that are made without mayonnaise.
Make sure you take steps for the best results when freezing foods. This includes the containers used for storage and how you place them in the freezer. For more, check out this article on Freezer Storage Ideas.
More Tips for Storing Little Sandwiches
- When making sandwiches in advance, store them in the refrigerator with a damp paper towel in between the layers to keep the bread from drying out. For the most freshness wrap them in plastic wrap and store them in an airtight container.
- Whenever possible, leave the sandwiches or tortilla rollups whole and slice at the last minute.
Bread, Wraps, or Crackers to Use
White bread is the old standard when making finger sandwiches, but these days you can get creative and plan out a menu using different shapes and textures of bread.
- Sliced bread: White bread, wheat bread, rye bread, country loaf, or any type of bread with nuts, dried fruit, olives, or seeds all make a striking tea sandwich.
- Vol au vent: This small hollow puff pastry is usually made by cutting two circles in rolled-out puff pastry. A hole is cut in one of the circles and then stacked on top of the intact circle. When baked, it puffs up creating a hole perfect for filling.
- Tortillas: Spread large, colored tortillas with cream cheese and a variety of fillings and roll them up. When ready to serve, slice into 1-inch pieces.
- Crackers: Work great for serving open-faced sandwiches. I prefer these for little rosettes of salmon mousse or an herb cream cheese delicately topped with fresh herbs such as fronds of dill. Make some homemade cheese crackers or pick up a box at the store as an easier solution.
What to Serve with Tea Sandwiches
After choosing a variety of flavors and textures of sandwiches to offer, I think a minimum of 3-5 is perfect, let’s look at what else to serve.
- Hot Tea: Black loose tea with milk and sugar is traditional. However, if you are serving a large group of people you can consider having a selection of teas such as Assam, Earl Grey, Mint Tea, or others flavors that you feel are appropriate for the group.
- Coffee: Offer decaf and regular to satisfy everyone!
- Signature Mocktail: Serve up a signature, fancy Apple Cider Mocktail or pick a seasonal drink such as one of these Spring Mocktails.
- Cocktails: Choose the British classic, Pimms and Lemonade for a traditional vibe! But some of my other favorites are an Azalea Cocktail with its brilliant pink color or a fall-inspired Ginger Pear Cocktail.
- Sweets: I like to keep the sweets delicate and small for tea parties or events serving bite-sized sandwiches. Madeleines, Pistachio Cranberry Cookies, and Chocolate Strawberry Tarts all are top choices.
Tea Sandwich Fillings
The sky is the limit for fillings for finger sandwiches! Here are some popular choices for British tea sandwiches:
- Cheese and pickle: Sliced cheddar cheese and a pickled chutney.
- Prawn cocktail: Chopped shrimp and cocktail sauce mixed together.
- Egg and watercress: Egg mayonnaise (salad) and fresh watercress.
- Tuna and Miracle Whip (salad cream): Tuna mixed with creamy salad dressing (not mayonnaise).
- Roast beef and French mustard: Sliced fresh roast beef and spicy French mustard.
Here are some more sandwich-filling ideas for your own tiny sandwiches. Serve up these easy salads on your favorite bread!
The Best Ideas for Tea Sandwich Make Ahead
Use these recipes to prepare finger sandwiches for your next event!
Be sure to keep an eye out for tips along the way about how to make different types of sandwiches in advance.
Tea Sandwich Ideas
Classic cucumber tea sandwiches
The most popular tea sandwich is the classic cucumber sandwich. Here are three different ways to make it!
Tea sandwich cookbook 📚
These 55 mouthwatering Tea Sandwich Cookbook recipes are delicious, dainty, and delicate, just as they should be. What began as an English tradition has made its way across the pond to households all around the globe.
The step-by-step Tea Sandwich recipes are so simple, from meat-filled finger sandwiches to veggie-spreads tea sandwiches. You’ll see why the little delicacies that have made history in Britain are also making waves around the world.
More Round Ups to Explore
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