Afternoon Tea in Sandwiches

Afternoon Tea Sandwiches

If you want to make your own afternoon tea at home, or to start offering it in your place of business, then you’ll need some basic sandwich recipes. Peanut butter and jam or cheese and pickle may taste great with a side of crisps and a cup of builder’s tea, but you need something a little classier if you’re going the whole hog with clotted cream, scones and quality teas. Try these sandwiches out for size.

Tasty Vegetarian and Vegan Afternoon Tea Sandwiches

There are a few recipes below that are okay for vegetarians, but most contain meat or fish. So before we move onto those let’s discuss some delicious recipes for non meat eaters. A good high tea service will always include options for vegans and vegetarians and they are actually some of the tastiest ones.

Brie and Grape (Vegetarian Only)

It’s tricky to get right, but if you do it will blow you away. Spread brown bread with a little salted butter or mayo and then layer on chunky slices of brie followed by thin slices of grape. The grapes shouldn’t be straight from the fridge—the softer, the better. For some extra sweetness you can also experiment with a little jam, especially if you have grape or cherry jam.

Chickpea Paste

Cook-up some chickpeas with a sprinkle of turmeric, paprika, salt and pepper and then mash into a paste. Add a squirt of olive oil and lemon, season if needed and then spread on wholemeal bread followed by some generous slices of red onion and a few sprigs of watercress or rocket.


Spread some vegetarian pesto onto white bread, layer with rocket, sliced avocado and thinly sliced courgette before pressing the sandwich tight and lightly grilling. You can also simply mash some avocado onto toasted bread before livening it up with some sliced tomatoes. This tasty fruit goes a very long way and is a staple food for most vegans and vegetarians.

Hummus and Falafel

Take some store-bought hummus and add a little extra olive oil and lemon juice before throwing in some chopped roasted peppers and spreading thickly onto white brad. Slice some balls of falafel or crumble a handful of them into a paste and then add these to the hummus, before topping with crisp lettuce, red onions, cucumber and slices of tomato. The strong, savory taste of the chickpea-based hummus and falafel will balance perfectly with the fresh vegetables and red peppers and onion, providing the ultimate vegan sandwich.

Cucumber Sandwich Recipes

Cucumber Sandwiches

The most basic of cucumber sandwich recipe uses cucumber, butter and bread. Providing the bread is not too dense, the butter is of a high quality and the cucumber is not too wet, this sandwich provides a fresh, creamy, crunchy snack. To bring out the flavour of the cucumber, sprinkle a little salt on it beforehand, let some of that moisture drain out and then layer it on plain white bread with unsalted butter.

For something a little more satisfying, forgo the salted cucumber and butter and spread some full-fat cream cheese on the bread instead. Cucumber and cream cheese is a basic mix that works really well. You can even spice it up with a sprinkle of chives or a little mint, two herbs that go great with cream cheese.

Smoked Salmon Sandwich Recipes

The ultimate in classy afternoon tea sandwiches, smoked salmon works best on multigrain bread, something that has that wholemeal flavour and plenty of bite. Don’t be afraid to use a fluffy, slightly dense seed bread to truly make a worthwhile meal out of those slices of salmon.

You can use creme fraiche or mayonnaise instead of butter (and even as well as) and it’s also best to add a few sprigs of chives or some very thinly sliced and delicately salted cucumber. Dill works well with salmon as well.

Egg Sandwich Recipes

Egg Sandwiches

Egg mayonnaise may seem too common for your classy afternoon tea sandwiches, but there are ways of spicing it up. If you want it a little sweeter, use Salad Cream instead of mayo, it’s somewhat of a Marmite mixture as you will either love it or hate it, but it’s well worth trying if you’ve never had it before. Be sure to sprinkle some salt into the mix if you’re using mayo and to add some greenery in the form of chopped chives or the classic egg mayo combo: watercress.

The bread makes a huge difference with this sandwich. White bread will make it stodgy and will take away from the flavour whereas wholemeal bread, 50/50 or seeded/granary bread will give it plenty of bite.

Tuna Afternoon Tea Sandwiches

Cream Tea Sandwiches

Tuna and sweetcorn is too messy and too simple for afternoon tea sandwiches. Here in England, from Portsmouth to Newcastle, we tend to go for mayo or nothing at all when it comes to tuna in sandwiches, but there are better alternatives. You can experiment with fresh tuna, thick butter and capers or you can opt for something that looks and tastes little more familiar, mixing your chopped tuna with red onions, spring onions and a squirt of mayo before layering it on top of a bed of rocket and sliced tomato.

Chicken Sandwich Recipes

Don’t be tempted by deli meats. If you’re putting together an afternoon tea that you’d be happy to put in front of customers at the finest cream tea locations in the country, then you need to step it up. One of the best ways to do this is to make your own chicken salad, an American-style sandwich filler that combines chopped chicken (cooked) with red onion, carrot, celery and a little garlic. All of this is mixed with some full-fat mayo, a little mustard, paprika and salt. Taste it as you make it and don’t be afraid to layer it on thick.

You can also simply slow-roast the chicken and pull it apart like pork before adding it to a honey mustard sauce. If you do this then you might want to toast the bread. It will be trick to cut into little fingers, but the sandwich will taste much better for it.

Best Tea for Afternoon Tea Sandwiches

We don’t want to sound too pompous here, but tea can be paired with sandwiches just like wine can be paired with food. It only makes sense, after all, both have strong flavours and both have a lot of variety.

It’s why afternoon tea was typically served with a light black tea, a mixture of black and green, or an Earl Grey, as opposed to a full bodied English Breakfast. We would recommend experimenting here. Try a little Green Mountain Tea with some of your fragrant desserts, a creamy Wagh Bakri Masala tea with an equally creamy sandwich, and a fiery ginger tea or a fruity Longan tea to wash down your scones.