Create your very own afternoon tea party with these traditional cucumber sandwiches. They’re the favorite of royalty and now you can enjoy these delicious, light, and easy-to-make finger sandwiches.
A staple in the classic English afternoon tea, cucumber sandwiches are traditionally light and simple, with just a handful of ingredients. Queen Elizabeth II likes hers with yogurt and mint and some are total traditionalists when it comes to English cucumber sandwiches. So, I’ve put together a recipe that’s big on flavor but easy to serve as a lunchtime staple, an afternoon tea treat, or even as appetizers.
Cucumber is almost entirely water. So this cucumber sandwich recipe is naturally low in calories, whilst still being packed with essential vitamins and minerals. These include Vitamin C and K and potassium. Cucumbers are also high in antioxidants, hugely hydrating, and can help you keep regular with high water content and fiber.
In England, the cucumber sandwich is a staple part of traditional afternoon tea. It is also often enjoyed on special occasions at fancy hotels or as an everyday treat. Ranging from a cup of tea and a slice of cake to a grand presentation of sandwiches, scones, and sweet treats, the Brits take their afternoon teas (and cucumber tea sandwiches) rather seriously.
My cucumber sandwich recipe will give you an authentic taste of a proper British high tea – without you ever having to leave the comfort of your kitchen.
What Is a Cucumber Sandwich
Historically it was considered a “high class” sandwich that wealthy people would eat as a snack in the afternoon. So cucumber finger sandwiches were served as part of an afternoon tea alongside scones and cakes.
These dainty tea sandwiches originated in the UK in the early years of the 20th century. They were also served during breaks in cricket matches. Modern-day cucumber tea sandwiches have many variations, from changing the bread to adding extra ingredients to the cream cheese. The possibilities are endless!
What Is in a Cucumber Sandwich
- Cucumber: You can use large or small cucumbers, grown at home or bought from your grocery store. Try to get ones that will fit neatly within the bread so there’s no hangover.
- Fresh dill: This adds a boost of flavor to the spread and will make these tea party cucumber sandwiches more unique to you. If you don’t like dill, swap it out for other fresh herbs like mint, basil, fresh chives, thyme, or tarragon.
- Cream Cheese: Feel free to use a non-dairy alternative or even a pre-flavored cream cheese spread instead of plain. You can also use Greek yogurt, mascarpone, or cottage cheese.
- Butter: You can use full fat or dairy free, but make sure to be generous with your butter. It’ll stop your sandwich from getting soggy if you make it in advance. You can also use salted butter. It’s best to use the butter at room temperature.
- Slices of bread: The classic cucumber sandwich appetizer uses plain white bread. But feel free to use whole wheat bread or any other soft bread.
How to Make Cucumber Sandwiches
To make the best cucumber sandwiches, start by thinly slicing up your cucumber. You can do it in circles or lengthwise, however you like. Use a sharp knife or a mandoline slicer for even thin slices.
Chef’s tip: I don’t usually peel the cucumber but you can do so if preferred.
Spread the butter on half of the bread slices. Then spread cream cheese over the others. Place the cucumber slices over the slice with cream cheese, then top with the dill (or your chosen herbs). Finally, cover with the last piece of bread and, if you prefer, cut off the crusts.
Chef’s tip: Instead of adding a layer of dill (or other herbs) over the cucumber, make a cream cheese mixture. Chop the herb finely, mix it with the cream cheese in a small bowl, then spread it on the bread.
How Do You Cut Finger Sandwiches
The traditional way to cut a cucumber and cream cheese sandwich is into triangles. This is what you’ll see on afternoon tea platters. But, you can also cut them into squares if you prefer, or even into dainty rectangles to make finger sandwiches.
How to Keep Cucumber Sandwiches from Getting Soggy
The butter will help keep your cucumber cream cheese sandwich from getting too soggy. But there are a few tricks to help you keep your cucumber sandwich crisp.
You can make your cucumber tea sandwiches up to a day in advance. But I recommend making them just an hour or so before you plan to serve them. The moisture in the cucumber can get into the bread and make your sandwich soggy.
Another trick is to sprinkle the cucumber with kosher salt. Then lay it out on a kitchen towel or paper towel for 15- 20 minutes. This will draw out the excess moisture and keep your sandwich appetizer crisper for longer. Pat the slices dry before you place them on the sandwich.
What to Serve with Cucumber Sandwiches
Cucumber sandwiches, when served as part of a traditional afternoon tea, should be paired with English scones, which come with clotted cream and raspberry jam. They should be paired with plenty of petite cakes – my favorites are carrot cake, fudgy chocolate cake, and my amazing recipe for lemon cupcakes.
You can even pair your cucumber sandwiches with other sandwiches to make a full platter. The traditional English often includes smoked salmon, egg mayonnaise, tuna, and cuts of ham.
And, of course, you can’t have English cucumber sandwiches without plenty of tea to go with it. If you want the authentic cup – or “cuppa” as the locals call it – you can follow my handy guide to making the best English cup of tea in a way that won’t have Brits crying on TikTok!
You can also enjoy your cucumber sandwiches as an easy, on-the-go lunch. You can pair it with some potato or vegetable chips, crudité and dip, or with a side portion of sweet potato fries – my favorite!
Let me know if the comments below what’s your favorite way to enjoy these delicious finger sandwiches.
More Easy Sandwich Recipes
- The Best Tuna Salad Sandwich
- 5-Minute Turkey Sandwich
- Egg Salad Tea Sandwich
- Grilled Cheese (Cheese Toastie)
- Mushroom Toast
- Cinnamon Toast
- Avocado Toast
If you try this cucumber sandwich recipe, I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions below. Also, I’d appreciate a recipe card rating below, and feel free to tag me in your recipe recreations on Instagram @Alphafoodie!
The Perfect Cucumber Sandwich
- 4 slices bread plain white bread is a classic choice but use your favorite soft bread
- 1/2 cucumber
- 2 tablespoon cream cheese
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 0.1 oz dill just a sprinkle
- I don't usually peel the cucumber but you can do so if preferred.Thinly slice your cucumber. You can do it in circles or lengthwise, however you like. Use a sharp knife or a mandoline slicer for even thin slices.
- Spread the butter one slice of bread. Then spread cream cheese over the other.
- Place the cucumber slices over the slice with cream cheese, then top with the dill (or your chosen herbs).Finally, cover with the last piece of bread and, if you prefer, cut off the crusts.
How Do You Cut Finger Sandwiches
- The traditional way to cut a cucumber and cream cheese sandwich is into triangles – this is what you’ll see on afternoon tea platters. But, you can also cut them into squares if you prefer, or even into dainty rectangles to make finger sandwiches.