First up in our Afternoon Tea Series is our afternoon tea finger sandwiches. We’re focusing on easy and elegant recipes. Grab our tips, tricks and simple recipes for the five most common traditional English afternoon tea finger sandwiches.

Disclosure:
Some of the links below are affiliate links. We may earn a small commission if you use these links to make a purchase. Thank you! Please read our full disclosure for more information. 

Short & Sweet


Taste:
 Like the Dowager Duchess of Downton Abbey sharing a good slice of gossip

Ease: Very – they’re sandwiches!

Pros: A simple start to the perfect afternoon tea

Cons: Too many sandwiches leave no room for cake

Again: When are we having afternoon tea next?

Watercolour teapot, afternoon tea short and sweet
Easy and elegant afternoon tea finger sandwiches on a green stand: ham and mustard, smoked salmon and lemon butter, cucumber and mint cream cheese, egg salad and cress and coronation chicken.

What types of sandwich are traditionally served for afternoon tea?

As we explained last week, the first “course” for afternoon tea is traditionally finger sandwiches. Five types of afternoon tea finger sandwiches which are traditionally served for afternoon tea. Most of the large hotels still serve a version of these sandwiches:

  1. Cured ham and mustard
  2. Cucumber with mint cream cheese
  3. Smoked salmon with lemon butter
  4. Egg salad with cress
  5. Coronation chicken.

How many sandwiches to I allow per person for afternoon tea?

I allow one finger of each type of sandwich per person. Each sandwich makes three fingers.

For our recent afternoon tea for three adults (we’re on lockdown!), we made one of of each type of sandwich. Effectively, we had about one and half sandwiches each.

We also had caramelised onion and goat’s cheese tarts (recipe coming soon) and featherlight scones. We finished off with banana cupcakes – baked because we had some overripe bananas – but nobody apart from Miss M had any space left to eat any of the cupcakes.

Easy and elegant afternoon tea finger sandwiches on a green stand: ham and mustard, smoked salmon and lemon butter, cucumber and mint cream cheese, egg salad and cress and coronation chicken.

How far ahead can you make these finger sandwiches?

You can make these afternoon tea finger sandwiches in advance. How far depends on personal preference.

I like to make mine the morning of the afternoon tea (providing I have time). I might prepare the coronation chicken and egg salad the night before, or at least cook the chicken and the egg.

As I explained, I hate it when the sandwiches have been made too far in advance and refrigerated and are still quite cold when served. If you are going to make the sandwiches in advance:

  1. Keep the crusts on and don’t cut them into fingers in order to prevent them from drying out on the edges.
  2. Wrap the sandwiches well in plastic foil so that they don’t start to taste like the fridge.
  3. Think of allergies and food preferences: in our case, I would wrap the salmon sandwiches separately (allergies) and make sure the vegetarian sandwiches are wrapped separately from those with meat.
  4. Remove them from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving so that they can reach a nice temperature.

What is the best bread to use for afternoon tea finger sandwiches?

The type of bread is a matter of personal preference. You can use as many or as few different types of bread as you wish. For example:

  • White bread
  • Sourdough
  • Brioche
  • Rye
  • Multigrain
  • Soy and linseed
  • Wholemeal
  • Sundried tomato loaf
  • Pumpernickel

It’s best(and easiest) if you use bread that is already sliced, rather than making a lovely homemade loaf and having the slices all uneven.

Of course, there is nothing to stop you from switching some of these up for little bread rounds (use a cookie cutter to cut them out) or little rolls. But we’ll be showcasing some more modern options in the weeks to come.

Easy and elegant afternoon tea finger sandwiches on a green stand: ham and mustard, smoked salmon and lemon butter, cucumber and mint cream cheese, egg salad and cress and coronation chicken.

How do you perfectly cut the sandwiches into fingers?

The trick to getting the perfect afternoon tea finger sandwiches is to use the right knife.

You don’t want a chef’s knife, a santoku knife or a cleaver. They will squash the bread and leave dents in your sandwiches.

You definitely don’t want a butter knife, even a serrated one. It will rip your bread.

You want a good serrated knife, preferably a good bread knife.

Hold the sandwich down firmly, but not so firmly that you squash it. Take the knife and line it put to cut off the crusts on one side. Move the knife back and forth, letting the serrations do the work. This should cut the crusts off cleanly without squashing or tearing the bread or catching on the filling and pulling it out.

Once you’re done one side, rotate the sandwich 90° and repeat until the crusts are cut off all four sides.

Use this same technique to cut the sandwich into three fingers.

Visually divide the sandwich into thirds. Hold the sandwich still with one hand (without squashing it) and cut, running the knife back and forth, along the first line you drew visually to cut a third, the first finger sandwich.

Repeat to cut the remaining two thirds.

Tips for the perfect afternoon tea finger sandwiches

These recipes are so simple that the quality of the ingredients is important. However, you don’t need a lot of any one ingredient. If you have a choice, choose the better quality ingredient, even if it is a little more expensive.

Ham and mustard finger sandwiches

  • Use good cured ham, not air dried (no parma ham) and not too fatty. We prefer honey wholegrain mustard (known in Germany as süßer Senf). If you don’t have it use wholegrain mustard. If you are using normal mustard, use a little less so that the ham is prominent.
  • You can use any bread type for these afternoon tea finger sandwiches.
Ham and honey wholegrain mustard afternoon tea finger sandwich with white bread

Cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches

  • You need to use white bread for these cucumber afternoon tea finger sandwiches.
  • Take the cream cheese out of the refrigerator for 20 minutes or so before you need it. This will make it easier to mix in the herbs. Make sure the herbs are very finely chopped – no one wants bits of herb getting stuck between their teeth.
  • If you can, use an English cucumber. They are often wrapped in plastic when they are sold. Any cucumber will work, but English cucumbers have few seeds, which normally makes them less watery.
  • Use a mandoline slicer or just a potato peeler to cut the cucumber. I prefer to cut them lengthwise to make longer pieces of cucumber rather than small rounds. The longer pieces make it less likely that the cucumber will fall out when eating the finger sandwich.
  • Make sure you add the salt to the sandwich. Even if you normally have a low sodium diet, do add some salt. It prevents the cucumber from making the sandwich soggy.
Cucumber with mint and chive cream cheese finger sandwich, on white bread

Smoked salmon finger sandwiches

  • As the smoked salmon is the star here, it pays to get a better brand, if available. You don’t need a lot, so the price is probably quite reasonable.
  • Remove the butter from the refrigerator at least 20 minutes before using to make it easier to mix in the butter and butter the bread without making holes in the bread. Take your time when mixing the lemon juice into the butter, it will not look like it is going to combine at first.
  • We used a simple brioche for this recipe, but you can use any bread you like.
Smoked salmon and lemon butter finger sandwich on brioche

Egg and cress finger sandwiches

  • The egg you use for these egg salad and cress afternoon tea finger sandwiches should be hard-boiled, but not for too long. I’d recommend cooking the egg for about 8 minutes, so that it is just set but not dry yet. I used a large egg, which was definitely enough for one sandwich. If you have a medium egg, you might need to use two.
  • You can use any type of mayonnaise you like, but I prefer an egg mayonnaise. Just use whatever you have. Make sure the chives are chopped finely and adjust the amount of mustard to taste.
  • You can use garden cress or water cress, whatever is available. If the pieces are a little big, give them a rough chop before using.
  • I prefer white bread for these sandwiches, but it a personal preference.
Egg salad and cress finger sandwich on white bread

Coronation chicken finger sandwiches

  • If you can, save time and buy your chicken pre-cooked. I couldn’t get any from the Aldi we visited, so I just briefly cooked a few chicken strips in a frypan, removing then when they were cooked through but before they started to brown. Make sure you cut or shred the chicken into small pieces so that there are no big lumps in the afternoon tea finger sandwiches.
  • I couldn’t get any mango chutney at the supermarket. If you can’t get any either, use any fruit chutney you can find. I think mine was pineapple, fig and chili.
  • Again, you can use any type of mayonnaise that you have on hand. Add just a little yoghurt to start, so that the mixture is not too runny.
  • You can use garden cress or water cress, whatever is available. If the pieces are a little big, give them a rough chop before using.
  • You can use any bread you prefer for these afternoon tea finger sandwiches.
Coronation chicken afternoon tea finger sandwich, on white bread
Close up of 5 different traditional afternoon tea finger sandwiches on a green tray

Five traditional English afternoon tea finger sandwiches

Five finger sandwiches are traditionally served for afternoon tea in England: ham and mustard, cucumber, egg and cress, smoked salmon and coronation chicken. Here are the recipes.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Cuisine English
Servings 3

Equipment

Ingredients
  

Ham and mustard finger sandwiches

  • 2 slices bread
  • butter
  • 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1 slice cured ham

Cucumber with mint cream cheese finger sandwiches

  • 2 slices bread
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese
  • fresh chives (about 5 chives)
  • fresh mint (about 3 average leaves)
  • 1 piece cucumber 8-10 cm long
  • salt

Smoked salmon finger sandwiches with lemon butter

  • 2 slices bread
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • squeeze lemon juice
  • 1 piece smoked salmon

Egg and cress finger sandwiches

  • 2 slices bread
  • 1 boiled egg
  • 1 tbsp mayonaise
  • fresh chives
  • salt and pepper
  • ¼ tsp mustard
  • fresh cress or watercress

Coronation chicken finger sandwiches

  • 2 slices bread
  • 1 tbsp mayonaise
  • 1 tbsp plain yoghurt
  • 1 tsp mango chutney
  • ¼ tsp curry powder
  • 50 g cooked chicken
  • cress or watercress

Instructions
 

Ham and mustard finger sandwiches

  • Spread butter on one slice of bread and mustard on the other. Place a piece of ham on the mustard side, making sure it is evenly distributed. Place the other slice of bread, butter-side down, on top.
  • Carefully remove the crusts and cut the sandwich into three equal fingers.

Cucumber with mint cream cheese finger sandwiches

  • Very finely chop the chives and mint. Put the cream cheese and chopped herbs in a bowl and mix to combine.
  • Spread the herbed cream cheese onto two slices of bread.
  • Peel the cucumber and slice it into fine slices with a potato peeler or mandolin. Place the slice cucumber on top of the herbed cream cheese on one slice of bread, taking care to ensure that it is evenly distributed. Sprinkle with salt.
  • Place the other slice of bread, cream cheese slice down, on top of the cucumber to make a sandwich. Remove the crusts and slice the sandwich into three equal fingers.

Smoked salmon with lemon butter finger sandwiches

  • Put the butter in a small bowl and add the lemon juice. Carefully mix until well combined.
  • Spread the butter one both slices of bread. Cover one side with the smoked salmon and place the other slice of bread butter-side down to form a sandwich.
  • Carefully remove the crusts and slice into three equal finger sandwiches.

Egg and cress finger sandwiches

  • Place the egg in a bowl and mash lightly with a fork. Do not over mash. Add the mayonaise, chives, mustard and salt and pepper and mix to combine until the mustard disappears and the chives are spread throughout the mixture.
  • Spread the egg mixture onto one slice of bread, taking care to ensure that the mixture covers the bread evenly. Top with cress and then top with the second slice of bread to form a sandwich.
  • Carefully remove the crusts and slice into three equal finger sandwiches.

Coronation chickent finger sandwiches

  • Cut or shred the chicken into small pieces. Place the chicken in a bowl and add the mayonaise, yoghurt, chutney and curry powder to the bowl and mix until well combined.
  • Spread the chicken mixture on one slice of bread, making sure it is spread evenly. Top with cress and then the second slice of bread.
  • Carefully remove the crusts and slice into three equal finger sandwiches.

Notes

You can use any bread you like to make these sandwiches. Save time by using all the same type or mix it up a little to add a layer of interest.
These finger sandwiches can be made the day or morning before, but save cutting the crusts off and cutting the sandwiches into fingers until shortly before your afternoon tea party in order to ensure that the bread does not dry out.

Nutrition

Calories: 498.73kcalCarbohydrates: 50.91gProtein: 18.81gFat: 24.56gSaturated Fat: 9.59gTrans Fat: 0.36gCholesterol: 56.55mgSodium: 781.3mgPotassium: 417.88mgFiber: 4.77gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 467.15IUVitamin C: 3.68mgCalcium: 169.37mgIron: 4.01mg
Keyword afternoon tea finger sandwiches
Have you tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Make these finger sandwiches for your next afternoon tea

Simplicity and elegance: what more could you want? If you are looking for traditional finger sandwiches for your next afternoon tea, these five recipes are all that you need. Follow our tips and tricks for perfect finger sandwiches, without the stress for your need afternoon tea.

Be sure to check out the other recipes in our Afternoon Tea Series too!

Bon Appetit! Sign-off

Save these for later

Pin: How to make traditional afternoon tea finger sandwiches - 5 simple recipes: within image of three serves of the afternoon tea finger sandwiches
Pin: Traditional afternoon tea sandwiches, with an image of the finger sandwiches on a stand and a close up of sandwiches
Pin: How to make traditional afternoon tea finger sandwiches: 5 simple recipes, with close up images of the 5 afternoon tea finger sandwiches

Similar Posts

7 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I made this for my brother (and his wife’s) baby shower. While making them, I knew they were going to be good from the bits I was tasting along the way… But I had no idea how much they’d be adored by our guests!

    I put the egg salad and cucumber on white bread, the coronation on light wheat, the ham on sourdough, and the salmon on pumpernickel (the salmon and pumpernickel was a match made in heaven). Used a rotisserie chicken for the chicken sandwich for a wonderful shortcut. One thing to note, you don’t need more than one cucumber – I used a potato peeler to make long strips of cucumber and cut them down to sandwich size and I probably could have made 100 sandwiches LOL

    Everyone LOVED these sandwiches. Many conversations broke out with people debating which was the best one. The TOP contenders were the Chicken, Salmon, and egg. The least favorite was the ham… Mostly because there wasn’t anything different or special about it.

    I highly recommend trying these recipes. Lost that you can prep ahead of time to make it so you just need to assemble on the day of the party. You will get endless compliments.

    1. Thank you so much for your wonderful comment, Lisa! I am so glad they were the hit of baby shower – they are definitely perfect for such an occasion!

      The ham and mustard is a bit dull… but I never said traditional was not sometimes dull… I actually prefer the fruity ham ones that add brie and apply slices to jazz them up a bit (though they are a little harder to cut then). And yes, a little cucumber goes a LONG way.

      And congratulations on soon becoming an Aunt! I love being an aunt – I get to introduce my nephews and niece to all the fun German or European things and I am sure you will find lots of things that you and your niece or nephew can conspire about!

      All the best to your brother and sister-in-law too! I hope the rest of their pregnancy goes well and that bubs is happy and healthy. Enjoy the bonding time!

  2. I’ve not rated yet but I’m looking for inspiration for the Queens Platinum Jubilee and 14 older neighbours. These sound ideal for me to do and the fact that they’ll be easy to eat.
    Thanks for the inspiration

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating