These tea sandwiches are perfect for any crowd and any occasion when it comes to easy entertaining. There is a vegetarian version and a meat version so you can have all the bases covered and they both have a scrumptious herbed butter on the bread that resembles the classic watercress tea sandwiches served in England. Perhaps best of all is that this is one of those easy, no-cook recipes but still looks fancy for entertaining. These tea sandwiches can be part of a brunch, bridal shower, Christmas holiday party, or just casual evening with friends.
Make the herbed butter ahead of time and refrigerate it as a do-ahead step if you are planning ahead and tight on time. It will save covered for several days and just bring it to room temperature before you spread it on the bread. Oh and a tip on the bread – you want to use very fresh, soft bread. That is part of the appeal for any tea sandwich. And be generous on the butter – especially on the veggie variety because the roast beef tea sandwich has a little bit of horseradish sauce as well so there is extra moisture but you don’t want a dry tea sandwich! And last, but not least, take the time to cut these into little squares. It’s all in the presentation….right? The Ladies of London would be proud…
To make these yummy bites you want to start out with the best ingredients you can because that will make a big different. I like to buy the watercress live – or still attached to the root system. It’s stays more fresh that way. Also, try to slice the veggies right before assembling so they don’t have a chance to dry out. And this is one of those times where a hand-held mandoline comes in really handy to get those super thin slices. You can find some really inexpensive versions but just careful (no matter what kind you use) not to get too close to the blade. And as for the cucumber this is one of those times I like to keep the peel on but it’s up to you.
These are the veggies I started with:
The sandwiches as they are being assembled…
And the roast beef version….
- Herbed Butter
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 Tablespoons fresh dill, roughly chopped
- 2 Tablespoons fresh chives, roughly chopped
- 1 ½ teaspoons lemons zest
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Vegetarian Sandwich
- ½ English Cucumber (peel on), thinly sliced
- 3 small heirloom or regular carrots, thinly sliced
- 1 bunch Watercress
- Herb butter
- Roast Beef & Horseradish Sandwich
- 6 slices Roast beef, very thinly sliced
- ¼ cup Crème fraiche
- 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
- ¼ lb good quality aged white cheddar, cut into thin slices
- 1 bunch Watercress
- Herb butter
- 1 loaf soft white bread, sliced into ¼ in pieces
- 1. Make the herb butter by combining all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor (small one if you if have it) and pulse until ingredients are well combined. Scrape from the food processor into a bowl and cover keep at room temperature unless you are making it ahead. Make ahead and refrigerate (covered) up to 3 days and then bring to room temp before using.
- 2. Cut the bread into ¼ inch thick even slices. Butter one side of each slice. Be extra generous on the veggie ones. To assemble the vegetable tea sandwich layer on carrots to cover the bread, 4-5 slices of cucumber on top of that and a few radishes on top. Add a little fresh watercress leaves and press the top butter piece onto the sandwich. Firmly holding the sandwich cut around the edges with a bread knife to remove the crust and then cut into 1 inch squares. Hold tea sandwich into place with a toothpick. Continue until all the vegetable tea sandwiches are assembled.
- 3. To make the roast beef sandwich top the buttered bread with 2 slices of roast beef that is bunched on top (not lying flat), to create some height. Drizzle a layer of horseradish crème fraiche over the top of the meat. On the other slice layer on the aged white cheddar to just cover the bread and then the watercress on top of the cheese. Fold the two sides together to make a sandwich and hold firmly while cutting the crusts of and cutting into 3 or 4 pieces about 1 inch wide each.