Cucumber Tea Sandwiches

Cucumber tea sandwiches are delicious. They are refreshing and light and very moreish. I usually make a few more cucumber sandwiches than the other kinds for afternoon tea since they are so tasty.

Cucumber is delicate, so it’s really important to get a good one. If you know a friendly gardener who grows their own, cultivate the friendship and invite them round for tea! If you have to buy them, organic is definitely best – I think they genuinely taste better. Crisper, fresher.

English cucumbers are the ones to buy. These are the long green slicing ones, as opposed to the short pickling kind. Some people like to remove the skins. I would do this if they are waxed, but otherwise, I leave the skins on.

Once you have rinsed the cucumber, scratch it a little on the skin. Check the residue. If there is a waxy residue, you can tell it has been waxed.

I prefer, as always, butter in my sandwiches, and certainly with cucumber tea sandwiches. But I do know people who think that the butter is quite over-powering, and I see their point. You can definitely taste the butter in cucumber sandwiches.

An alternative to consider is cream cheese, not too generously spread, or you won’t taste the cucumber.

Some people recommend soaking the cucumbers in vinegar for a while before making the sandwich. This is an old-fashioned method still used in some traditional tea houses.

Soaking the cucumbers in vinegar does not make them taste of vinegar. It does make them slightly softer and changes the taste. They almost taste as though they have been cooked. It's worth a taste test!

I have given you three basic recipes. Very easy, plain cucumber sandwiches, the more traditional recipe with vinegar, and a similar one with lemon and mint.

And then I've given a few ideas for some cucumber sandwiches with a bit of a difference.

I hope you enjoy!

Simple Cucumber Tea Sandwiches

Time: Five minutes
Makes 4 small sandwiches

2 slices of white bread
cream cheese
cucumber
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper



  • Spread the cream cheese thinly on the slices of bread.

  • Rinse the cucumber. Peel if it is waxed.

  • Slice the cucumber. I usually slice them about 1mm in width. No thinner or they are just to thin to taste. It doesn't matter if the slices are not whole.

  • Cover one slice of bread generously with slices of cucumber. Overlap the cucumbers, but don’t make more than two layers or the slices tend to fall out as you eat the sandwich.

  • Season with salt and pepper. This is to taste. You don't want to overwhelm the cucumber, but it's better fairly well seasoned.

  • Top this with the other slice and trim off the crusts. Cut into triangles, squares or fingers.

  • Cover the sandwiches until ready to eat with a damp cloth.

Old-fashioned Cucumber Tea Sandwiches

Time: 40 minutes
"including soaking time)
Makes 4 small sandwiches

2 slices of very thinly sliced
brown bread
soft butter
cucumber
1 tsp vinegar (white wine or
cider is best, although malt is
more traditional)
salt


  • Rinse the cucumber. Peel if it is waxed.

  • Cut the cucumber extremely thinly using a mandolin or a potato peeler.

  • Lay the cucumber on a plate and sprinkle the vinegar and the salt over the top. Cover with a plate or some cling film.

  • After half an hour, drain away the excess juices by shaking the slices in a sieve.

  • Butter the two slices of bread lightly.

  • Pile the cucumber onto one side of the bread, and then top with the other. Press together and trim away the crusts.

  • You should cover the cucumber sandwiches with a lightly dampened cloth until it is time to eat.

Lemon Cucumber Tea Sandwiches

Time: 5 minutes
Makes 4 small sandwiches

2 slices of very thinly sliced
brown bread
soft butter
cucumber
a squeeze of lemon
one large or 2 small
mint leaves
salt and black pepper


  • Rinse the cucumber. Peel if it is waxed.

  • Cut the cucumber fairly thinly.

  • Butter the two slices of bread lightly.

  • Pile the cucumber onto one side of the bread. Squeeze some lemon over the top and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

  • Finely shred the mint leaves and scatter over the cucumbers.

  • Top with the other slice of bread. Press together and trim away the crusts.

You should cover the cucumber sandwiches with a lightly dampened cloth until it is time to eat.

I think little cucumber sandwiches look best cut into either squares or triangles.

Sometimes we make a chequer board of tomato sandwiches on brown bread, and cucumber in white. The kids think it looks great that way, so for a children’s tea party, you could consider this.

When we had a taste comparison, we cut the cucumber sandwiches into different shapes and piled them high on different plates. It looked great.

More Sophisticated Ideas....

These pretty little open cucumber tea sandwiches are a more modern take on an afternoon tea sandwich. The bread is buckwheat (which is actually a seed, rather than a grain). Cut the bread quite thickly, or it will fall apart when you try to pick it up. This sandwich is made with cream cheese with a little pesto stirred in to it, topped with a slice of cucumber, a little sprinkle of salt and a sprinkle of dried dill.

They're very pretty - and very tasty.

You can experiment with many different flavours for tea sandwiches. For ideas about different flavours to explore with cucumber, I used one of my favourite cook books, the Flavour Bible. It gives different options for flavours to try with an enormous number of different ingredients. This is where I got the idea for using dill on top of the cucumbers... Buy your own copy here on Amazon!

Cucumber with peppermint

Served as an open sandwich in a fan, this combination was very refreshing. The peppermint was particularly lovely, but you can substitute with ordinary garden mint.

It's simple, but quite lovely served this way.

We garnished it with paprika for extra prettiness.

Cucumber with horseradish

Cucumber goes beautifully with creamy horseradish sauce. You only need a little though! We garnished with borage flowers for a very pretty look.

A 5 cm (2 inch) cutter is just the perfect size for a slice of cucumber. No borage? Put the horseradish on top instead.

Cucumber sandwich
Cucumber sandwiches

Cucumber with balsamic vinegar

We dipped the cucumber slices in balsamic vinegar and placed on bread and butter rounds. Simple, but utterly delicious.


Cucumber with preserved lemon

We made our own preserved lemons earlier this year, from one of my favourite cookbooks: Ottolenghi: The Cookbook. To serve, rinse off the salt, scrape away the insides and chop the peel into slices. They are utterly sublime.
Cucumber sandwiches
Cucumber sandwiches

Serve with

Cucumber sandwiches go well with Mint tea or Sencha Green Tea.

I love them on their own with just a cup of tea.

They also look fantastic as part of a full afternoon spread, especially when served on a tiered cake stand with meringues, chocolate cupcakes and strawberries.


If you enjoyed these Crunchy Cucumber Tea Sandwiches, you might love Tasty Tomato Sandwiches!