Lovely Afternoon Tea Recipes

Lovely Afternoon Tea Recipes

British scone recipe

The Spruce

Afternoon tea is a much-lauded culinary tradition born in 19th century Britain when Anna Russell, the Duchess of Bedford, ordered tea and light fare to her room between lunch and a late dinner. Although it’s often referred to as high tea, it is not. High tea was born from the industrial era, when workers would clock-off and gobble-up heartier meals, like shepherd’s pie. Rather, afternoon tea is the sort of affair we associate with tiered stands, neatly packed with delicate finger-foods. The tea that is offered is usually a strong brew of Earl Grey or Assam, though milk and sugar still accompany each serving. This article provides you both traditional and unconventional recipes, so you can enjoy afternoon tea just how you’d please.

  • 01 of 17

    Watercress Egg Salad Sandwich

    Watercress Egg Salad Tea Sandwiches Recipe

     The Spruce

    Afternoon tea sandwiches are traditionally served, sans crust and these winsome watercress egg salad sandwiches fall right in-line with this custom. If you don't have watercress on-hand, feel free to use horseradish instead.

  • 02 of 17

    Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Finger Sandwich

    Salmon tea sandwich


    istetiana/Getty Images

    The smoked salmon that embroiders these delicate sandwiches makes for a satisfying and sophisticated afternoon teatime, indeed. This recipe calls for cream cheese, though a soft chèvre or Neufchâtel would also be delicious.

  • 03 of 17

    Classic British Scones

    British scone recipe

    The Spruce

    Whether you pronounce it as “scone” or “scon”, this pastry is an afternoon teatime standard, served alongside clotted cream and jam. This recipe makes for a delicious base to build from, just be sure not to over-work the dough for best results. 

  • 04 of 17

    Scotch Eggs

    Scotch Egg Recipe. Neil Langan - Getty Images

    Scotch eggs don a crispy coat of sausage and breadcrumbs and although they’re neat to eat, they’re traditionally deep-fried. That’s why this recipe takes a lighter spin on the original, oven-baking them instead. Maybe you’d also prefer to soft-boil your eggs or use a shake of mustard powder instead of mace—you’re welcome to do that too. 

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  • 05 of 17

    Bakewell Tart

    Traditional Bakewell Tart

    The Spruce

    This Bakewell tart uses citrus zest, jam, and almonds so it’s balanced enough to be paired with herbal and black teas, alike. Many recipes call for frangipane, a fragrant almond-based cream, so feel free to tinker with this recipe, accordingly. 

  • 06 of 17

    Cheese and Onion Flan

    Colcannon recipe

     The Spruce

    Yes, folks, it’s a flan, not a quiche and in a double plot-twist this one’s savory, not sweet. That said it’s still tender in texture and flavor, so it fits right in on the afternoon teatime spread. Welcome additions include minced chives and a shred of Gruyère

  • 07 of 17

    Yorkshire Curd Tart

    Yorkshire Curd Tart. Elaine Lemm

    Yorkshire curd tart warms us from the inside-out, thanks to its gooey, pudding-like texture. This recipe calls for rennet, but if you’d like a vegetarian version, there are several options to choose from. 

  • 08 of 17

    Victoria Sponge Cake

    Victoria sponge cake

    The Spruce

    Victoria sponge cake is as light and airy as the skirts that were in fashion during this era. This recipe sets its layers with whipped cream and strawberry jam, though you’d be equally well-off using peach preserves or rhubarb jam.

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  • 09 of 17

    Custard Pie

    Classic custard pie recipe

    The Spruce Eats/Teena Agnel

    British sarcasm aside, this custard pie is delicious. It’s simple and silken so you won’t overdo it when planning your teatime menu (though if you drizzled some vanilla sauce over top, no one would be the wiser).

  • 10 of 17

    Pork Rillettes

    Classic French pork rillettes recipe

    ​The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

    Pork rillettes spread like a pâté but because they're made from muscle meat and not liver, they may appeal to a broader range of palettes. This isn’t traditionally served with afternoon tea, but it’s unstoppably delicious, nonetheless.

  • 11 of 17

    Thumbprint Cookies

    Thumbprint cookies
    Westend61/Getty Images

    Although afternoon tea may look like a fuss, it doesn’t have to be. Enter thumbprint cookies, sporting jam-y dimples so charming, you’ll forget all about the crumbs on your shirt. You can simplify the recipe even further and forgo the chopped nuts if you'd like.

  • 12 of 17

    Corned Beef Egg Rolls

    Corned Beef Egg Rolls
    Jörn Rynio/StockFood Creative/Getty Images

    Goodness are these egg rolls tasty. Corned beef is a UK classic, and although its name would imply that it contains corn, it’s actually an Old English term that refers to the coarse salt used in its curing process.

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  • 13 of 17

    Traditional British Fruit Cake

    Traditional British Fruit Cake

    The Spruce

    Thanks to its tea-soaked fruit and dash of brandy, this cake is rich in tannins and flavor. It’s just as fitting with afternoon tea as it is with a simple smear of marmalade or scoop of vanilla ice cream.

  • 14 of 17

    Mini Cheesecakes with Vanilla Wafer Crusts

    Mini cheesecake


    Hussey, Clinton / Getty Images

    Mini cheesecakes are so delicate they look like they were made with great care, though they come together in only 5 steps. If you'd like to add some panache, pat a fresh berry or mint leaf on top of each serving.

  • 15 of 17

    Mushroom Strudel

    Mushroom strudel

    cobraphoto / Getty Images 

    This mushroom strudel can be simple or sophisticated, depending on the variety of mushrooms you choose. We love this recipe because it’s vegetarian-friendly and can be made into bite-sized portions, simply by cutting the pastry dough into smaller sections. 

  • 16 of 17

    Candied Citrus Peels

    citrus peel candy
    Elizabeth LaBau

    If edible confetti sounds good to you, scatter your platter with these candied citrus peels. They’re a great excuse to use the whole fruit, as well as to make a round of gin cocktails.

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  • 17 of 17

    Eccles Cakes

    Eccles Cake Recipe

    Eccles cakes are (almost) too adorable to eat. They’re a fine pastry parcel, stuffed with currants and a non-negligible amount of butter. Though if you’re feeling cheeky, you could drop in a bit of triple cream brie to the mix, as well.