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English Cucumber Sandwiches for a Crowd

With a couple tips and tricks, these lovely English cucumber tea sandwiches are easy to make for a large party of 50 to 75 people. Creamy herbed cream cheese filling layered with thin slices of English cucumber in pillowy soft bread. These elegant finger sandwiches are especially suited for a DIY bridal shower, wedding reception, or baby shower party. This is my first installment of a new series of finger sandwiches for a crowd!

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prepared English cucumber tea sandwiches stacked on a serving plate

Why this recipe works

Cater a wedding they said. It’ll be fun they said… And it was fun. The bride wanted a tea party luncheon for her reception, which sounded easy enough on the face of it. How hard could eight different dishes, including four finger sandwiches, be for 80 people?

Well, to be honest, it was quite the challenge since I pulled it off by myself. I cook dinners for 50-80 people regularly, but finger foods are challenging because, well… they are finger foods. They are individual. They aren’t like my Lazy Lasagna where I can just multiply, scale it up, and Knock It Out.

table with red tablecloth with multiple large platters of food; inset photo shows close view of stack of sandwiches

But that said, I learned a TON in this experience and am so glad I did it. So to my point, this recipe works because these loverly sandwiches are EASY to make and, therefore, easy to scale up for a party.

The herbed cream cheese filling can be made a day in advance, and the English cucumber can be sliced a day in advance to help with prep the day of serving. Also, by layering the cucumber between the cream cheese on both slices of bread, the bread won’t get soggy.

Lovely bright flavors of herbs and lemon highlight these delectable sandwiches for your reception or shower, no matter the occasion.

hand holding a cucumber sandwich

About the ingredients

For the cream cheese filling

  • Chive and onion cream cheese. By using chive and onion cream cheese (NOT whipped cream cheese), we are packing in more flavor from the get-go.
    TIP: make sure you look at the ounces on the tub packaging. Last I bought this, Publix brand was 8 ounces but Philadelphia brand has scaled down to 7.5 ounces (and cost more, grrr…). For 1 batch the difference in negligible, but when scaling up, this 1/2 ounce difference will add up. So if using the 7.5oz container for 2 or more batches, add an ounce of plain cream cheese as you go to compensate. Don’t worry about being exact – this is a forgiving recipe! You won’t mess it up, promise.
  • Mayonnaise. Use quality mayonnaise like Duke’s.
  • Dill. Fresh dill is preferable, but I listed dried dill first because my stores seem to never carry fresh dill anymore. At least dill is one of those herbs that dried is nearly as good as fresh, so just use what you can get and don’t overthink it.
  • Chives. Chives do to be fresh, and if fresh chives are not available opt for fresh green onion. If neither are available, the third option is dried minced onion. Another option is finely diced yellow or white (not sweet or Vidalia) onion – but diced onion, especially finely diced, is a pain when cooking large scale, so I consider this a last resort. You DO want the subtle hit of onion flavor to cut through the rich cream cheese, so don’t omit.
  • Lemon. Like the oniony chives, the subtle bite of lemon cuts the heavy cream cheese. Use fresh lemon juice and grate in a bit of lemon zest as well.
  • Seasonings: garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Easy enough.

For the sandwiches

  • English cucumber. One long English cucumber gives just the right number of slices for 9 full (18 halved) tea sandwiches using up 1 loaf of bread (i.e. 1 batch). Also, English cucumbers don’t have seeds and have thin skins – no peeling or seeding required. Just slice and go.
    English cucumber can be sliced a day in advance as well. Store overnight, covered, layered with paper towels to absorb the water that will be released.
  • White bread. Classic cucumber tea sandwiches use white bread and I stick with that. The light, bright flavors of the filling sing best in mild white bread. Just use regular, plain white sandwich bread.
cream cheese filling ingredients combined in metal mixing bowl with rubber spatula

How to make English cucumber sandwiches

This isn’t rocket science – we are just spreading a cream cheese mixture with herbs and seasonings on bread, layering cucumber, then making sandwiches. Check out the recipe card below for all the deets, but here are a couple crucial tips to ensure tea sandwich success.

Though not necessary, the cream cheese filling can be made a day in advance. Just be sure to plan in time for it to come to room temperature so that it spreads easily on the bread. Then also allow time for the sandwiches to chill once made until serving. To make the filling, simply combine the ingredients in a large bowl using a hand mixer or wooden spoon. A stand mixer with paddle attachment also works well.

The hardest step to this recipe is slicing the cucumber. If you have a mandolin – use it. Carefully, of course as the mandolin is hands down the most dangerous of all kitchen tools. Otherwise, use your sharpest knife. The cucumber can be sliced a day in advance, which I recommend especially if slicing with a knife. Store layered with paper towels to absorb released water.

I spread the cream cheese mixture on both slices of bread so the cucumber ends up between those layers. This helps keep the sandwiches from falling apart and protects the bread from moisture released from the cucumber.

Wait until after the sandwiches are made to cut off the crusts. The crusts help keep the bread sturdy, especially while spreading the filling. I put one assembled sandwich on another, then using my best bread knife, cut off the crusts. This way, this step goes faster.

6 slices bread on board, all topped with cream cheese layer. Three slices also have cucumber layer.

How to store cucumber tea sandwiches

Store assembled sandwiches piled on a large plate or platter wrapped in plastic wrap. Layer a paper towel on top if excess moisture starts to accumulate.

How many sandwiches serve a crowd?

This right here is always the big question, isn’t it? Just how much food do you need to make. I cover this in my 12 Essential Tips to Cook for a Crowd in more detail, but specifically for these sandwiches if depends on 1) who you are serving and 2) what else you are serving.

Note that by sandwich, I mean little sandwich halves. So, 1 loaf of Sarah Lee white bread (for example) gives 18 slices bread, which yields 18 little sandwiches, which is 9 to 12 servings.

  • If serving an older crowd (like I often do when cooking at church), plan 1.5 sandwiches per person.
  • If serving a younger crowd, such as for a bridal or baby shower, plan 2 sandwiches per person.
  • If serving these sandwiches as a main dish, plan 2 sandwiches per person.
  • If serving as one of a number of options, like a buffet, plan 1.5 sandwiches per person.

Want to change up this recipe?

This recipe makes a lovely, classic tea sandwich but that doesn’t mean you can’t change this sammie up and make it your own.

  • Add more lemon zest and capers for more zing.
  • Add some diced, pickled jalapeno for even more zing. Just be sure to let people know, especially elderly and children.
  • Add more assertive herbs like fresh oregano and basil. You can add fresh minced garlic too, just go easy since raw garlic can overpower literally anything in its path.
  • Black olives are magical in cream cheese with green onion, as a general statement. So opt for green onion in place of chives, add some chopped black olives and you would have yourself a delicious savory sammie.

FAQs

Can cucumber tea sandwiches be made a day in advance?

I do not recommend making these sandwiches to completion a day in advance. With all the moisture from the filling and cucumber, white bread can get gummy. The cucumber can be sliced and the cream cheese filling made a day in advance but assemble these sandwiches the day of serving for optimal results.

Can regular cream cheese be substituted for chive and onion cream cheese?

Yes. If using regular, plain cream cheese simply proceed with the rest of the recipe as written. No alterations are necessary.

prepared English cucumber tea sandwiches stacked on a serving plate

If you really want to wow your party, check out my Macaroni and Cheese for a Crowd and make luscious cheesy mac for so many people.

prepared English cucumber tea sandwiches stacked on a serving plate

English Cucumber Tea Sandwiches for a Crowd

With a couple tips and tricks, these lovely English cucumber tea sandwiches are easy to make for a large party of 50 to 75 people or more. Creamy herbed cream cheese filling layered with thin slices of English cucumber in pillowy soft bread. These elegant finger sandwiches are especially suited for a DIY bridal shower, wedding reception, or baby shower party.
5 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: British
Keyword: English cucumber sandwiches, finger sandwiches, tea sandwiches
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Calories: 179kcal
Author: Erica
Servings: 12

Ingredients

For the cream cheese filling

For the sandwiches

  • 1 English cucumber thinly sliced
  • 18 slices white sandwich bread 1 loaf

Instructions

Make the cream cheese filling

  • In a large bowl, combine the ingredients for the cream cheese filling. A hand mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment are the easiest options for mixing.

Assemble the sandwiches

  • Working in batches, spread out 6 slices of bread on a clean surface. Spread ~1 tablespoon cream cheese filling on each slice of bread.
  • On 3 slices bread, layer 3 slices of English cucumber on the left half and 3 slices on the right half of bread. In other words, layer 6 slices cucumber on each of 3 slices of bread. See photos above to clarify.
  • Take the 3 slices of bread without cucumber and place, cream cheese side down, onto the cucumber layers to make the sandwich.
  • Slice off the crusts using a serrated bread knife. Slice each sandwich in half.
  • Store layered on large plates or platters wrapped with plastic wrap in the refrigerator until serving.

Notes

The cream cheese filling can be made and the cucumber sliced a day in advance. I do not recommend assembling the sandwiches a day in advance because the white bread can get gummy.
The serving size of 12 allows 1.5 individual (cut) sandwiches per person, which is the starting point I use. Then see the body of this blog post above for tips on how to adjust how many sandwiches (i.e. 1.5 vs 2 per person) to make.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5small sandwiches | Calories: 179kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 16mg | Sodium: 187mg | Potassium: 28mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g

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2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Great recipe. I’m learning by trial and error how to properly cut the crusts off…found putting assembled sandwich in freezer for 10-15 minutes and then cutting crusts off kept cucumbers from sliding…and I need to buy a sharper knife.

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