31 Delightful Recipes That Will Help You Host a Tiptop Tea Party
From petits fours to finger sandwiches, we’ve rounded up everything you need for a lovely afternoon tea.
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Dainty and Delicious Tea Party Ideas
As far as daytime food gatherings go, tea parties are by far our favorite. There are mini tea sandwiches to nibble on, bottomless cups of perfectly steeped tea, plus flaky, buttery bites and desserts as far as the eye can see. Most of the dishes ubiquitous to tea parties are smaller bite-size treats but make no mistake: they are just, if not more, satisfying. If you’re planning an afternoon tea, you’ll need a few essentials — including these party-perfect recipes. Each one deserves a spot on your table but quite frankly, it just wouldn’t be a tea party without at least one type of finger sandwich. That’s why we’re starting with these delicate bites. With fresh cucumber, radishes and herbs tucked into soft, brioche bread, they’re perfect as a standalone nibble or a palate cleanser in between different bites.
Get the Recipe: Cucumber Tea Sandwiches
Special Tea Party-Inspired Brew
Because you can’t have a tea party without tea! This special tea blend, infused with fresh herbs and spices, is a step-up from bagged sachets from the grocery store — but comes together as effortlessly as boiling water.
Get the Recipe: Special Tea Party-Inspired Brew
Cherry-Pistachio Tea Cakes
These tea cakes teeter-totter between fruity and toasty but best of all, they come together lickety-split in one bowl. If you only have salted pistachios on hand, dial back the added salt to about ⅛ teaspoon when pulsing it into a finely ground nut flour in the food processor. Keep the stems on the cherries! They make for an instant garnish.
Get the Recipe: Cherry-Pistachio Tea Cakes
These crostini (small rounds of toasted bread) are crowned with fresh ricotta, thin sliced asparagus, and have all the wholesome newness you want in a springtime tea party treat.
Get the Recipe: Asparagus Crostini
Glazed Almond Mini Cakes
Many pilgrimages to bakeries across Austria inspired Molly Yeh to dream up these pastel purple cakelets, scented with almonds rather than a rum soak as is traditional in petits fours. Eye candy, sweet and nutty to the tongue, they are the snackable pastry bound to stun at a tea party. Don’t expect to have leftovers.
Get the Recipe: Glazed Almond Mini Cakes
Fennel and Orange Scones
There’s many things to love about scones, but most of all is their flexibility. You can dial back on the sugar to make room for savory fillings or that sweet potential can be explored, especially if incorporated with orange zest and dotted with strawberry jam.
Get the Recipe: Fennel and Orange Scones
Orange Tea with Honey
Easily enhance the citrus flavor of the bergamot in your Earl Grey tea by adding orange blossom water and strips of fresh lemon and orange peel after you steep it.
Get the Recipe: Orange Tea with Honey
Lemon Drizzle Cake
Tender lemon cake is elevated by sweet lemon cream cheese glaze. By creaming together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, you not only promote leavening (i.e. help cakes rise up) but guarantee that the final baked treat will have a light texture with the smallest, delicate crumb.
Get the Recipe: Lemon Drizzle Cake
Mini Chocolate-Strawberry Cheesecakes
These perfect-for-one cheesecakes will remind you of chocolate-covered strawberries — with the added richness of sweetened cream cheese.
Get the Recipe: Mini Chocolate-Strawberry Cheesecakes
Truffled Deviled Eggs
Anne pulls out all the stops with her deviled eggs, adding chopped black truffle. It’s an expensive ingredient so feel free to skip it — the truffle oil will add enough flavor to make each bite special.
Get the Recipe: Truffled Deviled Eggs
Ham and Cheese Scone Sandwiches
Scone turned into a sandwich, or sandwich turned into a scone? Either way, these minis are the best of both worlds.
Get the Recipe: Ham and Cheese Scone Sandwiches
Half matcha green tea, half lemonade, fully delicious. A tea party might be the occasion that introduces you to matcha lemonade but there’s a high probability you’ll keep brewing it up to quench your thirst all throughout the summer.
Get the Recipe: Matcha Lemonade
Millionaire Shortbread Cookies
A shortbread from Elizabethan-era Scotland may look like a million bucks (or pound sterling) but the fact of the matter is, they’re the most ho-hum baked good to make. All you have to do is pulse cookie dough, dump, pour with caramel and chocolate, and bake. Naturally, it’s the best treat to have with your cup of tea.
Get the Recipe: Millionaire Shortbread Cookies
Don’t know if guests will want a savory or sweet flaky pastry? A batch of drop biscuits will let a topping of any flavor profile (from herby butter to fruit marmalade) shine when they spread it on top.
Get the Recipe: Drop Biscuits
Southern Tea Sandwiches
Kardea gives two different types of tea sandwiches a flavorful twist. She makes a homemade onion cream cheese to pair with smoked salmon and cucumber for one — and a bacon-studded egg salad for the other.
Get the Recipe: Southern Tea Sandwiches
Zucchini and Goat Cheese Pinwheels
This elegant, party-perfect bite could not be easier to make. Simply slice zucchini on a mandoline to create thin strips, top each with a homemade cream cheese spread and then roll!
Get the Recipe: Zucchini and Goat Cheese Pinwheels
Sheet Pan Petit Fours
Petit fours are special-occasion mini fancy cakes that can be eaten in one bite. Bakery shop versions can take hours to construct, but you can make these with our basic sheet pan cake! It is wide enough to punch out multiple rounds using a cookie cutter and thin enough for filling and stacking.
Get the Recipe: Sheet Pan Petit Fours
Smoked Trout Canapes with Creme-Fraiche and Herb Sauce
What’s lovely about a tea party is how you can customize the scale of the production to the number of guests you expect to serve. Serving a small party? Make less plates! It’s really that easy. By that logic and with the right recipes, the tea party format can easily be rejiggered into a spread that’s perfectly portioned for two. Anyone who ever said, ‘dates can’t be tea parties’ clearly never made canapes for two!
Get the Recipe: Smoked Trout Canapes with Creme-Fraiche and Herb Sauce for Two
Spring Pastel Eclairs
Pastels for spring? Yes please. We dress up eclairs with bright, colorful glazes that are tinted naturally with a variety of fruit juices.
Get the Recipe: Spring Pastel Eclairs
Pineapple Sweet Tea
Depending on what time of the year you’re throwing a tea party, you may want to serve a big pitcher of iced tea. And while nothing is burdensome about ice-ice, using pineapple-ice to chill black tea (or any variety for that matter) instantly teleports your senses to somewhere tropical.
Get the Recipe: Pineapple Sweet Tea
Russian Tea Cakes
Russian tea cakes are cookies masquerading as cake but we haven’t received a single complaint on the matter. Seemingly a baking project, it’s actually rather easy to tackle this recipe in steps, spread across a day or two before the anticipated tea party. For example, you can prep and chill the cookie dough tonight, mix them with nuts and shape into balls tomorrow. Then, on the morning of your big event, bake them off and roll in powdered sugar.
Get the Recipe: Russian Tea Cakes
Ham and Leek Mini Quiches
Paired with all the other fixings served at a tea party, a big slice of quiche can be a bit much. But bake the eggy filling in mini muffin tins and just like that, it becomes easier to digest. Don’t write off mini quiches merely as tea party fare: you’ll be thankful to have the leftovers for busy mornings on-the-go.
Get the Recipe: Ham and Leek Mini Quiches
Bird Bakery Award-Winning Carrot Cake Mini Cupcakes
Mini carrot cake cupcakes fit the mood of any occasion, but their showstopping appearance (thanks for the recipe and tips, Bird Bakery!) and simple elegance make them ideal for a tea party.
Get the Recipe: Bird Bakery Award-Winning Carrot Cake Mini Cupcakes
This soothing mint tea serves as the refreshing balm to your choice of scones, sandwiches, cakes and light bites. Enjoy hot or iced.
Get the Recipe: Mint Tea
Sausage rolls are as British of a pastry as you can get. Maybe the concept of baking flaky pastry sounds off the sirens but keep calm, because we’re using premade pastry dough here. For vegetarian sausage rolls, replace the ground pork with equal parts mashed cooked lentils, mashed tofu, or shredded jackfruit.
Get the Recipe: Sausage Rolls
Italian Sandwich Cookies
They do call for piping cookie dough but aside from that, making these sandwich cookies is basically a walk in the park. Once the cookies are piped and baked, you adhere two cookies together with jam; to finish, dunk in melted chocolate and coat in rainbow sprinkles.
Get the Recipe: Italian Sandwich Cookies
If you can dunk your shortbread in tea, then you absolutely can dip strawberries into melted chocolate! They’re a maximalist decadence with a teeny-tiny ingredient list: just grab your best chocolate and a pint of the juiciest, plump strawberries.
Get the Recipe: Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries
The perfect coconut macaroon has two things: a golden crispy exterior and a chewy caramelized middle. Whipping egg and egg white until they resemble a meringue consistency ensures the shell is crunchy and well-bound, while the flavors from coconut are drawn out by dark rum and vanilla extract.
Get the Recipe: Coconut Macaroons
A mug of chai is just the thing to warm your tummy on a cold winter’s night — but it also pairs wonderfully with tea cakes and scones for a wintery afternoon tea.
Get the Recipe: Chai
Jammy blueberries and zesty lemons are a classic flavor combo and it feels wrong to throw a tea party without a tower of fruity scones featuring the two (with whipped butter on the side for good measure, of course!).
Get the Recipe: Blueberry-Lemon Scones
Chai means tea and masala means spices, and masala chai is a heavenly concoction of tea cooked with milk and spices. It is the ultimate comfort drink for most Indians, who drink it all day long, summer and winter. Available in chai shops on every street corner, on every highway and at every railway station, it tastes best in an unglazed terracotta cup called a 'shikora' or 'kulhar' that can be crushed underfoot after drinking--huzzah! The earthy smell and taste of the red clay complements the chai and takes the experience to a whole new level. Masala chai can be made using a variety of spices, including fresh ginger, cardamom, black pepper, bay leaves, cinnamon and saffron (and loads of sugar of course).It’s wonderful on its own, but is also often enjoyed with sweet Parle-G biscuits or fried savory snacks such as samosas, pakoras and crunchy namkeen or murukku. A couple of rules for good chai: one, make it with black CTC tea (the cheap tea that looks like tiny black pellets) and never use expensive leaf tea, as it will turn bitter while cooking; and two, always use fresh ginger.
Get the Recipe: Masala Chai
Kahwa, which originates in Kashmir, is a supremely aromatic and delicate green tea flavored with spices, such as cardamom, saffron and cinnamon, and served with almonds. Traditionally, it is prepared in an ornate tea kettle called a samovar. Kashmir is known for its fragrant rose gardens, and some homes add dried rose petals to their kahwa, as I do in this recipe. This delectable tea is bound to fill up your senses and warm your soul.
Get the Recipe: Kashmiri Kahwa