20 Recipes That Are Perfect for an Elegant Afternoon Tea Party

We included plenty of teatime favorites, like scones, macarons, and tea sandwiches, on this sophisticated list.


An elegant social event, the tradition of afternoon tea dates back to the 1840s in Britain. It's associated with Anna, the Duchess of Bedford, who is said to have wanted to fill the long period of time between lunch and dinner with small bites and cups of tea. Over time, the tea party became a parade of pageantry, where hosts showed off their exquisite taste in the form of pricey teas and dainty finger foods.

You don't need to be a duchess to have afternoon tea, though. Grand hotels offer it—so do some restaurants and cafés—but we think it's best enjoyed in the comfort of your own home. In addition to serving a selection of teas, a variety of small foods—both savory and sweet—are essential. From macarons and scones to tea sandwiches and shortbread, the recipes in our collection will give you some ideas for what to serve at your next tea party.

01 of 20

Lemon-Curd Phyllo Tartlets

Lemon-Curd Phyllo Tartlets
Paola + Murray

Sure to be the star of your tea party, these easy tartlets come together in just 20 minutes thanks to store-bought phyllo shells. The shells are filled with a brightly colored, silky smooth homemade lemon curd. We like to garnish them with blueberries and mint leaves for an added dose of fresh flavor.

02 of 20

Herb-Cheddar Scones

herb cheddar scones
Yuki Sugiura

Scones don't have to be sweet; these all-around favorites are flavored with fresh dill, scallions, and cheddar cheese. Serve with a bold tea that can stand up to the bold, savory flavors such as an afternoon blend black tea or a Ceylon tea.

03 of 20

Ham-and-Cheese Flatbread

alsatian flatbread topped with flat-leaf parsley
Gieves Anderson

Make this tasty take on a savory tart for your next tea party. Using store-bought flatbreads rather than making pastry saves prep time but still results in an irresistible finger food.

04 of 20

Rhubarb-Buckwheat Scones

rhubarb buckwheat scone
Con Poulos

Rhubarb justly has a reputation for being tart. Here, its flavor is balanced out by the delicious homemade strawberry butter that's served with these scones. They are best served day-of, so make them in the morning of your tea party (and maybe enjoy one for breakfast, too!).

05 of 20

Rose Raspberry Macarons

Linda Pugliese

Meringue gets its pastel hue from pink food coloring and its floral bite from a drizzle of rose water. The filling is further flavored with crushed almonds, which impart a subtle nuttiness. Once the cookies are ready, fill them with raspberry jam to complete the pretty in pink dessert.

06 of 20

Whole-Wheat and-Sesame Crackers

David Malosh

Make the dough for these crackers days (or weeks) ahead of time. Leave some plain for easy snacking, and top others with fig jam, ricotta cheese, and honey, or thin slices of your favorite cheddar cheese.

07 of 20

Roasted-Spring-Onion and Goat-Cheese Eggs

roasted spring onion and goat cheese eggs
Anson Smart

This gorgeous egg-shaped appetizer is made by mixing cream cheese and goat cheese with caramelized onions and chives. Before serving, garnish with a colorful blend of crushed pink peppercorns, fresh chives, and chive blossoms.

08 of 20

Vegan Cucumber Tea Sandwiches

cucumber tea sandwich
Bryan Gardner

Dairy-free cream cheese is flavored with chives, parsley, and tarragon then spread onto your choice of white or pumpernickel bread (or serve both!). Layer a few slices of cucumber onto each tea sandwich for the perfect crunch.

09 of 20

Saffron Shortbread

saffron shortbread
Gentl and Hyers

Saffron has earthy, floral notes that deepen the flavor of this buttery shortbread. The spice is infused in water and brushed on top of the snack, which—along with a sprinkle of sugar—creates a crackled appearance.

10 of 20

Scandinavian Shrimp-and-Cucumber Sandwich

scandinavian shrimp and cucumber sandwich
Ren Fuller

Poached shrimp, cucumbers, and hard-boiled eggs are served on hearty pumpernickel bread for a Scandi take on afternoon tea. Halve or quarter the sandwiches to make them easier to share.

11 of 20

Orange Madeleines

orange madeleines

Madeleines are a quintessential tea time treat. Orange zest and orange flower water are sunny aromatics that flavor these beloved French cookies. Did someone say seconds? Mais oui!

12 of 20

Buckwheat Blini

Buckwheat Blini
Gentl and Hyers

These sophisticated little buckwheat pancakes are topped with a dollop of crème fraîche and caviar.

13 of 20

Curried-Egg Butter Tea Sandwiches

curried egg and butter tea sandwiches
Raymond Hom

This is no ordinary egg salad. Hard-boiled eggs get a blast of warm flavor and heat from a mixture of curry powder, chopped jalapeños, and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro. Who could say no to that?

14 of 20

Oat-and-Spelt Shortbread

oatmeal spelt shortbread
Sidney Bensimon

These delicate shortbread cookies get a bit of nuttiness from spelt flour and rolled oats. Once dipped in bittersweet chocolate, they become an elegant sweet treat that's easy to pair with black tea.

15 of 20

Savory Cottage Cheese Tartines

sweet and savory tartines

Using crackers instead of bread for tartine makes the dish lighter and a smart snack for tea time. Top the cottage cheese-smeared crisps with a variety of sweet and savory toppings using seasonal produce—there's something here for everyone.

16 of 20

Egg-and-Caviar Dip

Marcus Nilsson

Here's a high-class dip for teatime: the stunning translucent color of trout roe in this egg-and-caviar dip is eye-catching (and the flavor has a big-time pop). Serve with crackers for easy snacking.

17 of 20

Mini Chocolate Cakes with Dark-Chocolate Ganache

John Kernick

Chocolate for afternoon tea? Yes, please! Chocolate cake batter is baked into mini cupcakes, then topped with a luscious ganache and chocolate curls. Use good quality bittersweet chocolate for an ultra-rich bite.

18 of 20

Lemon-Date Bars

Marcus Nilsson

A simply irresistible bar cookie that tastes like sweet sunshine and will have your guests clamoring for the recipe.

19 of 20

Apricot-and-Cream Cheese Squares

apricot and cream cheese squares
Yuki Sugiura

Canned apricot halves in syrup boost the bright summery color and sweet flavor for this riff on cheese Danish. Plus, it skips the intricate layered dough for a simple focaccia, so prep work is a breeze.

20 of 20

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

Cute yet elegant—that's this two-in-one dessert that pairs oh so well with a cup of tea. Classic vanilla cupcakes are filled with a chunky strawberry jam and topped with fresh strawberry slices and whipped cream.

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