If you want to know what is served at afternoon tea in England, check out our homemade afternoon tea recipes to create the perfect English high tea party. Start with savoury afternoon tea recipes including finger sandwiches, delicate shrimp and salmon open sandwiches and posh scotch quail’s eggs. After a sophisticated palate cleanser, make a batch of scones to serve with clotted cream, jam and lemon curd (or why not serve crumpets instead).
A cake stand filled with pastries, biscuits and sweet afternoon tea treats can be prepared ahead and brought to the table in an impressive way. Finally, we suggest serving a slice of cake for your afternoon tea guests to finish with or take home with them.
To learn about how to serve afternoon tea from the best (for example how The Ritz’ afternoon tea is assembled), visit one of the best afternoon teas in London to pick up tips.
Afternoon tea ideas
Savoury afternoon tea recipes
Finger sandwiches usually form the first round of afternoon tea. We have included some recipes for open sandwiches, scotch eggs, muffins, tea cakes and more to serve along with your classic finger sandwiches.
This simple prawn open sandwich is courtesy of executive chef Henrik Ritzén at Nordic restaurant Aquavit, London. If you can’t get fresh horseradish, use 1 tbsp of horseradish sauce instead.
There’s something really comforting about teacakes and this recipe for Earl grey versions takes them to the next level. Smother them in butter and add a little lemon curd to bring out the flavour. You can shape the teacakes on a baking sheet, but using a traditional Yorkshire pudding tin gives the teacakes a classic flat-bottomed look.
Smoked salmon sandwiches are an afternoon tea classic. Try our open avocado on toast with smoked salmon and a tomato dressing for a little twist for your high tea. More avocado on toast ideas here.
A plate of neatly–cut finger sandwiches filled with creamy coronation chicken will never go amiss at afternoon tea.
Make your afternoon tea super posh with this recipe. Our crab scotch quail’s eggs with mustard mayo are dainty savoury afternoon tea snacks. They’re easy to make but look impressive.
If muffins with muffin tops are what you are after, don’t use paper cases, just butter the muffin holes. These work perfectly well without the saffron if you don’t have any – you could add a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg instead if you like.
An afternoon tea palate cleanser idea
If you want to copy some of the most sophisticated hotels that serve afternoon tea, this is an easy way to add something special. Our boozy granita makes a great palate cleanser to serve between your sweet and savoury rounds of afternoon tea.
Scones are often considered as the most important element of afternoon tea, as they are simple to make but a real tell tale of the quality of the tea. We have plenty of scones recipes here, but included a classic scone and some savoury cheesy scones below to try. Serve your scones with plenty of clotted cream and a range of jams. We also have a recipe for homemade lemon curd to make your tea extra special.
Making your own scones is so easy with this quick and simple recipe. Make a batch for your afternoon tea spread, jam first or cream is up to you.
Fancy an exciting twist on a classic? Try our poppy seed scones for a wonderful crunchy texture, and make sure you serve with heaps of clotted cream and lemon curd.
Stud your scones dough with glacé cherries for easy afternoon tea bakes that the whole family will love.
Split a crumbly, lemon-infused shortcake in two, sandwich together with cream, strawberries and jam. The British take on the American classic!
You can’t have afternoon tea without scones – they are quite rightly the heroes of the occasion. This version is a little different though. We use American-style buttermilk shortcake which is a cousin of the scone and the filling is a simple blueberry compote and mascarpone cream.
Whip up a batch of these nutty savoury scones for an easy weekend afternoon treat to serve friends and family.
A great bake for beginners and speedy afternoon tea treat, rock cakes are a bit like scones – just more rustic-looking, and sprinkled with demerara sugar
Check out this quick and easy boozy jam recipe with juicy strawberries and Pimm’s for a summery addition to your afternoon tea spread.
Making your own lemon curd to spread on your scones is easier than you think with this recipe and give you a really fresh, zesty curd.
American shortcakes are more like scones than biscuits. Usually filled with strawberries and cream these pink rhubarb ones are a great British twist to serve at high tea. Try our rhubarb recipes for more British sweet treats.
Our freezable cheese scones take just 30 minutes to bake and make a great emergency snack that cooks straight from frozen. The toasted walnuts give them a little extra crunch.
Want to serve an interesting tea with your scones? Try this recipe…
Turmeric is said to have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties and has been used as a culinary medicine in India for centuries. This chai tea is really simple to make and perfect if you have any leftover turmeric.
Patisserie and sweet afternoon tea treats
Serve your sweet afternoon tea treats on a cake stand to create an impressive spread to carry to the table. You can assemble the pastries, biscuits and cakes ahead and bring out the afternoon tea stand after a couple of rounds of scones. If you want to spruce up your pastry skills, here are our best patisserie recipes to try.
Bite-sized coconut macaroons make the perfect addition to your afternoon tea, best served with a hot pot of tea.
These buttery, melt-in-the-mouth biscuits are a tea-time blast from the past – ideal for a classic-style afternoon tea.
Sandwich crisp puff pastry circles together with homemade hazelnut ganache, then top with sweetened Frangelico whipped cream, crushed hazelnuts and a drizzle of warm Nutella for a decadent dessert.
Follow these simple steps to get a beautiful, classic jam and cream sponge sandwich that is lighter than air – perfect to go with your afternoon tea.
Give the English madeleine a festive spin by infusing with the flavours of a classic snowball cocktail.
These pretty buns a more refined version of that cake shop staple, topped with a zesty blood orange icing and pretty edible flowers. Popular at Easter, you’re sure to impress family and friends with these beautiful buns.
Afternoon tea has a reputation for fussiness and recipes that need a lot of patience to make. These mini loaves are incredibly easy to make but still look elegant enough for the fanciest tea.
Simple citrus flavour combinations makes this swiss roll really light and refreshing. An airy lemon sponge is layered with tart marmalade and a rich vanilla and orange cream.
Take your éclairs to the next level with step-by-step help from the olive test kitchen. Craquelin is similar to a crumble mix, and when baked on top of the choux buns, gives a crackly, crisp top, typical in classic patisserie.
We’ve taken a classic flavour combination and given it a modern twist with this recipe for rhubarb and custard slices.
The combination of coffee and walnut is a classic but the addition of chocolate adds another layer of flavour to this beautiful cake, ready in just one hour.
Our cherry bakewell tart is an exceedingly good tart – serve with a cup of builder’s tea for a proper English teatime treat. Try our favourite sweet tart recipes here.
They’re a bit of a labour of love, but macarons aren’t that difficult to make and everybody will think you are a genius. The powdered egg white gives you a crisp light finish and the raspberry and white chocolate flavours make them the perfect afternoon tea treat. Or try our Nutella macarons for something a bit more chocolatey.
Check out this easy twist on the classic British bakewell tart. Pistachios add a vivid green colour and richness to the traditional almond filling. Chilling the tart before baking helps set the shape so don’t skip that step.
Our simple lemon and blueberry bars are seriously moorish, gooey on the inside and crunchy on the out, the ideal summertime afternoon tea treat.
Our light and airy strawberry éclairs are a fantastic summery twist on the classic chocolate. They’re a little effort, but look stunning – they’ll be a hit with adults and kids alike. You can get strawberries all year round now, but they’re at their best from June until August, so make the most of them.
Our favourite delicate afternoon tea recipe. Bite-sized rosewater cream buns, designed to impress. A new way to use choux pastry, these crumble-topped treats are a doddle once you’ve mastered the choux.
These easy pinwheel biscuits are made with cocoa and pistachio, these nutty treats are quick to bake and will add a pretty touch to tea time. Make plenty – they won’t last for long when the rest of the family spots them. Make one of our favourite biscuits recipes here to add to your afternoon tea spread.
Lamingtons, originally from Australia, make a delicious high tea treat. Mini cakes, decorated in cherry jam and desiccated coconut, topped with a fresh cherry.
These apricot and pistachio sticky buns are hard to resist. They’re perfect with a cup of tea or as part of an afternoon tea spread.
Afternoon tea cakes
When you go to a proper afternoon tea at somewhere like The Ritz or The Savoy, you have a final sweet course on top of the pastry stand. Some afternoon tea connoisseurs bring out a cake trolley and cut a slice for you at the table, while others have a choice of one or two cakes to enjoy as a final treat before you go home. Our British cake recipes are ideal to serve at your afternoon tea.
A classic, simple Victoria sponge is one of the recipes that you should have in your repertoire. This traditional sponge cake uses an all in one method making it super quick, easy and the perfect party cake. Once you master this, afternoon tea will no longer be daunting, and making variations will be easy.
Check out this easy traybake recipe with sweet and juicy raspberries and creamy custard, a perfect teatime treat. Long-life custard is a bit more stable and usually thicker than fresh, so it’s good for baking into cakes.
Love the zingy flavour and creamy texture of lemon curd? Us too. It’s even better in a cake, when you can use lemon curd as one of the key components in a really indulgent icing recipe. We’ve used a whole jar of lemon curd for this recipe, but you can always reduce that amount if you haven’t much of a sweet tooth. Find our lemon curd recipe above. Check out our other show-stopping cake recipes here.
A lovely light pistachio cake with strawberry icing that’s worth the extra effort. When strawberries smell good, they should be at optimum ripeness and have flavour – perfect for this cake.
An easy-to-make springy sponge cake layered with the tangy, fresh-tasting sweetness of a passion fruit icing.
Check out our easy tea loaf with juicy dates and fiery ginger. This moreish cake recipe is easy to make and packed with plenty of flavour – perfect with an afternoon cuppa.
Classic coffee cake is one of our all-time favourite afternoon treats. In this recipe, we’ve given it a modern twist to include deliciously crunchy pecan brittle.