Spicy Cucumber Tea Sandwiches Recipe

When you think of food that's zesty, bold, and full of flavor, tea sandwiches aren't necessarily at the top of the list. Dainty, bite-sized, and crustless, they're typically served as part of English tea, and one of the most well-known and traditional tea sandwich fillings is sliced cucumber a butter or cream cheese. Now, that classic is getting a zesty, spice-filled makeover thanks to recipe developer Katie Rosenhouse.

"I love serving tea sandwiches when guests come over at the last minute — they're so quick to throw together and always a hit!" says Rosenhouse. "This spicy twist gives the classic cucumber sandwich a modern upgrade. The cilantro, chili, and lime is an unexpected contrast to the mild cream cheese and crisp, fresh cucumber." Tea sandwiches are typically served during daytime affairs, and they're usually not the only thing on the table. If you're looking for ideas, Rosenhouse has you covered: "Serve these tea sandwiches with tea, coffee, mimosas, or any desired drinks," she says. "They also pair well with other afternoon treats, such as scones, tea cookies, or fresh fruit."

Gather your ingredients for spicy cucumber tea sandwiches

In addition to your preferred brand of sliced white bread, cucumbers are, of course, integral to this recipe. "English cucumbers contain less seeds, which makes them great to use for tea sandwiches. You can substitute in traditional cucumbers, just remove some of the seeds before slicing to keep the sandwiches from becoming soggy," Rosenhouse says. You'll also need cream cheese, Calabrian chilis from a jar, mayo, lime juice and zest, salt, and cilantro.

Step 1: Prep a sheet pan

Line a standard baking sheet with paper towels; set aside.

Step 2: Start slicing the cucumber

Cut one end off of the cucumber.

Step 3: Cut the cucumber

Use a mandoline or chef's knife to slice the cucumber into thin, ⅛-inch slices.

Step 4: Layer the cucumber in the sheet pan

Spread the cucumber slices out on the lined baking sheet.

Step 5: Salt your slices

Sprinkle evenly with salt and set aside for 10–15 minutes.

Step 6: Do some more chopping

Finely chop the cilantro and chilis; set aside.

Step 7: Get out the cream cheese

Place the cream cheese in a medium bowl.

Step 8: Add another creamy element

Add mayonnaise and stir until smooth.

Step 9: Mix in the bold flavors

Add cilantro, chili peppers, lime zest, and lime juice. Stir until smooth.

Step 10: Tend to your cucumber slices

Press another layer of paper towels over the sliced cucumbers to soak up any excess liquid, then remove.

Step 11: Prep the bread

Lay the slices of bread out on a cutting board.

Step 12: Begin assembling the tea sandwiches

Top each slice with the cream cheese mixture. Spread to coat.

Step 13: Add the cucumbers

Shingle cucumber slices over 4 of the coated bread slices.

Step 14: Close the sandwich

Top with remaining bread and press lightly to adhere.

Step 15: Customize and serve your spicy cucumber tea sandwiches

Trim off crusts, if desired. Serve whole or slice sandwiches into thirds for tea sandwiches.

Can you use a different type of chili in these spicy cucumber tea sandwiches, and what can you do with leftover Calabrian chilis?

Maybe you want to make this recipe one day and it seems like you have every ingredient on the list — everything except Calabrian chilis, that is. You'd be forgiven for that since they're not exactly common in everyone's pantry. If you do pick some up, there'll be plenty of other ways to use this flavorful Italian pepper. Calabrian chilis are great in pizza sauce, as well as all types of pasta. Chop some up and toss them into salad dressing, or make a zesty relish for a homemade Italian sandwich. 

If you don't want to make the extra trip to the store, that's ok too. "Any type of chili peppers would be a welcome addition to this sandwich," Rosenhouse says. "Fresh jalapeños or spicier varieties like habaneros could be minced up and used fresh, or grab canned pepper varieties. Or, even cayenne, chili powder, or crushed red pepper."

Can you make these spicy cucumber tea sandwiches plant-based?

Considering that the main components are bread, cucumbers, and cream cheese, this recipe is automatically vegetarian. However, due to the dairy in the cream cheese and the eggs in the mayo, it's certainly not vegan. However, that doesn't mean you're out of luck if you avoid animal products or if you're making these spicy cucumber sandwiches for your plant-based friends. "You can absolutely use plant-based cream cheese and mayo for this recipe. Swap in an equal quantity and adjust the seasonings as needed, to taste," Rosenhouse says. 

These days, there are all sorts of vegan cream cheese varieties out there. Some, like the more old-school Tofutti, are made from a soy base, while newer options use ingredients like coconut and cashews to create a smooth, tangy, creamy spread. Vegan mayo is equally plentiful nowadays — plus, it has less cholesterol and saturated fat than regular mayonnaise., and some non-vegans have actually found it to taste better than non-vegan mayo.

Spicy Cucumber Tea Sandwiches Recipe
5 from 21 ratings
Spice up your tea time -- literally -- with these Calabrian chili–infused cucumber tea sandwiches, which balance sweet freshness with their titular heat.
Prep Time
35
minutes
Cook Time
0
minutes
Servings
4
servings
spicy cucumber sandwiches on plate
Total time: 35 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 English cucumber
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 6 jarred Calabrian chili peppers (or preferred chili variety)
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • Zest and juice of ½ lime
  • 8 slices white bread
Directions
  1. Line a standard baking sheet with paper towels; set aside.
  2. Cut one end off of the cucumber.
  3. Use a mandoline or chef's knife to slice the cucumber into thin, ⅛-inch slices.
  4. Spread the cucumber slices out on the lined baking sheet.
  5. Sprinkle evenly with salt and set aside for 10–15 minutes.
  6. Finely chop the cilantro and chilis; set aside.
  7. Place the cream cheese in a medium bowl.
  8. Add mayonnaise and stir until smooth.
  9. Add cilantro, chili peppers, lime zest, and lime juice. Stir until smooth.
  10. Press another layer of paper towels over the sliced cucumbers to soak up any excess liquid, then remove.
  11. Lay the slices of bread out on a cutting board.
  12. Top each slice with the cream cheese mixture. Spread to coat.
  13. Shingle cucumber slices over 4 of the coated bread slices.
  14. Top with remaining bread and press lightly to adhere.
  15. Trim off crusts, if desired. Serve whole or slice sandwiches into thirds for tea sandwiches.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 426
Total Fat 27.8 g
Saturated Fat 12.7 g
Trans Fat 0.7 g
Cholesterol 60.1 mg
Total Carbohydrates 35.4 g
Dietary Fiber 3.2 g
Total Sugars 7.5 g
Sodium 508.8 mg
Protein 10.5 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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