Monday, July 12, 2010

Cucumber Dill Tea Sandwiches

Cucumber dill cream cheese sandwiches are a classic southern finger food at parties, weddings, a ladies brunch, bridal and baby showers, but truthfully, they are just as wonderful just to enjoy anytime served with a side of sliced garden tomatoes for a light, cool lunch.

Cucumber Dill Tea Sandwiches

It sure is hot isn't it? And it's not only hot in The South, it's pretty much hot everywhere here lately it seems. Well, these little tea sandwiches are cool as a cucumber, literally!

Commonly found at weddings, bridal showers and parties of all kinds in The South, they are a delightful and cool lunch and a great way to use some of those summer cucumbers. Most often served on thin, white bread, crusts removed, and sliced into quarters, and honestly, a bit addictive.

In Kentucky, you'll often find a version of these cucumber sandwiches referred to as Benedictine Sandwiches, apparently named so after a caterer many years back and traditional fare at Kentucky Derby parties all across the South. Most often they are made with a few drops of green food coloring to give them a vibrant green shade.

Some people like to do a separate cream cheese spread and then layer ultra thinly sliced cucumbers on top - you'll find that variation in the recipe below. Others chop the cucumber. I prefer the cucumber grated and mixed in.

If you are making these up for a party, you can make them ahead, leaving the crusts intact, stack them standing and wrap them with foil, then slide them back into the sandwich bread bag to freeze until needed. Thaw first, then trim and cut each sandwich into fourths before serving. A triple decker, made with three slices of bread per sandwich also makes a pretty presentation for a party also.

The butter is optional, but does help to provide a moisture barrier keeping the sandwiches from getting soggy, especially when making them ahead. You can eliminate that if you like, and you can also substitute non-fat cream cheese or neufchatel cheese if you wish to use it, but lower the fat. Transform this into a cucumber dip for vegetables, chips and crackers, by using the juice from the cucumber and some extra mayonnaise.

Here's how to make them.

Recipe: Cucumber Dill Tea Sandwiches

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 30 min | Yield: 12 to 48 sandwiches, depending on how you cut them

  • 1 loaf of square topped, thin white bread
  • Unsalted butter, softened at room temperature, optional
  • 1 large or 2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded, grated, squeezed and patted dry
  • 1 (8 ounce) cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon grated Vidalia onion
  • 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise
  • Kosher salt and white pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tablespoon of chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish

Put a very thin layer of butter on each slice of bread. After grating the cucumber, place it into several layers of paper towels and squeeze out the excess liquid; repeat if needed. Mix the cucumber with all of the remaining ingredients well and spread between two slices of bread. Cut off crusts and cut into fourths or use a cookie or biscuit cutter to cut into rounds, reserving crusts for bread crumbs.

Sandwiches can also be made ahead and frozen whole. Cut the crusts off and slice into fourths after thawing.

Cook's Notes: Dress sandwiches with watercress if desired. Increase the mayonnaise and include the juices of the cucumber to transform this into a dip. Serve with an assortment of crudities, such as carrots, assorted sweet bell peppers, blanched broccoli and asparagus spears.

Variation: If you are serving a small amount of these for a ladies tea or brunch, a very pretty and classic southern presentation is to cut the bread into rounds as pictured above, but instead of adding the cucumber to the spread, slice them about 1/4-inch thick, either peeled or unpeeled.

If you use a fork to scrape along the rind or a peeler to peel away only sections of the cucumber it makes a very pretty edge for presentation. Mix up the cream cheese mixture and pipe a dab onto the bread, place a cucumber round on top, and pipe another dab of the cream cheese mixture on top. Garnish with tiny sprigs of dill. Gorgeous!


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©Deep South Dish
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Posted by on July 12, 2010

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  1. Super cool and with cucumbers being 10 degrees cooler than your body temp, there by cooling you from the inside--SUPER cool!!

    I just realized I have 3 email addresses so voted 3 times today!! You're way ahead!


  2. I really love the sounds of these, even for a casual summer lunch at home!

  3. do i really need the mayo? i live on weight watcher and still fluffy!
    thank you!

  4. One of my most fav appy's, I like them on cocktail rye. Never tried them with grated cucmber, sounds very good!

  5. I bet the Vadalia onion adds some great flavor to the spread too!!

    Also, I voted for you on the Pom contest!

    Bon appetit!

  6. You can't go wrong with cucumber tea sandwiches! Your recipe sounds delicious!

  7. This recipe is about as refreshing as a cold shower on a hot day. Love the page, including the Southern favorites down the side that I grew up eating.

  8. Mmmmm. Those sound like they would hit the spot. I really want to get Trisha's cook book too.

  9. Great recipe! Lots of good memories around these little tea sandwiches. They really are served at nearly every wedding/shower, etc I've ever been to. And they are soooo good!

  10. I seem to remember that there is a special name for the cucumber dill tea sandwich - but I can't remember it ---Help????

  11. Hmmm... I've seen reference to the spread as Benedictine Spread named apparently after a caterer in Louisville Tennessee. I've not known of them as anything but cucumber tea or what we often called finger sandwiches personally.

  12. Jennie Benedict, a caterer in Louisville, Kentucky created this spread. I grew up eating this....yum....yum!!.....and pimento cheese!!

    1. Yes! I have heard that, but to be honest, we grew up with these sandwiches and I never once knew or heard that, even though I've been around this Earth a little while. :)

      It wasn't until my knowledge of cooking expanded across other regions of the South when I began blogging, that I even heard of Ms. Benedict or that this was supposed to have been a spread she invented! I did do a little research though.

      While I know that there are a number of variations now, I do believe that there are some differences between the version I grew up and what is known as her original however. I believe the version I grew up with has much more cucumber than the original Benedictine, which I believe may not have even contained the pulp of the cucumber, but only the resulting juices. Other differences I believe are her version was much heavier in cream cheese, while the one I grew with had less, her's used a little bit of onion juice, but not onion, but the one major difference I think, is that her version always contains food coloring to give it a greenish color and the one I grew up with did not.

      Interesting. At any rate, I don't really know how it made it's way down here but it certainly did and it's a great and light summer meal isn't it?


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