Crab salad sandwiches are a savory finger food recipe that you can serve at an afternoon tea party or baby shower.  The crab salad can be made ahead, and the sandwiches easily assembled before the party begins.  Enjoy this elegant treat at your next party!

Prep Time: 45 minutes
one of the crab salad sandwiches cut in half
Sandwiches, Seafood

Crab Salad Sandwiches Recipe

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Are you intrigued by the beauty of tea sandwiches, but unsure how to make them?  These crab salad sandwiches are so easy to assemble.  If you can chop up vegetables, butter bread, and use a biscuit cutter, then you’ll be amazed at how quickly these come together.  Feel free to make the crab salad ahead of time, so it can chill and the flavors have time to meld.

holding half of one of the crab salad sandwiches with a cup of tea

What are traditional tea sandwiches?

Tea sandwiches are small, dainty sandwiches that are two to three bites.  Tea sandwiches have many different kinds of fillings, such as meat, cheese, vegetables, and fruit.  Cucumber, egg salad, chicken salad, crab salad, smoked salmon, ham, cheese and pickle, roast beef, tuna, pimento cheese, and fig jam are popular tea sandwich fillings in the UK and US.

How do you keep tea sandwiches from drying out?

You can make the crab salad filling a day in advance, but assemble the sandwiches a couple of hours before the party begins.  When your sandwiches are assembled, dampen a paper towel and wring out the excess water.  Place it on top of the sandwiches, and cover with plastic wrap or put in an airtight container and refrigerate.  The damp paper towel has two purposes: it hydrates the bread and it acts as protective barrier from the air.  You can also use a sheet of wax paper and place a damp kitchen towel over top.   Just before serving, place the sandwiches on a platter or a tray to prevent the bread from drying out.

Can tea sandwiches be made the day before?

Most popular tea sandwich fillings can be made the day before your big event.  Fillings like crab salad, egg salad, chicken salad all taste wonderful the next day.  You could also prep some of the toppings or garnishes the day before.  It’s better to assemble the sandwiches a couple of hours before the guests start to arrive so the bread doesn’t get soggy or the sandwiches dry out.

holding one of the crab salad sandwiches

What are tea sandwiches made of?

Traditionally, tea sandwiches are made on soft bread with a variety of fillings.  The fillings usually have vegetables, cheese, fruits or meats that are diced so they look dainty.  The crusts are cut off and the sandwiches are cut into pretty shapes, such as triangles, rectangles, squares, and circles.  Tea sandwiches look pretty and make the guest feel special.

What is the best bread to use for tea sandwiches?

Most fillings shine with soft white bread or soft whole wheat bread, but fillings that have a strong flavor do better with pumpernickel or rye bread.  Sweet fillings would taste wonderful on raisin bread.  If you can find bread that is sliced very thin, your sandwiches will look more dainty.

one of the crab salad sandwiches cut in half

How do you cut tea sandwiches?

It’s best to assemble the sandwiches first, then cut the crusts off; this way the filling goes right to the edges.  With a standard loaf of bread, you can cut four triangles or three bars from two slices of bread.  You can cut the sandwiches into larger squares or very dainty cubes.  If you’re making circular sandwiches, use a biscuit cutter or a small drinking glass.  Flower shaped cookie cutters also make a pretty design.  Use any leftover bread for breadcrumbs, croutons, or toad in the holes.  Make sure your tea sandwiches are crustless and dainty–just two to three bites.

How to serve tea sandwiches

Tea sandwiches are traditionally served on a round plate on the bottom tier of a three tier tray.  The second tier holds scones, and the top tier displays dainty desserts.  You can also serve tea sandwiches on a fancy platter.

holding a plate of crab salad sandwiches

How long do tea sandwiches last unrefrigerated?

If the event is indoors, all tea sandwiches with mayonnaise should not be left out for more than two hours.  If the sandwiches don’t have mayo, and they are being served at room temperature, no more than four hours is safe.

What do you serve with tea sandwiches?

A traditional British afternoon tea would have three courses.  The first course is a variety of savory and sweet dainty tea sandwiches.  The second course is scones with clotted cream and jam.  The last course is dainty desserts like pastries, meringues, and macarons.  Provide a variety of different kinds of hot tea, such as black, green, and herbal.

How to Make Crab Salad Sandwiches

First, gather all the ingredients for the crab salad.  Cut up the vegetables and the dill.

filling ingredients for crab salad sandwiches

Whisk the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl.

whisking the dressing for crab salad sandwiches

Place the crab, cucumbers, red onion, celery, orange bell pepper, and the fresh dill in a large bowl.

filling ingredients for crab salad sandwiches in a bowl

Pour the dressing over the crab salad ingredients.

pouring dressing onto crab salad for crab salad sandwiches

Gently mix the ingredients to combine.

stirring crab salad for crab salad sandwiches

Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.  Cover the crab salad and chill for at least one hour.

holding a spoonful of crab salad for crab salad sandwiches

Butter the bottom and top slices of bread.

buttered bread for crab salad sandwiches

Place one tablespoon of crab salad on to the center of each slice.

spreading crab salad onto bread for crab salad sandwiches

Put the top on the sandwiches, then use a biscuit cutter to cut out circular sandwiches.

cutting out crab salad sandwiches with a biscuit cutter

Keep the remaining bread for croutons or toad in the holes.

crab salad sandwiches with extra bread

Garnish the crab salad sandwiches with a small sprig of fresh dill.  Enjoy!

crab salad sandwiches on a cutting board

Pro Tips

  • Need garnish ideas? Try radish, watercress, chive curl, edible flowers, cucumbers
  • Want a fancier top?  Use a tiny cookie cutter to cut a shape out of the center.
  • Don’t like circular sandwiches? Try triangles, fingers, square, cubes, flower shapes.
  • Don’t want bread?  Try puff pastry or phyllo cups for canapes.
  • Don’t like one layer sandwiches? Try open faced, double decker, rolled, or cubes wrapped with prosciutto.
  • Don’t know what to do with the leftover bread?  Make toad in the holes; the crab tastes wonderful with egg.
  • Don’t want soggy sandwiches?  Butter the insides of the top and bottom slices.
  • Don’t want a tea sandwich?  Use a hoagie roll, kaiser bun, potato rolls, or Hawaiian rolls.

Looking for more tea sandwiches?  Here’s some great ideas.

Cucumber sandwiches on a white plate with a teacup person holding a platter of egg salad sandwiches holding a bowl of chicken salad

The pleasure of a 5-star review on these crab salad sandwiches would be greatly appreciated.

one of the crab salad sandwiches cut in half

Crab Salad Sandwiches Recipe

  • Author: Brooke
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups of crab salad 1x


Crab salad sandwiches are a savory finger food recipe that you can serve at an afternoon tea party or baby shower.  The crab salad can be made ahead, and the sandwiches easily assembled before the party begins.  Enjoy this elegant treat at your next party!



For the Crab Salad

  • 8.5 ounces canned wild caught crab meat, drained (240g)
  • 1/4 cup English cucumber, chopped
  • 1/4 cup orange bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup celery, finely chopped

For the Dressing

  • 1/4 cup Duke’s mayo (56g)
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream (15g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • dash Worcestershire sauce

For the Sandwiches

  • 2 loaves of very thin white bread, 48 slices
  • butter, softened
  • fresh dill for garnish


Making the Crab Salad

  1. Mix the crab salad ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk the salad dressing ingredients together in a small bowl.
  3. Carefully fold the salad dressing into the crab mixture, then cover and chill for one hour.

Making the Tea Sandwiches

  1. Butter thinly sliced white bread.
  2. Place 1 tablespoon of crab salad in the center of 24 slices of bread, then place the remaining 24 slices on top.
  3. Use a 2-inch diameter biscuit cutter to make the bread a circle shape.  Garnish with a dill sprig and serve immediately.

  • Category: Lunch
  • Method: Chopped
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: afternoon tea, tea sandwich, crab salad

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