My Grandmother’s Controversial Secret To The Best Tea Sandwiches

No party is complete without a tray of these charming crustless bites.

Regardless of the occasion, no one ever is disappointed to see a platter of tea sandwiches at a party. The mini crustless sandwiches are easy to grab, adorably sized, and most likely filled with something delicious. At a Southern gathering, shower, or luncheon, you’ll find these fluffy slices of white bread stuffed with many of our signature spreads, such as egg salad, chicken salad, and—of course—pimiento cheese

Egg Salad Sandwiches
Jen Causey

Now, the thing about miniature sandwiches? They tend to dry out the longer they sit around. For that, my grandmother told me quite the controversial trick that she always uses to make sure her sandwiches stay just as fresh as when first made, even if she makes them ahead: Add more mayonnaise. 

Specifically, give your bread slices an extra swipe of mayonnaise before spreading your pimiento cheese, egg salad, or chosen filling. Initially, I was a bit hesitant. More mayonnaise? Even for a mayo-loving Southerner, that could seem overkill. However, then I remembered that my grandmother is known far and wide for her hosting skills. In fact, her pimiento cheese recipe is constantly requested by others, and her deviled eggs are second-to-none, thanks to Durkees, her secret ingredient. I find myself in the presence of a tray of her party sandwiches multiple times a year, and they’re always flawless. She assured me that no one ever notices the extra mayonnaise, and her sandwiches receive nothing but compliments and recipe requests. 

Sure, you’d think that those classic party sandwiches already contained enough mayonnaise to last quite awhile, but you’d also be surprised at how quickly Wonder Bread can dry out. Moreover, mayo-based spreads like pimiento cheese lose moisture as well. If you’re trusting that between the two ingredients, both will hold up, that’s a bet my grandmother would rather not risk. She has a reputation to uphold, after all. 

Beyond giving both sides of the bread a healthy slather of mayonnaise, she also recommends always spreading your sandwich filling before cutting off the crusts, so that the filling goes all the way until the edges. (“There’s nothing worse than being skimpy on the filling,” she tells me.) She usually keeps the crusts for snacking, which my grandfather and the rest of us are quite fond of. Lastly, if you’re going to make them ahead, never allow the sandwiches to sit out too long before the party. Put them in a Tupperware container or Ziploc baggie to maintain moisture if needed. As for the extra mayo, don't knock it until you try it.

If you’re looking for recipes to serve at your next shower or party, we’ve got 10 Easy Tea And Elegant Tea Sandwiches that give plenty of snacking inspiration. But you can never go wrong with Classic Southern Pimiento Cheese.

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