Budget afternoon tea ideas | BBC Good Food


Afternoon tea is all about pampering and a sense of luxury with towering tiers of sweet treats, scones and sandwiches, but the cost of going out to one can be prohibitive. The good news is that our brilliant budget recipes mean that you can treat friends or family, perhaps in celebration of Mother’s Day, and not break the bank.

If you want to include a bit of bubbly as part of the event, that will be your most considerable outlay, but we’ve taste tested the best champagnes to ensure you’re getting the bang for your buck – much better value than buying it by the glass. Why not choose from the best taste-tested prosecco for a slightly cheaper option? We also have a fantastic selection of the best non-alcoholic and low-alcohol wines. You could also check the drinks cabinet to see if you have what’s needed to make one of our easy cocktail recipes.

From sensational sweet martinis to three-ingredient scones, this extra-special spread is full of time-saving hacks and pocket-friendly recipes. You may also want to browse our afternoon tea recipes and, along with menu ideas, we have more tips on how to throw an afternoon tea party.

Browse our budget dinner party ideas for further tips on entertaining on a budget. Peruse our posh budget recipes and storecupboard party recipes for impressive meals that use inexpensive ingredients.

Drinks and cocktails

Bright orange tea pot and cup

What better way to start your afternoon tea than with a spicy and warming turmeric tea. Caffeine-free, this bright orange tea will catch everyone’s eye. Our honey and lemon tea is the perfect storecupboard find for an equally comforting and affordable tea.

But maybe you’re looking for a more cheeky start to your afternoon tea, for example, our elegant earl grey martini. You only need gin, earl grey tea and ice to make this delicate citrus-spiked drink in minutes – and serve it in your finest teacups. Or posh up your bubbly with one of our 10 prosecco cocktails you can make in minutes.

Passing on the booze? Whip up our refreshing easy iced tea. It’s an excellent alcohol-free party drink with a subtle tea flavour, oranges, lemons and mint. Or, for a more fiery flavour, try our homemade ginger beer. It’s made by cooking a ginger cordial and topping it with soda water.

For more delectable alcohol-free options, check out our mocktail recipes.

Sandwiches and savouries

Cucumber sandwiches on a plate

A selection of sandwiches is a must-have for any afternoon tea and they lend themselves well to entertaining at a lower cost. With a few clever additions to ingredients that may be languishing in the fridge, you can make a range of bite-sized beauties to impress.

For a veggie option with a twist try carrot & raisin sandwiches – perfect finger food. Our classic egg mayonnaise sandwiches can also be ready in five minutes.

Give the quintessentially English cucumber sandwich a makeover and put together cucumber & herb triple-deckers with mint and cream cheese. If you’re a sucker for a stack, go all out with our classic club sandwich recipe. All you need is some bacon and thick turkey or chicken slices.

Sweets and treats

Scones on cooling rack with jam and cream

No afternoon tea would be complete without warm scones slathered with jam and a dollop of fresh cream, but we break with tradition slightly to bring you these amazing ice cream scones. They take two minutes to prep with just three ingredients, including a small tub of ice cream. Trust us, it works.

While the scones are the in the oven, mix up a batch of chocolate shortbread fingers. While shortbread looks impressive, it uses ingredients that most people will usually have at home. For something a little lighter, our simple jammy biscuits never disappoint and, again, you probably won’t need to go shopping first.

Tea cups filled with chocolate

For a quirky touch, why not make a light and fluffy mousse such as our chocolate tea-pots. They’re infused with earl grey and English breakfast tea, so ideal for the occasion.

Classic cake

Layered cake with cream and jam

No afternoon tea would be complete without cake. Try our basic cupcakes recipe with buttercream frosting and, if you have a little bit of time, you could decorate them with our simple sugar roses. The classic Victoria sandwich is always a winner and brings a touch of class to any occasion. Of course, the best part is, it only uses staple ingredients. For a vegan option, try our vegan sponge cake.

If you fancy something chocolatey instead, try our sticky chocolate cake. It’s made with just six ingredients, including thick, fruity marmalade. Or, for an equally easy chocolate fix, try our chocolate brownie cake and cut it into dainty squares.

Get more inspiration for low-cost bakes by checking out our storecupboard baking recipes.

Want to make Mother’s Day extra special? Don’t forget the gift…

The best Mother’s Day gifts for foodies
The best gins to buy for Mother’s Day
How to make a hamper for Mother’s Day



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