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What is The Second Course in an Afternoon Tea?

So you’re at an afternoon tea, having just finished off your first course of savory snacks and tea sandwiches.  Just what comes next as the traditional afternoon tea second course?    

For the full scoop on the second course usually served at a traditional English afternoon tea read on and  you’ll be ready no matter if you’re attending a swanky afternoon tea at a fancy hotel or hosting your own tea party.

Read on for over 30 delicious ideas and recipes to serve as the second course at your next afternoon tea or tea party.

Afternoon Tea Consists of Three Courses

To help you remember the order of food at an afternoon tea, think “savory to sweet”.  Each successive course becomes less savory and more sweet as the afternoon tea progresses.  

So the second course is right in the spot between savory and sweet.  Not too savory, and not too sweet. 

  1. First Course:  Tea Sandwiches & Savory Snacks
  2. Second Course:  Scones
  3. Third Course:  Sweet treats
afternoon tea second course scones
Scones are served as the second course in an afternoon tea.

What is the Second Course for a Tea Party?

Whether you’re out at a traditional English afternoon tea, or hosting a casual tea party gathering with friends, the second course is made up of scones and all the things that go well with them, like clotted cream, jam, butter, and lemon curd.  

If you’re hosting a tea, the scones go on the center level of a three-tiered tea tray

SWEEJAR 3 Tier Ceramic Cake Stand Wedding, Dessert Cupcake Stand for Tea Party Serving Platter (White)

How Many Servings for Each Guest for the Second Course?

A good rule of thumb when you’re planning an afternoon tea is to estimate 1-2 servings of scones per guest. Don’t forget to plan for all the extras like cream, jam and butter!

What is a Scone?

A scone is a baked good a bit like an American biscuit – buttery, flakey and all kinds of good! You can dress them up or down, make them sweet or savory, eat them plain, or top them with jam, cream or butter.

When baked perfectly, they have a golden crust and a tender and moist crumb.

best scones recipe scones on white plates with jam and cream along with a white tea pot and a cup of milk tea.
Scones are often served with jam and clotted cream.

What Should You Serve With Scones?

Scones are great on their own, warm from the oven, or even better with one or more of the following:

Are Scones Sweet or Savory?

When served as the second course of an afternoon tea, scones are usually just a bit sweet, and can be fancied up with all kinds of fruits cooked in.

But, savory scones are also delicious! When made savory, the they can be the right choice for a breakfast or brunch. They’re also a perfect companion to a bowl of soup or chili and a salad.

What can You Add to a Scone Recipe?

One of the best things about scones is that they’re so versatile! Your imagination is pretty much the only thing that limits you.

Sweet Scone Additions

  • Raisins
  • Berries
  • Chocolate
  • Cinnamon
  • Citrus like orange and lemon
  • Cranberries

Savory Scone Add Ins

  • Cheeses of all kinds
  • Bacon
  • Ham
  • Nuts
  • Sun dried tomatoes
clotted cream and scones
There’s nothing like a warm scone with butter or clotted cream!

Second Course Scone Ideas for an Afternoon Tea

My favorite easy, repeatable recipe for scones comes from King Arthur Flour. It’s super basic so you can add in sweet or savory bits to suit your fancy.

Sweet Scones Ideas for Your Tea Party Second Course

Here is a roundup of a bunch of my favorite scone recipes to try. Click on the image to pop over.

best scone recipes graphic with a baking sheet of freshly baked scones.
Sweet Scones are the Traditional Second Course

Savory Scones Ideas

Looking for a savory scone? Here is a rundown of my favorites. From bacon and chive to chorizo and cheese, you’ll find the perfect savory scone for your next event in this list.

savory scones recipes graphic
Click for my favorite ten savory scone recipes

Gluten Free Scone Ideas

If you have friends that stay away from gluten, don’t despair. There are plenty of great scone recipe choices if you want to make gluten free versions for the second course of your afternoon tea party menu.

This list of gluten free scone ideas contains both savory and sweet versions.

gluten free scones recipe graphic
Gluten free scone recipe ideas for your afternoon tea second course.

Questions About Scones

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Afternoon Tea Second Course Ideas
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