Benedictine Cheese is a traditional cucumber and cream cheese spread that’s traditionally served on Derby Day. These Canapés are a two-bite, slightly spicy version of my family’s traditional Benedictine Cheese recipe.

platter with Benedictine Cheese Canapes and wine in the background

(Photo by Laurie Smith)

My mom was raised in Louisville, Kentucky, and as a result, Derby Day was a major holiday for our family growing up – and still is in my home today.  My husband Robert and I partake in all the Kentucky dishes traditionally served on this special day, including Corn Pudding, Country Ham, Chocolate Pecan (aka Derby) Pie, and, of course, our family’s special recipe for Mint Juleps (all these recipes are in our cookbook).

This recipe for Benedictine Cheese Canapés is a favorite in our house for the event. Mom insisted on using food coloring for the pale green color, for an authentic presentation. I add the tomato slices which pair nicely with the cheese flavor and add even more color. In addition, I toss in a bit of cayenne pepper, for a bit of spice.

Note that we have included a quicker “time-saver” variation below, if you don’t have the time to assemble the canapés.

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Platter with Benedictine Cheese Canapes and wine in the background









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Platter filled with Benedictine Cheese Canapes and wine in the background

Benedictine Cheese Canapés

  • Author: (From "A Well-Seasoned Kitchen®" by Sally Clayton and Lee Clayton Roper)
  • Yield: 8 to 10 servings 1x
  • Category: appetizers, easy entertaining


A 2-bite version of a traditional family recipe, these Benedictine Cheese Canapés are quick and easy to prepare, and vibrant on the plate, too!



1 loaf thinly sliced white bread (such as Pepperidge Farm) – see Note

1 large cucumber

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1 tablespoon grated onion

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

1/4 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)

Cayenne pepper

Dash green food coloring

Dash sugar (only if needed)

1 pint cherry tomatoes


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut rounds out of each slice of bread (not using crusts) to desired size (we like 1 1/2” rounds). Place on a cookie sheet and bake for around 7 minutes until lightly toasted.
  3. Peel, seed and grate the cucumber. Wrap in paper towel and squeeze/ring out as much moisture as possible. Combine with cream cheese (cut into slices), onion, mayonnaise salt and dash cayenne pepper (or more to taste) in a food processor and mix until well blended. Taste and adjust salt and cayenne pepper as needed. Stir in food coloring. Place in a dish, cover and refrigerate for several hours to let flavors blend.
  4. Taste again, adjust salt and cayenne as needed. If cucumbers are bitter (some can be, especially if they are young), add a dash of sugar.
  5. Top each toast round with some of the spread. Garnish with a slice of cherry tomato and lightly sprinkle with cayenne pepper.


Time-saving variation: Place the cheese mixture in a bowl, the tomato slices in another bowl and place both in the middle of a serving platter, surrounded by the toast rounds.

Make ahead: toast rounds and cheese can be made earlier in the day. Place the cooled toast rounds in a Ziploc baggie and store at room temperature; cover the cheese and store it in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Note on bread: if you can’t find thinly sliced bread, buy regular white bread and roll thin, using a rolling pin.


Lee Clayton Roper


I’m Lee Clayton Roper, and I’m passionate about making cooking and entertaining easy, elegant and fun. Here you’ll find scrumptious recipes, helpful tips and seasonal menus that will spark inspiration in your kitchen!
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Access more recipes in Lee's award-winning book, Fresh Tastes!

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