Traditional Continental Breakfast

Croissants, coffee, jam and fruits. Continental breakfast table top view


A continental breakfast is a light, satisfying meal to start the day. Hotels around the world serve this traditional breakfast, which consists of baked goods, fruit, dairy products, cereal and both hot and cold beverages. Serving a continental breakfast at home for family or house guests doesn't require a lot of planning and is usually enough to tide people over until lunch.

Benefits of a Continental Breakfast

The continental breakfast is most often served at hotels, business meetings, team meetings, events, trainings or for any breakfast gathering where a group of people are in attendance. Consisting of simple items, like pastries, fresh fruit, cereal and coffee, the cost is kept low, especially compared to having a pancake station or made to order omelets. Set up as a buffet, most items are served cold or at room temperature, except for coffee and tea, which means preparation and clean up are quick and easy.

Baked Goods

Baked goods are an essential part of any continental breakfast. Traditional items include bread, muffins, croissants, bagels, scones and pastries. Doughnuts may also be served, though they are not traditional. Spreads, such as butter, margarine, cream cheese and jam, should accompany the baked goods. Baked goods are normally served at room temperature in a basket or on a large serving plate.


If your guests are fans of fresh fruits, such as strawberries, melon, grapefruit, banana, blueberries, raspberries, orange and grapes, then they will probably be satisfied with the breakfast items being served. Tropical fruits, such as pineapple, papaya, mango and guava, are not as traditional but are still served in places where they are available. Fruit may be topped with honey, seeds, cottage cheese or other items. You may also serve a mixed fruit salad.

Dairy and Cereals

Dairy products, such as yogurt, cheese or milk, provide your guests with protein options. It is traditional to serve plain or fruit-flavored yogurt with granola and fresh berries. Cold cereals, such as corn flakes or oat bran are also common. Serve cold cereals with milk and fruit, such as strawberries or blueberries. If you want to include a hot item, then oatmeal or cream of wheat can be an easy to make and popular choice. Mild-flavored cheese, such as mozzarella or soft cheddar, paired with fresh bread or crackers, are another option that attendees may enjoy.


No breakfast is complete without coffee. Consider offering your guests coffee, tea, espresso, cappuccino and possibly hot chocolate as hot beverage choices. Remember the cream, milk, honey, sugar and sugar-substitutes to go along with the beverages. Most continental breakfasts also include cold beverages such as fruit juice, milk or water. Orange and grapefruit juice are the classic fruit juices, but there are plenty of other options, including strawberry juice, peach juice and pineapple juice. Provide cold beverages in a large pitcher for individual serving.