Traditional Continental Breakfast

by Charlie Higgins

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.

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.


Fresh fruit is usually served with a continental breakfast. The most traditional fruits are strawberries, melon, grapefruit, banana, blueberries, raspberries, orange and grapes. 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, are also part of the classic continental breakfast. Plain or fruit-flavored yogurt served with granola is a traditional part of the continental breakfast, though cold cereals, such as corn flakes or oat bran are also common. Serve cold cereals with milk and fruit, such as strawberries or blueberries. Hot cereal, such as oatmeal or porridge, can also be served. Mild-flavored cheese, such as mozzarella or soft cheddar, is often served with a continental breakfast, though it is not essential.


Hot beverages are traditionally served with a continental breakfast. Coffee, tea, espresso, cappuccino and hot chocolate are the traditional choices and should be accompanied with cream, milk, honey and sugar. Most continental breakfasts also include a cold beverage 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.

About the Author

Charlie Higgins is journalist, editor and translator based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He has written for a variety of lifestyle and niche market websites, including International Food Trader, The Olive Oil Times, microDINERO, Sounds and Colours, Connecting Worlds and The Buenos Aires Reader.

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