The most important etiquette rules on how to serve and eat bread. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest at the dining table.
What bread etiquette is
Bread etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and eat bread. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect your hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.
If you are hosting, follow bread etiquette to serve it to your guests appropriately.
If you are a guest, respect bread etiquette rules to properly eat and enjoy it.
What you should know about bread
Bread is a food prepared from a dough of flour and water.
There are several types of bread. Bread types vary by volume, flavor, texture, color, or nutritional value. Bread types depend on the baking methods and the ingredients. Percentage of water, salt, spices, or type of flour.
Etiquette rules to serve and eat bread
1) How to store bread
If you leave bread outside at room temperature, it will harden in 1-3 days. You can make bread last longer by storing it in a breadbox. Alternatively, wrap the bread in foil or plastic.
Do not store bread in the fridge. Humidity spoils bread.
You can freeze bread. It will last for several months.
2) How to clean bread
Do not wash bread.
Wash your hands before handling bread. It is best to use a cloth or a paper towel to handle bread.
3) How to cook bread
You can buy it or bake your bread.
You can use bread as an ingredient in several recipes. Breadcrumbs to create crunchy crusts or make sauces thicker. Pieces of bread in salads or stuffings. Slices of bread to make sandwiches.
Some guests may be intolerant or allergic to wheat or other grains. Ask your guests if they have any dietary restrictions. It is considerate to provide them with bread alternatives.
4) How to serve & present bread
Serve bread at room temperature or warm. To warm bread, place it for 2-5 minutes in the oven before serving.
Serve bread in a bread basket or on a cutting board. Bread in a basket should be sliced. When you serve bread on a cutting board, provide a cloth to handle the bread and a bread knife.
On formal occasions, place an individual small bread plate for each place setting. Set the bread plate on the left side of the place, above the forks.
You can accompany bread with a spread or a dip. Butter, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, or sauces.
5) Foods and beverages to pair bread with
Bread goes well with almost every other food.
Some food must be accompanied by bread or substitutes. Caviar, soups, foie gras, or spreads such as guacamole.
Avoid bread with grains or food that contains grains as one of the main ingredients. Such as pasta, pizza, couscous, sushi, rice, or quinoa.
6) How to eat bread
Take a slice, a roll, or a small loaf of bread from the breadbasket. Place it on your side plate. The bread plate is on your left. In formal restaurants, a waiter will serve your bread directly on your side dish.
If you touch a piece of bread from the basket, you must take it and place it into your side dish. Do not touch bread and leave it in the basket. Doing so is bad table manners.
Never use your knife to slice bread on a communal board. Instead, use the communal bread knife. Use a cloth or napkin to hold the bread while you slice it. Do not touch the loaf of bread on a cutting board with your hands.
Break your bread with your hands. Break and eat one morsel at a time. Do not divide the bread into chunks in advance.
If the butter is served, take butter from its dish using the butter knife. Place it on the edge of your side plate. Butter your bread one piece at a time. Do not butter a full slice of bread in advance.
Follow the same rule to eat spreads like paté or foie gras. The only exception is toast, which can be buttered in one go.
Bread etiquette: the worst mistakes
The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors.
A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.
Avoid the worst bread etiquette mistakes.
- 9/10. Touching bread on a shared basket and leaving it.
- 8/10. Serving bread that is not fresh.
- 7/10. Eating from the wrong bread plate at a formal meal.
- 7/10. Dividing bread into multiple chunks.
- 5/10. Pairing bread with pasta or pizza.
Additional information for properly serving bread
How many calories per serving?
Counting calories is important to stay healthy and to correctly plan a menu.
The calories in bread depend on the type and production method. On average, bread contains about 265 calories per 100 grams. A slice of bread is around 25 grams (1 oz). It contains about 61 calories.
How to buy the best bread
A crucial factor in bread etiquette is to serve the best product possible to your guests.
Choose the best
To buy the best bread, go to a local bakery. Avoid supermarkets, as they usually sell industrial bread or previously-frozen bread.
Bread is a simple product, made from just a few ingredients. Try to find a bakery that uses only high-quality ingredients.
Alternatives to bread
You can substitute bread with other comparable flour-based products. Such as grissini, crackers, or focaccia. Another option is to substitute bread with other grains, such as rice.
How do you make bread last longer? Wrap it in foil or plastic, or place it in a breadbox.
Should bread be refrigerated? No. The humidity in the fridge spoils bread.
What side of the plate does the bread plate go? The bread plate is on the left side of a place setting.