How Many Courses are in a Full Course Meal?

Many societies enjoy multi-course feasts featuring a diverse range of foods and customs. Full course meals are an attractive touch to achieve fine dining, including activities such as a wine tasting party very far from an ordinary holiday BBQ. Full-course dinners have a long and varied history that stems from changing eating trends across the globe. 

The full-course meal may conjure up images of opulent dinner parties or protracted meals at a fine restaurant in the Western world. However, how many courses are in a full course meal, and what should each class include? We go over common meal course sequences and provide basic knowledge about full-course meals in the tradition of Western civilizations. 

What Does a Full-Course Meal Entail?

clear glass plates with a vegetable dish

A full-course supper is a meal that consists of several courses. Three or four methods make up an important full-course meal. They usually start with an amuse-bouche, then move on to the main meal (s), followed by desserts, coffee, and tea.

Full-course meals are at a person’s house, a venue, or a restaurant in the afternoon or evening for a special event. Guests can order a full course dinner in both premium restaurants and casual eateries by calling numerous dishes to be served at different times. 

What Is the Definition of a Meal Course?

handsome bearded man sitting 

A meal course comprises a single food item or a set of food items, such as a sandwich, soup, crackers, or steak and mashed potatoes. One or more meal courses make up an average meal.

What Is the Average Number of Courses in a Meal?

a person eating dinner with a candlelight

Many meals consist of simply one course. A complete course meal often consists of two or three courses: an appetizer, a main dish, and a dessert. On the other hand, meals can have 12 or more classes.

Course Sequences for Up to 12 Courses

food served on dining-table 

A popular and acceptable strategy for structuring your full course supper is to start with light plates, move on to more profound courses, and finish with tiny, delicate pieces. Complete course meal sequences shown below are examples; however, you can choose which meal courses to include on your menu.

You can order up to 12 dishes in total served in the following order:

  • Hors-d’oeuvres
  • Amuse-bouche
  • Soup
  • Appetizer
  • Salad
  • Fish
  • First main dish
  • Palate cleanser course
  • Second main dish
  • Cheese plate
  • Dessert
  • Post-meal drinks and pastries

You may make a 10-course meal by omitting the cheese plate and amuse-bouche and retaining the meals in this order.

Menu of 12 Courses

salads served on plates

The courses that may make up a 12-course meal are below.

Course One-Hors d’oeuvres: Served during cocktail hour or as guests arrive, hors d’oeuvres are often finger appetizers in one hand.

Course Two – Amuse-bouche: This is French for “to amuse the mouth” or, more broadly, to please visitors’ palates with a tiny savory taste. Course two whets the appetite or hints at flavors in the next meal course (s)—usually, a complimentary item selected by the chef in a restaurant.

Course Three – Soup: As with all of your meals, tying your soup course to the season is a traditional idea. Stay away from overly rich soups, so visitors don’t feel stuffed for the rest of the dinner.

Course Four-Appetizer: This appetizer is known as the “entree” in many regions of Europe since it introduces the main courses of the meal. Small slices of meat, seasonal vegetables, grains, and sauces on serving trays or small appetizer plates.

Course Five-Salad: This course usually consists of various raw vegetables with a delicious dressing. Serving salad after the main dish in several parts of Europe is also usual to serve salad before the main course.

Course Six – Fish: This dish offers a tasty light protein before the main meals.

Course Seven – First main course: The first main course is usually white meat like chicken, duck, or turkey.

Palate Cleanser Course Eight: This is a reset for your taste buds. Its goal is to eliminate any lingering flavors in the mouth before moving on to the next meal.

Course Nine- Second main course: The second main meal is usually red meat, such as premium beef, lamb, or venison.

Course Ten – Cheese course: Make a tray with various cheeses and accessories to go with them.

Course Eleven-Dessert is a sweet and luxurious course usually served with a glass of dessert wine, coffee, or tea.

Course Twelve: Mignardise (small, bite-sized dessert or pastry served with tea, coffee, port, brandy, or scotch): At the end of the dinner, perform a mignardise, which is a tiny, bite-sized dessert or pastry served with tea, coffee, port, brandy, or scotch.

How to Make a Complete Meal Menu

Preparing a multi-course meal may be daunting, particularly for a big group. It is, however, far easier to come up with meals if you stick to a primary topic or cuisine while planning your menu. Here are some menu-planning suggestions.

Decide on a theme, cuisine, or collection of flavors to base your meal upon before you start developing a complete course meal program. Motifs make creating a menu easier and guarantee consistency throughout the course.

Choose a season or a region: Base your entire meal on the season, or incorporate cuisines from one or more areas.

Build the remainder of the courses and theme components around the main course: Whatever theme you choose for your meal, be sure it can produce an excellent main meal.

Serving a Full Course Meal: Quick Tips

person pouring wine on the glass

It’s entirely up to you how you serve or enjoy a full course meal, and it may be as casual or elegant as you like. Here are some suggestions for planning a multi-course lunch, as well as for instructions on proper manners. Of course any great meal should also be accompanied by fine wine.

Set out a goblet of water and a glass of wine for your guests as you begin serving your full course dinner.

Give heed to the table setting: Because each course has its dishes and silverware, set the table according to the number of meals you’ll serve.

Remember utensil etiquette: As the courses advance, guests will begin with the outermost utensils and make their way inside to the plate.

Clean plates before proceeding to the following course: Before moving on to the next meal, remove the dishes from the previous one.

Keep a close eye on the clock: never let the gap between courses get too long.

Keep in mind that traditional etiquette dictates that each plate be cleared (from each guest’s right side) before serving another (to the left side of each guest).

If you don’t have servers, have visitors pass their food from the left so they may efficiently serve themselves, as most people are right-handed.

Choose a charger plate: Many table settings include a charger plate that serves as a base setting for each course’s dinnerware—clearing the dish when dessert ends.

In the end, you can serve dinner in any creative or traditional way you like. Depending on your time and energy, you can take as little as one course or many. Full course meals give hosts, chefs, and restaurants alike plenty of opportunities to showcase their skills and tastes while providing a memorable dining experience for visitors.