The Ultimate Guide to Buffet Etiquette Dos and Don’ts

Buffets are a popular dining option for their variety and flexibility. To make the most of your buffet experience and ensure considerate dining, here’s the ultimate guide to buffet etiquette dos and don’ts:


  1. Wash Your Hands: Start with clean hands to maintain good hygiene at the buffet.
  2. Use the Provided Utensils: Always use the provided serving utensils, tongs, or spoons to serve yourself, even if you’re using your own plate.
  3. Wait Your Turn: If the buffet is crowded, wait your turn in line. Don’t push or cut in front of others.
  4. Use a Clean Plate: Each time you return to the buffet, take a fresh plate to avoid contaminating your food.
  5. Start with Smaller Portions: Begin with smaller portions of each dish to minimize food waste. You can always return for more.
  6. Move Efficiently: Move through the buffet line efficiently, selecting your choices in a timely manner. Don’t linger at the serving station, as it can create delays for others.
  7. Be Courteous: Be polite and considerate to fellow diners. Offer a friendly smile and say “excuse me” if you need to reach a particular dish.
  8. Use a Tray or Stack Plates: If available, use a tray to carry your dishes. When returning to your table, stack your used plates neatly for easy clearing by the staff.
  9. Be Mindful of Others: Avoid conversations, phone use, or other distractions when at the buffet to keep the line moving smoothly.
  10. Maintain Good Hygiene: Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue, and use hand sanitizer if provided. Keep your hands clean throughout the dining experience.
  11. Taste Before Piling Up: Before loading your plate with a large portion of any dish, take a smaller serving to ensure you enjoy the taste.


  1. Don’t Touch Food: Avoid touching food with your hands. Use utensils or provided tissues when handling food.
  2. No Double-Dipping: If there are communal sauces or dips, avoid double-dipping. Scoop a portion onto your plate and dip from there.
  3. Don’t Waste Food: Take only what you can eat, and avoid excessive waste. Buffets can be a source of food waste, so try to minimize your environmental impact.
  4. Don’t Overload Your Plate: Overloading your plate with more than you can comfortably eat can lead to food waste and disrupt the buffet line.
  5. Don’t Save Seats: Don’t place personal belongings on an unoccupied table to reserve it while you go to the buffet. It’s considered inconsiderate to other diners.
  6. No Sampling with Hands: Do not use your hands to sample food directly from the buffet. Always use the provided utensils.
  7. Don’t Push and Shove: Avoid pushing or shoving others to get to the dishes. Maintain patience and courtesy.
  8. Don’t Cut in Line: Wait your turn in the buffet line, and do not cut in front of other diners.
  9. No Sneezing or Coughing Over Food: Be mindful of hygiene; avoid coughing or sneezing over the buffet dishes.
  10. Don’t Take Food for Later: Buffets are for immediate consumption, not for taking extra food home. Avoid packing food to go.

Buffet etiquette emphasizes courtesy, cleanliness, and respect for others. By following these dos and don’ts, you can enjoy a pleasant dining experience while being considerate of fellow diners and the restaurant staff.

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