Besides a priori approaches, using previous knowledge about food characteristics, exploratory dietary pattern (DP) methods, using data at hand, are commonly applied. This systematic literature review aimed to identify exploratory methods on DP in pan-European studies and to inform the development of the DEterminants of DIet and Physical ACtivity (DEDIPAC) toolbox of methods suitable for use in future European studies. The search was conducted in three databases on prospective studies in healthy, free-living people across the whole life span. To identify validated DP methods, an additional search without regional restrictions was conducted. Studies including at least two European countries were retained. The search resulted in six pan-European studies applying principal component/factor analysis (PC/FA) (n 5) or cluster analysis (n 2). The criteria to retain PC/factors ranged from the application of the eigenvalue>1 criterion, the scree plot and/or the interpretability criterion. Furthermore, seven validation studies were identified: DP, derived by PC/FA (n 6) or reduced rank regression (RRR) (n 1) were compared using dietary information from FFQ (n 6) or dietary history (n 1) as study instrument and dietary records (n 6) or 24-h dietary recalls (n 1) as reference. The correlation coefficients for the derived DP ranged from modest to high. To conclude, PC/FA was predominantly applied using the eigenvalue criterion and scree plot to retain DP, but a better description of the applied criteria is highly recommended to enable a standardised application of the method. Research gaps were identified for the methods cluster analysis and RRR, as well as for validation studies on DP.