Eating out has been linked to the current obesity epidemic, but the evaluation of the extent to which out of home (OH) dietary intakes are different from those at home (AH) is limited. Data collected among 8849 men and 14 277 women aged 35–64 years from the general population of eleven European countries through 24-h dietary recalls or food diaries were analysed to: (1) compare food consumption OH to those AH; (2) describe the characteristics of substantial OH eaters, defined as those who consumed 25 % or more of their total daily energy intake at OH locations. Logistic regression models were fit to identify personal characteristics associated with eating out. In both sexes, beverages, sugar, desserts, sweet and savoury bakery products were consumed more OH than AH. In some countries, men reported higher intakes of fish OH than AH. Overall, substantial OH eating was more common among men, the younger and the more educated participants, but was weakly associated with total energy intake. The substantial OH eaters reported similar dietary intakes OH and AH. Individuals who were not identified as substantial OH eaters reported consuming proportionally higher quantities of sweet and savoury bakery products, soft drinks, juices and other non-alcoholic beverages OH than AH. The OH intakes were different from the AH ones, only among individuals who reported a relatively small contribution of OH eating to their daily intakes and this may partly explain the inconsistent findings relating eating out to the current obesity epidemic.