Individual volcanoes of continental monogenetic volcanic fields are generally presumed to erupt single magma batches during brief eruptions. Nevertheless, in two unrelated volcanic fields (the Waipiata volcanic field, New Zealand, and the Miocene–Pliocene volcanic field in western Hungary), we have identified pronounced and systematic compositional differences among products of individual volcanoes. We infer that this indicates a two-stage process of magma supply for these volcanoes. Each volcano records: (1) intrusion of a basanitic parent magma to lower- to mid-crustal levels and its subsequent fractionation to form a tephritic residual melt; (2) subsequent transection of this reservoir by a second batch of basanitic melt, with tephrite rising to the surface at the head of the propagating basanite dyke. Eruption at the surface then yields initial tephrite, typically erupted as pyroclasts, followed by eruption and shallow intrusion of basanite from deeper in the dyke. By analogy with similar tephrite–basanite eruptions along rift zones of intraplate ocean-island volcanoes, we infer that fractionation to tephrite would have required decades to centuries. We conclude that the two studied continental monogenetic volcanic fields demonstrate a consistent history of early magmatic injections that fail to reach the surface, followed by capture and partial eruption of their evolved residues in the course of separate and significantly later injections of basanite that extend to the surface and erupt. This systematic behaviour probably reflects the difficulty of bringing small volumes of dense, primitive magma to the surface from mantle source regions. Ascent through continental crust is aided by the presence in the dyke head of buoyant tephrite captured during transection of the earlier-emplaced melt bodies.