Fried Sage Leaves in Italy

Like Bubba Gump and his endless variety of shrimp, Southern cooks like to fry just about everything.  I’ve sampled more than my share of fried pickles, fried okra, fried green tomatoes, fried oysters, fried catfish, fried turkey, fried peanuts, fried apples, fried cheese, corn dogs, fried hand-pies, fried onion rings, fried Oreo cookies, fried sweet potatoes and, of course, fried chicken.

Kentucky Fried Chicken
Kentucky Fried Chicken

On my travels, I don’t turn down regional favorites and other ethnic dishes such as cactus fries, Blooming onions, fried banana chips, fried veal cutlet or Weiner Schnitzel, calamari, chimichanga, croquettes, egg rolls, falafel, pommes soufflés, tortillas and even fried ice cream.

Fried Sage Leaves at Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort

But, I’d never tasted fried sage leaves before a recent trip to Italy.  The sage leaves were on the menu at the Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort, so I ordered them.  One bite and I knew I’d found a new love.  They were so scrumptious; each leaf was delicately coated in a thin batter and sprinkled with sea salt.  I would compare the preparation and taste to tempura.

I searched for recipes online, but they called for deep-frying in oil. Since I don’t own a deep fryer, I keep looking.  Finally, I found this recipe on the blog: Eat Outside the Bag. It’s owned by Susy Morris, a thirty something girl who loves all things gardening, cooking and organic. She fries fresh sage leaves in butter and then uses the leftover sage butter on pasta or in soups.

Better yet, travel to Italy to taste some.

Fried Sage Leaves

From Eat Outside the Bag


  • 1 handful of fresh sage leaves
  • 1 large nob of unsalted butter* (preferably organic pastured butter) butter)
  • A sprinkling of freshly ground sea salt


Gather a handful of fresh sage leaves; any size works; the small ones are less intense than the big ones.

Melt butter in cast iron skillet over medium heat. When butter is melted, throw in the sage leaves, cook, stirring occasionally until they stop sizzling. Remove from pan and cool on a plate.

You’ll be left with sage brown butter in your skillet, which is quite a treat itself. It’s wonderful drizzled on top of soup or pasta and is at it’s best when enjoyed over pumpkin or butternut squash ravioli.

*About a quarter to a third cup or so, depends on the size of your skillet, I use an 8 inch skillet and you want between 1/8 to 1/4 inch of butter in your skillet.

Fried chicken photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Calamari by alantankenghoe – Flickr: Seafood, CC BY 2.0