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Fried sage leaves: I crave for real life.

When I prepare a batch of ravioli I usually also put a saucepan on the stove. While the water is boiling in a big pot, I add into the saucepan a generous knob of butter with a handful of torn sage leaves. I carefully adjust the heat: it must be hot enough to melt the butter and turn the sage into crisp and fragile leaves, but not too strong, as not to burn the butter and have a bitter outcome.

When the ravioli are cooked and float to the top, I spoon them out of the boiling water and lay them in a shallow dish. I drizzle the brown butter over the ravioli, admiring how they instantly start to glimmer once covered with the golden liquid. With a spoon I equally distribute the sage all over the ravioli, then I sprinkle some Parmigiano on top. Serving the ravioli, I make sure to leave extra crisp sage leaves for me. It’s my favourite morsel. If I close my eyes I can perfectly imagine the crisp sage crackling on my tongue as rustling autumn leaves.

fried sage leaves

Elizabeth David in her Italian Food admits that she prefers mint and basil to sage as it has an overpowering musty dried-blood smell. For me, sage has the reassuring smell of home food, as we normally use it with veal liver, pork roast, beans and as a dressing for pasta. There’s nothing better than the crisp sage left at the bottom of a ravioli dish, covered with melted butter and cheese. Oh, wait. Actually there’s something better and way more simple. Have you ever heard of fried sage leaves?

Eggs-1  Home-1

In these days I crave for real life. Sometimes I get bored with what I see on Social Media. When was real life surpassed by a glossy cover life, where everyone eats the same food, drinks the same cappuccino or latte onto the same marble table, reads the same magazines?

Real life is different in this nook of the world. I don’t live in a postcard-like Tuscan village, here we sit outside in fading plastic chairs that have seen better days, there’s a romantic swing in the garden, but it would need hand of painting, our vegetable garden grows in slow motion and a few herb pots have been dried up by a scotching sun. It might not be as picture perfect, but it is definitely tasty, as a rugged sage leaf dipped in batter and fried until golden. Here sage grows in bushes underneath olive trees. We never use dried sage, this is something you won’t find in an Italian pantry, as usually you just exit your door and pick up a few leaves, those you need for a roast, or a sauce.

Sage  fried sage leaves

Fried sage leaves

Fried sage leaves are probably the easiest appetizer you can serve to open a summer Tuscan meal. They are usually paired with other fried goodness, such as zucchini flowers or leftover slices of stale bread. Look in your pantry: do you have flour? Beer? I guess you have water, salt and black pepper. Now you just need meaty fresh sage leaves, the biggest you can get. You’re done. Make a batter thick enough to cover the sage leaves and deep-fry every leaf until puffed and golden. Sprinkle with flaky salt and serve piping hot with a chilled wine.

fried sage leaves
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4.5 from 10 votes

Fried sage leaves

Course Appetizer
Cuisine Tuscan
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes
Serves 4
Author Giulia


  • 4 heaping tablespoons of all purpose flour
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 pinch of ground black pepper
  • 50 ml (1.69 fl oz) of beer
  • 100 ml (3.38 fl oz) of water
  • About 30 sage leaves
  • Extra virgin olive oil


  • Make the batter. Mix in a bowl flour, salt and pepper, then add slowly water and beer. Add the liquid little by little in order to avoid lumps. Let the batter rest in the fridge for half an hour until chilled.
  • Heat two inches of olive oil in a large skillet, dip the leaves into the batter and remove the excess. When the olive oil is hot, lay the leaves well spaced into the skillet and fry for a few minutes per side, until crisp, puffed and golden. Fry the leaves in batches, so they won't stick together.
  • Remove the sage leaves from the olive oil, lay them in a plate with a few sheets of paper towel to absorb the excess olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Enjoy!
Tried this recipe?We love to see your creations! Snap a pic and tag @julskitchen and hashtag it #myseasonaltable!

Link Love

  • Read Elizabeth Minchilli‘s recipe for fried sage leavesA few minutes in few inches of hot olive oil, and they become crunchy, earthy treats. Sage chips more or less. 
  • The new post of my friend Regula, still in theme with batter: Batter pudding, a Dutch baby and the scent of a ripening nectarine. A nectarine scented travel back in time through memories.
  • A flowery cocktail from Ireland, Elderflower-Honeysuckle (Mock)tail from FarmetteRefreshing and fruity, this blossoming combination of musky elderflower-honeysuckle nectar and sparkling water is the perfect thirst quencher for a long summer day, and it doubles as a dazzling drink for farm dinners al fresco.

fried sage leaves

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This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    We do fry sage leaves! In face we have a beautiful plant the is producing so many leaves. And we have used the sage fried in butter with lemon and our homemade ravioli. What we’ve never done is fry them dipped in a batter. Great inspiration! We’ll have to try it and your photos are beautiful.

  2. your delicious recipes bring summer back in a rainy Netherlands! thanks, Giulia!

  3. Lovely post as always… And I agree, I get bored by the overstyled life on social media sometimes… But in my eyes you do live the idyllic Tuscan life. Your chairs might be fading, but the swing in your garden is on of my favourite places in the world to sit, especially when your mum put the White linnens on the washing line and the flow silently in the warm wind. The ancient rosemary bush by the driveway, the pomegranate tree. Then there’s the view, the epic view. It doesn’t matter how faded your chairs are, the people sitting on them are the real deal. Love you all over there x

  4. I did try this in Italy and it was amazing. It is so simply and so tasty. This is what I like about cooking the most. Thank you for the recipe. rgds

  5. Thanks for the ideas on what to do with my prolific sage plant! I am going to fry them up this evening. Vivian

  6. 5 stars
    Recently returned from Northern Italy visiting family. They mentioned “fried sage leaves” but we didn’t have them while visiting. Just made the recipe and they are truly delicious. Only wish sage grew here in Pennsylvania like it does in Tuscany! Thanks for the recipe.

  7. Whenever we visit our dear friends in Switzerland our hosts prepare fried Sage leaves.
    We know purchased a plant. We serve them with Thai Chili Sauce or sprinkle Mexican Tajin on them. We enjoy this appetizer with a glass of Prosecco.

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