Fried Sage Leaves

These fried sage leaves are made by dipping fresh sage in a flour and water batter, and quickly deep frying until golden. An easy and elegant and surprising garnish or hors d’oeuvre.

A white bowl filled with crispy fried sage leaves

These fried sage leaves are proof that you really can fry anything and make it vastly better. Fresh sage leaves are lightly battered and quickly fried to crisp, golden perfection. The little lovelies that result make an easy, elegant hors d’oeuvres for any gathering of folks who appreciate fine cuisine.–Angie Zoobkoff

Fried Sage Leaves

  • Quick Glance
  • 5 M
  • 15 M
  • Serves 6

Special Equipment: Deep-fry thermometer

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Ingredients

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  • 1 bunch fresh sage leaves (about 1 ounce)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
  • Oil, for frying
  • Fine sea salt

Directions

  • 1. Pinch the sage leaves off their stems and toss the stems in the compost. Wash and pat the leaves thoroughly dry with paper towels.
  • 2. To make the batter, add the water and a pinch of salt to a small bowl and use a fork to gradually stir the flour into the water until combined. The batter should have the consistency of heavy cream or a thin crêpe batter. You can add a little more flour or water if a different consistency is desired.
  • 3. Attach a deep-fry thermometer to the side of a shallow heavy-bottomed pan and add enough oil to reach a depth of at least 1/2 inch (1 cm). Heat the oil on medium-high until it reaches 350°F (177°C). Working 1 at a time, dunk a few leaves in the batter, turning to coat, and then use a fork to remove the leaf and allow any excess batter to drip off. Then slide the leaves into the hot oil.
  • 4. Fry the leaves in small batches until golden, about 1 minute per side. Use a slotted spoon or tongs to transfer them to a plate lined with paper towels. Be certain to let the oil to return to the frying temperature between batches. Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.

Recipe Testers Reviews

How fun are these fried sage leaves?! I adore sage and think it’s quite underused in cooking in general, so when I saw this simple recipe for a unique and quick small bite, I was on board. With an Italian-inspired dinner on the docket for the evening, these crisp and flavorful sage bites were perfect with drinks before dinner. (More specifically, a dry martini for both my husband and myself.)

The batter mixture of flour and water was very similar in texture to a crepe batter and I didn’t need to add more flour or water than what was called for in the recipe. In terms of cooking time, I let the sage leaves cook for 1 minute to begin with and then flipped them. In the hot oil at this point, they only took about 30 more seconds at this point. I didn't want them to burn, so I removed them at this point when they were crisp and golden brown. I salted them, let them cool for a minute or so, and we ate them just like that.

Overall, these were quite tasty and such a treat. Reminded me a touch of tempura; not only were these tasty as a small bite, but I would be tempted to use them as a garnish on a nice risotto or Italian-inspired meat or fish dish as a garnish.

The 1-ounce package of sage leaves was probably enough for about 6 people as an appetizer. If you were serving the fried sage leaves on a cheese plate or with other small bites, they would obviously feed more.

I used a gluten-free flour mix for these so if you’re using wheat flour, my comments may not apply. I started with the recipe as written, but I did have to add a bit more flour to get the right consistency. Again, that may not be the case if you use regular flour.

The first few sage leaves fried up nicely although they were very pale, as gluten-free flours tend to be, so I added just a touch of agave nectar (a pinch of sugar would also work) to get some browning in the batter, and that worked perfectly. The batter in the recipe is unseasoned, and I think adding a hefty pinch of salt would be a good thing instead of just relying on salt sprinkled on at the end.

Fried sage leaves are delicious and make for an excellent cocktail nibble. They are great plain but they can also stand up to a dip. I served them with a spicy mustard and mayo combo for dipping. They were good both with and without the dip.

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