This brown butter pasta is a tempting tangle of fettuccine, brown butter, and eggs that makes paltry pantry items somehow seem perfectly lovely for brunch, lunch, or a late, late, late supper.–Renee Schettler Rossi

What Is Brown Butter Supposed To Look Like?

You’ll know when a butter is brown when the milk solids start to clump and take on a golden brownish hue and all the butter starts to turn golden. Trust us. You’ll know when the time is right.

A tangle of brown butter pasta, toasted pine nuts, and two fried eggs on a plate with three forks in it.

Brown Butter Pasta

5 from 1 vote
This brown butter pasta is a rich, comforting tangle of buttery fresh pasta and pine nuts, topped with fried eggs. Comfort food at its finest.
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories608 kcal
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time30 minutes


  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 8 ounces store-bought or homemade fresh pasta, such as fettuccine or tagliatelle
  • 1 to 2 sticks unsalted butter, (yes, sticks)
  • 3/4 cup pine nuts
  • 4 large eggs
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and nutmeg, to taste


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 4 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, melt the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and cook, stirring often, until both the pine nuts and the butter are golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes.

    ☞ TESTER TIP: How long it takes your butter to turn brown will vary depending on how much butter you're using. More butter, more time.

  • Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pine nuts to a bowl. Working in 2 batches, crack the eggs into the butter and cook, still over medium heat and spooning the butter over the yolks, until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny, about 3 minutes. Transfer the eggs to a plate and keep warm.
  • Place a strainer over a large bowl and drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.
  • Add the pasta and half of the pine nuts to the skillet and toss until hot. Stir in just enough of the reserved pasta water to create a sauce, probably 2 to 4 tablespoons, and then season with salt and pepper.
  • Divvy the pasta among 4 plates. Top each pile of pasta with a fried egg and sprinkle with the remaining pine nuts and the Parmigiano-Reggiano and nutmeg.


Leite’s Loves…Inspired By This Recipe

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Delamere Dinner Plate by Spode
18-inch Acacia Serving Plank by Artisan
Saveur: The New Comfort Food

Adapted From

Saveur: The New Comfort Food

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 608 kcalCarbohydrates: 35 gProtein: 16 gFat: 46 gSaturated Fat: 18 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 11 gMonounsaturated Fat: 13 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 288 mgSodium: 89 mgPotassium: 328 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 1 gVitamin A: 1010 IUVitamin C: 0.2 mgCalcium: 47 mgIron: 4 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2011 Gabrielle Hamilton. Photo © 2011 Todd Coleman. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

With everything going on in the world, we sure could use a little extra comfort. This dish is quite possibly the most perfect comfort food ever. My husband, Jay, declared with a mouth full of noodles, “THIS IS A TEN! It might be more comforting than macaroni and cheese!!!” I mean, can you top that?

The whole meal took about 12 minutes to make total. I bought fresh pasta—I will own the laziness on that one. When I make this next time, the only thing I would differently is I would use salted butter instead of unsalted. But really I just prefer salted butter. There is nothing wrong with this recipe. Jay has already asked that I make this again soon. And I will.

This recipe is an old friend, and I always enjoy revisiting it. Even with half the butter compared to the initial recipe from years ago, it was just as delicious. The butter browned faster too, making this quick meal even easier to make. The nutty sauce with the golden brown milk solids, the Parmesan, and the eggs make the heart of this dish, and they cling very well to the fresh pasta, which isn’t as slick as the dried kind.

I still stand by my initial (and strong) suggestion—please have bread ready within reach to capture every bit of the sauce and the buttery tender pine nuts left on the plates. And this is just a note to self—in my house 8 ounces of pasta is easily devoured by 2 people.

I used fresh fettuccine. I followed the instruction on the package and cooked it for 3 minutes and not 4 minutes.

This is one of those special recipes that’s tasty enough to wow guests as part of a fancy meal but simple enough to fix in a hurry for family on a work night. The directions are so simple and straightforward there’s not much to go wrong. Pay attention to cooking time on the pasta. Don’t let the pine nuts burn. It would be a pity to cook the eggs past the runny-yolk stage. Let each diner pile on as much cheese as they want.

I bought fresh fettuccini pasta from my grocery store, which instructed 2 to 4 minutes of cooking time, and I cooked it just over 2 minutes for al dente. I used 2 sticks of butter.

Three of us shared this meal and we had leftovers for one. I judged that the extra egg would not reheat well, so that got eaten as part of my serving.

As someone who has a serious pasta addiction and a necessity for a lot of protein in my diet, it’s nice to find a recipe that combines the two without adding meat. The recipe is relatively simple but at times I felt like I needed 3 hands. I’ve never been good at keeping eggs warm while I cook more eggs, and this dish may have suffered because of that. Plus, the knowledge that the eggs were cooling added a little stress to my cooking. That aside, the end result was tasty and quickly assembled.

I used a commercially made tagliatelle and followed the package direction to cook it for 2 minutes. I used 2 sticks of butter.

Adding the pasta water to the hot butter has to be done very carefully. I used about 3 tablespoons of water.

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I made this last night, and oh my God, was that a lot of butter. I got cold feet at the last minute, and only used one and a half sticks, and it was still pretty excessive. The recipe was delicious, but I think next time, I’ll just use six tablespoons of butter. On the other hand, who knew pine nuts fried in butter could be so addictive? I could not stop munching on them while cooking. Also, I fried some sage leaves in the butter and the flavors were to-die-for.

    1. An, it is a lot of butter, but it’s so delicious. Maybe adding a bit more pasta? I love the idea of adding the sage. It would add a lovely earthy herbaceousness to the dish.