This butter is great added to mashed potatoes or stirred through crushed new potatoes with crème fraîche.–Maria Elia

LC Brown Butter, How Do We Love Thee? Note

Brown butter, how do we love thee? With apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, let us count the ways. We love thee to the depth and breadth and height your nutty aroma can reach, when feeling out of weeknight luck you meld odds and ends in the fridge with grace. We love thee to the level of everyday’s pasta’s most quiet need, by sun and candlelight. We love thee freely, over potatoes as is our right; we love thee purely, as with a little lemon we praise. We love thee with a passion put to use in quick weeknight ways with fish, chicken, and pork, owing to home cooks’ faith. We love thee with a love reserved for bacon and homemade Nutella that we hope not to lose and even with veggies that incur balsamic breath, all the best dog-eared recipes of our life!—and, if God chooses we shall but love thee better with dessert, er, death.

Sage brown butter with a crispy sage leaf in a small glass.

Sage Brown Butter

5 / 4 votes
This sage brown butter takes only three ingredients and comes together quickly, which is astonishing for just how incredible it tastes.
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories252 kcal
Cook Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes


  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 12 sage leaves
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice


  • Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until it begins to foam and turn golden brown. Turn off the heat and carefully add the sage leaves (they will sputter a little). Add the lemon juice, tilt the pan to swirl the lemon juice and butter together, and set aside to cool slightly or until needed. (Yup. You’re done. It’s that simple.)
The Modern Vegetarian

Adapted From

The Modern Vegetarian

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 252 kcalCarbohydrates: 1 gProtein: 1 gFat: 28 gSaturated Fat: 18 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 7 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 75 mgSodium: 4 mgPotassium: 11 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 1 gVitamin A: 875 IUVitamin C: 1 mgCalcium: 9 mgIron: 1 mg

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

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2009 Maria Elia. Photo © 2009 Jonathan Gregson. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This browned butter is a classic base to so many great dishes. The addition of sage and lemon is especially nice for fall dishes. As the recipe says, adding the aromatics after the butter has browned and been removed from the heat ensures the perfect flavor balance (i.e., you don’t want to burn the sage or cook away the fresh lemon flavor). I mixed my brown butter into mashed sweet potatoes—I just baked the sweet potatoes whole in a 400°F oven for 45 minutes, removed the skins, and mashed them along with the browned butter. It was divine. I think pretty much anything would taste divine with this butter though!

As soon as I read this recipe, I was smiling thinking of my grandmother and how she would use the not-so-nice-looking herb leaves to make scented butter. And this recipe is very similar to how she used to make hers. Indeed, this is a beauty drizzled over mashed potatoes but is ever better on a nice, juicy, grilled steak. You can use sage or you can use just about any other herb. The nice thing is that you can also freeze it in small quantities, which of course will remove some of its beautiful aromas but is nevertheless very practical for last-minute butter emergencies.

Although perfect with the Chestnut Pasta Rags with Wild Mushrooms and Brussels Sprouts, this versatile butter would enhance almost anything it touched! It went great with some roasted guinea hens, but you needn’t stop there. It’d go great with a pan sauce, too. If vegetables could, they’d sing your praises were they to be caressed by this easy-to-prepare finisher.

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. Los Angeles’ Animal restaurant serves this with chestnut agnolotti, I used to just stare while they made it when I work service for them. It’s hypnotizing. I’ve had dreams of sage butter ever since.

    David, thank you so much for sharing this. The flavor seemed too out of my league to make. Who would have thunk that it would be so simple.

    I just drizzled (well, more like generously poured) this over my roasted yam & squash AND all over my pan seared trout… And maybe a little more over the rice as well… :-/ It took my basic dinner to a whole new gourmet level. Trying really hard not to pour more…. AHHH!!!! So good. 🙂

    1. Jenny, you have my permission. Pour away!! One should always pour when it comes to sage brown butter.

  2. 5 stars
    My favorite use is to roast cauliflower—and then toss the roasted cauliflower in the brown-butter sage sauce. People who don’t like cauliflower have been known to LICK THEIR PLATES. I consider that the highest recommendation.