This easy butter and sage pasta sauce is super simple to make: just one pan, 2 ingredients and only minutes to cook!
Butter and sage pasta sauce (Salsa di Burro e Salvia) is a classic Italian recipe typically used to dress fresh homemade pasta and gnocchi. The flavor is rich and buttery, with subtle hints of sage. The sage leaves crisp as they cook, gently infusing the sauce (and yes: you can eat them- the flavor is elegant and mellow).
Beyond pasta, butter and sage sauce is equally delicious spooned over steamed artichokes or baked fish with sourdough breadcrumbs and lemon (I make this dish every Wednesday night). All you need is one pan, 2 ingredients and only minutes to cook!
Ingredients You Will Need
- Salted butter
- Fresh sage leaves
How to Make Butter and Sage Pasta Sauce
In a skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Once it becomes foamy, add the fresh sage leaves. Continue to cook until the spotty milk solids subside, the leaves crisp slightly, and the sauce becomes light golden in color (not yet brown).
Tip: Is this a Brown Butter Sauce? Not quite. Technically, it’s a “golden” butter sauce. Here’s the difference: brown butter sauce cooks for longer, allowing the milk solids to turn hazelnut brown. The flavor is rich, nutty and strong. In comparison, golden butter sauce is cooked for less time, is more “honey” colored, but still deeply flavorful. In my opinion, it’s more versatile.
A Few Tips
- Use Salted Butter: sauces made with unsalted butter tend to be under seasoned. Salted butter solves this problem without the guesswork. I like Kerry Gold salted butter- it’s rich, creamy and perfectly salted.
- Dress it Up: a splash of lemon juice will brighten the flavor of this sauce; Parmesan cheese is a must if serving with pasta.
- Get a Sage Plant: if you cook with fresh herbs often, this is a practical, cost effective investment. I have fresh sage in my garden and it grows back every year.
- Eat The Leaves! Crispy sage leaves are surprisingly tasty.
Can You Freeze Butter & Sage Sauce?
Absolutely. Transfer the semi-cooled sauce into an airtight container; chill for 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month. Defrost at room temperature. Re-heat to serve.
This Sauce Pairs Well With:
More Italian Pasta Sauce Recipes To Try!
- Ragù Bolognese Sauce
- Quick Sicilian-Style Tomato Sauce
- Classic Italian Basil Pesto (Pesto alla Genovese)
- Easy Pesto alla Trapanese (Sicilian Pesto)
This post contains affiliate links. Photography & styling credit: Emilie Raffa & Melina HammerPrint
For the Sauce
- 120 g (8 tbsp) salted butter
- 15 fresh, beautiful fresh sage leaves
To Serve (optional)
- 1 lb pasta or gnocchi
- Fresh parmesan cheese
- 1/2 lemon
For the Sauce: cut the butter into small pats. Add to a skillet and melt over medium heat. Once the butter becomes foamy, add the fresh sage leaves. Continue to cook, stirring gently with a spoon, until the spotty white milk solids subside and the sauce becomes “honey” golden in color (not yet brown). Note: this sauce will change from golden to brown butter in a nano second- do not walk away from the pan! If using lemon, squeeze some in at the end.
To Serve with Pasta: while the pasta cooks, make the sauce (you’ll need a large 12-inch skillet). Using tongs, transfer the pasta into the pan, allowing some of the water to still cling to the pasta. Grate fresh Parmesan cheese on top. Toss the pasta with the sauce, adding more pasta cooking water, as needed, to emulsify the texture. Serve immediately with the crispy sage leaves scattered on top.
To Store: this sauce is best made and served fresh. However, you can any store any leftovers in an airtight container. Chill for 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month. Defrost at room temperature. Re-heat to serve.
Keywords: butter, sage, pasta sauce, Italian, easy, recipe