Crunchy and delicious. Fried sage leaves are a very common Italian appetizer or Aperitivo snack which is extremely easy to make. A fluffy batter made with sparkling water or beer makes the sage leaves super crunchy and they pair perfectly with a bubbly drink or a cold beer on a summer afternoon.
The first time I had fried sage leaves I was at a party at one of my friends' house. It was summer so we were eating outside in the beautiful green garden. Before we set at the table, her mom brought out a large platter full of fried sage leaves, crunchy and still hot.
In Italian, we say "una tira l'altra" which means "one leads to another". The sense is that once you taste one, you literally cannot stop yourself from eating another one, and another one, ...
The origin of this snack is from the Northern region of Italy, Friuli Venezia Giulia, where it's called Salviade. Another variation of the fried sage is to add a little anchovy between two sage leaves before dipping them in the batter. And there is also a sweet version (without anchovies of course), dusted with sugar.
How to make fried sage leaves
It's really simple to make this appetizer, all you need are fresh large sage leaves and a good batter. To make the batter, mix the flour with cold sparkling water or beer (I tried both versions and I love them both) and seasonings to taste. Mix well until you get a thick batter. If it's too liquid, add more flour.
In a pan, bring 1 inch (2.5 cm) of sunflower oil (or your favorite frying oil) to temperature, then dip the sage leaves in the batter to coat them completely, and then transfer them gently to the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan or they will stick to each other.
Fry a couple of minutes on each side, until golden brown, then remove them with a skimmer and place on a plate covered with kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil. Serve while they're still warm.
How to serve them
Fried sage leaves are usually a pre-dinner snack in Italy. Mostly served as Aperitivo, with a Prosecco wine, a cocktail, or a cold beer.
The best way to serve them is on a large platter lined with paper, where guests can pick their treat while drinking and conversing.
If you're having a fancy dinner instead, you can serve them in small individual paper cones or in a nice basket, together with other savory snacks.
FAQ & Tips
I do not recommend making any part of this recipe in advance. The batter would deflate and lose the bubbles which makes it fluffy and crunchy. The cooked leaves, once cold, will lose all their texture and flavor.
Yes, you can also use an air fryer for this recipe: Follow the instructions of this recipe up until the moment of cooking. Bring the air fryer to temperature, then add the sage leaves and cook for a few minutes at 340°F (170°C) until they're golden brown on both sides.
You can store leftovers (if there will be any), in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Before consuming, to make them crunchy again, you can place them under the grill for a couple of minutes.
If you like this recipe, try also these other Aperitivo snacks:
Fried Sage Leaves
- ½ cup All-Purpose Flour
- ½ cup Sparkling Water or Beer, cold
- Black Pepper
- 30 Sage Leaves
- Sunflower Oil, or other oil suitable for frying
- Wash well the sage leaves and then let them dry completely on a towel or kitchen paper.
- In a bowl, mix the flour with a couple of pinches of salt and black pepper.
- Add the cold sparkling water or beer and keep mixing with a whisk or a fork. You may not need to add it all, stop when the consistency seems right, see notes.
- In a medium pan, bring 1 inch (2.5 cm) of sunflower oil to temperature. The temperature is right when it reaches between 350°F and 365°F (175°C – 185°C). To test it, carefully add a drop of batter in the oil, if many small bubbles immediately start to appear, the temperature is right.
- Dip each sage leave in the batter to coat completely, then gently lay them in the oil. Fry only a few at a time and do not crowd the pan, otherwise they’ll stick together.
- Fry a couple of minutes on each side, until they’re golden brown. Then remove them with a skimmer and transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil.
- Sprinkle with more salt if needed and serve immediately while they’re still warm.
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
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