Make Ahead

Chicken Breasts With Fresh Sage

April  8, 2021
23 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 45 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 2 to 4
Author Notes

This chicken breast recipe is from Trattoria by Patricia Wells. I'm adding it because it goes very well with the Lemon Risotto recipe that I posted. Moreover, it's so easy with tons of lemony flavor. —JulieBee

Test Kitchen Notes

I really am going to stop talking about my stove soon.

But for the first time in my cooking life, I am able to cook chicken on the stove top without it sticking to the pan and destroying all my hopes and dreams, or at least the ones pertainings to poultry, before my very eyes. I have chosen to believe this is less about my failure as a cook, or my unfettered impatience when it comes to turning meat before it's time, and rather about the failures of my prior stoves to heat things evenly.

Just work with me on this delusion, because it’s leading somewhere.

Although I have often scorned the boneless chicken breast, I saw some that were so lovely at the Bethesda farmers market on Sunday I had to pick them up. This takes us to Chicken Breast with Fresh Sage, which was instantly appealing on several levels. First of all, it’s adapted from a Patricia Wells recipe, which is practically synonymous with guaranteed-simply-divine; it involves sage, one of my favorite herbs and there are few other ingredients to mess with here.

(Bonus: our poster, JulieBee, uses the word "moreover" in describing its lemony deliciousness; I just love a recipe that employs an adverb!)

The first thing you will notice is the call for what seems like an excessive number of sage leaves. (Is it just me or has there been a shortage of sage at the markets this year? I noticed this all year in L.A., where it is currently easier to procure medical marijuana some days than furry batches of this herb, and the trend continues in D.C., where I had to settle for one lonely bunch from the herb lady, who seemed genuinely pained by my sage-less sadness yet fobbed the blame on the last sage-hoarding customer.) Don’t worry–if you get a nice big bunch you will have plenty for this recipe.

So once you get your olive oil and butter going, pop your nice chicken breasts in there (hopefully purchased from people who raise really good flavorful birds it does make a difference here) and let them sizzle away. Are you tempted to turn them too early? Please stop that.

Once you have turned the breasts, tuck your sage leaves under and close to (as opposed to the not-quite-specific “around” that the recipe suggest) and keep a watchful eye so that you don’t over cook them. I realize this can be a tricky dance (one of my breasts would not quite finish in the center) so if you have particularly plump meat you may wish to finish this in the oven.

The sauce reduction takes no time and really enhances this dish, a bit of lemony goodness infused will all important butter fat. You can actually skip the last bit of butter if you choose, but then please don’t serve it to me. —Jestei

What You'll Need
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or cutlets)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 28 fresh sage leaves
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Marinate chicken with the lemon juice, sage and olive oil for 30 minutes. The lemon here both flavors and tenderizes the chicken.
  2. After 30 minutes remove chicken and pat dry. Strain marinade and put aside. Reserve sage leaves separately and put aside.
  3. In large skillet, melt butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil until hot and bubbly. Add chicken breasts smooth side down and cook until evenly brown, about 5 minutes (cooking time will be much less if you are using cutlets). Turn breasts over and season generously with salt and pepper. Tuck reserved sage leaves around the chicken and cook until chicken is browned on the bottom but still juicy, about 5 to 10 minutes more. Do not scorch the sage.
  4. Remove chicken to platter and season second side with salt and pepper. Scatter sage leaves on top and also add lemon wedges to plate. Cover loosely with foil. Discard any fat from skillet. Add reserved lemon marinade into skillet on high heat. Reduce to a glaze, add tablespoon of butter, and pour over chicken. Serve ASAP.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Jaxmccaff
  • fuhsi
  • Franca
  • ChefSchaffy
  • heroincookies

29 Reviews

Jaxmccaff September 18, 2023
This was so much better then I expected. Very simple but full of flavour. The fried sage was key!
jenncc August 6, 2023
Really delicious! Quick and simple as long as your chicken breast aren't too thick - next time I will either pound them thinner or cut them in half. Loved the crispy sage!
Lmk August 4, 2023
Amazing. I doubled the ingredients for the sauce and added the extra when deglazing. I rarely write reviews, but had to for this one. I will make this again and again, and use it in different dishes. So simple, but so tasty!
Banyantrees May 22, 2022
This has become a go-to weeknight meal for me. It’s simple to throw together and quick. Doesn’t hurt that I have a ton of sage in my garden and I’m able to use a bunch in this recipe. I’ve tried some of the suggestionsof other reviewers - throwing wine and garlic in, which were great suggestions! I think this recipe is a nice, healthy jumping off point!
fuhsi March 16, 2021
We've made this dish several times and it consistently comes out juicy which is not an easy thing to do with boneless chicken breasts.
fuhsi April 17, 2022
I've found that marinating longer makes the chicken even juicier.
Franca October 4, 2020
There was no sauce to speak of, therefore de-glazed with a bit of white wine at the end. A lovely supper.
AlexL December 4, 2021
The sauce is a lemon glaze. It is the last 3 sentences of the recipe.
ChefSchaffy July 14, 2020
I used sage from my garden, yum! This is a winning dish. I added some minced garlic after removing the chicken and it added another depth of flavor. Cannot wait to use this for a dinner party!
Ilikefood June 15, 2020
I am cooking this dish tonight with sage from my garden. It looks and sounds great. I can’t wait to try it. I’ll let you know. Have you ever used lemon sage? It doesn’t have that really strong sage character but it is nice and really has kind of a lemon hint.
Amy September 24, 2019
I loved this dish! I made it according to directions with one exception: as others noted, there really is NO marinade left over. So I deglazed the pan with a little white wine and lemon juice and added a bit of chicken stock at the end to give it a bit more flavor.
Violet L. June 13, 2018
I had high hopes for this recipe, but was somewhat disappointed with the finished dish. There just wasn't enough marinade to reduce after the chicken was removed from the pan, and there was too much olive oil. I think this dish could be improved greatly with a few tweaks. I absolutely loved the sage, however. I actually fried it beside the chicken in the pan until it was crisp, and served it as a tasty garnish with the chicken. My daughter and I loved the herb & will prepare it this way again!
wynn February 24, 2018
I have made this several times during summer dinner parties at the Lake. It has never failed and it is simply delicious. I have served it with a light spring risotto.
JulieBee February 25, 2018
Hi Wynn, If you have a chance, try to the lemon risotto recipe (under my profile) to serve with the sage chicken. The risotto is "mantecared" with lemon, butter, cheese and a blend of sage, mint, and rosemary that blows everyone's mind with the first bite. It ties in beautifully with the chicken dish. Mangia!
wynn February 25, 2018
Thank you so much. I will definetly look it up and try next time.
Amy January 7, 2019
I tried to find it but can't.... Any clues what it's actually called?
JulieBee January 7, 2019
Hi Amy, Here is the recipe for the Lemon Risotto. It is amazing and even better the next day. JB
This recipe proves that simplicity isn't boring. This is a dish anyone can make easily and it is hard to screw it up. The sage is wonderful and not at all overpowering, the lemon adds just the right amount of bite. You can dress it up with a sophisticated side dish or just serve it with salad.
heroincookies September 17, 2013
I made this for a woman I work as a personal chef for, and she loved it. Beautiful flavors (and smells!). Thanks for sharing!
Sabine G. September 10, 2013
Made this tonight! YUM! The flavors are excellent. My chicken breasts were a little uneven in size. Next time I'll pound them to equal sizes so everything can be done around the same time. Rookie mistake on my part. Thanks for sharing the recipe!
J W. September 22, 2019
Thanks for sharing that tip. I’m kinda of a rookie myself to these new recipes. It sounds lovely. 😊
Chloe8 June 7, 2013
Low fat, high protein, and sage. One of my favorite Chicken recipe.
Sammi M. June 5, 2013
This was delicious! It's also inexpensive, easy, and it looks great on the plate. This is going to be one of my go-to chicken recipes.
Graziella C. February 28, 2013
with lrmon risotto...will rate later if I remember
juliunruly October 24, 2012
This was fantastic. Highly recommended. I did it with a half poulet; browned in a cast iron skillet, both sides at high heat for 3 minutes each. I then finished in a 350 oven for 20 mins.
bkdice September 8, 2011
I have an abundance of sage and don't use it all the much for summer cooking. This dish was SO easy and so tasty! I threw a splash of white wine into the glaze (since I had it open anyway :). Wonderful weeknight meal that I will definitely make again.
lpenney14 July 20, 2011
This was great! Clean and simple. Sage is an underused and delicious resource - thanks for a new way to use it!