Easy Brown Butter Pasta Recipe

5 from 1 vote

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Mix pasta with rich sage-infused brown butter and sprinkle crispy toasted breadcrumbs on top for a simple and comforting meal. It only takes 20 minutes and handful of ingredients to create this weeknight meal.

Close up image of brown butter pasta with sage and breadcrumbs.


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Why you’ll love this recipe:

This weeknight brown butter sage pasta is as impressive as a 5-star restaurant dish! Yet it’s super easy to prepare at home, as a side or main course.

The combination of nutty brown butter, crispy sage, and savory parmesan cheese creates a heavenly blend of flavors and textures.

  • Quick – This pasta dish is easy to make. It only requires 5 minutes of prep and 15 minutes of cooking time.
  • Flavorful – It’s full of rich, savory, umami-packed flavor that your entire family will find irresistible. 
  • Approachable – Brown butter pasta looks fancy and complicated, but it’s just as easy as making plain, buttered noodles!  

Enjoy brown butter pasta as a side or main dish. You can also pair it with your choice of protein, such as garlic butter shrimp or grilled steak.

A bowl of brown butter pasta with a fork sticking out.

Key Ingredient Notes:

  • Pasta shells – Medium-sized shells are best. The cupped noodles capture the brown butter sauce, giving every bite a luscious, buttery taste! 
  • Unsalted butter is the star ingredient in this recipe! For the best flavor, it’s crucial to choose a high-quality butter and don’t substitute it with salted butter. Extra salt will overpower the bold, nutty flavor we’re looking to achieve. 
  • Panko breadcrumbs are light and airy Japanese-style breadcrumbs made from crustless bread. You can find it next to the regular breadcrumbs in most grocery stores. Toasted breadcrumbs add a delicious texture contrast!
  • Garlic – Freshly minced garlic cloves add extra depth and savoriness to the brown butter sauce.
  • Fresh sage is an earthy-tasting, fragrant herb that helps balance out the richness of the dish. 
  • Parmesan cheese adds a creamy texture and cheesy flavor. I highly recommend grating extra cheese to add as a topping! 
Ingredients needed to make brown butter pasta with breadcrumbs and sage.

How to make this weeknight pasta recipe:

1. Cook the pasta

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil
  • Add the pasta to the boiling water, and cook just until al dente according to the package instructions. 
  • Drain the pasta, and set it aside. 

2. Toast the breadcrumbs

  • Heat two tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat.
  • Add the panko breadcrumbs to the skillet.
  • Cook the breadcrumbs for about 3 minutes, stirring often. 
  • Remove the breadcrumbs from the skillet and wipe the pan clean. 
Two images showing cooked pasta shells and toasted breadcrumbs.

3. Make the brown butter sauce for pasta 

  • Add 8 tablespoons of butter to the skillet and cook over low heat.
  • Stir the butter nonstop while it melts and bubbles. After about 2-3 minutes, you’ll see brown bits form on the bottom of the pan. 
  • Add the sage as soon as the brown bits begin to appear. 
  • Cook the sage for 1-2 minutes, until it’s brown and crispy. 
  • Remove the crispy sage pieces from the pan, and set them aside.
  • Continue to cook the butter until it becomes golden brown. Be careful not to let it burn! 
Two images showing the process of creating brown butter.

4. Prepare the brown butter pasta

  • Add the minced garlic to the pan, and cook for 30 seconds.
  • Transfer the cooked pasta to the skillet, mix it with the brown butter and garlic sauce, and turn off the heat. 
  • Toss the finely grated cheese and crispy sage into the pasta. 
  • Top the pasta with the toasted breadcrumbs. Then, serve warm, and enjoy! 
Four images showing the process of creating brown butter pasta with breadcrumbs, parmesan, and sage.

Create a garnish

Garnish your pasta with extra sage and Parmesan cheese before serving.

Tips for Success: 

  • Use a light-colored or stainless steel skillet when making the brown butter. Dark skillets will prevent you from noticing when the butter starts to brown.
  • Use room-temperature butter, if possible. Cold butter straight from the fridge will splatter while it’s melting. 
  • Watch the butter closely while it’s browning. It can go from brown to burnt in a matter of seconds! 
  • Don’t try to rush the browning process by cooking the butter over high heat. This will just cause the butter to burn, and it won’t taste great. It takes longer to cook butter on low heat. But you’ll get a perfectly browned, nutty-tasting butter! 
  • Use fresh sage leaves for the best flavor and texture. Rubbed sage will not crisp up like fresh sage leaves will. 

Make-Ahead Tips:

Brown butter pasta is best eaten while it’s warm and fresh. However, you can make the brown butter in advance. You can even make extra brown butter to have on hand for cookies, ravioli,  roasted vegetables, and mashed potatoes!  

To prepare the brown butter ahead of time: 

  • Make the browned butter as directed in the recipe, but wait to add the fresh sage.
  • Transfer the browned butter to a glass, airtight container with a lid that seals. It will stay fresh in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 3 months. 
  • When you’re ready to make your pasta, crisp the sage when you reheat the butter. Then, follow the recipe as listed in the recipe card below, completing the rest of the recipe steps. 
Overhead image of a large pot of brown butter pasta.

Storing Tips:

As mentioned, brown butter pasta is best eaten right away while it’s still hot and the breadcrumb topping is crisp. However, you can still store the leftovers and enjoy it later.

If you plan on making this recipe in advance, I recommend leaving off the panko topping until just before serving! 

  • Allow the pasta to cool to room temperature. Then, transfer it to an airtight container. It’ll stay fresh in the refrigerator for 3-4 days
  • Reheat leftover pasta in a skillet on the stovetop over low heat, until warmed through.

I recommend to make a fresh batch of toasted panko bread crumbs to server with your leftover pasta.

A bowl of brown butter pasta topped with parmesan with a fork sticking out.

Brown Butter Pasta FAQs:

What is brown butter sauce made of?

Believe it or not, a basic brown butter sauce only requires one ingredient, unsalted butter! Savory recipes, like this pasta, often have fresh sage, white wine, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper for added flavor.

What does brown butter sauce taste like?

Compared to regular melted butter, brown butter is more intensely flavored. It’s rich and savory, with a nutty, slightly toasted taste. You may also detect a subtle hint of caramel flavor.

Is brown butter different from regular butter?

Yes, you cook regular butter until the water evaporates and the milk solids turn brown to make brown butter. Butter becomes concentrated when it browns, creating a tasty sauce that goes well with baked goods and pasta dishes.

Close up image of brown butter pasta with sage and breadcrumbs.
5 from 1 vote

Brown Butter Pasta

Prepare brown butter pasta with parmesan cheese, crispy sage, and toasted breadcrumbs in 20 minutes with a handful of ingredients!
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 6 servings


  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt or more to taste for pasta water
  • 16 ounces medium shells pasta Note 1
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter divided, Note 2
  • ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 6 garlic cloves minced
  • 15 fresh sage leaves less or more to taste
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese more for serving


To Cook Pasta:

  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta to al dente according to the package directions.
    16 ounces medium shells pasta, 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Drain the pasta once finished cooking.

To make toasted breadcrumbs:

  • While the pasta cooks heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat.
    10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Add the panko bread crumbs, and stir often until browned, about 3 minutes.

To make brown butter sauce:

  • Wipe the pan clean, add the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter, and cook on low heat.
    15 fresh sage leaves
  • Stir as it bubbles, and after 2-3 minutes you should see brown bits appear on the bottom of the pan.
  • The minute the brown bits appear, stir in the sage. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until it gets crispy.
  • Turn off the heat, remove the sage leaves, and use them for topping. Continue to cook the butter until it gets golden brown, but not burnt.

To complete the dish:

  • Stir in the garlic, and cook for 30 seconds.
    6 garlic cloves
  • Add the pasta to the skillet and coat well. Turn off the heat.
  • Stir in the finely grated parmesan and dd the crispy sage. Toss the pasta together.
    1 cup parmesan cheese, ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • Sprinkle the toasted breadcrumbs on top. Enjoy while hot.

Tips & Notes

Note 1: Any type of medium-sized pasta shape can be used in this recipe. 
Storing Tips:
– Allow leftovers to cool to room temperature.
– Transfer them to an airtight container, and store them in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
– Reheat in a skillet over medium heat. 


Servings: 1 serving
Calories: 547kcal
Carbohydrates: 63g
Protein: 17g
Fat: 25g
Sugar: 3g
Sodium: 1105mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian

Hi, I’m Shinee!

Welcome! I’m so happy you’re here! I believe anyone can cook restaurant-quality food at home! And my goal is to help you to become a confident cook with my easy-to-follow recipes with lots of tips and step-by-step photos.

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