Chicken Breasts with Pancetta and Sage

Updated February 23, 2016
This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Boneless chicken breasts are wrapped in thin slices of pancetta, the Italian unsmoked bacon, with sage leaves tucked in between. Then the breasts are slowly sautéed until the pancetta turns beautiful shades of gold and brown and lightly crisp. When you taste it, the chicken is tender and juicy and its mild flavor is punched up by the pronounced taste of sage and the slightly salty pancetta.

Some pancetta is cured with pepper. Ask the deli counterman if the one you’re buying is. If so, the chicken won’t need to be seasoned with pepper.

Wrap the pancetta in a slight diagonal around the breasts; it makes an attractive finished look.

Be sure the pan is hot before adding the breasts so the pancetta doesn’t stick.

To turn the breasts, use tongs or slip a spatula underneath and hold the top with the back of a spoon to help keep the pancetta from falling off.

4 servings

Cooking Methodsauteeing



Total Timeunder 30 minutes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, low carb, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Five Ingredients or LessYes


Taste and Texturecrisp, herby, meaty, salty, savory


  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, 7 ounces each
  • 8 large fresh sage leaves
  • 8 very thin slices pancetta (6 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil


Dry chicken on paper towels. Season lightly with pepper (the pancetta supplies the salt). Lay rounded side up. Place 2 leaves of sage, separated by at least 1 inch, on each. Wrap 2 slices of pancetta around each breast with edges next to each other but not overlapping. Press to adhere.

Heat olive oil in large skillet over low heat. Add chicken rounded side down and cook until pancetta fat is light gold, 6 to 7 minutes (the pancetta will be darker brown). Turn and cook until golden and brown on the bottom and just cooked through, 6 to 7 minutes.

Serve right away.


Replace the fresh sage with ¾ teaspoon dried rubbed sage, sprinkling it over the breasts before wrapping them.

Dressing Chicken Breasts with Pancetta and Sage Up

Just the tiniest bit of pan juices on top of the chicken make the dish seem a little fancy. To make them, pour off the fat in the pan once the breasts are removed, then add ¼ cup water and 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice. Reduce them, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom with a wooden spoon, to 2 to 3 flavorful tablespoons. Drizzle over the breasts.

Serving Suggestions:

Arugula salad, baked acorn squash, or Baked Spinach with Garlic Bread Crumbs. Crusty Italian bread or soft polenta if not serving the squash.



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