Ever wondered how to use saffron? This saffron guide will answer all your questions - how many saffron strands to use, where saffron is grown, what are the best recipes using saffron, and where to buy saffron.
Saffron is a gorgeous spice and a little goes a long way (which is good, because it’s not too cheap!)
What is Saffron?
Saffron is the most expensive food on the planet – a pound of it can sell for $1500 or more. Saffron comes in long, thin strands – it’s actually the stigma of a small, purple crocus flower grown in Iran, Greece, India, and Spain.
It’s so expensive because each flower has only three stigmas. The flowers are finicky and only bloom for one week each year - the stamens must be picked by hand because they are so delicate.
150 flowers are needed to produce a single gram of saffron! It takes an acre of land and 75,000 flowers to yield a pound of saffron.
When you’re cooking with saffron you only need to use a few strands at a time. Because it’s used so sparingly it’s not much more expensive than other spices.
Saffron can be used in a variety of dishes and is quite versatile. It’s very common in rice dishes (risottos, pilafs, and paellas), chicken soup, bread, desserts (custard and cookies), and fish stew.
Recipes Using Saffron Spice
These are some of the best recipes using saffron from bloggers around the world. Their recipes use saffron strands in both unique and traditional ways.
- Chilli & Garlic Prawns with Easy Saffron Aioli
- Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Soup
- Grilled Garlic Jump Shrimp
- Healthy Indian Mango Lassi
- Kesar Peda - Saffron Infused Mithai (Fudgy Almond Cookie)
- Leftover Turkey Sunshine Risotto
- Lemon Mascarpone Risotto
- Lemon Saffron Cheesecake Cups
- Lobster Linguine in Blushing Saffron Sauce
- Mango Saffron Cardamom Jam
- Mussels in White Wine, Tomatoes, & Chorizo
- Mussel Paella with Chicken, Chorizo, Shrimp, and Clams
- One Pot Chicken Saffron Rice with Peas and Olives
- Pan Seared Scallops with Saffron Beurre Blanc
- Persian Love Cake
- Saffron Clams and Beans with Fennel
- Saffron Mango Macaron
- Saffron Pear Cake
- Saffron Sauce Pasta with Figs
- Saffron Shrimp Tacos
- Seafood Paella with Saffron Aioli
- Shahi Saffron Pistachio Seviyan
- Vegan Kesar Badam Katri (Saffron Almond Thins)
Where to Buy Saffron & What to Look For
Saffron is available in most grocery stores, specialty grocers, and online. We recommend The Spice House's saffron - both their coupe grade and superior grade saffron.
Make sure to buy dark red saffron. The cheaper, yellow-ish saffron has had the stamens left in and has a diluted flavor.
Good saffron will not be cheap (sorry!) and should have a lovely floral aroma. When buying, look for the words coupe and superior – they are the highest grades of saffron.
This saffron classification guide is very helpful for determining the color and aroma of quality saffron.
More Spice Guides
Love spices and spice blends? We do too! Check out some of our other favorite spices.