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Cooking with Saffron

Updated on November 22, 2013

Saffron is worth its weight in gold

I love saffron.

The difference that a pinch of saffron thread can make to a dish is little short of miraculous and it's a tiny indulgence that I buy occasionally without feeling guilty.

So what happens when I receive a birthday gift of a whole precious ounce? Simple - I will be cooking with saffron for a whole year!


My Birthday Present

susanna duffy

Isn't it lovely? An ounce of saffron in a pretty tin - about 1,500 threads! I will be cooking with saffron until my next birthday.

Recipes with Saffron

I'm going to be cooking a lot of meals with saffron.

I've cooked paella, potatoes, aromatic rice and couscous with saffron before and, every now and then, a Persian-style lamb recipe, but I'll be trying a lot more ways to use this beautiful spice.

Online Cooking Unit Conversion

Cooked in the stock, the potatoes absorb the colour and aroma of the saffron.

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 10 min
Ready in: 30 min
Yields: 4 - 6


  • Kilo of potatoes
  • Litre of Chicken stock
  • 2 - 3 onions
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • A generous pinch of saffron
  • Pepper - salt - butter


  1. Peel potatoes and cut a very thin slice off one side so that it will sit flat.
  2. Slice the potato all along the top side but only make the cut two thirds way down. As this cooks, the potato opens slightly so that any flavour goes right through.
  3. Bring the stock to a gentle heat, not hot, and add a large pinch of saffron threads to the liquid. Let it sit a few minutes to infuse.
  4. Slice the onions and lay them in the bottom of a baking dish. Place the bay leaves in the dish over the onions.
  5. Put the potatoes on top of the onions and pour the saffron stock over - about two thirds of the way up the sides.
  6. Push a little butter into the top of each potato and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  7. Bake 180C about 25 minutes.
  8. .
Cast your vote for Potatoes in Saffron
Prep time: 15 min
Ready in: 15 min
Yields: 4 - 6

Rice with Saffron

  • 2 cups of long grained rice
  • pinch of saffron


  1. :Rinse the rice a few times in cold water.
  2. In a small bowl pour 2 tablespoons of hot water. Add the saffron. Let the liquid cool.
  3. Drain the rice, then place in a pot. Put your hand in the pot and add cold water up to your knuckles. Add the saffron liquid.
  4. Cover the pot and turn the heat low.
  5. Let the rice simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed.

Saffron in Couscous

This couscous is by far the tastiest I've ever eaten!

Paella - With saffron - naturally!

With sub titles

You need Saffron for Paella

La Paella: Deliciously Authentic Rice Dishes from Spain's Mediterranean Coast
La Paella: Deliciously Authentic Rice Dishes from Spain's Mediterranean Coast

Seafood Paella, Pork Paella, Rabbit Paella, they're all here - the techniques and directions for the perfect paella.


And a good Paella Pan too

Paderno World Cuisine A4172447 Spanish paella pan, 18 1/2in, Gray
Paderno World Cuisine A4172447 Spanish paella pan, 18 1/2in, Gray

Serve paella to 12 guests with this pan. On the stove or on the BBQ, perfect paella every time.


Mexican Saffron is NOT Saffron

American saffron or Mexican saffron is NOT saffron but safflower, the plant from which we get safflower oil.

Yes, the flowers of this daisy family are edible and, yes, they will add a yellow colour to your recipe but they have no flavour and you can't substitute them for saffron. You may as well use crushed yellow crayons.

This is real Saffron - Don't be fooled by substitutes

Spicy World Pure Spanish Mancha Saffron Acrylic Box, 5-Gram Package
Spicy World Pure Spanish Mancha Saffron Acrylic Box, 5-Gram Package

This is quite a lot of saffron - five boxes with one-gram of saffron in each. I've used this brand myself.


Turmeric is no substitute for Saffron

Turmeric, used in curries and chutneys, is a pungent little spice but it's NOT saffron.

If a recipe suggests you substitute turmeric for saffron, be aware that all you're getting is some yellow colour in your food. You may as well use curry powder itself.


Hints for Cooking with Saffron

  • Crush and soak saffron to release its flavour
  • .
  • Saffron threads can easily be crumbled between your fingers, although for a more uniform powder, use a mortar and pestle. Count threads before crushing. A "pinch" is about 20 medium saffron threads
  • Saffron needs moisture and warmth to release its flavour. Soak the threads in hot (not boiling) liquid for 5 to 20 minutes. Then add both the saffron and the liquid to the recipe. As the saffron soaks, the distinctive aroma will tell you that your saffron is ready
  • Soak the saffron in stock or wine for an even richer flavour.

Saffron is Wonderful with Rice

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Saffron and you

What do you think of Saffron?

See results

All comments are greatly appreciated.

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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      we always put a few threads of saffron to our new england fish chowder.we add hot fish broth to the threads and then mix it into the rest of our die for.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      6 years ago from Canada

      I visited this article on Saffron quite awhile ago and was completely enthralled with your birthday present. I have heard that weight wise saffron is more valuable than gold. What a wonderful thoughtful gift to receive.

    • karen-stephens profile image


      7 years ago

      I have treid the american saffran and thought 'this sucks' but then I ordered a Spanish saffraon (expensive) and thought 'yes, this is from the gods!'

    • irminia profile image


      7 years ago

      Wonderful color, taste & smell.

    • Frischy profile image


      7 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      When I lived in Maryland I was able to buy saffron at the Amish market. I have not found a source for it here in Kentucky. I love cooking with saffron. I hope I can try your potato recipe sometime soon. Sounds like something my picky-eater daughter would enjoy.

    • profile image

      Echo Phoenix 

      7 years ago

      Truly worth it's weight in Gold! I would love to experience a harvest of it once, that would be an interesting travel plan?? hmmmmmmm the wheels are turning:)

    • alex89 lm profile image

      alex89 lm 

      7 years ago

      I love saffron, but I don't use it very often. Maybe one day I'll be as lucky as you and get some for my birthday!

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      7 years ago from Canada

      I have never tasted Saffron but I had read that it was more expensive than gold and the most precious spice of all the spices. I remember also reading in the forums that you had received a gift of Saffron. What a marvelous friend to have decided on such a precious thoughtful gift.

    • esvoytko lm profile image

      esvoytko lm 

      7 years ago

      Saffron has a place alongside vanilla beans for me as an ingredient that is just too expensive to justify! But this is great lens. I do love me some paella...

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      this is coool

      I love saffron..

      And also Salmon Recipes are great food.

      Thanks for the information.

    • elegiac profile image


      8 years ago

      Thank you for all the information about saffron; no wonder one of my friends mocks me for using powdered spices!

    • gamecheathub profile image


      8 years ago

      .... and to think I originally thought this would be a lens about Donovan's / "Mello Yello".......not sure that I've ever had food with saffron in it. Still it was an interesting read.

    • cdcraftee profile image

      Christine Larsen 

      8 years ago from South Australia

      PLEASE tell your birthday gifter that I love Saffron too!

      You Lucky Duck!


      Security word is squidbird...they forgot the 'old' bit!

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 

      8 years ago from California

      I never heard of Saffron before and had to ask someone if they knew what it was. I'm still not sure what it is but some sort of spice that you put in water? Also your poll didn't have an option for those of us that never heard of this before. Sounds like it's interesting though.

    • BrianRS profile image

      Brian Stephens 

      8 years ago from France

      They mentioned on Master Chef, a UK TV program that saffron is a very strong spice for flavouring which you need to use very economically to ensure you don't over power any other flavours. So and ounce will last a whole year, pretty accurate I would say.

    • JaySing profile image


      8 years ago

      Another great lens.

      I remember when I was a tot - my mom would speak of Saffron in hushed whispers. Yes she liked to cook. It rubbed off on me.

    • justholidays profile image


      8 years ago

      I often use saffron when I cook, generally I automatically add a pinch of saffron when I cook Mediterranean meals, except Italians, of course.

      But I also enjoy to add saffron in Belgian meals, this adds a little something to the taste of the food and a little something to the color.

      All in all saffron is one of my favourite spices!

    • profile image

      Dianne Loomos 

      8 years ago

      I've never tasted saffron before. Your recipes using it sound wonderful!

    • RuthCoffee profile image

      Ruth Coffee 

      8 years ago from Zionsville, Indiana

      I've had saffron rice and loved it. Now I'm curious to try these other dishes.

    • daoine lm profile image

      daoine lm 

      8 years ago

      I've never tasted saffron; have no idea what to expect from it.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      8 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      My husband loves to order Saffron Rice when we go out but we haven't ever cooked using it. He is a great cook and will enjoy this when I share it with him. Paella really sounds interesting. I don't think I have ever eaten it. I love how you sound so excited about your gift of Saffron. Happy Cooking and thanks for sharing all this wonderful Saffron information.

    • Spook LM profile image

      Spook LM 

      8 years ago

      Never had it as far as I can recall but that Paella looks mouthwatering.

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image


      8 years ago

      We have a new spice store in town, I will have to check this out

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 

      8 years ago from New Zealand

      Excellent. Yummy Rice and Saffron.


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