Looking for saffron recipes? Want to know how to use saffron? Try our ideas below.


What is saffron?

Essentially, saffron is the stigmas of the purple saffron crocus flower. The word saffron comes from the Arabic word zafaran, which means yellow. Saffron is the world’s most precious and expensive spice, with Iran as the top producer.

Why is saffron so expensive?

The saffron crocus plant is harvested in the autumn and the process is completely done by hand. It takes about 80,000 flowers to produce just 1lb of the spice. The good news is that it only takes a very little amount to give flavour and colour to a recipe.

Which saffron is the best?

The best quality saffron is a deep red colour, and has a honey-like aroma. Don’t be fooled by labels (there are many ‘knock-offs’ out there), so make sure you get your saffron from a reliable source. Always try to buy dried whole stigma rather than powdered saffron as it can be adulterated with other spices to increase its volume and selling price.

Where to find saffron

Read our guide on what is saffron and where to buy it for advice on purchasing this ingredient online and in supermarkets.

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How do you cook with saffron?

There are three main methods. You can either add it whole to the preparations, reduce it to a paste with a mortar and pestle, or infuse it in a cup of hot water and add the water to the recipe.

Saffron recipes

Saffron risotto

This soothing risotto gets it wonderfully golden colour from saffron. It's is delicious on its own, or served with a roast chicken and the roasting juices from the tin. An impressive entertaining idea, if you've got friends round for dinner.

An aerial shot of saffron-coloured risotto on a white plate

Sicilian pasta with cauliflower

Featuring saffron, raisins and pine nuts, this traditional Sicilian pasta dish is packed with flavour and texture.

A large white bowl of pasta on a grey stone background with a white linen napkin

Saffron mussels with orzo and tomatoes

This recipe for mussels with orzo in a saffron-infused broth is really easy – it's a one-pot and takes under an hour but it looks fantastic and is packed full of delicious flavours.

Saffron Mussels Recipe with Orzo and Tomatoes

Seafood stew with saffron

A delicious saffron-infused dish that's packed with flavour. Clams, mussels, and roast tomatoes are all cooked in white wine and flambéed with Pernod. Serve with plenty of bread to mop up the juices.

Seafood Stew Recipe with Saffron

Saffron, asparagus and almond pilaf

This saffron pilaf is a lovely spring dish that benefits from saffron's hue and gentle flavour. It's a great alternative way to use asparagus, which is officially in season from 24 April, but might be in the shops a bit earlier depending on the weather.

Asparagus, saffron and almond pilaf

Saffron, browned butter and pear muffins

The subtle spice from saffron works wonderfully here with nutty browned butter and pears. There's no need to use muffin cases here – just butter the holes in the tin.

Pear Muffins Recipe With Saffron and Browned Butter

Spiced lamb chops with saffron yogurt

The saffron-infused yogurt and garlic dip works perfectly with these spicy lamb chops. A ready-in-a-jiff main course, perfect for a dinner party.

Spiced lamb chops with saffron yogurt

Mussel, saffron and potato soup

This smooth creamy soup with saffron makes the best dinner-party starter. Garnished with mussels it has a touch of luxury but is easy to prepare.

Mussel, saffron and potato soup

Crumbed asparagus with saffron yogurt

The saffron yogurt here is a simple version of an aïoli, with Middle Eastern style. It's great with the asparagus, which is crumbed instead of battered to helps retain a wonderful texture.

Breaded Asparagus Recipe with Saffron Yogurt

Saffron and cardamom rice pudding

A little bit of rice goes a long way in Romy Gill's recipe for this delicately spiced, aromatic rice pudding that showcases vibrant saffron. Did we mention that it's also gluten-free?

Saffron and cardamom rice pudding

Saffron martini

Saffron gin is mixed with Cointreau, providing an orange hue to this spiced martini. This simple cocktail recipe comes from London's Soho restaurant, Gunpowder.

A coupe glass being filled with an orange saffron martini cocktail

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