Saffron Rice

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This Saffron Rice is a flavorful and naturally colorful side dish. Learn how to make it with our easy, step-by-step recipe.

A large bowl of saffron rice topped with a parsley leaf

Saffron Rice

Saffron rice is a delicious side dish that you can whip up in about 30 minutes. It is made with chopped onions, garlic, basmati rice, chicken broth, and a pinch of saffron. We also love to add fresh parsley on top for a fresh finish. Saffron rice is a part of many countries’ cuisines including, but not limited to Spain, India, Pakistan, Turkey, and Iran.

What is Saffron?

Saffron is a spice, and if you’ve ever shopped for it, then you know it is an expensive spice. It is the stamen of the crocus sativus flower. The stems are harvested by hand and also the flower only blooms for one week a year. But, don’t let the price tag deter you, most recipes just need a pinch. Saffron has a unique flavor that blends sweet with savory. It has an unmistakable aroma and it gives food a golden yellow color. If you’ve tasted it then you know just how delicious it can be. Sometimes, a mortar and pestle is used to crush the saffron and extract even more flavor.

½ teaspoon filled with red saffron threads

Additions to Saffron Rice

Our Saffron Rice recipe is very simple. However, in different cuisines around the world you’ll find additions to the basic Saffron Rice that make it even more delicious! Here are some of our favorites:

  • golden raisins
  • cardamom
  • nutmeg
  • cloves
  • cinnamon
  • pistachios
  • pine nuts
  • finely chopped red peppers

Recipe Tips

A large skillet filled with saffron rice

Instead of butter in your saffron rice, you can use ghee, coconut oil, or vegetable oil. You can also use chicken stock or vegetable stock in place of the chicken broth.

FAQ

Where can I buy saffron?

You can get decent quality saffron from most grocery stores in the spice aisle. However, if you are looking for the best saffron for your rice, you’ll need to look in a gourmet grocery store, a Middle Eastern grocery store, or online.

What spice can I substitute for saffron?

Saffron is a very unique spice. Nothing will taste exactly like it. However, in a pinch, you can use turmeric. Turmeric is a golden spice taken from a plant in the ginger family. It also carries the sweet but savory taste that saffron has.

What rice can I substitute for basmati rice?

Most saffron rice recipes use white basmati rice, but you can use any long-grain white rice. I have used Jasmine rice and white rice before for this recipe.

How do I store leftovers?

Store the leftovers in an airtight container. You can store them in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for 1-3 months. To thaw, move to the fridge overnight. Heat up thawed rice in the microwave.

What to Serve with Saffron Rice

Saffron Rice is typically served with grilled or broiled meats and fish. It also pairs well with Indian dishes like Chicken Tikka Masala. Check out some of our favorite recipes to serve with saffron rice. If you have a dish you love to serve with Saffron Rice, then let us know down in the comments!

Recipes

  • Chicken Tikka MasalaChicken Tikka Masala is one of our favorite Indian dishes of all time. Tender chicken in a creamy, flavorful, tomato sauce is so easy to make at home. A must try!
  • Grilled Coconut Curry ChickenThis Grilled Coconut Curry Chicken is a combination of two of my favorite meal types, grilling and Indian food. The marinade is also out of this world!
  • Mediterranean BowlsThis Mediterranean Bowl recipe is a fresh and so delicious lunch or dinner option! Topped with chicken, feta, cucumbers, and all kinds of favorite Greek flavors, you’ll get Mediterranean flair in every bite.
  • Rainbow Buddha BowlThis Rainbow Buddha Bowl is the perfect way to add a little more color to your diet. You will also love the creamy avocado dressing! 
  • Baked Lemon ChickenBaked Lemon Chicken is a fresh and delicious springtime recipe. You will love the sweet and tangy lemon sauce over perfectly baked chicken!
  • Baked Garlic ChickenBaked Garlic Chicken is crispy and so flavorful on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside. This versatile chicken tastes great sliced over pastas or salads!
  • Air Fryer SalmonGet a delicious and also simple, salmon dinner on the table in no time with our Air Fryer Salmon recipe.
  • Baked Cod in Cream SauceThis baked cod is hands-down my favorite fish dish. It turns out so perfectly flaky every time. The flavorful, creamy sauce puts it over the top!
A large bowl of saffron rice topped with a parsley leaf

Saffron Rice

Saffron rice is a flavorful and naturally colorful side dish. Learn how to make it with our easy, step-by-step recipe.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Asian, Indian, Mediterranean
Servings 4

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Melt the butter in a large skillet with a lid. Add the onions and cook until soft. Add the garlic and saffron threads. Cook for 1 minute.
    Onions, garlic, and saffron cooked in oil in a large black pan
  • Add the rice and stir.
    A large pan filled with cooked onions, garlic, and saffron, and uncooked basmati rice
  • Add the chicken broth, salt, and pepper.
    A large skillet filled with basmati rice, saffron, chicken broth, onions, and garlic
  • Bring to a boil and then cover, reduce heat to medium low, and cook for 17 minutes. You'll know it is done when the liquid is gone from the pot and the rice is soft.
    A large skillet with a clear lid. Through the lid you can see yellow rice.
  • Fluff the rice with a fork, stir in the parsley, and serve.
    A large skillet filled with yellow saffron rice and topped with chopped parsley

Nutrition Information

Calories: 233kcalCarbohydrates: 39gProtein: 4gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 375mgPotassium: 102mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 177IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 23mgIron: 1mg

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About the author

Kelsey Crist

Kelsey lives in Washington with her husband, Alex, and two cats, Diana and Nova. Her happy place is in the kitchen listening to an audiobook and trying new recipes. When she's not in the kitchen you can find her hiking, shopping at Trader Joe's, or playing Animal Crossing. Her favorite food is pasta and Alex loves when she makes Homemade Oreos.

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