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Saffron is hard to replace, but there’s a good option if you don’t have this spice on hand! Here’s the best saffron substitute.

Saffron Substitute

Making a recipe that calls for saffron and don’t have it? Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice! Why? Saffron is the hand-picked stamens of crocus flowers. Each stamen is removed by hand and dried, and it takes 200,000 stamens to make a pound of this costly spice. Saffron has an earthy and floral flavor, and it makes a bright yellow color when it’s cooked. You can also use saffron as a natural dye.

Saffron is such a special spice that it’s hard to replace. If at all possible, go to the store and buy some! This is especially important if you’re making a recipe with saffron in the title, like Saffron Rice! But if you’re not able to run to the store: we get it! Here are some saffron substitute ideas.

Best saffron substitute

1. Ground turmeric.

The best saffron substitute? Turmeric. Turmeric makes foods bright yellow in color, just like saffron. The flavor of turmeric is earthy and bold, but not unlike saffron. Of course, it’s not a perfect match in flavor: saffron offers a more delicate floral flavor.

How much turmeric to substitute for saffron? Use ½ teaspoon turmeric to substitute for 1 large pinch saffron.

Can you use turmeric instead of saffron in paella? Yes! Turmeric provides the signature yellow color to the rice without the expense of saffron. This shrimp paella uses turmeric instead of saffron.

2. Other options.

Ground turmeric is the best substitute for saffron and it’s easy to find at your local grocery store. Some other substitute options include annatto or safflower, but these ingredients are pretty tough to find. In our opinion, turmeric is your best option!

Here are some of our favorite recipes featuring saffron:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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