Saffron Rice Recipe

The subtle, savory saffron flavor compliments rich flavors so well. This Saffron Rice recipe tastes buttery, even though it’s dairy free. It’s super easy to make for a large crowd, and takes less than 30 minutes from start to finish. It’s also very pretty!

Saffron Rice recipe

Why This Saffron Rice Recipe Is So Good

  • It looks so pretty! Perfect for festive occasions
  • Easily spruce up regular basmati rice 
  • Complements rich dishes really nicely
  • Lovely floral aroma
  • A wonderful buttery flavor with no butter

Ingredients 

  • Basmati rice
  • Broth (chicken or vegetable)
  • Saffron
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • Onions

How To Make This Saffron Rice Recipe – Step By Step

  1. Wash and drain the rice. In 4-qt pot, heat with olive oil over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add onions and fry for 3 minutes, until softened and light brown. Stir in rice, broth, saffron + soaking water and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. Once it starts boiling, immediately cover and turn to low heat.
  3. Let the rice cook on low heat, undisturbed (no peeking!) for 20 minutes. Turn off heat. Let sit for another 5 minutes covered to finish steaming. Use a fork to fluff up the rice.

What Is Saffron?

Saffron is a plant. The dried stigmas (thread-like parts of the flower) are used to make saffron spice. It can take 75,000 saffron blossoms to produce a single pound of saffron spice. In foods, saffron is used as a spice, yellow food coloring, and as a flavoring agent.

Saffron Rice

This is a great rice recipe when plain basmati rice just won’t do. The saffron adds such a lovely, bright golden color to the rice, in contrast with the crimson saffron threads dispersed throughout. Saffron rice has a delicate, floral aroma that you can’t duplicate with any other spice. There are 3 secrets making this rice.

What’s The Best Saffron To Use?

Use good quality saffron. Don’t buy the cheap stuff. Everyone says that saffron is the world’s most expensive spice – true if you are counting ounce per ounce. But you use so little of it each time.

Here’s the key to buying saffron. The threads should be almost all bright red. If you see yellow, that means when the threads were harvested, they picked the flower portion that was STIGMA (a.k.a. expensive good stuff) and STIGMA (bad, tasteless shit). I purchase my saffron from www.saffron.com. For $40, I get the absolute best quality stuff and it will last me many, many scrumptious dishes.

Is Saffron Rice The Same As Yellow Rice?

Kind of! Yellow rice is essentially white rice, which has been colored by adding turmeric or saffron. In addition to giving the rice a bright color, these spices render it a piquant flavor. Yellow rice when colored with saffron has an earthy fragrant aroma and turmeric adds heat to it.

Variations For This Recipe

Here are some of my favorite combinations: 

  • Cumin + a couple tablespoonfuls of tomato paste for Mexican rice – Dried oregano + basil (basically any dried leafy herb mixture).
  • Curry powder + raisins – A few dashes of soy sauce + sesame oil + minced green onions after the rice is done steaming.
  • Garlic powder + stir in chopped fresh parsley after rice is done steaming.
  • Any of the above + stir in thawed frozen peas after rice is done steaming.

Top Tips For This Saffron Rice Recipe

  • You should soak the threads in a little bit of hot water to really open up the spice and release its flavor. Use the threads+soaking water in your dish.
  • Fry onions before steaming the rice. It gives rice an earthy, caramelized onion flavor. You can substitute minced shallots for the onions.
  • Salt. Everything tastes better with salt. This rice comes alive when you add something salty to it. In this recipe, I used broth instead of water to steam the rice. Use fresh, canned or concentrated broth base. Now its time to be creative. 

Check Out These Other Rice Recipes

Have you tried this Saffron Rice recipe? Feel free to leave a star rating and I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

4.5 from 12 votes
Saffron Basmati Rice
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 
Servings: 4-6 Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 25 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Asian
Keyword: rice recipe, saffron recipe, saffron rice
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 279 kcal
Author: Jaden Hair
Ingredients
  • 2 cups Basmati Rice
  • 3 ½ cups Broth chicken or vegetable
  • 1 pinch Saffron threads soaked in 2T hot water for 10 minutes
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 T olive oil
  • ½ cup diced onions
Instructions
  1. Wash and drain the rice. In 4-qt pot, heat with olive oil over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add onions and fry for 3 minutes, until softened and light brown. Stir in rice, broth, saffron + soaking water and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. Once it starts boiling, immediately cover and turn to low heat.
  3. Let the rice cook on low heat, undisturbed (no peeking!) for 20 minutes. Turn off heat. Let sit for another 5 minutes covered to finish steaming. Use a fork to fluff up the rice.
Nutrition Facts
Saffron Basmati Rice
Amount Per Serving
Calories 279 Calories from Fat 45
% Daily Value*
Fat 5g8%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 940mg41%
Potassium 90mg3%
Carbohydrates 52g17%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 5g10%
Vitamin A 292IU6%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 20mg2%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.