Saffron Rice

5 from 4 votes

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Instantly upgrade your everyday rice with this incredibly fluffy and aromatic saffron rice. It’s a perfect complement to any dish.

Saffron Rice on plate with wooden spoon


Why you’ll love this recipe:

Cooked rice is a weekly staple in our house! It works pretty much with any meal, whether we’re having chicken, seafood, beef, curry- anything really!

But sometimes plain ol’ rice gets a little boring and doesn’t cut it for special occasions. Do you feel the same? That’s when this pretty, vibrant saffron rice comes to the rescue.

A pinch of saffron transforms a regular rice into special-occasion-worthy side dish! I especially like to serve saffron rice with seafood, like my steelhead trout.

Oh, did I mention how fluffy this rice is? And you don’t even need a special rice cooker to achieve that. I’ve cooked rice on the stovetop for my entire life and I have a tip or two to share with you in a bit. Don’t worry, you won’t burn it, I promise!

cooked Saffron Rice in wooden bowl

So, what’s the secret to perfectly fluffy rice?

  1. Use the correct amount of liquid. This is very important! Too much water, and you’ll get mushy rice. Too little water and you may burn the rice, or undercook it. My mom taught me that the liquid should come up about 1 inch above the rice (about the width of 2 fingers).
  2. Cook it covered and undisturbed low and slow. This means no peeking! First, bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, and then immediately reduce the heat to low and let it cook gently for at least 15 minutes, still covered.
  3. Gently fluff the cooked rice with a wooden spoon or fork.
  4. Purchase high-quality saffron threads. There are many different kinds of saffron out there: Spanish, Indian, Afghan, etc. The origin isn’t that important though. What’s important is its color. High-quality saffron has a deep red color, without many yellow styles, which has no taste and only contributes dead weight. I like this Afghan saffron, but this Spanish one is pretty good too, both of these are the highest grade. I don’t suggest using saffron powder, because it’s difficult to determine its quality. If you wanna learn more about saffron, like how it’s harvested, the history, its grading system, read this article. It’s so interesting!


Before using saffron threads, you want to steep them in hot water, this step is also called blooming. It releases its sweet floral aroma and vibrant color.

Saffron threads on counter top with spoon

How to make this flavor-packed rice:

We’re going to infuse the rice with lots of flavors. And I’m not just talking about saffron. First, we’ll toast the rice in melted butter for a few minutes to build the first layer of flavor.

Step by step of how to make saffron rice

Once the butter is fully absorbed, we’ll add stock for another layer of flavor along with steeped saffron. 

blooming saffron in bowl

In the end, you’ll get such flavorful and vibrant rice that will complement any dish.

step by step of saffron rice in skillet
cooked saffron rice in skillet with wooden spoon

Can I make this recipe vegetarian?

Yes, just replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock.

Is there an alternative for basmati rice?

You can substitute jasmine rice in a pinch!

How to store leftover saffron rice:

Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. Reheat in the microwave until hot.

You can also freeze leftovers in freezer bags or airtight containers. You can add a small amount of water when reheating as it does get slightly dryer than fresh rice.

Saffron rice in bowl with wooden spoon
Saffron Rice in wooden bowl
5 from 4 votes

Saffron Rice

Incredibly fluffy and aromatic saffron rice is a perfect compliment to any dish. Here you’ll find lots of tips on making perfectly fluffy saffron rice every time.
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 servings


  • 1/8 teaspoon saffron threads Note 1
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (185g) basmati rice Note 2
  • 1 ½ cups (360ml) low sodium chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • ½ teaspoon coarse kosher salt


  • To bloom saffron, put saffron threads in a small bowl. And add 2 tablespoons of boiling water. Let it to bloom for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. (TIP: Make sure your saucepan has a tight-fitting lid. I use 2.5qt saucepan.)
  • Add rice and cook it for 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Add stock, salt, and bloomed saffron with its water.
  • Cover and bring it to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to low and continue to cook until all the liquid is absorbed and rice is fully cooked, about 15 minutes. (NOTE: Don’t open the lid while rice is cooking.)
  • Carefully fluff it with a wooden spoon, or fork, and serve.

Tips & Notes

Note 1: High quality saffron threads has deep red color without much yellow styles. I like this Afghan saffron and this Spanish one. I don’t recommend saffron powder.
Note 2: You can substitute jasmine rice in a pinch!


Calories: 251kcal
Carbohydrates: 40g
Protein: 6g
Fat: 7g
Sugar: 1g
Sodium: 422mg
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American

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Hi, I’m Shinee!

Welcome! I’m so happy you’re here! I believe anyone can cook restaurant-quality food at home! And my goal is to help you to become a confident cook with my easy-to-follow recipes with lots of tips and step-by-step photos.

5 from 4 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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  1. I made this recipe and I’m wondering what was wrong with my saffron. Instead of having a sweet floral flavor it tasted like chlorine.  When I opened my saffron that all I could smell too.  I’ve had saffron rice in reaterau to and it was delicious.  The bottle said genuine Spanish saffron.  It was from Trader Joe’s so I expected quality.  What did I do wrong?

  2. Do you rinse the basmati rice before sauteing it in the butter? I thought you were always supposed to rinse basmati rice before using it.

      1. I am soaking my basmati rice and will try it that way. I have Moroccan saffron I bought while I was there . Wish me luck

  3. This looks great, pinning to my side dish board, i love to have simple ways to prepare rice in new ways.  Found your site on a linky party, off to some more.

  4. Mmm…I wish I could smell this rice through my computer screen! I bet it’s incredibly fragrant. It looks wonderful – I’ll have to give it a try sometime soon!

  5. So pretty!  I have never made saffron rice but I eat a ton of rice.  I am going to have to try!  

  6. This looks amazing! Saffron rice is one of my favorite things to order from restaurants, but I never can manage to make it quite like that at home- definitely going to try this 🙂 Pinning!