Instantly upgrade your everyday rice with this incredibly fluffy and aromatic saffron rice. It’s a perfect complement to any dish.
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!
So, what’s the secret to perfectly fluffy rice?
- 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).
- 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.
- Gently fluff the cooked rice with a wooden spoon or fork.
- 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.
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.
Once the butter is fully absorbed, we’ll add stock for another layer of flavor along with steeped saffron.
In the end, you’ll get such flavorful and vibrant rice that will complement any dish.
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.
- 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.
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