Your Amazing Saffron Substitute For a Fresh and Tasty Dish

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Are you on the hunt for great saffron substitutes? If you answered yes, then you have come to the right place.

Not only do we have a list of the 10 best alternatives to saffrons. But, we also have all the information you need to make them work in each recipe.

While saffron might be the most expensive spice in the world, it isn’t the only one with a nice flavor. So, after doing a little homework, we came up with ingredients. The list offers options with similar tastes, textures, and colors that won’t break the bank.

Saffron substitutes index:

  • Paprika
  • Tumeric
  • Merigold spice
  • Dried Rose Mary
  • Curry Powder
  • Food Coloring
  • Safflower
  • Cumin
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Cardamon

What is Saffron?

Saffron comes from the Crocus sativus flower. After a drying process, you will find this spice in dishes from Iran, Greece, and Mesopotamia.

The yellowishstigmas from saffron flowers are great in food coloring, flavoring, and dyes.

We like to use saffron as a food coloring to give our recipes a nice hue. But many people enjoy the natural aroma and unique taste.

What Does it Taste Like?

Saffron has an earthy taste with a hay-like undertone. The exotic spice can provide a sweet, honey like flavor with the right amount. Yet, too much can make your recipe bitter.

What Do You Put Saffron In?

Saffron can is ideal for a variety of recipes. You can use it to spice up a meat dinner or to add a touch of sweetness to soups or stews.

Saffron pairs very well with these spices:

  • Cinnamon
  • Vanilla
  • Cumin

Learn more: What Does Saffron Taste Like?

Top 10 Substitutes For Saffron You Can Try

While saffron seems to be a unique and popular product, it isn’t irreplaceable. When looking for a great substitute for saffron, consider trying one of the options below.

Not only do these ingredients provide a similar feel offered by saffron, but they are easier to find. Plus, many people tend to have these spices sitting in their cupboards waiting their turn.

1. Paprika

Parika comes from ground red peppers (chili, Chyanne, bell, etc.). This spice provides a mild and pungent flavor and a reddish-orange hue.

Paprika has the same slightly sweet flavor as saffron. Thus making it an excellent alternative. Some versions of the spice can also give off a very spicy taste. We would stay away from those options as it is a lot stronger than the heat from saffron.

When using paprika in place of saffron, you should mix it with equal parts turmeric. When combing the two ingredients, you will achieve a closer alternative.

Facts About Parika?

  • It offers a similar color.
  • It provides a sweet flavor.
  • Great for cooking and seasoning

Learn more: Top Paprika Substitutes (#7 YOU MIGHT HAVE NOW)

2. Tumeric

Tumeric might be one of the most common alternatives to saffron. It has a very similar color and flavor to the popular and expensive spice. In fact, there are less than honest people out there that will sell turmeric in place of saffron.

Turmeric is often used in Asian dishes to add a yellow hue or strong flavor to many recipes. This spice is part of the ginger family, giving you an idea of how bitter, earthy, and peppery it can be.

Facts About Tumeric?

  • It has a similar color.
  • It offers a very similar flavor.
  • It is a popular option for Asian cuisine.

3. Marigold Spice is A Great Option for the Same Yellow Color

Marigold is not a common spice found in most kitchens. But, this ingredient offers a similar look and feel as saffron.

This ingredient can give off a unique citrus flavor with a bitter undertone. While it is not identical to the more earthy feel saffron provides, it still makes a good alternative.

Facts About Marigold Spice

  • You can swap them out using the same amount of 1 TSP saffron to 1 TSP Marigold Spice.
  • It has a bold yellow color.
  • It has a unique citrusy flavor that is great in rice and soups.

4. Dried Rose Mary is an Amazing Herb You Should Try

Dried rosemary is a fantastic alternative to saffron. This product is a popular herb belonging to the same family as mint and thyme.

While it is common in many recipes around the world, it is also a traditional form of medicine.

Rosemary has a strong flavor found in salads, casseroles, and stews. The taste of rosemary is described as lemony, woodsy, and peppery.

Facts About Rosemary

  • It has a similar earthy, woodsy taste.
  • Ideal for Cassaroles and stews
  • It provides a slight citrus taste.

5. Curry Powder for a Nice Kick

Curry powder is a traditional Indian spice mix. It is a combination of coriander, turmeric, cumin, and chili peppers. Depending on where you get it, it may also have other ingredients in the mix.

Curry powder has a nice yellowish hue and a warm, earthy flavor. This ingredient offers a unique flavor that will replace saffron very well. It is excellent in soups, rice recipes, and curries (anything needing a little heat.)

Facts About Curry Powder?

  • Give any dish a nice amount of heat.
  • Great in rice recipes, soups, and stews
  • Has a similar yellow tone to saffron.

6. Food Coloring for Color

Sometimes saffron isn’t actually used for its taste. But more for the bold yellowy orange color.

If your recipe can go without the flavor saffron offers, you can substitute it with food coloring.

To get the spice of saffron while using yellow food coloring, use one of the other options on this list.

Facts About Food Coloring?

  • It gives a bright, bold color.
  • Easy and cheap
  • A common staple in most kitchens

7. Safflower is Perfect For Recipes That Don’t Need Added Flavor

Safflower provides a neutral flavor to many dishes while offering a yellow hue.  Safflower oil can be a great alternative to cooking oils with healthier properties.

This option is ideal for high-heat cooking. It gets the job done without ruining the taste of your ingredients. You can use Safflower in rice dishes or similar recipes to get a delectable color without an added aroma.

Facts About Safflower

  • People refer to safflower as the “poor man’s saffron.”
  • It has little to no flavor.
  • It provides a bold yellow color to food recipes.

Learn more: Safflower vs. Saffron: What’s the Difference?

8. Cumin for Great Mexican Recipes

Cumin is most popular in Mexican dishes but is often found in recipes worldwide. We like to use cumin in hearty, comfort foods that need a little heat.

.We will oftentimes add a little sugar when using it as a substitute. We tend to do this because cumin can be more bitter than saffron

Use should add a little cumin powder in place of saffron. Adding cumin is a good substitute when cooking meals such as chili, enchiladas, and tacos.

Facts about Cumin

  • Has a strong, spicy flavor
  • Great on tacos, enchiladas, and in chili
  • A staple in Mexican and Mediterranean dishes

9. Dijon Mustard Is a Unique Saffron Substitute

We get a lot of odd looks when mentioning dijon mustard as a saffron substitute. But, this ingredient works very well in the spices place.

Dijon mustard has a sharp, tangy flavor with a hint of sweetness. This ingredient mimics saffron yellow color well.

You can use a decent amount of Dijon mustard when swapping it out with saffron. This is because of its creamy, smooth, and rich taste.

Facts about Dijon mustard

  • It originates in Dijon, France.
  • It has a spicy zip.
  • It offers a nice yellow color to every dish

Learn more: 7 of The Best Mustard Seed Substitutes To Try!

10. Cardamon

Cardamon comes from the seeds of many Indian native plants. This seed in powder form provides an aromatic and complex flavor profile.

We tend to hear it described as a sweet, pungent, and minty taste with a menthol like undertone.

While this isn’t exactly the same as saffron, it can take its place with ease. The seed provides a great yellow tone to match that of saffron pretty well.

Facts about Cardamon

  • It is a stable ingredient in Indian and Middle Eastern dishes.
  • It provides a dull yellow color.
  • It has a sweet, minty, and warm flavor.

Learn more: 7 of The Best Cardamom Substitutes To Try


Don’t play the game of guess and check when you run low on saffron. Take our advice and choose from the options above to find the ideal saffron substitute.

The next time you notice your saffron is gone, save some money and grab another option. Many of which will provide a similar taste.


Is Saffron a Good for You?

Saffron provides antioxidant properties. It might also treat problems such as

  • Depression
  • Heart disease
  • Some types of cancers
  • High blood pressure
  • and more.

What Other Ways Can You Use Saffron?

Saffron has many uses in a variety of everyday household items. People buy saffron supplements, soaps, teas, rice, and more. It is a popular product thanks to its many health benefits.

Where Can You Buy Saffron?

Saffron is one of the most expensive spices in the world. Thus, it might not be easy to get your hands on. When cruising the grocery store isles, you should look in the spice section. If you can’t find it at your local stores, you can always order it online.

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Up Next: The Most Common Spices and Seasoning Substitutes

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