What Does Saffron Taste Like? – An Ultimate Explanation

by Vivian M Knapp


Saffron is one of the most popular spices globally and is used in numerous different dishes. There are many reasons to use saffron, but it can be hard to decipher the true flavor of saffron. 

Is it sweet? Is it spicy? Does it taste like anything? This blog will delve into the world of this spice to see “what does saffron taste like?” and its alternatives.

What Is Saffron?

Saffron is a spice used in dishes such as paella, risotto, and bouillabaisse. It’s a deep red color and sold in thin strands. A pound of saffron can cost as much as $5,000. Saffron has an intense flavor that makes it a luxury ingredient used in expensive meals instead of general cooking.

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What Does Saffron Taste Like?

Saffron has a pleasant, floral taste to it. It has a deep, nuanced flavor that’s fiery and peppery. Saffron that has a metallic, harsh, or plastic-like flavor, on the other hand, is likely to be a poor copy of this spice and should be avoided.

Saffron Shrimp Succotash, Moroccan Chicken Tagine, and Saffron Rice Pudding are a few of our favorite saffron meals.

What Is The Reason For Saffron’s High Cost?

Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, ranging somewhere between $3,000 and $8,000 a pound. Saffron is famously pricey, yet a teaspoon of fine saffron will brighten a meal for a fraction of the cost!

First, let’s look at why saffron is so costly. Saffron stamens are the tallest section of a crocus flower, and its blossom blooms for only one week in October, producing 3-4 stamens. 

Harvesting saffron is time-consuming since it requires placing a live bloom on your lap, selecting the stamen by hand, and drying them, which adds to the workload! Knowing this, the excessive expenditures make perfect sense!

What Can I Use As A Saffron Substitute?

1. Turmeric

Turmeric is by far the most popular saffron alternative offered in supermarkets. Even though these spices have varied names, they all share a processing procedure that gives them their distinctive yellow tint. 

India has employed this golden-hued spice as a special spice in their meals for generations, vital in giving them their lively scent and distinctive taste, thanks to its great nutritional content!

Source: Wikimedia Commons

In terms of turmeric as a saffron substitute, you should probably use less than the amount needed in your recipe. To get closer to the flavor of saffron, mix turmeric with some paprika — they have similar flavors and will help round out the flavor profile. 

Be sure to start with small amounts if you’re unsure how much of each ingredient to add. Most of these spices are stronger than saffron overall, so it may be too much if you don’t initially test your dish before committing fully to these suggestions.

2. Cardamom

Cardamom can be one of the most versatile Indian herbs and spices in the kitchen, both for its sweetness and distinctive aroma. It’s used to add an earthy flavor to many dishes, including savory sides and sweets.

Source: vegan.rocks

Some South Asian recipes include both cardamom and saffron. When substituting cardamom for saffron, start slowly and taste as you go. Keep in mind that you can add more if you don’t have enough. But once the spices are stirred in, you can’t take them out!

3. Safflower

Safflower is known as Mexican saffron because the plant is native to that region of the world. Luckily, it’s a perfect alternative for the genuine article in terms of flavor and fragrance. 

Source: Pixabay

It’s got qualities which make our food look amazingly better than any other on Earth. It doesn’t come cheap, though, so if you decide to work with it, then be ready to shell out some serious cash for this exotic spice.

Ground safflower can be used as a saffron substitute for dishes that require ground saffron. However, it can be difficult to find the plant itself in supermarkets, so you might check Whole Foods or talk to your local market if it seems like they only carry the seed oil or powder.


We hope you enjoyed our article about “What does saffron taste like?”. Saffron is an essential ingredient in many different types of cuisine worldwide. Many people really enjoyed learning about saffron and how it can be used in different ways. 

If you have any other questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment down below. Thank you for reading; we are always excited when one of our posts is able to provide useful information on a topic like this!

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