8 Best Saffron Substitutes


Saffron is a common ingredient in many foods. It can also be quite pricey and hard to find in local stores. So, if your recipe calls for saffron, chances are that you will need something else to save your recipe and enjoy a nice meal.

There is no need to worry as we gathered all the saffron alternatives you can find on the market. Most of them are not only easier to find but they also come at a better price as well.

Turmeric is the best replacement for saffron you can find. However, as you will see in this guide, you can also use curry and safflower as well as other similar ingredients.

Saffron Substitutes

When you replace your saffron in your recipe with one of these ingredients, you want to adjust the ratio according to your preferences.

1. Turmeric


Turmeric is as close to saffron as you can get in terms of both flavor and color. Your food will get the yellow tint and a slightly spicy and earthly taste as you use this replacement.

The amount of turmeric you will have to use depends on your preferences and the recipe you make. Too much of it might give your food a stronger earthly flavor that not everyone likes. You can stick to the same ratio of turmeric as if you use saffron just to be on the safe side.

2. Safflower


The flavor of safflower is a bit different than the taste of saffron but it will go great with most recipes. It tastes blander which can be good if you are not looking to influence the flavor of your food significantly.

You can use safflower instead of saffron for a variety of dishes from cold salads and sauces to soups and complex stews.

Safflower might be harder to find than other saffron alternatives but if you get it you will be pleased with the result. In order to obtain a similar color from your safflower, you can use 5 to 8 parts of the saffron quantity you would normally use.

3. Annatto

Annatto Powder

Annatto powder can also be a great substitute for saffron as well and in some recipes, you might not even be able to tell the difference. It is also known as the “poor man’s saffron” and has a slightly darker color.

If you get it in powder form you can use it plain instead of saffron. However, if you obtain annatto seeds you will have to let them soak in oil or water for half an hour and use the liquid in your recipe.

4. Marigold flowers

A less than common replacement for saffron would be the Marigold flowers as well. You can purchase them in stores or you can grow them in your garden as they are easy to grow even if you don’t have a lot of gardening experience.

You will obtain a powder by crushing dried Marigold flower petals naturally or in the microwave or stove. Use this powder instead of the saffron and your food will get the yellow color you want it to have

5. Curry

Curry powder

Curry is a delicious ingredient in many dishes and you can use it instead of saffron successfully. It is created by following different recipes and there are many varieties of curry that have turmeric which is the best saffron replacement.

In terms of quantity, you should expect curry to add more flavor to foods, thus you might want to add less of it compared to saffron. IT can flavor any type of food from sauces to stir-fries, stews, and even soups. It is commonly used in Indian cuisine.

6. Paprika


If you are missing saffron from your kitchen you can easily use paprika powder. If you like spicy paprika that can really flavor your food but you can find a paprika version that is not spicy.

Paprika of any kind will dye your dish just the way you want to even if the color is a bit stronger than saffron. In terms of quantity, you will have to use as much paprika as you see matches your recipe and your personal taste.

7. Cardamom


Cardamom can replace saffron in plenty of recipes as well. It is a mix of various seeds and it is a common seasoning in Indian cuisine.

You can use it to give your food the yellow shade that saffron would give it but you can also use it for its delicious flavor.

To get a tasty dish you can use the same quantity of cardamom as you would use saffron. If you like the taste it brings to your food don’t be afraid to add a bit more.

8. Calendula

Calendula is a plant that comes in about 20 different species. You can buy this plant from the store and dry its petals just like you would if you used Marigold flowers.

Once the petals are dry just smash them into a powder and use it in your food. It will not deliver the pungent taste of saffron but it will give your food the wanted color.

For best results, use calendula in the same amount as you would use saffron in your meals and you will not be disappointed.

Is There a Cheaper Substitute for saffron?

All the substitutes above will come at a cheaper price than saffron which makes them an even better alternative for most users.

If you want substitutes that are significantly cheap yet offer your food the glowing, yellow color of saffron, Annatto powder, and calendula powder are your best options.

Can I Use Turmeric Instead of Saffron in Paella?

Turmeric is one of the best alternatives to saffron when it comes to paella actually. You can use it successfully and you might not even be able to notice the difference. It will give your food the color you want it to have without saffron.

Plus, you will not spend so much as turmeric is coming at a budget-friendly cost. From all the saffron substitutes, turmeric seems to remain the best option not only for paella but also for other dishes that call for saffron.

You can use turmeric in many ways in cooking, so you should make sure you never run out of this versatile seasoning. Plus, it brings a wide range of benefits to your health as well.


As you can see, you can still cook your favorite dishes even if you don’t have saffron. Use one of the substitutes in this guide in the quantities that you are comfortable with.

Remember that some of them will not provide the same taste that saffron would. But they will make your food look the way you want it to look.

It is important to choose the substitute that works best for your preferences and satisfies your expectations the most. You might even discover that some replacements are tasting even better in your food than saffron so allow yourself to get creative in the kitchen! 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like