What does saffron taste like? Here’s what to expect from this golden spice!

If you haven’t tried using it before, you might be wondering what does saffron taste like? What makes it so special, that people keep buying it despite its price? Try to find one in a nearby grocery and you’ll likely find them in the international section or the specialty seasonings aisle.

Saffron is a plant native to Asia but also grown in some parts of Europe. Spain is considered as its biggest producer. Dried saffron is mainly used for creating spice. Besides its primary use as a condiment, it’s also used as a natural food dye, as an ingredient for making perfume, and as an important part of making Arabic coffee.

In case you can’t find any, what is a good saffron substitute? Here’s everything you need to know about saffron more than its taste. Read on to know the health benefits and ways of using this spice in the kitchen.

Saffron Taste

This spice is known for its strong flavor because of the volatile oils in it. It’s a fusion of earthy and musky, and some people find it slightly bitter. Some believe it’s a lot like chlorine but it’s probably because of the strong compounds in it that turn out “plastic-like” after being mixed with other ingredients.

What does saffron taste like when used for making tea or coffee? In Arabic coffee, only a small amount of saffron is used just to give it a slightly golden color. In teas, saffron produces a refreshing aroma and an earthy flavor. It is often mixed with ginger, mint, cinnamon, and lemon. You can also use honey instead of sugar to make your tea more wholesome.

Saffron Smell

One of the lesser-known uses of saffron is its use in perfumery. Are you wondering what does saffron smell like? Imagine being in a field of flowers where you can smell the grass and the floral note. It’s a sweet honey-like scent that is simply hard to resist. It exudes luxury because of its unique and subtle aroma.

Saffron Health Benefits

This spice is best known for its ability to soothe the stomach and relieves heart burn. It is good for the tummy because you can use it as a remedy for constipation. You can use it as an herbal remedy when you’re having digestive problems. Boil it in water along with other spices like ginger. To sweeten your tea, add a cinnamon stick on the boiling water or a bit of honey on the tea.

Did you know that saffron aids in preventing cancer? This is because the chemical compound in it, the crocin, can inhibit the growth and multiplication of cancer cells. Not only that, but it can also help in relieving stress and anxiety. Studies suggest that this compound also gives it the ability to protect the cells from degeneration, which usually happens when we are stressed.

It can also reduce symptoms of anemia such as weakness and extreme fatigue. With its impressive iron content, it can help people suffering from iron deficiency. Aside from iron, it’s loaded with vitamins and minerals such as iron and magnesium. It is a natural source of antioxidants that can help strengthen your immune system.

How to Use Saffron

Saffron is characterized by red threads but when used as a natural dye, it produces a golden to orange hue. It’s believed that the more vibrant ones also produces a better taste or coloring. The chemical crocin is responsible for giving saffron its deep red color. Saffron is picked from the golden ends of its lavender flowers.

You might need to be a bit more careful when flavoring your food if you want to prolong your saffron. In most dishes, you will only need to add a pinch of it to achieve the color and taste that you want. If you’re looking for saffron recipes that do not need a lot of it, consider rice with chicken, creamy sauces for fried dishes, and saffron-infused fish stock.

Saffron recipes are not limited to pasta and rice specialty recipes. You can also use it for making desserts. Examples of sweet treats that can have saffron in them are pudding, yogurt, and paneer, or fresh cheese. If you want to use for making ice cream, you can add some pistachios and heavy cream in it.

Saffron Alternatives

Looking for a more budget-friendly saffron substitute? It’s impossible to find a spice that tastes exactly like saffron. But if you’re just planning to use it as a dye, you can use turmeric in place of saffron. 

It’s believed that the safflower, which is a member of the daisy family, can be used as an alternative. While the two produce the same color, the safflower has a bland taste when dried. It’s expensive but not as much as saffron.

Cardamom is another spice that is often used to replace saffron. It has the same earthy flavor to it but it comes with more spice and minty zip into it. It has a slightly citrusy aroma and flavor. It’s more complex because it combines a lot more combinations of flavor in it than saffron.


Saffron has a unique earthy taste that makes it a perfect addition to rice, pasta, and seafood dishes. When used in the right amount, you can expect a delicate taste much like honey or vanilla. But if used in large amounts, it might give off a strong and bitter taste.

This spice also gives the golden color to coffee and a healthier twist to ginger tea. It’s also used in perfumery because it produces a sweet aroma. What does saffron smell like? It’s almost similar to that of honey but with an earthly hint. Unfortunately, saffron is costly. The expensive cost of saffron has something to do with its laborious production. It’s not easy to obtain them. It will require as much as 150 flowers to produce a gram of dried saffron. That’s why if you buy them in pounds, you might pay thousands of dollars depending on its abundance in your region.

Try my Air fried fish and Fried fish in oven recipe.

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