How to make saffron rice perfectly each time using basmati rice or any rice. Flavored with Indian spices, but, it can be paired with any cuisine. It’s an easy way to bring color to the meal.

“Smiles, Rainbows, and Rice! I could survive on that!” – Anthony T. Hicks

Oh my gosh! I have gone a whole three months without posting rice recipes!

My last rice recipe was spinach rice back in March, so, it feels like an eternity now. You all deserve a delicious new rice recipe, so, here is a super fast saffron rice

Top view of a white oval plate with saffron rice and a stainless steel rice server on the side

Tips for making this rice

  • Be sure to rinse the basmati rice before you cook it.
  • My rice recipe is made using basmati rice, but, you can also use long grain white rice too.
  • The cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom are optional, but, I highly recommend adding them to the rice because they provide a wonderful aroma
  • Use the saffron you can afford. The (Affiliate Link) Afghan grade of saffron is the best saffron in the world, but, you will have to sell your limbs to buy it. (Affiliate Link) Spanish saffron is the most common variety and is easily available anywhere. That’s what I used in this recipe.
  • Make sure your cooked rice is still hot when you add the saffron to it. It will easily “stain” the rice and not ruin the flavor
  • To get a deeper orange color, use extra saffron threads and less hot water
  • An even better way would be to add saffron threads to warm ghee and mix it with rice
Closeup view of a saffron rice

Types of saffron (saffron grades)

Saffron is identified by its grade. Each country has a distinctive color and shape of the saffron. The deeper the red color, the more aromatic it is and consequently, it’s more expensive.

Saffron coming from Persian countries (Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey) is considered to be the best saffron in the world.

Persian saffron is classified into 4 distinct classes

  • Sargol
  • Super Negin
  • Negin
  • Pushal
  • Kooshe

Source: Golden Saffron, ZaranSaffron, and my own experiences.

What goes with this rice?

The beauty of saffron rice is that it will be great with almost any recipe you make. It’s a great side dish or even a main course meal.

I serve it with my favorite potato recipe because potatoes and rice are my favorite comfort food! Add naan to it and you will have the most amazing dinner recipe

Some of my favorite curries also go great with This rice. I love serving it with cabbage curry, palak makhani, sweet potato curry, and watermelon curry.

There are some Indians who don’t eat root vegetables during certain times of the year. For those people, I suggest serving saffron rice with an easy vegetable korma (no onion, no garlic). This is a very hearty meal.

How do you plan to use this saffron rice?

Top view of a white oval plate with saffron rice and a stainless steel rice server on the side

Answering Common Questions

Can I freeze this rice?

Yes, you can freeze saffron rice. Place it in a freezer-friendly container and freeze it for no more than 30 days.
Make sure you keep the rice as flat as you can which means that you shouldn’t have clumps. This will make it easier to defrost it and it won’t lose its flavor

Is saffron rice vegan?

Yes, saffron rice by itself is vegan. It’s normally cooked in water, so, no broth is required. But, some chefs have been known to use chicken broth. My recipe is fully vegan. However, if you use ghee instead of water to soak the saffron, it becomes vegetarian.
Check out my complete guide to what vegans eat and don’t eat

Is this rice spicy?

No, saffron rice is not spicy. I didn’t put any chilies or chili powders in it. To make it spicy, go with whole chili as opposed to powdered chili.

What else can I add to it?

– Vegetables
– Raisins
– Coconut milk
– Caramelized onions
– Pomegranate seeds
Brussels Sprouts

Top view of a white oval plate with saffron rice and a stainless steel rice server on the side

How to store saffron?

I always store my saffron in a clear, glass bottle with a tight lid. Also, I always put it far away from direct sunlight or light in general.

I put it in the back of my pantry which never gets any light. Sunlight will degrade the quality of the saffron and it might even stain the container

You will find more interesting rice recipes on my blog like spinach rice and peanut rice.

Closeup view of a saffron rice

How to reheat saffron rice?

To microwave it, sprinkle a little on the frozen rice (Do NOT thaw it). It should be no more than 1 Tbsp. Make sure your rice is in a microwave-safe container.

About 1 cup of saffron rice takes about 6 minutes to heat in the microwave. Stir at the 3-minute mark to make sure it heats occasionally

My favorite way to reheat this rice has to be the pressure cooker. I highly recommend you use the pressure cooker to heat it.

Thaw the frozen rice just enough so that it will be transferable to a pressure cooker-safe container. Place the container in the instant pot or pressure cooker

Cook on high for about 5 minutes. The time will depend on how much rice you have to reheat. Experiment and let me know how long it took you to thaw the rice.

Recipes that use saffron

Closeup view of saffron rice

How To Make Saffron Rice

How to make a fluffy saffron rice. This recipe is so easy to make and it's very aromatic
5 from 51 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 2 People
Calories 527 kcal


For Cooking the Rice

For the dry spices

  • 3 pieces cloves
  • 2 pods cardamom opened slightly, but, seeds kept inside the pod
  • 1/4 cinnamon stick cut into smaller pieces

For the saffron

  • 3 Tbsp hot water you can also use melted ghee instead
  • 8 strands saffron This doesn't have to be preciese

For Rinsing the Rice

  • Water


Rinse the rice

  • Add rice to a strong bottom pan
  • Add about 3 cups of rice to the pan and give it a quick stir
  • Drain as much of the water as possible. Doesn't have to be all of it it
  • Repeat the above steps 2 more times

Cook the Rice

  • Add the 7 cups of water to the rice
  • Add the dry spices to the rice + water
  • Place rice on medium heat
  • Cook for about 15-20 minutes, until the rice has doubled in size
  • Test the rice by mushing it. See notes
  • Using a sieve, drain the water from the rice

Soak the saffron

  • While the rice is cooking, heat the 3 Tbsp water
  • Add saffron strands to a glass bowl
  • Add the heated water
  • Give it a quick stir and set aside

Assemble the recipe

  • Place the cooked rice in a pan
  • Add the infused saffron water
  • Stir well and serve immediately



– Stir it occasionally to make sure it is not sticking at the bottom
– Skim the starch that floats to the top.  This is optional, but, I like doing it because it makes the rice taste better
– To test if the rice is cooked, gently mush one grain of cooked rice. If it is cooked, it will mush easily and will be soft.  If it is uncooked, the rice grain will feel firm on one side and cooked on the other. 
– Water from the rice is full of nutrition.  It can be used in soups or curry as a stock.  Or, use it in hair and skin care regiment. 


Serving: 2PeopleCalories: 527kcal
Keyword how to make saffron rice, how to store saffron
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  1. The rice came out perfect, and I love the strands of saffron. I was trying to replicate the rice served at our local restaurant and adding those extra spices was perfect. Will be making again.

  2. I’ve always wanted to try out this kind of rice! I’ve had it a few times and it’s delicious. I can’t wait to make this recipe now, thank you!

  3. This is a wonderful side! We loved the combination of flavors and the aroma is fabulous! I highly recommend this recipe!!

  4. I can’t get my saffron to bloom like this so I am going to try the trick of putting it in my ghee instead! Thanks for the great idea!

  5. Love the color and flavor of this rice! My family loved it! I served with a mojo pork this past weekend. Perfect side dish!

  6. What a beautiful recipe. I don’t know that much about saffron so this is the perfect post for me! Pinning!

  7. The flavor of this rice from the spices is amazing! I really love the color saffron adds to the rice, This recipe is definitely a winner!

  8. Your saffron rice is beautiful! I see that you have a rice paddle as a recommended product. I use mine all the time. Can’t imagine serving rice without it now. Funny thing, when we bought our house the prior owns left the rice paddle there, so I inherited it from them. I love it & imagine they miss it! LOL I’ll be making your rice & serving it with my rice paddle soon.

    1. Thank you, Debi. Its so funny that you mention rice paddle. Indians use it all the time in our rice recipes. I know male family members who wouldn’t eat rice if it wasn’t served using a rice paddle. Apparently it contributes to the taste, lol? I am happy to hear that you use a rice paddle too. It helps scoop out the rice better than any other utensil.