Saffron sauce

Saffron sauce
If you really want to impress, or want to give a real spark of bright colour to a meal; this recipe for saffron cream sauce is perfect for you.
As saffron is very expensive, it should be used sparingly, but fortunately even a small pinch of saffron can (and will) infuse a whole meal (or this sauce) with a glorious golden shimmer.
Saffron comes from the female parts of the crocus sativus, these look like three thin bright yellow threads growing in the middle of each flower in the fall.
Saffron can be bought either as threads (whole stigmas) or ground; you are better buying the threads. Not only will they retain their flavor longer, but you will also be assured you have purchased pure saffron. Powdered saffron is not as strong, tends to lose flavor, and is also easily adulterated with fillers and imitations.
The saffron sauce can be used with rice (such as a risotto perhaps), lamb/mutton dishes, chicken or seafood dishes, but try to avoid pairing it with strong tastes or it lessens the impact; it's a complex taste best enjoyed with a simple pairing.
Some recipes for saffron sauce suggest adding finely diced shallots along with the wine, but this recipe is all about the smooth, refined taste and colour of saffron so leaves them out.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Middle Eastern
Servings 4


  • 1 pinch saffron (ideally threads)
  • 150 ml double cream
  • 150 ml white wine
  • 50 ml water
  • 50 g butter


  • Fill a jug or glass with 50ml/2fl oz. of water, and add a pinch of saffron to the water. The water will quickly turn golden yellow from the saffron.
  • Add the white wine to a pan and simmer over a medium heat. Reduce the white wine down to a tablespoon or too.
  • Melt the butter in the pan, this adds a glossiness to the sauce.
  • Add the double cream, a small pinch of salt and the saffron infused water to the pan – by now the water should be a golden yellow. .Make sure to include all of those expensive saffron threads, they still are flavour (and colour) packed!
  • Simmer over medium heat and stir until the sauce thickens and goes a stunning yellow, it will initially be quite a pale yellow, but as it heats it will intensify. Use the colour to determine when the sauce is ready.
  • Enjoy. This sauce makes a luxurious accompaniment to many dishes.


Is saffron sauce spicy?

No, the taste of the saffron in this recipe is more floral and aromatic.

Is saffron good in a tomato sauce?

Yes, there are some traditional Italian recipes which use saffron and tomatoes as a sauce base.

Is saffron expensive?

Saffron is difficult to produce, and is regarded as one of the most expensive foods in the world by weight.

What does saffron sauce taste like?

Saffron is a complex taste to describe, but is best described as having a slightly grassy taste, and quite sweet almost like honey, it is almost equally sweet and savoury depending on how its paired.

What does Saffron sauce go with?

Saffron sauce has a pleasant yet complex taste and pairs well with any seafood. Fish, scallops and lobster are popular companions, but the sauce also goes well with chicken.

Due to it’s depth of flavour, it can even go with stronger meats like our grilled Pakistani-style mutton chops.

The history of saffron cultivation reaches back more than 3,000 years.