Saffron sauce

  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking time: 10 minutes
  • Total time: 20 minutes


  • A small pinch of saffron
  • 150ml/5fl oz. double cream
  • 150ml/5fl oz. white wine
  • 50ml/2fl oz. cup water
  • 50g/2oz. butter
Saffron sauce

As saffron is very expensive, it should be used sparingly, but even a small pinch of saffron can (and will) infuse a whole meal with glorious colour.

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.

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.


  1. 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.
  2. Add the white wine to a pan and simmer over a medium heat. Reduce the white wine down to a tablespoon or too.
  3. Melt the butter in the pan, this adds a glossiness to the sauce.
  4. 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!
  5. 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.
  6. Enjoy. This sauce makes a luxurious accompaniment to many dishes.
The history of saffron cultivation reaches back more than 3,000 years.

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Tom D - Jul 02, 2013, 18:04


A quick side note – Saffron lets out more colour if the liquid is warm (but not hot). You will be surprised how much of a difference it makes!

A_Boleyn - Jul 10, 2013, 23:40


What a gorgeous sauce. I can picture it flavouring a dish of fresh mussels or as a sauce over some gnocchi too.

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