Cardamon To Turmeric: 6 Best Saffron Substitutes For Cooking
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It wouldn't be a surprise if you don't have saffron in your pantry when you are making a recipe that calls for it. Since it is the most expensive spice in the world, you won't store or buy much at a time so running out of it is a common occurrence for many households. Although saffron is a unique spice that is relatively hard to replace but not impossible. The aroma, the colour, the flavour, everything about saffron makes it irresistible but if the situation arises when you need to have an alternative, these amazing substitutes will help you get your job done just fine.

Paprika + Tumeric

When you blend these popular spices together, you get an end product that is very much like the exquisite saffron. The colour and flavour both highly resemble that of saffron.

Turmeric provides a great yellow-orange hue like saffron while the paprika adds a hint of sweetness to the mix. It is a budget-friendly way to get a similar flavour and aroma of saffron.


As mentioned above, turmeric works as a wonderful substitute for saffron in your dishes. It lends them the colour along with some earthly notes. But the only problem with turmeric is that it significantly falls short when it comes to adding floral sweetness to dishes the way saffron does. Turmeric also is much milder than saffron in overall flavour.


Historically, the flowers of this herbaceous plant were once used as a saffron alternative by the Spanish colonies. Although both safflower and saffron are from two completely different plants or family, the appearance of these spices are almost identical especially when the safflower is dried.

But since safflower lacks any flavour, it is only suitable to be used as an alternative to replicate saffron's colour.

Sweet Paprika

Sweet paprika is a great way to substitute saffron in your recipes. While regular paprika is spicy and sweet, sweet paprika is simply sweeter as the name suggests. Sweet paprika packs a great sweet flavour along with some savoury notes and it is also on the affordable side of things.

The only problem with sweet paprika is that it won't help you deliver the same vibrant colour as saffron.


Cardamom is a beloved spice that is consumed all over the world. It is known for its irresistible aroma that it adds to several dishes which could range from rice recipes to beverages. Although, when it comes to the flavour, it is not similar to saffron at all but it does pack unique savoury and sweet notes that could be used to replace saffron in your recipes.

Curry Powder

Indian households have curry powder in their pantry for all 12 months of the year. Although it doesn't replicate the delicate touch of saffron in your recipes, curry powder is still a suitable alternative thanks to its floral and sweet notes that are similar to saffron while also adding a pop of colour to your food.

You can use either of the two curry powders, yellow or red to make a good saffron substitution.