What could I use to substitute saffron?

For my nutrition class, I need to look for authentic Indian (from India, not Native American) recipes that are affordable and nutritious. I found a recipe for Dry Fruit Kheer and one of the ingredients is saffron. I know saffron is expensive. I was wondering if there’s anything I can substitute it with.

This is the recipe:

1 litre milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. cardamom powder
15 strands saffron crushed, soaked in 1 tsp.

The knowledge area.

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hot milk
10-12 raisins
10-12 currants
10-12 almonds slivered
10-12 pistachios, slivered
5-6 dried peaches, quartered
5-6 dried apricots, nut removed, broken to bits


Soak raisins,currant, peaches, apricots, in hot water for 10 minutes.
Boil milk, with cardamom, saffron and sugar for 10 minutes.
Drain soaked dryfruit, add to boiling milk, stir gently.
Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
Add almonds, pistachios, take off fire.
Serve hot.
Making time: 30 minutes
Makes: 5 servings


10 Responses to “What could I use to substitute saffron?”
  1. Emerson Halliday Said:

    saffron has it’s own taste to bring out what your cooking you use little of it at all times
    i do not think there is a subsatute for it

  2. Juan Bland Said:

    Possibly paprika, which will approximate the color, but it won’t have quite the flavor. Keep looking for cheap saffron- it’s really worth it. That recipe sounds divine.

  3. Avery Ridley Said:

    This is an ethnic dish and I don’t think there is a substitute for saffron that would be acceptable for it. Don’t let anyone tell you turmeric, either. It will give the golden color that saffron gives but the flavor would be awful with your dish.

    The saffron can’t be left out because that is what gives this dish the color that the Indians who eat it, expect.

  4. Luka Hudson Said:

    Common saffron substitutes include safflower (Carthamus tinctorius, which is often sold as Portuguese saffron or assafroa) and turmeric (Curcuma longa).
    If you want color, yellow food coloring

  5. Tatiana Moseley Said:

    Saffron = annatto as colorant
    Saffron = equal amount of kasubha (Kasubha is the stamen of a local Asian plant which imparts a slightly reddish color)

  6. Selena Cooke Said:

    Saffron is expensive, however you can get it from other than the normal places, I seem to remember getting the best deal from World Market, Trader Joe’s, and a middle-eastern market.
    Tumerick is also used for a substitute, I know i am not of Indian descent, but my father was from Iran.

  7. Bryson Griffith Said:


    It takes up to 75,000 handpicked blossoms—each with only 3 strands of saffron—to make just 1 pound of the high-maintenance ingredient. Why bother? Not only can a few threads add intense color and bold, honey-like flavor to an otherwise drab dish,

    You may use turmeric as a substitute for saffron’s coloring properties but not for the flavor.

    Safflower flowers can be used

    DONT KNOW HOW MUCH BUT THATS THE BEST I COULD DO honey flavor and the other for color -

  8. Zane Cuthbert Said:

    Saffron is not that expensive considering you’re only using a small amount and it’s only sold in small amounts. Don’t use turmeric because it has a very different flavour and the colour is more yellow. You can buy saffron colour at the spice section of your supermarket but it will not taste like saffron as it is only food colouring. Add cloves, star anise and cinnamon to the milk. It will not be authentically indian but it will bring your dish together as you need something to balance out the cardamon.

  9. Yareli Stackhouse Said:

    I don’t know what to substitute for the saffron or the cardamon, but the recipe sounds delicious. I’m lucky and have both ingredients, so I’ll make this recipe this weekend.

  10. Asher Rose Said:

    A Saffron substitute can be Turmeric, which is a member of ginger family. Be careful when using Turmeric as it has a rather strong flavor and can overwhelm the food.

    Tumeric is also known as Indian saffron.

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