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I am planning to make paella for a large group. Everyone is contributing something to the dish so it isn't going to cost me a whole lot of money. I have made it before but used tumeric to obtain the yellow color but was debating on buying the saffron for a more "authentic" flavor. Is saffron worth the price? Where should I look to buy it? Powdered or threads? Steep, toast, or add it to the dish? Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!

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  1. Costco. Threads. $30 28g. Steep it into dish. VERY pungent, distinctive, defiantly not just a pretty color, even though it is that too!

    3 Replies
    1. re: renov8r

      Totally worth it (assuming its threads and fresh). I've only ever had the cheap stuff, and it's wonderful. I've never seen it at my Costco, but my local Coop and TJ's both have it, and it's not that pricy. I've always steeped it in some liquid then added that to my dish.

      1. re: Vetter

        threads are better. Steep into liquid. a drink my mom used to make me when i was sick was warm milk with a few threads of saffron, some sugar and some sliced pistachios on top. i still love it.

      2. re: renov8r

        My boyfriend bought this yesterday - it was $25 for 5 grams of very nice looking threads in a fancy glass bottle at our local Costco. I not sure how the quality ranks up there as I haven't used it yet but it looks gorgeous.

      3. You can get a little packet of saffron from a Middle Eastern shop or an Italian grocer for about $5. Must do it!

        1. I use Spanish Saffron in my Paella. I usually steep the threads 1st. You can add it to the rice and broth also. I have done it both ways and turned out fine. I ordered mine from Spice House. We don't have a Costco or TJ where I live and the grocery store spices are expensive and you never know how old they are.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Smileelisa

            Trader Joes has saffron at a good price

          2. Saffron is a much subtler taste than turmeric (and, of course, more authentic). Buy threads. Steep them for a while, then add everything to the cooking dish.

            1. Maybe this makes me a hardliner, but gosh, I can't even imagine paella without saffron. To me, that's like coq au vin without the vin -- it's one of the primary characteristics of the dish. And turmeric is definitely not a substitute. They both add yellow color, and the similarities end there.

              So, yes, it's worth it... necessary, even :-)

              1 Reply
              1. re: Dmnkly

                Its worth it.. just don't buy TONS of it - Penzey's, near me, sell small packets.. you don't need to use a lot.

              2. Threads for sure. Powdered saffron is often old and loses it's flavor quickly. You can buy small amounts of saffron in your grocery store, or a gourmet market if you have one close by. I buy mine from Penzey's spices, online.

                You don't need to steep your saffron for paella because it will be cooking in liquid with the rice, basically steeping it in the dish itself.

                Usually, at some point in the recipe, you cook a combination of peppers (or pimentos), onion, garlic, etc, then add the rice and some water or stock to this combination. Here is the point where you want to add your saffron. You have the choice of adding with the rice, and stirring around for a few moments to coat and mix everything, or you can put it in after you pour in the water. It matters not.

                And it is most definitely worth the price. Just make sure you don't add more than a pinch. It is possible to over-saffron a dish.

                Hope this helps!

                1 Reply
                1. re: QueenB

                  I agree. No need to steep the saffron since it will cook in the stock.

                  Some recipes will ask you to toast the threads first to bring out the flavor. I usually skip this step. I suppose this may matter in theory but in practice, I don't think it makes a real difference.

                2. Get threads. If you keep them tightly contained in a cool, dark place, they last damn near forever. I have mine in a small plastic bag inside a tin box down on an enclosed lazy-susan corner shelf - never gets much over 70┬║ - and though I got that for Christmas two or three years ago it's as potent as ever. One of my favorite throw-together dishes is cod (either fresh or refreshed salt cod) with potatoes, onions, tomatoes, peppers and some black olives in a casserole. I learned this as a Proven├žal dish, but the addition of some saffron steeped in white wine pulls it right over the Spanish border.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Will Owen

                    I got some really good quality Spanish saffron threads at an Indian market a couple of years ago as well- about $30 for an ounce. Same thing- a little ziplock inside of a tin box- it's still great. There's so much that sometimes I start looking for things to add it to (it's wonderful in Kheer, or rice pudding, fwiw). I'm sure the price has gone up, but even if you pay double I still think it's a great deal- most Indian markets should carry it.

                  2. If someone wants to split this into a separate post, that's fine by me, but I figured I'd ask it here-

                    What's saffron taste like? Is it spicy? I have a cabbage dish that calls for 1/2 tsp of saffron, and I hate to spend the money if I'm not going to like the flavor.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: thursday

                      To me saffron tastes like flower essence. It's what I'd imagine a rose petal would taste like.

                      Sorry, but it's rather difficult to describe, just like most spices and herbs.

                      1. re: thursday

                        Saffron's flavor is hard to describe. It's NOT spicy at all. It lends a sort of floral perfume-- not sweet, but floral. It adds this interesting complexity to a dish that is hard to describe. It has a bitter edge in large quantities. It's a very agreeable sort of flavor; I can't imagine many people disliking it. It's good in sweets and in savory dishes.

                      2. For those that are buying saffron at Costco and TJs, what type is it?

                        Kashmir saffron? Or is it simply the Spanish variety?

                        1. And if you really love Saffron, grow your own. Bulbs are shipped in fall and need maybe one square foot of a garden. In three years, they will have multiplied madly and you'll be in the ...orange.

                          1. If you cook regularly, its much more economical to buy good spanish saffron in quantities - like the ounce size tins about the size of a small brick. Keep wrapped and its flavor last for 2 years, unlike most spices.