Quick Guide: How To Make Saffron Water

5 from 2 votes

Learn how to make saffron water at home easily! It is quick and can be consumed on its own as a drink or added to recipes.

Glass of saffron water.

Homemade saffron water is versatile and can be consumed on its own or used to enhance the flavor and aroma of both sweet and savory dishes.

Saffron water can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, and a pinch of saffron goes a very long way.

From savory rice dishes to decadent desserts, saffron-infused water is a must-have ingredient that can transform an ordinary recipe 

Saffron strands or kesar in a small white bowl.

Its bold color and unique taste cannot be duplicated with any alternatives to saffron. I’ve used this spice extensively as it is very common in Indian cuisine, especially Indian sweets! 

Yogurt-based shrikhand is a delicious and popular example of an Indian sweet I think you would love.

This delicate spice is best used in small quantities as it packs a big punch! If you have less time for it to bloom and release its flavors, adding 2-3 extra strands can help get there quicker.

About Saffron

If you read about the history of saffron, you’l learn it was a symbol of wealth in ancient times.

Besides its bright color and flavor, saffron is known for its price!  It is expensive.  Do you know why?

A single pound of saffron is made up of approximately seventy thousand flowers. Its basically liquid gold 🙂

The good news is that you do not need a big amount of this prized spice to get incorporate the unique taste, color, and aroma it provides.

Taste:  Saffron provide a sweet, floral, almost musky taste.  It is very distinctive and saffron cannot be easily substituted.

Comes from:  This spice is derived from the dried stigmas of the Crocus sativus flower. They only bloom for a few weeks in the fall!

Cultures that use it:  Middle Eastern,  South Asian, and Mediterranean cuisines most commonly use it. But it is used across many.

Saffron milk in a glass.

Culinary Uses

Savory dishes – Used in rice dishes across cuisine types such as Paella (Spanish), Biryani (Indian), Risotto Milanese (Italian), and Zreshek Polo (Persian).  It can also be used to make a saffron sauce for pasta dishes.

Sweet dishes – In Indian cuisine, it is a very popular ingredient in sweets.  From Saffron Ice Cream to Saffron Pistachio Kulfi or Saffron Peda the types are endless!  It is popularly paired with cardamom.

Gulab Jamun Cake uses heavenly homemade saffron syrup!

Saffron water in a small bowl.

Beverages – Saffron (kesar) chai, Mango Milk, and Saffron Milk are just two examples of delicious drinks made using this expensive spice.

Coloring agent – It adds a bright yellow-orange appearance to dishes.  

Ingredient Notes

Below are ingredient notes. Full ingredients and directions are in the printable recipe card at the end of the post. 

Saffron in milk.

Saffron: Be sure to source and find good quality saffron. This will really impact the end result and I have read that corn silk threads or safflower are sometimes passed on as saffron to unknowing customers.

Be sure it comes from saffron crocus!

Water:  Use cold, lukewarm, or warm water. It can even be added to a pot of boiling water.

In some cultures, adding sugar or salt to the saffron strands is common practice.  It is believed it will help grind the saffron.  Honestly, I think this is unnecessary.  Saffron is very potent and grinds just fine without the addition of sugar or salt.

How To Make Saffron Water

It really only takes two steps to make it.

First, saffron strands are ground using a mortar and pestle (or you can even crush them between your fingers.) I don’t recommend a spice grinder as it is a very small amount.

Then, the saffron is placed in water and given time to bloom. 

The variations come in depending on what you are using the saffron water for.  

Saffron water:  If you are drinking it simply as saffron water, then give it 20-30 minutes for the flavor to develop.

Steep saffron threads in a cup of water.  This can be even done at room temperature water.

Alternatively, you can place the crushed saffron on an ice cube.  Once it melts that is an indication it is ready to add to a larger glass of water.

Saffron Tea: If you are using it for a simple saffron tea, add it to warm water with sugar or honey, and a pinch of cardamom and you have a delicious tea. 

Alternatively, have it with a squeeze of lemon juice or the addition of rose water.

The key is to not have too many competing flavors in the tea if you really want the taste of saffron strands and its exotic aroma.

Saffron Water For Cooking:  You can add in saffron water to a rice or pilaf dish.  However, I recommend simply adding in a few crushed strands to the hot water or broth you are cooking the rice in for the biggest flavor.

Saffron tea in a glass mug.

 What Flavors Go Well With It?

Saffron goes very well with cardamom and rose water in sweets.  For savory dishes, it works with garlic, white wine, butter, almonds, and tarragon.

Try it out in your favorite dishes.

Saffron Milk – Kesar Milk

If you are looking for additional ways to easily incorporate this into your diet, I highly recommend saffron or kesar milk as a great way. 

It is a quick treat flavored with saffron, crushed almonds, and a hint of cardamom. A traditional Indian drink!

In the Hindu religion, the pure gold color of saffron is known compared to the color of the sunset and fire which symbolizes sacrifice and light. 

Glass of mango milk with saffron strands on top.

Since it is the most expensive spice,  make the saffron last by counting the threads before using it in your water.  Using too many saffron results in a bitter, metallic taste.

Storing

This can be made ahead of time.  The more time you give saffron to soak, the stronger the flavor and color will be. 

Store the precious water in an airtight container and leave it on the counter overnight or in the fridge.  Either work, it just depends on what you are using it for and what temperature you need it to be.

Have you tried this saffron water recipe? If so, I would greatly appreciate it if you could take a moment to leave a comment and rate it with stars. It would mean a lot to me to hear how it turned out. If you’re on Instagram, feel free to tag me so I can see your creation. Thank you for your support!

Glass of saffron water.

Quick Guide: How To Make Saffron Water

Shilpa Joshi
Learn how to make saffron water at home easily! It is quick and can be consumed on its own as a drink or added to recipes.
5 from 2 votes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Drinks
Cuisine Indian
Servings 1 cup
Calories 37 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 glass
  • 1 mortar + pestle to grind the saffron

Ingredients
  

  • 12 strands saffron depending on what you are using saffron for – as a drink 10-12 strands is plenty!
  • 1 cup water

Instructions
 

  • Grind saffron using a mortar and pestle.
  • Add saffron to glass of water. Let saffron steep for 15-20 minutes allowing flavor oils to be released from saffron.

Notes

See post for ideas on using saffron, making saffron tea, and more!

Nutrition

Calories: 37kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0.2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.1gSodium: 30mgPotassium: 207mgFiber: 0.5gCalcium: 20mgIron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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