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How is Saffron Used In Food?

Kindi Lantz April 25, 2019

Typical Uses For Saffron And An Atypical Recipe For Braised Rabbit

Saffron has been used for culinary purposes, health and wellness, and dyes for thousands of years. These days, though, with the rapid movement of information enabling more folks to become aware of and have access to the world’s most expensive spice, the uses of saffron are broadening. Let’s explore how saffron is used in cooking and other ways in which those versatile, crimson threads of the Crocus Sativus are becoming more prevalent in culinary artistry.

Saffron in Food

The most common use of Saffron is as a coloring agent and flavor contributor to an assortment of comfort foods around the world. The Spanish dish, Paella, which can feature a wide array of meats and vegetables always holds two constants: rice and saffron. Bouillabaisse, a French seafood stew, wouldn’t be Bouillabaisse at all, without it. The Sicilian rice dish containing bone marrow and saffron, called Risotto Milanese has been around since the 13th century and the Persians were thought to bring another rice dish, Biryani, to India (where it was popularized) around the same time.

But, saffron uses shouldn’t stop at the classics, the spice also makes a remarkable and oftentimes unexpected addition to a wide range of other dishes. Chefs are beginning to expand their horizons and use the spice in more unexpected ways and as sites like Pinterest continue to gain popularity, even the at-home cooks are putting their own spin on the saffron.

As such, we thought we’d better provide a saffron dish that strays from the norm. Although I have to admit, it definitely follows suit as a saffron comfort dish.

Braised Rabbit with Saffron Almond Sauce

Yields 4-6 servings


  • 1 3-5 pound rabbit
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons sweet cream butter
  • ¼ cup corn starch
  • ¼ cup sherry
  • ⅔ cup slivered almonds
  • 1 teaspoon fresh minced lemongrass
  • ½ teaspoon saffron, slightly crushed
  • 4 cups of chicken bone broth
  • 3 teaspoons liquid aminos
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 ℉.
  2. Season the rabbit with the salt, pepper, and ground ginger.
  3. Heat oil over in a large dutch oven on medium-high.
  4. Add in the rabbit. Cook for about 7 minutes per side or until a nice, golden-brown crust has been achieved.
  5. Remove the rabbit from the dutch oven and turn the heat to medium.
  6. Melt the butter and add in the onions to sauté.
  7. Add the garlic, almonds, saffron, lemongrass, and sherry and simmer for about 8 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, combine the cornstarch with ½ cup of the bone broth, whisking until no lumps appear.
  9. Pour the remaining bone broth in the dutch oven and whisk in the cornstarch mixture.
  10. Stir in the liquid aminos and almond extract.
  11. Return the rabbit to the dutch oven and submerge in the liquid. Close the lid tightly and place the dish in the oven.
  12. Cook for 90 minutes and flip the rabbit. Cook for another 90 minutes and remove.

Serving Suggestions

Serve family-style, directly from the Dutch oven with tongs for the rabbit and a ladle for the sauce or shred the meat and top with the sauce and more slivered almonds. This dish is wonderful served atop or alongside simple basmati rice, classic saffron rice, or Asian-fried rice with stir-fried eggs and vegetables.

You can use any high-quality saffron for this recipe! I went with this Grade 1 Negin Cut Saffron from Persia because of the high levels of crocin (color) and safranal (flavor).