Saffron Sauce is a quick and easy homemade sauce reminiscent of fine dining restaurants! This is a very versatile sauce that lends itself to being used in a variety of ways. Use it as a saffron pasta sauce, pour it over fish, chicken or shrimp. I will share my tips and tricks so that you can master it from the get go. Golden saffron pasta combined with al dente fettuccine, crispy bacon and a simple saffron cream sauce can become your signature dish 😉👌.
🤍 Recipe Highlights
I have summarised everything that you will come to know and love (LOVE ❤) about the recipe in the points below:
- Saffron butter sauce: so we've got butter, garlic, saffron and cream as highlights - sounds pretty good from the get go right 😉👌. Cooking with saffron is a pure joy!
- Homemade sauce for fettuccine: homemade sauces are the best! You know exactly what ingredients went into making them and can make them any time the craving hits. Alfredo is a popular sauce for fettuccine and this saffron sauce offers another creamy sauce perfect to pair with pasta!
- Easy: as much as 'saffron' is a bit mystified, known for not being cheap and not the most common of ingredients, this saffron pasta recipe takes it back to basics.
- Sophisticated dinner: this saffron cream sauce has a delightful taste and makes for a lovely dinner perfect for special occasions. Date night perhaps? 🥰
- Non cheese pasta sauce: when making both alfredo and gorgonzola pasta sauces we add cheese as part of the sauce making process. Despite looking creamy and cheesy this saffron sauce recipe doesn't include cheese. Garnish with cheese for sure, but no need to put it in the sauce itself.
The photo below is to show you everything you need to make the recipe. Please refer to the printable recipe card for specific ingredient measurements as well as detailed instructions.
As you can see the recipe calls for:
- Bacon: streaky bacon is great as it cooks quickly, crisps up perfectly when cooked and can be cut into little pieces.
- Saffron: you will find this in the cooking aisle at your local grocery store with the herbs, stocks and spices. It will be in a very small bottle or plastic container. The colour of saffron is bright red yet it offers an unmistakeable bright yellow colour to dishes.
- Butter: I recommend using an unsalted creamy French butter. They are such a delight to cook with and an excellent way to start a sauce off.
- Dried chives: handy and convenient as they require no peeling or chopping. This allow us to get a slight onion flavor going in the sauce without using big pieces of chunky onion. Plus they offer a pop of contrasting colour to the yellow saffron.
- Plain flour: after we melt the butter and cook the garlic slightly, we want to add the flour as a means of thickening what will be the sauce.
- Salt: this is needed to season the sauce.
- Garlic: along with the salt, the garlic provides a depth of flavour to season the sauce. Chunky minced or finely diced fresh garlic is fine.
- Parsley: fresh, finely chopped parsley if you can. This is the 2nd of the herbs used in the sauce and it provides taste, texture and colour to the recipe.
- Cream: is one of the 2 primary liquids needed to create the sauce. We need a heavy cream, cooking cream, but not dollop or double cream.
- Chicken stock: also known as chicken broth. This is the 2nd ingredient providing a liquid base for the sauce.
- Fettuccine: a great pasta to use when making sauces as the sauce clings to the width of the pasta.
Tasty Tip: I like to provide you with a number of substitutions and variations giving you an array of options when making my recipes. If in doubt of any of the above ingredients, or wanting alternatives, read this section (further below) before jumping into the instructions on how to make the recipe which are coming next 😉👌.
Here are the step by step instructions to make the creamy saffron sauce. We start by cooking the bacon for the pasta.
- Cook bacon (Photo 1)
- Add hot water to saffron threads (Photo 2)
- Melt butter (Photo 3)
- Add garlic, salt and chives (Photo 4)
👩🍳 How to Make Saffron Sauce
Start to make the sauce by placing a large frying pan on the stove and turning the heat to high. Add the streaky bacon and allow this to cook for 4-5 minutes. Once cooked use kitchen tongs to lift it up and out of the pan and place it in a bowl with paper towel.
Then without rinsing or cleaning the pan add the butter and let it melt. Next add in the garlic, dried chives and salt. Allow these to cook for 1 minute.
Next add the plain flour and use a hand held whisk to stir the butter and flour into a paste.
Then pour in the chicken stock, followed by the cream. Next pour in both the saffron threads and the small amount of water they have been sitting in.
Whisk continuously during this time until the sauce takes on a gravy like texture and is well mixed in together.
- Add the flour (Photo 5)
- Pour in the chicken broth (Photo 6)
- Add the cream (Photo 7)
- Add the saffron threads and water (Photo 8)
Once the remaining ingredients for the sauce have been added, the sauce will have a thick, creamy consistency. The heat can be turned down (on the sauce) whilst you cook the pasta.
- Reserve pasta water (Photo 9)
- Whisk till sauce is consistent (Photo 10)
- Add pasta and pasta water to sauce (Photo 11)
- Add chopped bacon (Photo 12)
If you find that the sauce has thickened and somewhat 'set' whilst you are making the pasta, you can simply turn the heat up, give it a little whisk and it will be good to go again.
We want the pasta to be al dente which means it has a little bite to it. So test a piece when you think it is ready and then use a heat proof jug to scoop out 1 to 2 cups of the pasta water.
Next add the cooked drained pasta to the saffron sauce. Then pour in ½ cup of the starchy pasta water.
Add the chopped bacon pieces, followed by the chopped parsley.
- Add the parsley (Photo 13)
Once the bacon and parsley have been added you can use a pair of kitchen tongs to toss the pasta through the saffron sauce and mix everything in together.
- Garnish the dish (Photo 14)
Liberally garnish the dish by grating some pecorino romano over the top and sprinkling some black pepper around also.
Then grab some bowls, spoons and forks so that everyone can dive in.
🍽 Serving Suggestions
There is a wide variety of ways that you can use this sauce and proteins that you can pair it with.
Try making salmon with saffron sauce, using the saffron sauce for seafood, or using it as an easy creamy sauce for chicken (sounds pretty great to me 👌).
If you want to pair it with pasta, you have a wide variety of types available including your favorite pasta. The photo below is what it looks like with linguine pasta.
I didn't add bacon when I was making the sauce with the linguine. So that gives you an idea about how it looks if you want to try it without the bacon.
Then you have the combination we have talked most about which is the pairing with fettuccine. Below is a photo to show you how that will turn out.
Regardless of which type of pasta you choose, be it spaghetti, linguine, pappardelle, tagliatelle or fettuccine, it is nice to finish it off with a sprinkle of finely grated cheese and touch of black pepper.
A chilled glass of pinot gris is the perfect white wine to drink alongside it.
👍 How to Guide
How to Store
Store leftovers of the sauce in a sealed, airtight container. They can be kept up to 3 days and need to be reheated before being used.
How to Reheat
Transfer the sauce back to a saucepan on the stove and turn the stove to medium heat. Stir until the sauce thins and reheats (it will have thickened sitting in the fridge).
Can I freeze this sauce?
I don't recommend freezing the saffron sauce on its own as creamy sauces can be a little hit and miss when frozen and reheated.
If however, you make the sauce and combine it with pasta as shown in the photos throughout the post then you can freeze cooled portions in air tight containers for up to 3 months. Allow to defrost and thaw fully before reheating in the microwave in a bowl with cling wrap on top for around 3 minutes on high.
😉 Substitutions and Variations
Here are my sub ins and outs that you might be thinking about as you read the post and I will tell you if I think they will work or why they won't:
- If you want to use salted butter, omit the salt at the step of sauteing the garlic and chives. A little salt goes a long way!
- The bacon is optional. If you want to make the sauce without it, you can.
- You can use freshly chopped chives in place of the dried ones if you wish to.
- You can use chopped flat leaf parsley instead of the curly parsley.
- I use pecorino romano to garnish the dish for serving. You can do the same or use parmesan cheese.
💡 Tasty Tips
Here are my top tips and tricks that I want to share with you so that you master the recipe from the get go:
- When you purchase the saffron from your supermarket check not only the price but also the quantity. My local store has 2 types. The 1st is $14.90 and the 2nd is $14.40, however the 1st more expensive one has more than double the quantity of saffron threads. It pays to check this as it is an expensive ingredient and you want to get the best value for money.
- No need to sift the flour. You can add it in as is.
- You will find a hand held whisk comes in handy when making the sauce as you need to whisk it to combine the ingredients as well as it thickens too much.
- I refer to needing ½ cup of the pasta water for the sauce, yet I also say 'scoop out 1 to 2 cups of the pasta water'. This is because it is a lot easier to measure a specific amount from a small jug of the starchy pasta water, than it is to pop a measuring spoon in there whilst the pasta is still bubbling water.
- Regarding the point above and hot water. This is the same for the hot water needed to activate the saffron threads. Pour into a larger heatproof jug and then measure the required amount. This is SO much easier than the other way around.
🤓 Frequently Asked Questions
What is saffron sauce made of?
Saffron sauce is made from saffron threads, butter, cream, garlic, chicken stock and salt.
Is saffron really spicy?
No saffron is not really spicy nor is it a hot spice. It has an earthy grounded and mellowed taste about it.
What spice is saffron similar to?
Turmeric is the closest spice to saffron. It too has a bright yellow colour to it turning foods that it is added to this colour also.
Do you need saffron for paella?
Saffron can be used for paella, however, it is not essential. You can also use turmeric which is a much cheaper spice to purchase.
😍 More Easy Dinner Recipes
Every meal that we eat doesn't have to feel like fine dining. Sometimes you want to put your feet up, sit on the couch and eat whatever takes your fancy.
Here are some options that you can explore offering a wide range of cook times, methods and proteins.
- Crumbed Mushrooms
- Beef Ribs (Oven Baked Then Grilled)
- Chorizo Pasta Bake
- Honey Mustard Sausages
- Spinach And Mushroom Risotto
- Panko Pork Chops
- Chicken and Chorizo Paella
- Bacon And Mushroom Risotto
- Crumbed Lamb Cutlets
- ½ teaspoon saffron threads Note 1
- 1 tablespoon boiling water to activate the saffron threads, Note 2
- 60 grams butter unsalted, Note 3
- 1 tbs garlic chunky, minced
- 2 teaspoon dried chives
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoon plain flour
- 2 cups/500ml chicken stock
- 1 cup/250ml cream
- 500 grams/16 oz fettuccine
- ½ cup/125 ml reserved pasta water Note 4
- 200 grams/7 oz streaky bacon Note 5
- ⅓ cup parsely finely chopped
- black pepper
- pecorino romano
- parsley finely chopped
- Bacon: place a large frying pan on the stove, turn the heat to high and add the streaky bacon. Cook for 4-5 minutes then use kitchen tongs to transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Once cooled, used kitchen scissors to chop the bacon into small pieces.
- Saffron threads: add the saffron threads to a small bowl and pour in 1 tablespoon of boiling water. Note 2
- Butter: place a large frying pan on the stove and turn the heat to high. Add the butter and let it melt. Then add the garlic, dried chives and salt and let them cook for 1 minute.
- Cream sauce: Turn the heat to low and add the chicken stock, cream and saffron threads (with water). Turn the heat back up and whisk until the sauce is consistently combined.
- Pasta: place a medium sauce pan on the stove top, fill it with water and a pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Read and follow the instructions on the pasta packet to cook the pasta. Moments before it is al dente, use a heatproof jug to scoop out 1 to 2 cups of the pasta water. Then use a colander over the sink to drain the remaining water. Note 5
- Pasta and sauce: add the cooked drained pasta to the saffron sauce and pour in ½ cup of the reserved pasta water. Add the chopped bacon pieces and parsley then use kitchen tongs to toss the pasta through the sauce.
- Garnish: to serve the dish grate some pecorino romano over the top of the dish and sprinkle some black pepper on top also. Provide bowls, forks and spoons for serving.
- Note 1 - Saffron: you will find this in the cooking aisle at your local grocery store with the herbs, stocks and spices. It will be in a very small bottle or plastic container. The colour of saffron is bright red yet it offers an unmistakeable bright yellow colour to dishes.
- Note 2 - Boiling water: if you try and pour boiling water into a small tablespoon there is a high change of you splashing boiling water back up at yourself or pouring it over your hand. Instead of doing this, boil the kettle and once boiled pour some of that water into a heatproof jug and then take your tablespoon and dip it in there to get the 1 tablespoon needed.
- Note 3 - Butter: if you want to use salted butter, then omit adding separate salt when sauteing the garlic.
- Note 4 - Streaky Bacon: In Australia the smallest packet of streaky bacon is 200 grams costing around $6 or $7. In the USA the smallest packet is 12oz and costs $3.72. For my USA friends making the recipe, unless you would have a purpose for the 2-3 extra bacon pieces, I would use the full packet, ie 12 oz. Even though the recipe specifies '7 oz'. That is the conversion from 200 grams. Using 12 oz of bacon in the recipe would be totally fine. It is only a small amount extra.
- Note 5 - Reserved pasta water: similarly to what I mention in oint 2 with the boiling water, it is tricky to measure accurately when the pasta is boiling and bubbling on the stove. So use a heatproof jug to scoop out 1 to 2 cups of boiling water and then measure from this jug ½ cup (125ml) to add to the sauce.