Added Too Much Saffron?

Added Too Much Saffron by mistake? Do this.

Taking the step to buy saffron threads can seem like a big commitment. As saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, there can be some pressure to make sure it is not wasted and that both its aromatic flavour and health benefits are experienced to their fullest potential. 

While these are all valid concerns, they are actually nothing to worry about! There are lots of saffron meal ideas and traditional recipes that are very easy to make. And, the best part is that excessive saffron strands are not needed in any recipe! The rule of thumb is to add three saffron strands per person, per recipe so your dollar actually goes a long flavoursome way. 

How to cook with Saffron

It can seem tricky to work out how much saffron to use when a recipe directs ‘add a pinch’. A large pinch of saffron is usually about 20 threads, but you should consider the 3:1 thread to person ratio too.

One full teaspoon of saffron is enough to serve 16 people, so recipes will typically require one pinch or half a teaspoon worth of saffron. A saffron paella or curry that serves 4-6 people requires 0.125 grams or a pinch of saffron per recipe while Persian saffron rice or saffron risotto requires about 100mg when serving 2-3 people. For a saffron tea about .25g of Saffron is needed or you can buy a saffron tea mix.

Different recipes require saffron strands to be prepared differently. These methods can include:

  • Soaking whole saffron strands in water, broth or wine before adding it to the dish 
  • Crushing the threads using a mortar and pestle or your fingers before soaking them 
  • Toasting threads (many traditional paella recipes recommend this method)
  • Crumbling the threads directly into the recipe. This is typically recommended for liquid-based meals. 

Added too much saffron?

There is such a thing as too much of a good thing- especially saffron! Saffron has a very potent, aromatic flavour and adding too much into your cooking can overpower or ruin the flavours. 

Here’s what you should do if you added too much saffron into your food: 


The most economical and safest method of saving your dish once you had added too much saffron is to dilute the potency by halving the food with too much saffron and freezing it for another time. You then simply continue to add your ingredients to the remaining portion of food and continue with the recipe as normal. This way you will not waste food or saffron and you even have food ready to go for next time. 

Add Sweetness

Too much saffron can leave your dish tasting very bitter. To counter the bitterness of saffron add your favourite sweetener! Different recipes will require a different flavour profile of sweetness and too much of the wrong (or any) sweetener can ruin a savory dish, so, go easy! Our favourite picks are agave nectar, maple syrup, honey, sugar or palm sugar. 

Add Complimentary Herbs and Spices

Sometimes the solution to much of one flavour is to add more of the others! There’s no need to question which herbs go with saffron as we have a large selection of herbs and spices that pair beautifully available in our store. 


Saffron pairings with the following spices and herbs are divine:

  • Ground cinnamon & cinnamon sticks
  • Cumin
  • Cilantro
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Paprika
  • Turmeric
  • Green cardamom and cardamom seeds

How much saffron is too much?

Depending on how much excess saffron was added to the recipe, we typically recommend dilution as the first call to action. Too much saffron can not only be overpowering in flavour but also toxic when consumed, so it’s best to stay on the safe side. 

Bear in mind that doses of 5 grams or more of dried stigmas are considered high and can cause poisoning and doses of 12-20 grams can cause death. However, you will need to have exceeded the recipes requirements excessively to reach these doses.