Chicken With Saffron


Do you like chicken? I sure do! And I just so happen to love Chicken With Saffron. My family has been eating this recipe for as long as I can remember. Chicken With Saffron is one of my dad’s favorites, and my siblings and I never seem to get tired of it. It’s not only delicious, but also simple to make!

Moroccan Saffron Chicken

Moroccan saffron chicken recipe

Prep:15 mins

Cook:60 mins

Total:75 mins

Servings:4 servings

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)SAVE RECIPE

This dish of chicken cooked with lots of onions, saffron, and other Moroccan spices is easy to make and is the savory foundation to a number of delicious Moroccan specialties such as chicken bastilla and chicken briouats. 

Saffron threads, a featured seasoning in Moroccan cooking, are the stigmas from a small purple crocus. Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice by weight since each flower has only three stigmas, which have to be carefully hand-picked and dried, resulting in the saffron threads we find in jars on store shelves. Since this is a laborious process, and it takes over 14,000 of tiny stigmas to create an ounce of saffron, the spice comes with a hefty price tag. Fortunately, a little goes a long way.

You’ll be tempted to eat this tender, flavorful chicken right from the pot, but it is best served on a bed of Moroccan rice pilaf or in seffa medfouna.


  • 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces and skin removed
  • 2 large sweet white onions, or yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 (2- to 3-inch) pieces cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Steps to Make It


  1. Gather the ingredients.Ingredients for Moroccan saffron chicken
  2. Mix all ingredients in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot.Mix ingredients in pot
  3. Cover and cook over medium to medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour, or until the chicken is very tender and pulls easily off the bone. Do not add water, and be careful not to burn the chicken.Cook and cover
  4. Reduce the liquids until they are mostly oils. Discard the cinnamon sticks and taste for seasoning. (The sauce should be a bit salty and peppery.)Reduce liquids
  5. Serve the chicken and sauce on a bed of rice or hidden within a mound of steamed broken vermicelli or couscous.


If you like the distinctive flavor of saffron, this Saffron Chicken with Parsley and Lemon is a traditional way to use it, and this delicious chicken is a classic dish! 

Saffron Chicken with Parsley and Lemon found on

Have you ever cooked with saffron?  It’s widely acknowledged to be the most expensive spice in the world, but you only need a tiny pinch to add delicious flavor to a dish like Paella, Saffron Rice, and this delicious Saffron Chicken which I first tasted when my Iranian friend Massoud made it for me.

When I made this recipe for the blog in 2005 I consulted Mark Bittman’s The Best Recipes in the World and tried to remember how Massoud had done it. For this updated version I did a little more online research and ended up revising my original instructions just a bit. Saffron is maybe an acquired taste, but people crave it all over the middle east, and I thought it was delicious in this Saffron Chicken.


(Scroll down for complete printable recipe.)

  1. Massoud and Mark Bittman would both probably make this with chicken thighs, but I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts and they worked great. Take your choice on that! I cut the breasts on the diagonal to make small cutlets.
  2. Heat 1 T olive oil and a tiny bit of butter in a heavy pan and brown the chicken pieces quickly using medium-high heat. Take care not to overcook the chicken in this step.
  3. Remove chicken to a plate, add the slivered onions and cook over low heat until the onions are nicely browned, about 12-15 minutes. Remove the onions to a second plate.
  4. Heat the chicken stock in the microwave until it’s very warm, then stir in the saffron.
  5. Put the chicken back into the pan, arrange the onions over the chicken, and pour the saffron-infused chicken stock over.
  6. Cover the pan and cook over a very low simmer for about 30 minutes without turning the chicken.
  7. After 30 minutes, add the lemon juice and parsley, and a bit of water if needed and simmer 10-15 minutes more.  Serve hot, over rice if desired.

Saffron Chicken with Parsley and Lemon found on




prep time 25 MINUTES

cook time 45 MINUTES

additional time 5 MINUTES

total time 1 HOUR 15 MINUTES

If you like the distinctive flavor of saffron, this Saffron Chicken with Parsley and Lemon is a traditional way to use it.


  •  2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or use 4 -5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs if you prefer)
  •  1 onion, cut in lengthwise slivers
  •  1 T olive oil
  •  1 T butter (or more if you prefer)
  •  pinch saffron (about 1/4 tsp. or less)
  •  3/4 cup chicken stock
  •  1 1/2 T fresh lemon juice
  •  1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

Get Ingredients


  1. Trim all visible fat and tendons from chicken breasts and cut in 1/2 strips on the diagonal to make small cutlets.
  2. Peel the onions and cut into lengthwise slivers and chop parsley.
  3. Use a heavy frying pan which is not too large and has a tight-fitting lid.  Heat the olive oil and butter, then brown the chicken quickly over medium-high heat.  (Don’t let it cook long enough that the outside starts to get hard.  The chicken does not need to be cooked through.)
  4. Remove chicken to a plate, add onion, and brown over very low heat until edges of onion pieces are turning golden, about 12-15 minutes.  Remove browned onions to another plate.
  5. Add chicken back to pan, and cover with onions.
  6. Heat chicken stock, add saffron and stir to dissolve, then pour over chicken and onions.
  7. Simmer on very low heat with pan covered 30-45 minutes.
  8. Add chopped parsley, lemon juice, and a tiny bit of additional water if needed, and simmer 15 minutes more. Serve hot, over rice if desired.






Amount Per Serving: Calories: 367Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 6gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 120mgSodium: 269mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 40g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by the Recipe Plug-In I am using. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, since many variables affect those calculations.

category: Easy to Cook

Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
Saffron Chicken with Parsley and Lemon made with boneless-skinless chicken breasts would be approved for any phase of the South Beach diet, and it would also work for other low-carb eating plans. South Beach would prefer limited amounts of butter, but you could use more butter if you’re following a low-carb/high-fat eating plan.


Chicken breasts cooked in a creamy saffron sauce with spinach deserves a place on your table! Explore the flavours of Tuscany through this delicious and very easy chicken recipe.

top down view of chicken breasts in cream sauce with spinach in black pan


Am I the only one who has a freezer full of chicken breasts? No? You are the same? Well I’ve got great news because today I am bringing you a delicious recipe, which comes from Tuscany. It is so incredibly simple and quick to make! No more than 30 minutes from start to finish. 

This chicken recipe is inspired by a Tuscan cookbook, that was given to me years ago. It’s called Beaneaters and Bread Soup, Portraits and Recipes from Tuscany by Lori de Mori and Jason Lowe.  I’ve taken the main idea from it but changed the recipe slightly to adapt to our taste. 

This recipe is truly special mostly because of the creamy saffron sauce, that brings a unique taste and a gorgeous colour to the dish. 

saffron cream sauce close up with chicken breasts


There are 4 easy steps involved in the process. 

  • Infuse the cream with saffron
  • Brown the chicken breasts
  • Make the sauce and simmer the chicken breasts in it for 15 minutes. 
  • Add the spinach at the very end4 stages of the Tuscan Chicken cooking process


As I mentioned earlier, the sauce is absolutely the star of this recipe. The main flavour and the stunning hue come from the saffron threads, which are used to infuse the cream. 

Although not in the authentic recipe I’ve also added 2 cloves of garlic and spinach to the sauce. The sauce is thickened with flour but you can use cornstarch if you follow a gluten free diet.

There is also a full cup (250ml) of white wine, which gives this creamy sauce an acidity it needs to balance it out. If you prefer to leave the wine out, substitute with 1 cup of apple juice plus 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar. 

Despite featuring a slightly exotic ingredient like saffron, this sauce is very straightforward to make and very quick. Besides chicken, it is also delicious when served with fish, prawns or scallops. 

cream infused with saffron thread before and after images


I know that the first thing that comes to mind is pasta. Italians would absolutely disapprove as this would be considered a second course. However, let’s throw caution to the wind do what feels right. This year we’ve had enough restrictions put on our lives. Let’s not add another one! 

Plain rice, mashed potatoes, polenta or oven roasted potatoes are all great accompaniments to this tender and juicy chicken breast.  

chicken breast with yellow cream sauce and spinach on beige plate, fork and glass of white wine

Tuscan Chicken with Saffron Cream Sauce

Chicken breasts cooked in creamy saffron sauce with spinach deserves a place on your table!

Course: Main Course

Cuisine: Italian

Keyword: saffron cream sauce, tuscan chicken

Prep Time: 2 minutes

Cook Time: 28 minutes

Servings: 4

Calories: 643kcal


  • 350ml/1 ½ cups single cream/heavy cream
  • 1 tsp saffron threads
  • 2 tbsp olive oil divided
  • 4 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
  • salt and pepper
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 250ml/1 cup dry white wine
  • 30g/1 cup spinach


  • Infuse the cream with saffron by gently heating it in a saucepan for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, brown them in olive oil on both sides until golden but not cooked all the way through for approximately 3-5 minutes on each side, remove to a separate plate and set aside till needed.
  • Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to the pan, then minced garlic and cook over low heat for 20-30 seconds, then add the flour and mix until you have a paste. Deglaze the pan with white wine and let it reduce for 5 minutes. Then add the chicken back to the pan together with the infused cream, bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Add spinach and simmer for 5 minutes longer. Taste the sauce and add more salt if needed.


If you choose to leave the wine out, use the same amount of apple juice + 1 tbsp of white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar instead. 

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