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White plate with pappardelle in a golden creamy saffron sauce. Fork resting into pasta.

Easy Creamy Saffron Pasta Sauce

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5 from 3 reviews


A rich and decadent creamy saffron pasta sauce. Easy enough for a quick weeknight dinner but impressive enough to wow friends and family. Unique saffron flavor infused into a luscious creamy parmesan sauce with a hint of lemon.


1 teaspoon saffron, see notes

1/4 cup boiling water

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

2 garlic cloves, finely diced

1/2 cup white wine

40 grams butter, cubed

2/3 cup cream

35 grams parmesan, finely grated

1 teaspoon lemon juice (or 2 teaspoons if you like!)

Extra parmesan to serve

Pasta of your choice, see notes


  1. Put the saffron in a small ramekin or cup and pour 1/4 cup of boiling water over it. Let it steep while you cook the pasta and start the sauce.
  2. Cook your pasta in a large pot of well salted water. Reserve a mug of the pasta water before draining.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet that will fit all the pasta in at the end, over a medium heat.
  4. Gently fry the garlic for a minute or two being careful not to brown.
  5. Lower the heat slightly, add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, 1 - 2 minutes.
  6. Add the butter in three seperate lots, whisking well in between so it becomes a nicely emulsified sauce. I like to shake the pan with my left hand and whisk with my right.
  7. Add the saffron and steeping liquid and simmer for 2 minutes.
  8. Add the cream and bring to a very gentle simmer (adjust your heat if you need).
  9. Add the grated parmesan in a couple of lots, letting it melt into the cream before adding more.
  10. Add the lemon juice and stir quickly.
  11. Let it gently bubble for a couple of minutes to thicken slightly.
  12. Add the cooked pasta straight in, giving it a good toss in the sauce.
  13. Let the pasta gently bubble away in the sauce for a minute or two to thicken. It will continue to thicken off the heat so go for saucier than you think. Add a splash of pasta water if you need to loosen.
  14. Divide between plates, top with extra parmesan and some lemon zest if you wish.


  • If you haven't used saffron before you could start with 1/2 teaspoon. Still steep with same amount of boiling water.
  • Pasta - weigh your portions so you get the perfect ratio of pasta to sauce. I allow 1oo grams dried per person or 15o grams fresh per person. (so 200g or 300g all up).
  • It's good to try and cook the pasta at the same time as your sauce but will depend what pasta you are using. If your pasta is ready before the sauce then reserve a mug of pasta water, drain and then toss with a knob of butter to stop it overcooking and sticking.
  • Heat your plates! I always have my plates in a warm oven as I cook. Pasta gets cold quick so warm plates is a great tip!
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Vegetarian
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian inspired