Differences between Spanish saffron and Iranian saffron
Written by Vahid Epagloo, Food Consultant Updated:

Saffron is one of the oldest spices in history, dating back to the Middle Ages or even more. Iranian saffron has an exceptional aroma among other spices and can turn your food into a luxury food. In this article, two of the best kinds of saffron in the world, Spanish and Iranian, have been examined.

Spanish saffron vs Iranian saffron prices

The process of planting saffron which is a very time-consuming and expensive process can be done both manually and using mechanical machines, but harvesting saffron flowers cannot be done mechanically because they are very vulnerable flowers.

It doesn’t matter whether saffron planting is done industrially or traditionally, when it comes to harvesting this product, the usual procedure is the traditional procedure of harvesting, i.e., harvesting by hand.

Planting saffron in Iran is generally much more widespread than in Spain. Considering the larger area of Iran compared to Spain, you can probably guess that the ratio of saffron exports from Spain to Iran is insignificant. Around ninety percent of world saffron production and export belongs to Iran.

hand harvested saffron in Iran

Due to the incomparably higher amount of Iranian saffron production than Spanish, the latter is somewhat more expensive than Iranian con.

In Iran, saffron cultivation happens by families or agricultural corporates in either large or small plots, while in Spain, saffron only is cultivated by families and in small lands. Spanish saffron growers insist on using traditional equipment in saffron cultivation.

Spanish saffron vs Iranian saffron appearance

If you are not familiar with saffron, you might think that finding the difference between Iranian and Spanish saffron is so much that you don’t need to be a saffron expert to know the difference between these two types of saffron.

  • The first difference between Iranian and Spanish saffron is their color.

Iranian saffron is dark red due to the high amount of Crocin (a carotenoid chemical compound), but Spanish saffron is yellow or pale red. The reason behind this kind of color can be the result of the way Spanish farmers dry their products. Spanish saffron is mainly dried in mass, and some parts of it may be more roasted than other areas, and others are not.

  • Iranian and Spanish saffron are different also according to their shape.

Mostly, Iranian saffron is longer and straighter compared to Spanish. However, there are different types of Iranian saffron and Spanish saffron, and in this article, we will discuss these differences briefly.

Spanish Saffron

Spanish saffron and its types

Spanish saffron does not have a high market, but nobody doubts its quality, and it is undoubtedly one of the best available products when comes to saffron. There is a big difference between all kinds of saffron, both Iranian and Spanish. To choose the best saffron according to your needs, you’d better get to know its different types first.

The different types of Spanish saffron

Coupe : It is the highest quality of saffron that you can have. Coupe threads are redder than other kinds of Spanish saffron, and in terms of size, they are similar to Persian precious saffron.

La Mancha : It is undoubtedly, the most expensive saffron in Spain is “La Mancha”. This type of saffron is cultivated only in a small part of Spain, but the most important thing that causes the price difference of this saffron with other types of saffron is the drying method. This saffron is cultivated in a very different way and has a smoky taste. The smoky taste of this saffron can bring you a new culinary experience that you will remember for a long time.

Rio : If you intend to use saffron, but you don’t want to pay a high price for it, the best option is “Rio” saffron. If you care a lot about the quality of saffron, this saffron is not suitable for you. This saffron is the third-grade saffron and it indeed has all the properties of saffron, but it does not satisfy the picky people and those who are looking for the best possible qualities.

Sierra : The lowest quality Spanish saffron in the market is called “Sierra”. And the reason for its low quality is that it doesn’t matter where you get it from, it still has a lot of yellow threads.

Iranian Saffron

Iranian saffron and its types

The best saffron you can buy is undoubtedly an Iranian one. This kind of saffron, which is currently exported to many parts of the world, has an unforgettable aroma and taste, donating your food the magical quality you can find in the One Thousand- and One-Night stories.

The different types of Iranian saffron

Sargol : the highest part of the Saffran’s stigma is called Sar-Gol, literally meaning the head of the flower. This kind of saffron has the most possible coloring, but you have to bear in mind that this Sargol is very fragile, and brittle. Perhaps such a fragility makes Sargol have a small percentage of the world market, as a result, it’s almost unknown out of Iranian markets, but adored by locals as of the utmost quality.

Super Nagin : Of best quality as the Super- suffix implies and of course, it is the most expensive saffron in the world markets you can acquire. It has long, polished threads which are completely red.

Negin : Very similar to Super Negin in terms of appearance, except that Negin threads may not be as long as its supertype in appearance. The difference between Negin and Super Negin is in the way they are dried.

Pushal : This is the cheapest Iranian saffron. This saffron has longer strands as it includes the roots of the stigma too. Compared to the two kinds of saffron above mentioned, Pushal has less coloring potential, but it still has the same effect in terms of other saffron properties.


To purchase a real and good saffron, you need to pay attention to several points.

On top of them, the aroma, color, and taste are the characteristics/criteria to which are paid attention by eager customers seeking high-quality saffron. read how to distinguish real saffron and avoid fake saffron here for a better choice.

So, in your first attempt to buy a high-quality saffron, you’d better buy it from trustful sellers and if you do not have access to a reliable provider, buy the product in a tiny amount to buy the time of test.