turmeric vs saffron
Written by Vahid Epagloo, Food Consultant Updated:

There are many sources that introduce turmeric as a substitute for saffron, but it is not right. You may even hear the name of Indian saffron for turmeric. In this article we are going to discuss the similarity and differences of these. Stay with us, in Queen of Flowers!

What is turmeric?

The turmeric that we know is the root of the herb, call Curcuma longa or Curcuma domestica; Curcuma aromatic in botanical. This part of the Curcuma longa use as spice. This root plant is used as a spice to add colour and flavour to foods. Herbal experts say that the plant is from the ginger family. If you taste turmeric and ginger, you feel similarities in flavour.

Unknown sources say that the first turmeric suppliers are Indian. Due to this assertion, this spice is famous as Indian spice. The root of the Curcuma longa grind and the powder used as spice and medication.

There are some similarities between turmeric and saffron that is why some sources call the turmeric as Indian saffron. Be careful, you may use this Indian saffron instead of Kashmir saffron. The Kashmir saffron is the golden spice known as the most expensive spice all around the world, but the other one is turmeric.

turmeric origins

What is saffron?

Saffron is the stigma of the beautiful lilac Crocus Sativus flower. These famous stigmas are used as spice and an effective drug and treatment. Each stigma includes two parts. The red part which is called the strands of saffron and has about three centimeters long and the orange part at the end of stigma that is called the root and has one centimeter long.

This spice is called the red gold, due to its high price. There are many kinds of fake saffron due to its high price. In some cases, frauds mix the root part of stigmas with turmeric and sell them as red gold. The turmeric adds the color and the root part could add the aroma of the golden spice. There are many different ways to discriminate real and fake saffron.

Turmeric vs. Saffron

When you use turmeric vs. saffron, in words or usage, you should consider the similarities and differences. In some cases, people think saffron and turmeric interchangeably, maybe that is because the similarities these tow spices have. There are many differences between these two. Due to these differences, the red gold is the most expensive spice in the worlds and also it is scarce spice.

Undoubtedly, these tow spices have some similarities, but they are different. Let’s check these properties.

Similarities between turmeric and saffron

There are many similarities between turmeric and saffron. Due to these similarities people believe that the best substitute for saffron is turmeric. Both these plants are from South Asian. These tow are the most important spices in the Asian cuisine.

Similarities in Color

When you add the turmeric powder to the hot water, after a while the colour of that change to yellow. Adding this spice to the dishes and beverages could change their colour. This yellow colour may be the reason that people called turmeric Indian saffron and use it as the saffron substitute.

The colour that saffron could add to the foods and drinks is yellow.


These two parts of herbs are used as spices to change the smell, color and flavor of foods and beverages. The most famous application of these is as spices.


Due to the main components of turmeric and saffron, both of them are famous for their usage in herbal medicine. Both these spices have antioxidant properties and due to these properties they are used in natural medicine.

The traditional medicine of India and Iran have been used both these spices as great treatment for many years. Today, doctors and scientists are doing different experiments on the health benefits of them. The results of these tests are incredibly positive.

The health problems that both these spices are great for have similarities and differences. For example, both of them are used as treatment for anxiety. Using these spices could help to reduce the amount of anxiety. Also, both these spices are good for eyes, but turmeric is a great for degenerative eye conditions, while saffron could improve eyesight. It means that maybe these using two to help the same body organ, but their effects could be different.

Similarities in the Herb

Both of these spices are herbal. That means they are the parts of herb, and cultivable. The turmeric is the root of the plant, which is called Curcuma Longa, and saffron is the threads of the Crocus Sativus flower.

You can cultivate both of them in your own garden, you should just consider the growing conditions of each of them.

Differences between turmeric and saffron

These two spices have some similarities, but there are many differences between them. We can recognize them simply.


The saffron has a bitter taste like espresso, while turmeric has earthy flavor. For example, you can put saffron threads under your tongue and feel the great bitter flavour and keep it in your mouth an hour, while you can not tolerate some turmeric in your mouth, it is not pleasant.


The cultivation of saffron has special conditions, and this plant needs to grow in the climate with specific features. While the growing conditions for turmeric is simple.

To illustrate the differences cultivation, consider that you could cultivate turmeric in high rainfall climate, while the golden spice could not grow in these climates. In addition, the temperature for these spices should be in different ranges.


The fame of saffron is because of its great, fragrant aroma. The magical spice could change the smell of all foods and beverages to the sweet, wonderful aroma.

The other spice smells good, but we cannot claim that it has a unique or fragrant aroma. It smell just good and could change the smell of the foods and drinks, but it could not give them an awesome aroma.

Differences in Color

The color of turmeric itself is yellow, and it changes the color of water or anything it has been added to, to yellow. Actually, the root plant, turmeric has an orange tone.

The colour of the red gold, as its name, is red. When it is added to something it could change the colour in the range of red to yellow. The golden spice could give its golden colour to the mixture that it adds to.

Differences in the Herb

Both of the spices we discussed are herbal, while there is a great difference. The golden spice is the stigma of the lilac Crocus flower, while the Indian spice is the root of the Curcuma. In other words, the part of the herb that we use as spice is different here.

Price of turmeric in comparison

As we mentioned above, saffron is called the red gold, the red is because of its color, and the gold is due to its high price. This spice is known as the most expensive one all around the world. There are many reasons to explain why it is so expensive; one of them is its cultivation method. On the other side, is the Indian spice, which is cheap and it could grow in any condition.

The usage amount of turmeric is higher than the golden spice due to the cheaper price it has.


Both of these spices have great health benefits, but they could use as the treatment of different diseases and health problems. For example saffron is a great treatment for many types of cancer, while the turmeric plant is great for kidney health. It means that they are different drugs.

Usage amount and method

You may think that because these two spices have lots of health benefits using them have no limits. This is not good to use these two more than the prescribed amount. In addition, you cannot use them in any cases. They could cause problems or aggravate some health problems. Hence, if you want to use them as medication, consult your doctor before use.

Also, you should ask experts or your doctor about when and  how to use these as medication for the best effects.


Turmeric vs. saffron is used a lot, although these two have lots of different properties. Due to the similarity in powder appearance and color, people use them interchangeably. If someone uses both of them, it is not hard to recognize them from each other.

The Indian spice is used more because of its price; it is cheaper than the red gold. It has its own benefits and properties, though it is different to golden spice.