Saffron Butter Crispy Rice

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Saffron Butter Crispy Rice on a plate with cilantro and peppadew peppers on top.  Spatula scooping up a triangle piece. Saffron brings a floral note and beautiful yellow-orange color.  Added to the butter is what gives this crispy rice the buttery, crispy bottom.

Here are four magical words… Saffron Butter Crispy Rice.  And yes, they describe this amazing, but really easy, Crispy Rice recipe.  Crispy rice is a traditional Persian dish that is full of flavor and texture.  The saffron brings that slightly sweet, floral note that’s hard to replicate.  Saffron also gives that beautiful yellow-orange hue to this rice.  Added to the butter is what gives this crispy rice the buttery, crispy bottom that is irresistible.

While it may seem like a complex, too-sophisticated-for-family-dinner dish, it really isn’t!  It’s simple to make and perfect for a family dinner side!  Just scroll down to see how easy it comes together in a few steps.  

Want more tips for making busy family dinners easier?  Click here for my Free Printable 5 Simple Steps to Easy Family Dinners!

Saffron Butter Crispy Rice on a plate with cilantro and peppadew peppers on top. Saffron brings a floral note and beautiful yellow-orange color.  Added to the butter is what gives this crispy rice the buttery, crispy bottom.

What to serve with this Crispy Rice

A simple grilled chicken or beef kabob or broiled or seared chicken breast is perfect for this dish.  If you go this route, you probably want a yogurt or vinegar based sauce to drizzle over top.  Here are some of my favorite recipes to pair with this Saffron Butter Crispy Rice!

Saffron Butter Crispy Rice slice on a plate with chicken and cilantro and peppadew peppers on top. Saffron brings a floral note and beautiful yellow-orange color.  Added to the butter is what gives this crispy rice the buttery, crispy bottom.

Quick note!  This post contains affiliate links, which means I earn a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you purchase from them.  This commission is what helps me keep this blog afloat :).  I also share these links because I have used the products, genuinely love them, and want you to know exactly what I used. 

EQUIPMENT NEEDED

You will need a small hole strainer to rinse the rice, medium pot to pre-cook the rice and an 8-10 inch skillet/frying pan (I used an 8 inch) for this recipe with a fitted lid. Finally, need a very clean dish towel that will be used between the pan and the lid when cooking the rice.

PREP-AHEAD STEPS FOR YOUR SAFFRON CRISPY RICE

We are all extremely busy and making dinner during the week can be overwhelming. Here are steps you can prepare ahead to save time on busy nights! (See the full recipe below)

To prep ahead, you can rinse and soak the rice in the morning.  Then before you start cooking, you can drain and rinse the rice again.  Then bloom the saffron in hot water!

Rinse the rice by adding the dry rice to a small hole strainer and running cold water through it until the water runs clear.

Rinsing uncooked rice under sink in strainer for Saffron Butter Crispy Rice. Saffron brings a floral note and beautiful yellow-orange color.  Added to the butter is what gives this crispy rice the buttery, crispy bottom.

Soak the rice in cold water in a large bowl for 30 minutes up to 1 hour. Then rinse the rice again in the strainer under cold water.

To a small bowl with hot water, add a pinch of Saffron. Let this sit and bloom, so that the flavor of the water is infused with the saffron.

Saffron blooming in water in a bowl for Saffron Butter Crispy Rice. Saffron brings a floral note and beautiful yellow-orange color.  Added to the butter is what gives this crispy rice the buttery, crispy bottom.

Prep your cooking lid for the pan by laying a clear dish towel on the counter and placing the pan lid with handle on top. Wrap the sides of the towel up and around and tuck into the handle so that the entire lid is wrapped and the towel is secured through the handle.

Dish towel wrapped around lid of pan for Saffron Butter Crispy Rice. Saffron brings a floral note and beautiful yellow-orange color.  Added to the butter is what gives this crispy rice the buttery, crispy bottom.

What can I use instead of Saffron?

Saffron can be expensive and therefore, is not always an ingredient that you have on hand.  Therefore, if you cannot get Saffron, you can swap it with Turmeric.  Turmeric also imparts a beautiful yellow-orange color and a floral, slightly sweet flavor.  That makes it a great substitute.  If you’re looking for a different flavor profile all together, you can also sub in ginger, coriander, and garlic. 

What kind of rice is best?

You want to use a long grain rice for this recipe.  Most Crispy Rice recipes will call for Basmati.  However, the recipe will work with any long grain rice.  You do NOT want to use quick cooking rice.

COOK YOUR SAFFRON BUTTER CRISPY RICE 

Pre-cook the rice by boiling 3 cups of water with the salt in a medium pot. Add the rinsed rice, bring back to a boil, and cook for 4 minutes. Drain the rice and rinse a final time under warm water.

Boiling rice in pot for Saffron Butter Crispy Rice. Saffron brings a floral note and beautiful yellow-orange color.  Added to the butter is what gives this crispy rice the buttery, crispy bottom.

Preheat the pan on medium-high heat. Add the butter to melt it, then add the bloomed saffron and water.

Hand about to pour saffron into pan with melted butter for Saffron Butter Crispy Rice. Saffron brings a floral note and beautiful yellow-orange color.  Added to the butter is what gives this crispy rice the buttery, crispy bottom.

Add the pre-cooked rice and pat down with the back of a spoon into a packed layer. Using the handle of a spatula or wood spoon, poke 6-8 holes into the rice so that steam can escape. Place your towel-wrapped pan lid on top of the pan. Make sure that the towel is secured through the handle and not hanging down where it could catch on fire. Let cook covered for 30 minutes.

Pouring cooked rice from strainer to pan with melted butter and saffron for Saffron Butter Crispy Rice. Saffron brings a floral note and beautiful yellow-orange color.  Added to the butter is what gives this crispy rice the buttery, crispy bottom.

Spoon patting cooked rice down into pan for Saffron Butter Crispy Rice. Saffron brings a floral note and beautiful yellow-orange color.  Added to the butter is what gives this crispy rice the buttery, crispy bottom.

Spoon handle poking holes into cooked rice in pan for Saffron Butter Crispy Rice. Saffron brings a floral note and beautiful yellow-orange color.  Added to the butter is what gives this crispy rice the buttery, crispy bottom.

After the 30 minutes, turn off the heat and remove the lid.  Place a plate over the rice and using oven mitts or a towel to protect your hands, turn the Crispy Rice over onto the plate!

I like to garnish with fresh cilantro and peppadew peppers for a sweet and spicy finish!

Can Crispy Rice be reheated?

After storing this dish in the fridge, it can get chewy.  To reheat it, the best results are in a skillet or in the oven.  Put a little butter in the skillet and add the rice to warm through.  In the oven, preheat it to 375 F degrees and place the rice on sheet pan to warm through.

ENJOY!  😍 Carrie

Saffron Butter Crispy Rice on a plate with cilantro and peppadew peppers on top. Saffron brings a floral note and beautiful yellow-orange color.  Added to the butter is what gives this crispy rice the buttery, crispy bottom.

Saffron Butter Crispy Rice

This Saffron Butter Crispy Rice recipe is based on a traditional Persian dish that is full of flavor and texture.  The saffron brings that slightly sweet, floral note that's hard to replicate.  Saffron also gives that beautiful yellow-orange hue to this rice.  Added to the butter is what gives this crispy rice the buttery, crispy bottom that is irresistible. While it may seem like a complex, too-sophisticated-for-family-dinner dish, it really isn't!  It's simple to make and perfect for a family dinner side!

Course Side Dish
Cuisine persian
Keyword rice recipes, saffron, sides
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Author Carrie Tyler

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups Long Grain Rice, such as Basmati rice
  • 3 cups Water for pre-cooking
  • 2 Tablespoons Salt
  • Pinch Saffron (approximately 20-30 strands)
  • 2 Tablespoons Hot Water
  • 3 Tablespoons Salted Butter

Optional Garnishes

  • 1/2 cup Fresh Cilantro Leaves
  • 4-5 Peppadew Peppers, sliced

Instructions

Pre-Ahead Steps

  1. To a small bowl with hot water, add a pinch of Saffron. Let this sit and bloom, so that the flavor of the water is infused with the saffron.

    Saffron blooming in water in a bowl for Saffron Butter Crispy Rice. Saffron brings a floral note and beautiful yellow-orange color.  Added to the butter is what gives this crispy rice the buttery, crispy bottom.
  2. Rinse the rice by adding the dry rice to a small hole strainer and running cold water through it until the water runs clear.

    Rinsing uncooked rice under sink in strainer for Saffron Butter Crispy Rice. Saffron brings a floral note and beautiful yellow-orange color.  Added to the butter is what gives this crispy rice the buttery, crispy bottom.
  3. Soak the rice in cold water in a large bowl for 30 minutes up to 1 hour. Then rinse the rice again in the strainer under cold water.

  4. Prep your cooking lid for the pan by laying a clear dish towel on the counter and placing the pan lid with handle on top. Wrap the sides of the towel up and around and tuck into the handle so that the entire lid is wrapped and the towel is secured through the handle.

    Dish towel wrapped around lid of pan for Saffron Butter Crispy Rice. Saffron brings a floral note and beautiful yellow-orange color.  Added to the butter is what gives this crispy rice the buttery, crispy bottom.

Cooking Steps

  1. Pre-cook the rice by boiling 3 cups of water with the salt in a medium pot. Add the rinsed rice, bring back to a boil, and cook for 4 minutes. Drain the rice and rinse a final time under warm water.

    Boiling rice in pot for Saffron Butter Crispy Rice. Saffron brings a floral note and beautiful yellow-orange color.  Added to the butter is what gives this crispy rice the buttery, crispy bottom.
  2. Preheat the pan on medium-high heat. Add the butter to melt it, then add the bloomed saffron and water. Add the pre-cooked rice and pat down with the back of a spoon into a packed layer. Using the handle of a spatula or wood spoon, poke 6-8 holes into the rice so that steam can escape. Place your towel-wrapped pan lid on top of the pan. Make sure that the towel is secured through the handle and not hanging down where it could catch on fire. Let cook covered for 30 minutes.

    Spoon handle poking holes into cooked rice in pan for Saffron Butter Crispy Rice. Saffron brings a floral note and beautiful yellow-orange color.  Added to the butter is what gives this crispy rice the buttery, crispy bottom.
  3. After the 30 minutes, turn off the heat and remove the lid.  Place a plate over the rice and using oven mitts or a towel to protect your hands, turn the Crispy Rice over onto the plate!

  4. Optional: Garnish with fresh cilantro and peppadew peppers

Zucchini and Chicken Rice Skillet

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Zucchini and Chicken Rice Skillet in a bowl with spoon on counter with skillet in background. It's a creamy and flavorful recipe filled with different textures from the mushrooms, onion, zucchini, chicken, and rice.

Zucchini and Chicken Rice Skillet is a creamy and flavorful recipe filled with different textures. It’s incredibly easy to make as it all comes together in one skillet.  The dish has earthy mushrooms, aromatic onions and garlic, fresh and bright zucchini, hearty chicken, and rice.   The cream sauce is light and creamy,  but there is actually no heavy cream at all; instead almond milk, broth, parmesan, and cornstarch create the perfect amount of creaminess.  And it’s Gluten Free!

Here’s a Video Tutorial!

Zucchini is so Good For You!

Zucchini is super good for you (see below for benefits) and when it’s in season during the summer, it’s in abundance and the price is right!  Some other great ways to use zucchini are Parmesan Zucchini Chips, layer it into an Enchilada Casserole, roast it with Red Pepper & Corn and top with an Egg, add it to a Quinoa Crust (or any other) Pizza, make zucchini noodles or just grill it.  So many options!

I feel like Zucchini gets overlooked in the health department, but pay attention, because it is really good for you!   Zucchini is low in calories, carbs and sugars, so it is a great option for Low-Carb eaters or those looking to cut back on calories.  BUT, and here is the part many may not realize, it is high in essential nutrients like potassium, manganese, and antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin A.  So if you are looking to replace high calorie or carb ingredients in your meals, look no further, because Zucchini is your man – or woman!  Several of the options I mention above are great for just that.

Zucchini and Chicken Rice Skillet with spoon on counter.  It's a creamy and flavorful recipe filled with different textures from the mushrooms, onion, zucchini, chicken, and rice.

Do I have to use Almond Milk?

This recipe uses Almond Milk, but you can use any milk that you prefer, as long as it is unsweetened.  I started drinking almond milk a few years ago when my daughter needed dairy free.  I was worried about the taste having grown up on regular cow’s milk all my life.  But, I can tell you I love the taste!  Also, unsweetened almond milk is lower in calories than other milks, it is cholesterol free, free of saturated fat, and is naturally lactose free.  Most brands supplement with calcium, so be sure to check labels for content.  For this recipe, be sure to buy the unsweetened plain/original almond milk as you do not want sweetened or flavored.

Zucchini and Chicken Rice Skillet is a creamy and flavorful recipe filled with different textures from the mushrooms, onion, zucchini, chicken, and rice. It's also incredibly easy to make as it all comes together in one skillet.

Quick note!  This post contains affiliate links, which means I earn a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you purchase from them.  This commission is what helps me keep this blog afloat :).  But, I also share these links because I have used the products, genuinely love them, and want you to know exactly what I used. 

Zucchini & Chicken Rice Skillet Video

PREP-AHEAD TO MAKE YOUR ZUCCHINI AND CHICKEN RICE COOKING ‘KIT’

You are busy, so these are the steps you can do a day or two in advance to prepare food ahead!   (See the recipe below for more details)

In terms of prepping ahead for this recipe, its just really getting the veggies ready…dicing the zucchini, dicing the onion, cleaning and slicing the mushrooms.

For the chicken, you can roast this ahead, but my TIP: buy already grilled chicken from the deli counter or a rotisserie chicken for super easy prep.

COOK YOUR ZUCCHINI AND CHICKEN RICE SKILLET

Cooking this meal is simple because everything goes into ONE skillet in stages.

In the skillet, you will want to start with the mushrooms, onions, and garlic.  These are the backdrop flavors for this dish and you want to get the flavors and aromas going early.  The Zucchini is added as the last veggie and only cooks for a couple minutes before adding the sauce, so that it doesn’t turn to mush.

TIP:  When coating the skillet with oil, I love using an Olive Oil Sprayer!  You can coating a pan with oil using much less and getting an even distribution without having to brush it around.  Store-bough aerosols contain chemicals and toxins, but a fillable sprayer sprays out exactly what you put into it, so you can feel good about what you are putting on your food. 

Zucchini and Chicken Rice Skillet is a creamy and flavorful recipe filled with different textures from the mushrooms, onion, zucchini, chicken, and rice. It's also incredibly easy to make as it all comes together in one skillet.

Now comes the sauce, which includes broth, almond milk, and a gluten free thickener.  Instead of making a roux with flour, I went the gluten free route here by making a slurry of cornstarch and almond milk.  For this recipe, be sure to buy the unsweetened plain/original almond milk as you will not be pleasantly surprised if you get sweet vanilla!

Zucchini and Chicken Rice Skillet is a creamy and flavorful recipe filled with different textures from the mushrooms, onion, zucchini, chicken, and rice. It's also incredibly easy to make as it all comes together in one skillet.Zucchini and Chicken Rice Skillet is a creamy and flavorful recipe filled with different textures from the mushrooms, onion, zucchini, chicken, and rice. It's also incredibly easy to make as it all comes together in one skillet.

Note, just like any thickener you want to make sure you are stirring as it warms up so that when it starts to thicken it is even and not clumpy.  You want to be able to see the pan when you scrape the liquid with a spoon.

Zucchini and Chicken Rice Skillet is a creamy and flavorful recipe filled with different textures from the mushrooms, onion, zucchini, chicken, and rice. It's also incredibly easy to make as it all comes together in one skillet.

After making the sauce, add the diced chicken, the parmesan cheese, the cooked rice, and some of the parsley to taste. Mix to combine.

Zucchini and Chicken Rice Skillet is a creamy and flavorful recipe filled with earthy mushrooms, aromatic onions, fresh and bright zucchini, hearty chicken, and rice. It's incredibly easy to make as it all comes together in one skillet. The cream sauce is light and creamy, but has no heavy cream at all. This is a summer recipe that's a gluten free, easy recipe, and a one pan meal!

Zucchini and Chicken Rice Skillet is a creamy and flavorful recipe filled with earthy mushrooms, aromatic onions, fresh and bright zucchini, hearty chicken, and rice. It's incredibly easy to make as it all comes together in one skillet. The cream sauce is light and creamy, but has no heavy cream at all. This is a summer recipe that's a gluten free, easy recipe, and a one pan meal!

Zucchini and Chicken Rice Skillet is a creamy and flavorful recipe filled with different textures from the mushrooms, onion, zucchini, chicken, and rice. It's also incredibly easy to make as it all comes together in one skillet.

Zucchini and Chicken Rice Skillet is a creamy and flavorful recipe filled with different textures from the mushrooms, onion, zucchini, chicken, and rice. It's also incredibly easy to make as it all comes together in one skillet.

Serve, garnish with fresh parsley. 

That’s it!  ENJOY! 😍 Carrie

Zucchini and Chicken Rice Skillet is a creamy and flavorful recipe filled with earthy mushrooms, aromatic onions, fresh and bright zucchini, hearty chicken, and rice. It's incredibly easy to make as it all comes together in one skillet. The cream sauce is light and creamy, but has no heavy cream at all. This is a summer recipe that's a gluten free, easy recipe, and a one pan meal!

Zucchini and Chicken Rice in a skillet on the counter with wood spoon. Skillet has mushrooms, onion, zucchini, chicken, and rice.
5 from 1 vote
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Zucchini and Chicken Rice Skillet

Zucchini and Chicken Rice Skillet is a creamy and flavorful recipe filled with earthy mushrooms, aromatic onions, fresh and bright zucchini, hearty chicken, and rice. It's incredibly easy to make as it all comes together in one skillet.  The cream sauce is light and creamy,  but has no heavy cream at all.  This is a summer recipe that's a gluten free, easy recipe, and a one pan meal!  

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword chicken, chicken dinner, dinner, easy dinner, mushrooms, zucchini
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Optional: make chicken ahead 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 429 kcal
Author Carrie Tyler

Ingredients

  • 8 oz Cremini Mushrooms, sliced (white button are fine too)
  • 1 Zucchini, Medium
  • 1 Onion, Small (yellow or white)
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • 1 Tbls Salt (to be added as a dash here and a dash there)
  • 1 Tbls Fresh Ground Pepper to be added as a dash here and a dash there
  • 3 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 cup White Long Grain Rice, uncooked
  • 8 oz Chicken Breast
  • 1 cup Chicken Broth
  • 1 cup Plain Unsweetened Almond Milk you can substitute regular milk
  • 2 Tbls Corn Starch
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • 3 Tbls Italian Parsley, Chopped

Instructions

Prep Ahead

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F degrees.

  2. Dice the zucchini by cutting it in half lengthwise, then into quarters. Slice into 1/2 inch sliced triangles. 

  3. Dice the onion.  Mince the garlic.  Rough chop the parsley to get 3 Tbls.  

  4. Pre-Cook the Chicken: Put the chicken breast on a baking sheet and rub with a drizzle of Olive Oil and dash of salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until internal temp reaches 165 degrees F. When the chicken is done, dice it into bite-size pieces.

Cook

  1. Make the rice according to package instructions.  NOTE: You could do this step in advance and just reheat at this point.

  2. Preheat a large frying pan on high heat.  Add 2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil to coat the bottom and then add the sliced mushrooms with a dash of salt and pepper.  Spread the mushrooms into one layer and cook for 5 minutes to get a brown sear on the bottom.  Then stir and cook for another 2-3 minutes until reduced in size by half.  Transfer the muschooms to a plate.

    Zucchini and Chicken Rice Skillet is a creamy and flavorful recipe filled with different textures from the mushrooms, onion, zucchini, chicken, and rice. It's also incredibly easy to make as it all comes together in one skillet.
  3. Add another tsp of olive oil to the pan and add the Onions to cook for 6-8 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent, stirring every few minutes so that the onions don't burn.  Then add the Garlic to the onions and cook for another 1 minute.

  4. Turn the heat back up to high heat and add the diced zucchini with a dash of salt and pepper.  Cook just until you get a sear (just a few minutes), no further.  Then add the mushrooms back to the pan.

    Zucchini and Chicken Rice Skillet is a creamy and flavorful recipe filled with different textures from the mushrooms, onion, zucchini, chicken, and rice. It's also incredibly easy to make as it all comes together in one skillet.
  5. Add the cornstarch to 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk and whisk until fully dissolved.

  6. To the veggies in the skillet, add 1 cup of chicken broth.  Then add the Milk and Cornstarch mixture and bring to a simmer in the skillet, stirring as it starts to thicken. 

    Zucchini and Chicken Rice Skillet is a creamy and flavorful recipe filled with different textures from the mushrooms, onion, zucchini, chicken, and rice. It's also incredibly easy to make as it all comes together in one skillet.
  7. Add the diced chicken, the parmesan cheese, and some of the parsley to taste (save some for garnish).  Mix to combine.  Finally, mix in the warm rice.  NOTE: If all of your rice does not fit into the skillet, you can place some of the rice into the servings bowls/plates and pour the Zucchini & Chicken Rice mixture on top.

    Zucchini and Chicken Rice Skillet is a creamy and flavorful recipe filled with different textures from the mushrooms, onion, zucchini, chicken, and rice. It's also incredibly easy to make as it all comes together in one skillet.
  8. Serve, garnish with fresh parsley, and ENJOY!

    Zucchini and Chicken Rice in a skillet on the counter with wood spoon. Skillet has mushrooms, onion, zucchini, chicken, and rice.