Saffron Lemon Chicken with Persian Rice

  • 1 d 40 mins total
  • 10 mins prep
  • 30 mins cook
  • 1 d Marinate
  • serves 4 people

Skip To The Recipe

Lots of saffron going on right now in my kitchen lately and I love it! It all started with wanting to make my friend Persian saffron rice, and from there a new recipe was born.

We have not had chicken in a while and as I was perusing some old magazines from this summer, grilling was all over the pages. As you may have noticed I do not grill  often but this created the need in me to marinate some chicken and cook it over very high heat to give it that wonderful charred feel and look. My version of grilling inside.

Seeing that I was going to make the saffron rice, it just was in order to add saffron to the chicken as well. Because the saffron is slightly bitter, the sweetness of the honey is the perfect pairing.


This is one of my easiest marinate you can make. If you want you can add some mayonnaise. The mayonnaise tenderized the meat as well.  Leaving it overnight will really go into the fibers of the meat. Make sure you turn it once or twice. Do not remove the skin. Even though a large majority of people do not eat it, I am not one of them, when you cook the chicken the skin is a great barrier between the fire and the meat. The meat does not burn or dry but contrary, get a fantastic flavor.

Add your own choice of herbs if you wish. May I suggest thyme, chives, rosemary, or parsley?

Cooking the rice 

Here is the challenge starts but do not let it stop you. This rice is one of our favorites. Persian rice is cooked slightly differently than other’s kinds of rice. Soaked, cooked, and then pan-fried to create a perfectly crispy golden crust, Tadeg, on one side, and fluffy, buttery, and tender rice on the inside. The Tadeg is what we all go after. The crispier the better.

My beautiful friend Saman showed me how to make this impressive and unique dish. Here are some tips that she shared with me:

  • Let the rice rest in plenty of salted water for a couple of hours. The water will penetrate each grain of rice and gives it the right amount of moisture that it needs. This also will allow cooking evenly of the rice.
  • When parboiling the rice make sure that it still has a bite to it or al dente.  Soft rice will become mush.

Soaking the saffron

Use hot water and let the saffron steep in for at least 20 minutes. You want to give all the strands enough time in the water to release its beautiful color. Start with this step

Layering the rice

Once the onion mixture is ready as well as the rice, we are ready to move along to the final step of cooking. Use a shallow round dish to cook the rice with a well-fitted lid. You want to trap the steam. I place a kitchen towel. Make sure that the flame or heat source does not touch the towel.

Place half of the rice over it spreading it well. Add all the mixture you want to in the middle and spread it evenly. Cover with the remaining rice. Spread all the saffron mixture, add some butter and oil. Cover and cook. Do not touch and let it cook. You will know it is done once the sides are starting to get golden and separate from the sides.

Gently invert on a serving dish. Once you start serving it you will see the beautiful golden rice trapping the onion mixture. Love with each bite.

You can serve this rice with chicken as I have here, or lamb, Mediterranean stews, and fish.

Giangi's Kitchen Signature


Nutrition Facts
Saffron Lemon Chicken with Saffron Rice
Amount Per Serving
Calories 714 Calories from Fat 432
% Daily Value*
Fat 48g74%
Saturated Fat 19g119%
Cholesterol 68mg23%
Sodium 232mg10%
Potassium 378mg11%
Carbohydrates 71g24%
Fiber 6g25%
Sugar 31g34%
Protein 6g12%
Vitamin A 787IU16%
Vitamin C 20mg24%
Calcium 71mg7%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Close Modal

Saffron Lemon Chicken with Saffron Rice

  • 1 d 40 mins total
  • 10 mins prep
  • 30 mins cook
  • 1 d Marinate
  • serves 4 people


Original recipe yields 4 servings

Log In or Register to view and edit your grocery lists.

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 clove of garlic grated
  • 1 large pinch of saffron
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 6 chicken thighs and drumsticks mix, skin on
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups onion chopped
  • ⅓ cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • ¼ cup almond, chopped
  • ½ cup pitted dates, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon of saffron strands
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • salt and pepper


  1. Melt the butter in a small pan, stir in the garlic and saffron, and cook over low heat for a few minutes. Stir in the honey and lemon juice. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

    Season the chicken pieces on both sides generously with salt and toss in a shallow dish with the marinade. Marinate overnight turning it once.

  2. Remove from the refrigerator and allow it to be room temperature.

  1. In a small container place the saffron strands and add 1 cup of hot water. Set aside

  2. In a large pan add the rice cover it with water and add salt. Let it stand for A couple of hours. Rinse the rice and change the water one more time. Let it rest for another 30 minutes. Rinse and set aside.

  3. Bring a boil a large pot of salted water and cook the rice for about 5 to 8 minutes or until it still has a bite to it, al dente. Do not let it go soft. Drain and set aside.

  4. Meanwhile, in a large skillet melt and warm up the 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter. Add the onion and gently cook them until translucent. Add the cranberries, almonds, dates. Season with salt and pepper. Stir into all the ingredients are well incorporated.

  1. In a shallow round pan with a fitting lid, place 1 tablespoon olive oil and 2 tablespoon butter. Add half of the cooked rice and spread it to cover the bottom of the pan. Add the onion mixture to form a layer. Cover the mixture with the remainder of the rice. Spread the saffron with the water all over it. Add ¼ cup more water to the pan. Add the remaining oil and butter on top of the rice. Place over medium-high heat covered and making sure that all the steam stays inside. Place a towel between the pan and the lid. Let it cook without touching it until the sides are turning a nice golden color.

  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet add the olive oil and warm over medium-high heat. Add the chicken skin side down first and sauté until the skin is super crispy (It will look burned as it is normal because of the honey).

    Turn and cook the other side. Lower the heat to medium and continue cooking the chicken until done.

  3. Remove the lid, invert on a large serving platter over the pot and carefully flip over. Not to worry if stick as you can scrape it and add it to the plate.

  4. Serve alongside the chicken.

Products and Equipment used to make this recipe

Please read my privacy policy for more info. I only recommend the products that I actually love and use.

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.


Get More Savings

Save money on groceries with FREE Printable coupons

Online Coupons and Savings from My Favorite Stores and Brands.

Find Offers

Comments (4) Post a Reply

  1. Marita says:

    Wow, this recipe makes my mouth water. What a combination of spice.
    I am hoping to make it this weekend.

    1. Giangi Townsend says:

      Thank you Marita for stopping by. The combination is just wonderful and the recipe so easy to make.
      Enjoy it.
      Best Giangi

  2. Amaka says:

    I really like this recipe. It looks very delicious and straightforward enough. I will definitely try it. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Giangi Townsend says:

      Thank you, it sure is and the end result is a very tender chicken and the rice, well, it is so delicious that you will make it over and over again.
      Thank you for reading my post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *