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Saffron Chicken with Parsley and Lemon

If you like the distinctive flavor of saffron, this Saffron Chicken with Parsley and Lemon is a traditional way to use it, and this delicious chicken is low-carb, Keto, low-glycemic, gluten-free, South Beach Diet friendly, and can be Paleo if you skip the butter! Use the Recipes-by-Diet-Type Index to find more recipes like this one.

Saffron Chicken with Parsley and Lemon  found on KalynsKitchen.com

Have you ever cooked with saffron?  It’s widely acknowledged to be the most expensive spice in the world, but you only need a tiny pinch to add delicious flavor to a dish like Paella, Saffron Rice, and this delicious Saffron Chicken which I first tasted when my Iranian friend Massoud made it for me.

When I made this recipe for the blog in 2005 I consulted Mark Bittman’s The Best Recipes in the World and tried to remember how Massoud had done it.  For this updated version I did a little more online research and ended up revising my original instructions just a bit.  And if you’d like to see why the recipe needed updating, scroll down right before the recipe and you can see the one and only (lousy!) photo from the original post!

Saffron Chicken with Parsley and Lemon  found on KalynsKitchen.com
Massoud and Mark Bittman would both probably make this with chicken thighs, but I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts and they worked great.  I cut the breasts on the diagonal to make small cutlets.

Saffron Chicken with Parsley and Lemon  found on KalynsKitchen.com
Heat 1 T olive oil and a tiny bit of butter in a heavy pan and brown the chicken pieces quickly using medium-high heat. Take care not to overcook the chicken in this step.

Saffron Chicken with Parsley and Lemon  found on KalynsKitchen.com
Remove the chicken to a plate, add the slivered onions and cook over low heat until the onions are nicely browned, about 12-15 minutes.  Remove the onions to a second plate.

Saffron Chicken with Parsley and Lemon  found on KalynsKitchen.com

Heat the chicken stock in the microwave until it’s very warm, then stir in the saffron.

Saffron Chicken with Parsley and Lemon  found on KalynsKitchen.com
Put the chicken back into the pan, arrange the onions over the chicken, and pour the saffron-infused chicken stock over.  Cover the pan and cook over a very low simmer for about 30 minutes without turning the chicken.

Saffron Chicken with Parsley and Lemon  found on KalynsKitchen.com
After 30 minutes, add the lemon juice and parsley, and a bit of water if needed and simmer 10-15 minutes more.  Serve hot, over rice if desired.

Saffron Chicken with Parsley and Lemon  found on KalynsKitchen.com

Saffron Chicken with Parsley and Lemon
(Makes 2 servings, recipe from Massoud and The Best Recipes in the World.)

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 large or 2 small onions, cut in lengthwise slivers (this is a little more onions than original recipe)
1 T olive oil
1 tsp. butter (or more if you prefer)
pinch saffron (about 1/4 tsp. or less)
3/4 cup chicken stock (this is a little more chicken stock than original recipe)
1 1/2 T fresh lemon juice (this is a little more lemon than original recipe)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley


Trim all visible fat and tendons from chicken breasts and cut in 1/2 strips on the diagonal to make small cutlets.  Peel the onions and cut into lengthwise slivers and chop parsley.

Use a heavy frying pan which is not too large and has a tight-fitting lid.  Heat the olive oil and butter, then brown the chicken quickly over medium-high heat.  (Don’t let it cook long enough that the outside starts to get hard.  The chicken does not need to be cooked through.)

Remove chicken to a plate, add onion, and brown over very low heat until edges of onion pieces are turning golden, about 12-15 minutes.  Remove browned onions to another plate. Add chicken back to pan, and cover with onions.  Heat chicken stock, add saffron and stir to dissolve, then pour over chicken and onions. Simmer on very low heat with pan covered 30-45 minutes.

Add chopped parsley, lemon juice, and a tiny bit of additional water if needed, and simmer 15 minutes more. Serve hot, over rice if desired.

Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:

This recipe made with boneless-skinless chicken breasts would be approved for any phase of the South Beach diet, and it would also work for other low-carb eating plans. South Beach would prefer limited amounts of flavor, but you might want to use more butter if you’re following a low-carb/high-fat eating plan.

Find More Recipes Like This One:

Use the Recipes by Diet Type photo index pages to find more recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to Follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.

Nutritional Information?

If you want nutritional information for a recipe, you can sign up for a free membership with Yummly and use the Yum button on my site to save the recipe and see the nutritional information. Another option is entering the recipe into this Recipe Nutrition Analyzer, which will calculate it for you.

More Tasty Ideas with Saffron:
Risotto with Shrimp and Asparagus ~ The Perfect Pantry

Grilled Salmon Packets with Tomatoes, Olives, Garlic, Thyme, and Saffron ~ Kalyn’s Kitchen

Saffron Roasted Cauliflower ~ Chocolate and Zucchini

Whole Wheat Couscous with Saffron and Onions ~ Kalyn’s Kitchen

Squash Soup with Saffron and Ginger ~ Andrea Meyers

Saffron Chicken with Parsley and Lemon  found on KalynsKitchen.com
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39 comments on “Saffron Chicken with Parsley and Lemon”

  1. You have an Iranian saffron source? Girl you are IN!!

  2. Just about the only thing I cook with saffron is arroz con pollo–this looks really good, too.

  3. Hi Kalyn,
    I love saffron chicken. I cook it whole or in chunks. I have an Iranian source for saffron too :). I haven’t tried it with parsely although the recipe is similar to how I do it when I do chunk chicken. I try adding a few carrots for flavor not really for eating (since it gets cooked till almost mush)… this adds a subtle sweet flavor to it. I usually make this with barberry rice (not your typical south beach diet though)
    Barberry rice

  4. Hi,
    I have a question concerning your abbrevations: T means tablespoon and tsp means teaspoon?
    Thank you for the recipe!

  5. Gabriella, that’s right
    T is tablespoon
    tsp. is teaspoon

    Hope you like it.

  6. Hi Kalyn,
    Just wanted to let you know that I have made that dish several times, and it was always a big success! Thanks for posting it!

  7. Gabriella, thanks for letting me know you enjoyed it. (Now I’m thinking this recipe really needs a new photo!)

  8. Hi Kalyn thanks for the reecipe, just tried it today and it was lovely.

  9. Silvie, so glad you liked it (and oh my does this recipe ever need a new photo!)

  10. This has wonderful flavor!!! I love when I have saffron around the house too…not often, but sometimes! This was a great recipe and the parsley worked well with the saffron. Thanks again!

  11. Michelle, glad you like it. And oh does this recipe need a new photo!

  12. I never tried for Saffron foods before but it looks like yummy, delicious and easy to cooked. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  13. Yet another recipe we'd love. Seems saffron has been finding it's way into a few dishes with me lately. I like how you revised this. I lost quite a few old images when I deleted my old blog and have been trying to restore them. I swear it would take less time to just cook the recipes again. Thanks for the idea and the great recipe.

  14. Chee Lee, this is great if you like saffron.

    Kelly how frustrating to lose photos. I'm slowly re-cooking my best old recipes that have ghastly photos, but it will take me years and years to replace all them!

  15. Kalyn, I was thinking of doing Chicken tomorrow night and this looks easy and delicious. Thank you for posting….

  16. This dish looks and sounds outstanding. We bought our first ever saffron threads a few months ago and will have to try them in this dish.

  17. Your recipes are graet no matter how many times!

  18. Noriiko, you're welcome.

    Big Dude, hope you are having fun experimenting with saffron. I think it's a flavor that you need to get used to a little, but I really like it.

    Maris, thank you!

  19. Kalyn, this looks absolutely delicious! I haven't cooked much with saffron (just in paella). Love one pot cooking!

  20. I love saffron. What a fabulous recipe. Fantastic photo update too! Look how far your photo skills have come! Congratulations.

  21. Jeanette, I've never made paella, but I sure do like it!

    Thanks CJ! It's fun to see the improvement in my photos, but I still have a lot to learn!

  22. Hi! I've just started back on low carb and this recipe looks delish 🙂 I was just wondering, did I miss where the nutrition info was listed? I plan our meals by week and like to match up carb counts for the day. Thanks!

  23. I chose South Beach to manage my weight because I didn't want to have to count carbs, calories, or points, so if you need the nutritional information you will have to calculate it yourself.

  24. I'm a huge fan of saffron and cook with it all the time. Loved this dish, it was really really flavorful and simple. Thanks for posting!

  25. Lauren, so glad you enjoyed it!

  26. Kalyn, thank you for your recipie, I have made my own version on my blog (its in Polish but you can use google translator:)


    I decide to spice it up a little so I added a pink peper, cardamon,chilli flakes and bunch of estragon. Thanks for inspiration!

    Atria C.

  27. Atria, very fun seeing your version and your lovely photos!

  28. Love your blog, one of my favourites!
    I have a question, more or less how many grams of chicken would you say is required as the size of chicken breasts vary a lot where I live (in the Middle East)…

  29. Muffin, thanks and fun hearing from someone from the middle east. I love all the food from ther! I'd say in the U.S. chicken breasts weigh about 4-5 oz. (There's a converter in the left sidebar if you need to convert that to grams.)

  30. This was amazing. I left out the butter and also the lemon (can't have fruit on this diet- not even lemon juice).

  31. This is a great recipe! The dish is full of flavor. I used an organic Moroccan saffron I purchased from Amazon, which enhanced the flavor of the dish. If you are interested, you can check it out here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00JX1QZRO.

    Thanks! Keep these great recipes coming!

  32. Kalyn I made this Saffron Chicken this past weekend and it was a hit with everyone! Tasted delicious… although I have to admit the finished product looked more like your photo from 2005 than it did your current one, ha ha! I'll have to work on my presentation 🙂

  33. What a great recipe and I'll bet it tastes even better the next day!

  34. where is the yum button to get nutritional information?

  35. I made this today using skinless, boneless thighs (and doubled the recipe), and it was delicious. My picky husband liked it, too, so it’s a definite keeper. Thanks!

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