Chicken breasts, cooked in a creamy saffron sauce with spinach, deserve a place on your table! Explore the flavours of Italy through this delicious and very easy Tuscan recipe.
Add our Tuscan Panzanella Salad for an authentic feast!
Authentic Tuscan Chicken Recipe
Am I the only one who has a freezer full of chicken breasts? No? Well I’ve got great news because today I am bringing you a delicious recipe, which hopefully will be a step away from the ordinary.
It is so incredibly simple and quick to make! No more than 30 minutes from start to finish.
This saffron chicken recipe is inspired by Tuscan recipes I caught sight of years ago. I’ve taken the main idea from traditional recipes but changed it slightly to adapt to our taste.
This recipe is truly special mostly because of the creamy saffron sauce, which brings a unique taste and a gorgeous colour to the dish.
Creamy Saffron Sauce
The sauce is absolutely the star of this recipe. The main flavour and the stunning hue come from the saffron threads which are used to infuse the cream.
Saffron may have originated in Greece, but it is now grown in places as diverse as Spain, Iran, India, and, of course, Italy. Although often associated with the Middle East and Iranian cuisine, saffron has a longstanding place in European dishes as well.
It’s labour intensive to harvest so definitely a premium ingredient. It is the most expensive spice in the world so a pinch of saffron will need to go a long way!
It has a delicate taste, one that is incredibly hard to describe. It’s very slightly sweet, earthy and floral. That sounds like a lot, but it’s so subtle that there is little risk of overpowering a dish with saffron flavours!
A quick side note. If your saffron is out of date, it will taste of nothing. Make sure it’s not expired if you want an authentic experience. Ground saffron has even shorter life span; no longer than 6-12 months.
The colour it adds is just as important. The vibrant yellow is distinctive, and one that sets saffron dishes apart.
I’ve also added 2 cloves of garlic and spinach to the sauce. The sauce is thickened with flour but you can use cornstarch if you follow a gluten free diet.
There is also white wine, which gives this creamy sauce an acidity it needs to balance it out. If you prefer to leave the wine out, substitute with 1 cup of apple juice plus 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar.
Despite featuring saffron, a slightly exotic ingredient, this sauce is very straightforward to make and very quick. Besides chicken, it is also delicious when served with fish, prawns or scallops.
Recipe tips and notes
- The chicken will cook more when it is simmered in the sauce, so you need to take it off the heat when browning before it is cooked all the way through. All we are doing initially is searing the chicken breasts till golden. Taking them off before they are done will ensure that you end up with truly juicy chicken breast.
- When the cream and saffron are added to the saucepan, be sure to only use low heat! There is no need to cook the cream, just to give time for the flavours and colours to infuse.
- Make sure your saffron is not out of date to infuse the sauce with not only the colour but also a beautiful aroma. Pay attention to the expiration date when buying saffron, especially if you buy it ground, which has a shorter life span.
- Deglazing with white wine is an important step in releasing flavour from the bottom of the pan back into the sauce. The dryness and acidity of the wine also helps the sauce by cutting through the richness of the cream and providing a balance. Just be sure to choose a dry wine, so you aren’t accidentally adding sweetness to the sauce.
- If you choose to leave the wine out, use the same amount of apple juice or chicken stock plus 1 tbsp of white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar instead.
- I’ve added fresh spinach for added fibre and colour. Kale will do just as well.
I know that the first thing that comes to mind is pasta. Italians would absolutely disapprove as this would be considered a second course. However, let’s throw caution to the wind do what feels right.
I would also serve some good quality crusty bread alongside. It’s perfect for the sauce!
Storage and leftovers
Saffron chicken leftovers can be kept refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days. Reheating in the microwave is the easiest way to go.
Because it is a cream sauce, this isn’t a recipe to freeze though.
More Italian chicken recipes
- Best Chicken Marsala
- Italian Rosemary Chicken
- Slow Cooker Venetian Chicken Ragu
- Easy Chicken in Sun-dried Tomato Sauce
Tuscan Chicken with Saffron Cream Sauce
- 350ml/1 ½ cups single cream/heavy cream
- 1 tsp saffron threads
- 2 tbsp olive oil divided
- 4 chicken breasts skinless and boneless
- salt and pepper
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp flour
- 250ml/1 cup dry white wine
- 30g/1 cup spinach
- Infuse the cream with saffron by gently heating it in a saucepan for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, brown them in olive oil on both sides until golden but not cooked all the way through for approximately 3-5 minutes on each side, remove to a separate plate and set aside till needed.
- Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to the pan, then minced garlic and cook over low heat for 20-30 seconds, then add the flour and mix until you have a paste. Deglaze the pan with white wine and let it reduce for 5 minutes. Then add the chicken back to the pan together with the infused cream, bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Add spinach and simmer for 5 minutes longer. Taste the sauce and add more salt if needed.