Saffron Rice with Corn (Arroz Amarillo con Maíz)

Perfect as a side dish, this saffron rice with corn one-pot dish is easy and deliciously infused with saffron. It is cooked with chicken broth; however, vegetable stock will work just fine if you prefer a vegetarian version.  This full-flavor rice can accompany any seafood or meat entrée. The rice is cooked pilaf style, meaning that the raw rice is fried first so that the grains will be soft but stand apart. Do not use pre-cooked, pre-seasoned, or converted rice for this recipe. These types of rice will not absorb the flavors or produce the right texture.

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Spanish
Diet: Gluten-Free
Level: Easy
Prep: 20 mins
Inactive: 10 mins
Cooking: 20 mins
Total: 50 mins
Yield: 4 to 6 servings


  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, toasted. (Note: You can use 1/4 teaspoon bijol powder if saffron is not available. The recipe will taste as good, and you will get the yellow color called for, but saffron, with its distinctive and delicious flavor really makes this dish. Bijol is a condiment found in stores catering to Hispanics.)
  • 1/4 cup hot chicken broth (preferably homemade), for steeping saffron threads or dissolving bijol powder
  • 1 1/2 cups raw long-grain white rice (preferably not converted)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 small green bell pepper, trimmed, seeded, ribs removed and finely chopped
  • 1 sweet banana pepper or 1 jarred pimento, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, smashed, peeled, and finely minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground cumin
  • 2 whole plum tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2 ½ cups hot chicken broth (preferably homemade), for cooking rice
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 6 dashes of hot sauce (preferably Tabasco)
  • Chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley (small tender stem and leaves only), to taste
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ cup pimento stuffed green olives
  • 2 teaspoon capers
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh corn
  • 1/3 cup good-quality dry white wine (Note: Instead of wine, for variety, try 4 ounces of a good-quality beer, or ¼ cup good-quality medium Spanish sherry such as Jerez. Delicious!)


  1. Put the rice in a large bowl and cover with cold water until it reaches 2 inches above the rice. Stir and leave to soak for 10 minutes. Carefully pour off water, leaving rice in bowl. Cover rice with cold water. Using hands, gently swish grains to release excess starch. Pour off the starchy water as often as needed until the water runs nearly clear, at least 2 more times. Drain rice in a fine-mesh strainer. Set aside. (Note: If you skip this step, the rice will not be fluffy. This step removes the starch from the rice so it will not stick.)
  2. In a 3-quart saucepan or small Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid, heat the oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion, pepper, and celery. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Meanwhile, if using saffron, cover the toasted saffron threads with the ¼ cup hot broth and allow it to sit for 5 minutes. This helps the saffron flavor diffuse out of the threads and throughout the rice while it cooks.
  4. If using bijol power, add it the ¼ cup hot broth and stir to dissolve. Set aside.
  5. Add garlic to the onion mixture and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  6. Add cumin and tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Add the rice and stir to coat well with sauté. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring almost continually.
  8. Add saffron broth mixture or bijol broth mixture, the 2 1/2 cups of hot broth, lemon juice, Tabasco, parsley, bay leaf, olives, capers, corn, and ½ teaspoon salt. Stir well. Taste and add salt and black pepper, only if required. Bring to a rapid simmer. Cover (Note: If the lid does not fit tightly, cover the saucepan tightly with a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil and then replace the lid to trap moisture and steam.) Reduce heat to the lowest possible setting and cook for 20 minutes. (Note: Do not remove the lid or stir while the rice is cooking. If you remove the lid of your pan during cooking, all that steam will quickly escape from the pan, leaving your rice undercooked in the allocated time as this steam is what cooks the rice.)
  9. When rice is done, remove the pan from heat. Pour in the wine and allow to rest covered for 10 minutes.
  10. To serve, turn rice over carefully from the bottom with a large folk, to distribute the flavors evenly. Remove bay leaf, transfer to a serving bowl, and serve immediately.