Italian Prawn Saffron Linguine Recipe

Creamy Italian Prawn Saffron Linguine.

If you have never tried pasta with saffron and you love seafood, this Italian prawn saffron linguine will have your taste buds singing! This is a fabulous authentic Italian recipe that’s creamy and luxurious! Perfect for special occasions!

Italian prawn saffron linguine

Disclaimer: This Italian prawn saffron linguine pasta recipe has been sponsored by Supermarket Italy, a leading Italian and European gourmet online grocery store in USA.  Although I have been compensated for this post, all opinions about the products mentioned are my own.

Italian prawn saffron linguine pasta recipe

Linguine allo zafferano con gamberi.

Many people may not realize it but saffron has been grown in Italy since 14th century! Italians use it in a number of traditional and contemporary recipes. The most well-known of these is, most probably, risotto alla Milanese. This famous creamy golden risotto from Lombardy and dates back to the 16th century!  However, pasta recipes with saffron are numerous and popular, especially in the regions where saffron is cultivated. The most common combinations are pasta with saffron and veggies like this fettuccine with saffron and zucchini or with seafood like this Italian prawn saffron linguine,

ingredients for prawn saffron linguine sauce on white plate

What is saffron?

Saffron is a spice obtained from the stigma of the Crocus Sativus flower.  This spice has been much sought after for thousands of years! The Ancient Romans used it in their food and Cleopatra is said to have put it in her bath! However, Italians only started to grow it themselves in the 14th century.

Navelli saffron from Abruzzo

Why is saffron so expensive?

Saffron is actually worth more than gold! This is because each flower only has 3 stigma and these have to be harvested by hand!  In addition, the harvest has to be done at a specific time of the day, normally early in the morning. You need 170,000 saffron crocus to get 1 kg of saffron!! (about 75,000 for 1lb).

prawn heads and shells in saucepan with water

Saffron in Italy.

Food historians say that the first crocus sativus were brought to Italy from Spain by a Dominican monk called Domenico Santucci in the 14th century. He was from Navelli in Abruzzo and it was there that he first started to cultivate saffron.

chopped spring onions in white bowl. Chopped parsley in white bowl. Prepared prawns in white bowl

Today the best saffron in Italy comes from the same area. Navelli saffron, also called L’Aquila saffron, is a very prized spice that locals claim is more potent and pungent and more vivid in colour than other saffron, such as the one from Spain. The saffron I used for this Italian prawn saffron linguine recipe I actually bought from a producer in Navelli!

prawn broth with saffron in white bowl

You won’t break the bank using saffron!

Despite the fact that saffron is very expensive, using it won’t break the bank! A little saffron goes a long way! A gram of saffron contains about 300 threads and most recipes only call for a few threads. One gram of Italian saffron costs between 15 and 30 euros but it lasts quite a long time!

2 unpeeled prawns in skillet with cooked onions and prawn saffron broth

The key to cooking with saffron is to keep it simple. In fact, this pasta with prawns and saffron is pretty simple. The main flavours are the seafood and the saffron which also creates the colour of the beautiful creamy sauce!

unpeeled prawns and peeled prawns in skillet with cooked onions and prawn saffron broth

Other ingredients in this pasta with prawns and saffron.

Apart from the saffron and the prawns this recipe has just a few ingredients. I used spring onions but I think shallots would work too. The other spices and seasoning are some pink peppercorns (schinus) and some fresh parsley. And, lastly, some heavy cream and butter which give this Italian prawn saffron linguine a beautiful creamy texture!

cooked peeled prawns in skillet with prawn saffron broth and heavy cream

The prawns.

It’s best to use unpeeled prawns for this pasta with prawns and saffron recipe. They can be fresh or frozen (defrosted of course!). The reason for using unpeeled prawns is that you need to make a quick stock from the heads and shells. This really helps to flavour the dish!

Italian linguine from De Cecco

The pasta.

I used linguine in this recipe. Linguine is like flat spaghetti and is one of the most popular pastas for seafood pasta recipes. The linguine I bought for this pasta with prawns and saffron recipe was made by De Cecco, one of the most popular pasta brands in Italy.  In fact, De Cecco has won awards for their pasta and are considered by many to be the producers of the best ‘supermarket’ pasta in Italy.  I use the term supermarket in contrast to small producers or artisan pasta makers.

drained and cooked linguine in skillet with prawn saffron sauce

Where to buy this linguine.

De Cecco pasta is quite widely available outside of Italy. Readers  in the US can also buy it from the sponsors of this post Supermarket Italy, a fabulous online Italian gourmet food store.

Supermarket Italy

Supermarket Italy is a family owned business founded in September 2009. Since then, it has become a trusted leader in imported Italian and European goods to US. They source products of the highest quality from vendors in Europe. Their mission is to bring as many high-quality, authentic Italian and European goods to Americans as possible, from world-class DOP Italian meats all the way to top-tier Italian beauty products. 

Italian pasta with prawns and saffron

Apart from the De Cecco linguine for this pasta with prawns and saffron, you can buy some other excellent Italian pasta brands from Supermarket Italy. Among my favourites that they stock are Mancini, Gentile, La Fabricca della pasta di Gragnano and Garofalo.

Treat yourself to this Italian prawn saffron linguine.

Some people might think this is a bit of a pricey pasta recipe. I guess it is a bit! Saffron isn’t the cheapest spice and prawns can be expensive! However,  sometimes it’s worth splurging on something special! I‘m sure you’ll agree with me after you’ve tried this Italian prawn saffron linguine!

If you do try this divine pasta with prawns and saffron recipe, I’d love to hear what you think. Please write a comment here on the blog or post a comment on the Pasta Project Facebook page.

Your feedback means a lot to me!

Buon Appetito!

Other pasta with saffron recipes

  1. Pasta with saffron and pancetta recipe from Abruzzo
  2. Pasta with zucchini flowers, saffron and ham
  3. Sardinian gnocchi – malloreddus with sausage, tomatoes and saffron.

Save this recipe for later?

If you want to save this recipe for later, you can print it, bookmark this page or save it to Pinterest.

Italian prawn saffron linguine
5 from 34 votes
Italian prawn saffron linguine
Creamy Italian Prawn Saffron Linguine
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
30 mins

This rich, creamy and luxurious prawn saffron linguine pasta recipe is perfect for entertaining and special occasions. Pasta, saffron and seafood are a classic Italian combination which your guests will be so impressed with!

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Central Italy, Italian, Mediterranean
Keyword: authentic Italian pasta recipe, Italian recipe, linguine, prawns, saffron, seafood, seafood pasta
Servings: 4
  • 400 g linguine (14oz) I used linguine from De Cecco
  • 1 kg Fresh unpeeled prawns (about 2 lbs) or defrosted frozen unpeeled prawns
  • 2-3 spring onions or shallots
  • 1/2 tsp saffron threads or powder
  • 1 tsp pink peppercorns
  • 30 g butter (1oz)
  • 1 handful fresh parsley chopped
  • 200 ml heavy cream (6-7floz)
  • 1 glass water
  • salt for pasta and to taste

  1. Put the saffron threads into a glass with a couple of tablespoons of warm water. Leave to infuse and melt. Peel and slice the onions. Wash and chop the parsley.

  2. Remove the heads and tails from most of the prawns ( you can leave one per person intact for appearance), peel the prawns keeping just the meat.  Remove the black vein along the back of the peeled prawns.

  3. Put the heads and shells in a saucepan with a glass of water and a teaspoon of salt, bring to a boil and leave to simmer for a quarter of an hour. Remove the heads and shells, strain the broth into a bowl and add the soaking saffron to it.

  4. Put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Add salt once it starts to boil and bring to the boil again.

Cook the sauce
  1. Fry the onions in a frying pan or skillet over a low heat with the butter and some pink pepper corns. Once the onions start to soften  add the saffron broth. Let it boil over a high heat for a couple of minutes, then turn the heat down and add the whole prawns first and cook for a couple of minutes on both sides. Then add the peeled prawns and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.

  2. Before adding the cream to the sauce remove the whole unpeeled prawns but keep them warm. Add the heavy cream and mix it into the sauce. Add salt to taste.

Finish the dish

  1. Cook the linguine al dente according to the instructions on the packet. When the pasta is cooked, save a little of the cooking water and drain. Add the pasta to the sauce. Mix everything together well . If it seems dry add a little pasta cooking water. Remove from the heat and serve immediately sprinkled with chopped parsley and with one whole prawn on each plate .

Recipe Notes

I used linguine for this recipe but you could also use spaghetti or tagliatelle.

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Italian prawn saffron linguine pasta recipe

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  • Avatar
    August 26, 2019 9:12 pm

    What an interesting dish. ..never heard of using saffron in a pasta dish. Looks absolutely delicious.

  • Avatar
    Jenni LeBaron
    August 26, 2019 5:38 am

    I always find recipes that use saffron such a treat! This linguine with prawns dish looks like the perfect balance of special occasion food and comfort food.

  • Avatar
    August 26, 2019 3:57 am

    I’m drooling! The flavor of the saffron with the prawns is an outstanding combination. I love the tips you left about using the saffron in cooking as well!

  • Avatar
    August 25, 2019 6:18 am

    Such a unique recipe. That touch of saffron must make the difference. Thanks for the recipe.

  • Avatar
    Cathleen @ A Taste of Madness
    August 25, 2019 4:25 am

    I had no idea! Actually, if I am being very honest with you, I have never actually tried saffron before. It is just so expensive!! But I guess it must be worth it!

  • Avatar
    August 25, 2019 12:08 am

    I;m always nervous to make something out of my comfort zone, but this recipe was really fun and good. Thanks for inspiring!

  • Avatar
    August 24, 2019 3:55 pm

    I don’t cook with saffron often but this recipe reminds me that I should! It gives a dish such a beautiful color!

  • Avatar
    August 24, 2019 1:27 pm

    What a delicious looking linguini recipe! My boyfriend would LOVE this! Yum! Thanks for sharing!

  • Avatar
    August 24, 2019 2:53 am

    I’ve never tried pasta with saffron, but I love all this combination and it sounds so comforting. Can’t wait to give it a try!

  • Avatar
    August 24, 2019 1:37 am

    I bet this dish was absolutely amazing! This is the perfect recipe for any seafood and pasta lover!!

  • Avatar
    August 23, 2019 4:23 pm

    Saffron is used a lot in our cooking too and you are so very correct about saffron. I love the beautiful colour it has imparted to the pasta and the dish in whole. Looks scrumptious.

  • Avatar
    Karyl Henry
    August 23, 2019 2:35 pm

    this is a beautiful dish, but I can’t bring myself to eat the shrimp with heads! So my only change would be to use “regular” shrimp. I haven’t used saffron in ages, but I love the gorgeous color it has. This recipe looks so simple and elegant, and perfect for entertaining

    • Avatar
      August 25, 2019 5:19 am

      Karyl, you can just use the heads and shells for making the broth. I actually brown the shells/heads in a little butter and olive oil for a minute and then pour in some fish broth or chicken broth. Makes a much deeper flavor than water. Don’t be afraid:)

  • Avatar
    August 23, 2019 12:57 pm

    I’ve saffron in rice and desserts before but not in seeafood. What an amazing looking prawn linguine recipe. Girl, I want to try your pasta every night for dinner.

  • Avatar
    August 23, 2019 2:30 am

    This is so delicious and a wonderful way to enjoy seafood. Such a beautiful dish. Just like you’d get in a restaurant in Italy. Great recipe.

  • Avatar
    Mama Maggie’s Kitchen
    August 22, 2019 10:59 pm

    Yum! I do love seafood. And this Creamy Italian Prawn Saffron Linguine made me crave for more. Wish I could eat this right now.

  • Avatar
    August 22, 2019 9:42 pm

    I had no idea you needed so little saffron in recipes, this is why I have never tried any recipes that call for it! I love your helpful tips, I am absolutely going to give this a try!

  • Avatar
    August 22, 2019 4:22 pm

    What a sophisticated dish! That saffron addition makes it perfect for company — such an impressive meal. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Avatar
    August 22, 2019 2:24 pm

    I bought saffron for a soup and I was looking for another way to use the rest of it before it isn’t good anymore. This recipe is perfect!

  • Avatar
    August 22, 2019 2:18 pm

    Wow, this looks perfect for a date night in or when you’re trying to impress guests. So interesting to hear about saffron and why it’s so expensive. Thanks for sharing.

  • Avatar
    Lisa Huff
    August 22, 2019 1:25 pm

    My daughter is going to LOVE! She can’t get enough pasta and shrimp!

  • Avatar
    Danielle Wolter
    August 22, 2019 12:42 pm

    OMG I just fell in love a little. This sounds absolutely incredible! The flavors sound just amazing – definitely have to try this!

  • Avatar
    August 22, 2019 12:39 pm

    Beautiful dish, definitely one of my favourites!

  • Avatar
    August 22, 2019 5:23 am

    I’ve rarely made Spanish food since returning from an exchange from
    Spain – I won’t say what year. Clearly I need to try recipes that use saffron, I remember enjoying it so much.

  • Avatar
    August 22, 2019 3:52 am

    What an awesome meal this was! I made it for my husband’s parents and they thought I was so special and fancy!

  • Avatar
    Angela Greven | Mean Green Chef
    August 22, 2019 2:52 am

    Such a beautiful dish, I love how you utilize saffron here it adds such nice color and flavor! Lots of great information too, thanks so much for sharing 🙂

  • Avatar
    August 21, 2019 4:53 pm

    You always make me so hungry with your fabulous recipes! This looks so tasty!

  • Avatar
    Anindya Sundar Basu
    August 21, 2019 3:55 pm

    I love Italian food and this just brought me back the memories of my stay in Italy . Thanks for the recipe

  • Avatar
    Ai | Ai made it for you
    August 21, 2019 1:04 pm

    YUM! And looks so impressive!

  • Avatar
    Shari Eckstrom
    August 21, 2019 5:37 am

    What a beautiful dish. Saffron is also one of my favorites to cook with. Yum!

  • Avatar
    Patrice | Cardamom Magazine
    August 21, 2019 1:00 am

    Love saffron but haven’t tried it with pasta before. The combination of pasta, saffron, and prawns sounds great!

  • Avatar
    Stine Mari
    August 20, 2019 9:37 pm

    I have been thinking about using saffron in pasta lately, but I haven`t tried it yet. Looking forward to try this recipe, it looks so good!

  • Avatar
    August 20, 2019 9:09 pm

    What a simple yet luxurious meal! Now I know what to make when I want to impress my mother-in-law. Thank you!

  • Avatar
    Kelly Anthony
    August 20, 2019 8:53 pm

    I don’t think I have ever had saffron in my pasta before. I absolutely love seafood in my pasta so I know I’ve been missing out. I can’t wait to try this recipe.

  • Avatar
    August 20, 2019 6:13 pm

    What a pretty dish. I can’t wait to give this a try, it looks delicious!

  • Avatar
    August 20, 2019 5:56 pm

    Wow this looks fancy schmancy lol I read somewhere there was an alternative you could use for saffron but now I can’t remember what it was.. If I ever do I can try making this or make it for an Anniversary dinner mmmmm

    • Avatar
      August 25, 2019 5:27 am

      There is no real substitute for saffron, but cumin or turmeric will give you the yellow color. The flavors are completely different so I would encourage you not to substitute.

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