Known as the world's most expensive spice, the sweet but bitter flavor of saffron is difficult to reproduce. It comes from the dried stigmas of the crocus flower, which must be picked by hand. It can take as many as 250,000 stigmas to make just over a pound of saffron.
Not surprisingly, because saffron is so labor intensive to produce, it's really expensive. At more than $300 an ounce, you may not want to splurge on the spice anytime soon. Try combining paprika and turmeric, as they're much more affordable and will work as a substitute in almost any recipe.