Saffron Rice with Cranberries

کرنبری پلو  Cranberry Polow (rice with cranberries) is an aesthetically pleasing and tasty side dish. The tartness of cranberries are similar to the tartness of barberries and can be a good variation to our traditional rice with barberries (zereshk polow). This is my new favorite rice dish for my favorite time of the year and will be one of my contributions to Thanksgiving dinner with my family. Celebrating Thanksgiving has become a tradition since moving to America and raising a family. I would love to celebrate every occasion that gives us a chance to get together with our loved ones and express our gratitude for what we have and count our blessings.

I love cranberries fresh or dried all year round. I like freezing fresh cranberries for later on when they are not in season but we would need a gigantic freezer for the amount of cranberries that we'd like to freeze! Cranberries freeze well and all you need to do is defrost, rinse and use them while cooking. I usually sprinkle dried cranberries in salads, make a relish for poultry dishes or just eat them as snacks. For this recipe, I used dried cranberries and prepared the rice the same way I do for zereshk polow-- it's essentially the same recipe but with a different ingredient!

Saffron Rice with Cranberries

Serves 4-6

2 cups rice
2 cups dried cranberries
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon saffron dissolved in 3-4 tablespoons of hot water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter
Vegetable oil

  1. Wash rice with cool water and soak in 4-5 cups of water with 2 tablespoons of salt and set aside for at least a couple of hours.
  2. Soak cranberries in 2 cups of water for about ten minutes to plump up. Drain.
  3. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and a tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat and saute sliced onion until golden brown. Add turmeric and stir well, then add cranberries and saute for about 2-3 minutes. Add a tablespoon of dissolved saffron, 2 tablespoons of sugar and a pinch of salt, combine well and cook for 5-7 minutes on low heat. Set aside.
  4. In a large non-stick pot, bring 6 cups of water to a rapid boil, pour rice into boiling water. Bring water back to boil and wait for 10-15 minutes. Test to see if rice is ready-- the grain of rice should still be firm on the inside and have a bite to it.
  5. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  6. Wash the pot and put it back on the burner. Add 3 tablespoons of oil to the pot, add a layer of rice into the pot, a layer of cranberry and onion mixture, then another layer of rice and continue building into a pyramid shape. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes on medium-high heat until rice is steaming, pour 1/4 a cup of water evenly over the rice and add the remaining saffron. Make 2-3 holes in the rice to let the steam out. Lower the heat, cover and cook the rice for 50 minutes on low heat.
Scoop the rice onto a platter and serve warm.

Enjoy! Peace and blessings.


  1. SO happy to see this recipe! Last year, I tried this with cranberries and zereshk together, each one has its own "tangy persona".

    Merci Azita jan! :)

    Ba sepaas,

  2. Mamnoonam, Azarakhsh jan! I'm going to try the cranberry and zereshk combo soon. It sounds wonderful and I can just imagine how tasty and tangy it would be!:)

  3. What a beautiful rice the colors in it...have to try it festive :-)

  4. Very creative use of cranberries-- and gorgeous too!

  5. It looks like jewelry on rice. Very pretty and I know it is delicious as well. I am making dish for my side dish Thanksgiving. Thank you Azita!

  6. first time here flavourful delicious rice

  7. One thing that I find fascinating in Iranian cuisine is all the variety of rices! This one looks amazing and sounds so tasty.

  8. I was so happy to see that you are thinking along the same lines as I was! I love cranberries and wanted to cook them with rice this year as well! your rice is confirming that I need to do so soon!

  9. OMG, I never thought about using cranberries instead of zereshk. You are so smart. I love your recipes.