We'll just start this off by saying: there really is no saffron substitute for the real thing- high quality saffron threads are pretty much irreplaceable. But if you're in a pinch and need to add a bit of saffron-esque color, the below will do the tick.
Best Saffron Substitutes
Turmeric is a member of the ginger family is the most widely recommended saffron substitute. It is similar enough that unscrupulous spice merchants have used it to adulterate real saffron. It provides a yellow color similar to that of saffron (when cooked). Note that while it will provide the desired color, it has its own flavor. For starters, saffron has a much different and much earthier taste when compared to turmeric. As a result, the flavor of turmeric may not work well in some dishes that call for saffron.
Safflower is known as “Mexican saffron” or azafran. Aside from the fact that it comes from a completely different plant, another difference is that the petals are the part of this plant that are used and not the stigmas. Safflower has commonly been passed off as saffron as it has a similar ability to color food along with a pleasant, distinctive flavor. If your dish calls for a teaspoon of saffron, you would use a teaspoon of safflower in its place.