3 Affordable Ways to Enjoy the World’s Most Expensive Spices

By: Todd Covelli | Segun Oduolowu Posted: 10:32 AM, Mar 20, 2019 Updated: 4:49 PM, Mar 21, 2019

Saffron, vanilla and cardamom are tasty, trendy and in-demand spices that modern chefs love. Chef Robert Conneway of the Lola restaurant in Glendale, Arizona says while these spices are among the most expensive in the world, there is a silver lining. Chef Robert is going to stretch your taste buds and your dollar with three dishes featuring these exotic spices that you can make at home.


1. Saffron 


Sprouting to the top of our list is saffron. Harvested from the crocus flower at $5,000 per pound, it’s considered the most expensive spice on earth. Our first item is a saffron-based appetizer, and it only uses about fifty cents worth of saffron. Chef Robert says you can use saffron for many dishes like soups, sauces and any kind of meat.


Saffron Scallop & Shrimp Appetizer



Paprika-seasoned fresh scallop



White wine butter cream sauce

Red saffron oil

Citrus red quinoa salad



First, cook the quinoa so it can cook while you cook the seafoods. Read packaging of quinoa for proper cooking times – don’t overcook!

Prep a medium sauté pan on a medium high heat with a teaspoon of olive oil and a cube of unsalted butter (watch closely so the butter doesn’t burn!). Then season both sides of shrimp and scallops with a little saffron and paprika mixed together. Then add to your hot, buttery pan and sauté until fully cooked. Baste with butter in pan for added flavor (optional).

Take your quinoa salad and squeeze a tablespoon of orange juice, then mix well. Then slice little orange slices and toss with salad as well. Finally, add arugula for a little peppery hint.

Making white wine butter cream sauce is super simple. Prep a medium sauce pan on high heat and add 3-4 cubes of butter. Let this melt all while watching – don’t let it burn! Next add tablespoon of water to hold it from breaking. Then we add a white wine of your choice to the pan, and be careful doing so will create a bit of flame in the pan. Finally, let everything blend together, and add a pinch of saffron for color and smoke flavor.

2. Vanilla


Weighing at our second spot at $200 per pound is vanilla, which comes from the vanilla orchid. Chef Robert whipped up a vanilla bean cheesecake in a jar for desert. “The vanilla just makes everything blend together,” says our expert. “That’s what’s great about vanilla. I used one strand, one stick – that’s it.” And that one strand is less than a dollar’s worth of vanilla.


Vanilla Bean Blueberry Cheesecake Pie



Lightly whipped vanilla bean blueberry cheesecake filling

Fresh graham cracker for topping


Fresh blueberries

Vanilla bean honey drizzle.

Pre-made crust



For the crust, crush your graham crackers, mix into a bowl with a pinch of cinnamon and coat with melted butter. Let stand for 15 minutes. Add a large spoonful to bottom of the mason jar.

Take the pre-made blueberry pie filling, Scoop 2 rounded tablespoons atop the graham cracker crust.

For the cheesecake filling, beat 1 block of Philly Cream cheese and ¼ cup sugar, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/4 cup honey in a bowl. Scoop 3 rounded tablespoons into the jar atop the blueberry pie filling.

Garnish with fresh blueberries and a stick of vanilla bean split in two.


3. Cardamom


At the end of our expensive spice road, we finish with cardamom at $30 per pound, which comes from the ginger family. Bartender Alec Morris whipped up a cardamom concoction that will wake up those taste buds. “Cardamom being one of the most prevalent ingredients in it – it has a beautiful kind of citrusy taste; a minty aroma,” explains Alec. “I paired that up with a couple bitters. A lemon bitters, a mint bitters…I do recommend you take a whiff of it. Let the rainbow of smells tickle your nose.” To enjoy at home, mix and serve the ingredients.


Spiced Amigo Ingredients

3 Amigos Extra Anejo Tequila (local)

3 amigos Ramonas Reserve (local)

Cardamom and ginger syrup

Stones ginger liquor

Edna Valley Pinot Noir

Fee Brothers Lemon bitters

Fee Brothers Mint


And those are three ways to enjoy expensive spices without breaking the bank!