Although there is not a true substitute for saffron, turmeric and safflower are the closest to saffron in color and flavor. The marigold blossom matches the color of saffron, but not the flavor. Annatto seeds also have a slight saffron flavor, but need to be processed in liquid.
Turmeric is sometimes called Indian saffron, but the deep yellow color does not reflect the look of actual saffron. Therefore, this spice should be used sparingly as a substitution for saffron. Safflower is the dye used to create saffron's color, so this spice closely matches the color of saffron. However, safflower needs to be used in greater quantities and does not replicate the taste of saffron.