Vegan Sholeh Zard (Saffron Rice Pudding)

Sholeh Zard is a Persian saffron and rosewater rice pudding. Sholeh means a pudding-like texture and Zard means yellow in Persian. The dessert gets its color from saffron, the most expensive spice in the world, and a staple of Persian cooking.

Sholeh Zard is a very popular and simple Persian recipe. It is also very easy to make vegan using a plant-based butter. My favorite plant-based butter for baking is Earth Balance and for eating is Miyokos creamery.

The dessert is common for dinner parties (called Mehmooni in Persian) and can be beautifully garnished with cinnamon, almonds, pistachios and edible roses.

An important step for making Sholeh Zard is washing the Basmati rice and soaking the rice overnight so it is very soft and begins to fall apart when you begin to slow cook it.

I recently shared this recipe on Instagram along with a story about Iran and the oppression of the Iranian people over the last 43 years, leading to the protests today. The images of brave Iranian girls and women removing their hijab is incredibly powerful, and I hope change is on the horizon. Azadi (freedom) for all.

The world of humanity has two wings — one is women and the other men. Not until both wings are equally developed can the bird fly. Should one wing remain weak, flight is impossible.” – Abdul-Baha

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Vegan, plant-based Persian Iranian Saffron Rice Pudding (Sholeh Zard)

Vegan Sholeh Zard

  • Author: Plant-Based Persian
  • Total Time: Overnight + 90 minutes
  • Yield: 6 people 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


A Saffron, Rosewater Rice Pudding


Units Scale
  • 1 cup Basmati Rice
    • Wash the Basmati Rice and soak overnight
  • 8 cups water
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 cups sugar (can adjust to your taste)
  • 3 Tbsp plant-based butter (I recommend Miyokos)
  • 4 Tbsp rosewater
  • 1/2 tsp ground saffron dissolved in 2 Tbsp hot water
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds


  • cinnamon
  • pistachios and or almonds
    • To remove the skin from the pistachios or almonds, soak in hot water for 30 minutes.


  1. Wash the Basmati rice.
  2. Soak the Basmati rice in a bowl of water overnight. You want the rice to be very soft before you begin cooking it.
  3. In a large pot, add the 8 cups of water, the soaked rice, and salt. Bring to a boil.
  4. Lower the heat to medium, partially cover the pot, and cook for 60 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  5. After the 60 minutes, the rice should be soft and the mixture thicker.
  6. Prepare the saffron mixture (1/2 tsp ground saffron dissolved in 2 Tbsp hot water).
  7.  Add the sugar, plant-based butter, saffron mixture, slivered almonds, and rosewater.
  8. Reduce the heat to low,  cover the pot, and cook for another 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  9. The rice mixture should be thick and creamy. If it has excess liquid, continue to cook on low heat, uncovered. Note, the rice mixture will also harden as it cools down.
  10. Place the rice mixture in serving bowls. Garnish as desired. Let cool before serving.
  • Prep Time: Overnight
  • Cook Time: 90 minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Cuisine: Persian/Iranian

Keywords: Persian, Iranian, Dessert, Rosewater, Sholeh Zard, vegan, plant-based, rice pudding, dairy-free