This study aimed to develop an efficient and reliable method for estimating common adulterants in saffron by detecting their characteristic components to warrant its efficacy and regular use as a highly valuable medicinal herb. A selective and sensitive high-performance liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS/MS) method was developed to estimate the common adulterants in saffron from corn stigma, chrysanthemum and safflower through the simultaneous determination of specific constituents including allantoin, chlorogenic acid (ChA) and hydroxysafflor yellow A (HSYA). Peak identification of each target compound was confirmed from product ions obtained using multiple reaction monitoring triggered enhanced product ions mass chromatogram. Method validation in terms of linearity, sensitivity, reproducibility, accuracy and stability was systematically performed according to official guidelines. Satisfactory separation of the three components was achieved on a C18 column (4.6 × 250 mm, 5 μm) with methanol-acetonitrile-ammonium acetate (3.0 mm) as the mobile phase at gradient elution. The identification of these specific constituents was accomplished using the multiple reaction monitoring mode in combination with enhanced product ion supplementary confirmation. The established method was validated in terms of linearity, sensitivity, reproducibility, accuracy and recovery, which were found satisfactory for sensitive detection of the three target compounds. By detecting the specific constituents allantoin, ChA and HSYA in one run, the adulterants of corn stigma, chrysanthemum and safflower can be effectively identified and estimated in saffron. This is the first report on developing a simple, sensitive and operational method for the identification and estimation of common adulterants of saffron, that was forwarded for broaden application. © 2019 Royal Pharmaceutical Society.