Pomegranate molasses is the juice of pomegranates, only cooked to a thick consistency. Even though the term molasses, as well as its color, may be associated with something sweet such as sugar cane or sugar beets, pomegranate molasses is actually a condiment.
Even though pomegranate molasses has a very unique texture and flavor, there are some pretty good options to replace it with. Keep on reading as we try to find the best pomegranate molasses substitute for your recipes!
The best substitutes for pomegranate molasses
Pomegranate molasses is also known as pomegranate syrup, and it has a thick consistency and a dark brown, almost black color. While the pomegranate juice is a bright red color, while cooking, it thickens and transforms into a much darker shade. While molasses is usually sweet, in this case, the taste would be best described as much more sour than sweet.
Pomegranate molasses is not to be confused with grenadine, the tart and sweet bright-red pomegranate syrup used in cocktails. Pomegranate molasses is a condiment and quite popular one in Middle Eastern cuisine.
Pomegranate molasses is usually a reduced pomegranate juice, but it can have some added sugar for an intensified flavor. Without the added sugar, the taste is rich, tangy, and a tad bit musky. Therefore, it is a great choice for any meal lacking depth in flavor.
Salads can often be quite dull, so if you want to add complexity to your favorite salad, pomegranate molasses is a delicious dressing – whether on its own or mixed with vinegar or lemon juice. Thanks to its rich and thick texture, it can also be used as a meat glaze, or as a marinade. Even though it isn’t as sweet as grenadine, pomegranate molasses can add an interesting fruity note to your cocktails and mocktails.
If you like to drizzle your roasted veggies with olive oil, try adding a couple of drops of pomegranate molasses. The acidic, yet fruity flavor can transform any plain dish into a restaurant-worthy meal. There’s hardly anything you can’t whisk your pomegranate molasses into, including your favorite dips such as hummus or baba ganoush.
If you have a recipe or a dish idea in mind that calls for pomegranate molasses, but there’s none in your local store, we got you. Let’s look at some of the best pomegranate molasses substitutes you can find.
1. Homemade pomegranate molasses
Who needs that store-bought stuff when you can make pomegranate molasses from scratch in no time? But, before we go into the molasses preparation, let’s make the base – which is the pomegranate juice. You want to take arils from 8 large pomegranates, blend them, and then strain the juice through a mesh sieve.
For the homemade pomegranate molasses, you will need:
- 4 cups fresh pomegranate juice
- ½ cup sugar (adjust the sugar to your liking if you don’t want it too sweet, or replace with a sweetener)
- 2 tbsp lemon juice.
Take your saucepan and combine all the ingredients on medium-high heat, making sure that the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer for about an hour in order to get the syrup consistency. After an hour of cooking, your pomegranate molasses is ready to be stored in a jar.
2. Pomegranate seeds or juice
If all you’re looking for is that refreshing, fruity flavor, going with pomegranate seeds or juice is a great way to substitute pomegranate molasses. Simply sprinkle some pomegranate seeds, either fresh or canned, on top of your salad or dish of your choice. And if you want a light dressing, mix some pomegranate juice, balsamic reduction, and vinaigrette and pour over your salad.
Needless to say, pomegranate seeds or pomegranate juice won’t give you the same results as the real deal. Pomegranate molasses is much richer in flavor, thick in consistency, and besides the fruity taste, it gives meal texture and complexity. However, if you’re not a fan of molasses in the first place, you’ll love this easy alternative.
3. Raspberry jam
Now here’s an ideal substitute for pomegranate molasses if you’re not too fond of pomegranate, but still want that fruity flavor. Raspberry jam has a sweet, tangy taste, and that thick, sticky consistency similar to molasses that works great as a glaze, marinade, or a refreshing addition to your dip or salad dressing.
All you need for a quick homemade raspberry jam are these 3 ingredients:
- 4 cups mashed raspberries
- 4 cups white sugar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice.
Add the mashed raspberries into a saucepan and bring them to a boil, then cook them for 4 more minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, mix well, and keep stirring while the mixture is boiling. Cook for another 4 minutes and your homemade jam is all done.
4. Plum sauce
Here’s yet another fruit-based pomegranate molasses replacement for those of you who prefer plums over pomegranate. When it comes to the texture, the color, and the richness of the molasses, the plum sauce is a spot-on alternative. It is usually thick, smooth, dark-colored, and both sweet and tart at the same time.
Plum sauce originates from China, and it is their well-known condiment, dipping sauce, basting sauce, and meat glaze. Just like pomegranate molasses, it does have some sweetness to it, but it is not too dominant. Thanks to its versatility, it can be paired perfectly with numerous dishes, including dumplings, spring rolls, stir-fry, noodles, rice, all kinds of meats and seafood, and even desserts.
5. Lemon juice and honey
This pomegranate molasses alternative is the easiest, most convenient way of replicating the molasses flavor with the ingredients you already have in the kitchen. Lemon juice will provide that fruity acidity you get from pomegranate, while honey is a healthy alternative for sugar. What’s more, honey naturally has the sticky texture you’d get from reducing the pomegranate juice to the syrup.
Simply combine these two ingredients by whisking them until you get a homogeneous consistency. If you’re preparing a salad dressing, add your desired seasoning, spices, and herbs, and pour over the salad. Mix the salad using a wooden spoon or your hands in order to evenly coat the salad with the dressing.
The term grenadine comes from the French word grenade, which means pomegranate. In the original recipe, the three main ingredients for grenadine syrup are pomegranate juice, sugar, and lemon. You’ll notice that the ingredient list is identical to homemade pomegranate molasses; however, the difference is in the cooking time and the desired consistency.
The store-bought version of grenadine isn’t precisely the tart-sweet combination of flavors you’d expect. Since it usually contains fructose corn syrup, it is significantly sweeter, and it may lack tartness and acidity. Since grenadine is a syrup used for cocktails, mocktails, and other refreshing beverages, it usually also contains red food coloring for a pop of color in your drink.
If you like to be in control of the flavors and prefer making your syrup from the scratch, here’s a quick grenadine recipe. Take one-part pomegranate juice to two-parts granulated sugar, dissolve the mixture in a saucepan, and add some fresh lemon juice to get the desired flavor. Grenadine adds an irreplaceable touch of sweetness and color to your tequila sunrise, Bahama mama, or cherry lemonade.
7. Balsamic vinegar and sugar
Balsamic vinegar and sugar combination is yet another easy-to-make substitution for pomegranate molasses if you need a quick salad dressing. Balsamic vinegar, on one hand, has the acidity you’d get from lemon and pomegranate in molasses. Sugar, on the other hand, is a great addition to balsamic vinegar if you’re looking for something sweet to tone down the acidity.
Aside from salad dressing, this combo can also work great as a dipping sauce, or a sauce to drizzle over your grilled vegetables. Even though it doesn’t have the thicker texture of molasses, it doesn’t lack any depth or richness when it comes to flavor.
8. Cranberry juice concentrate
When you think about fruit options, cranberries are the closest thing to pomegranate you’ll find. Cranberry juice concentrate may lack some sourness and acidity as a pomegranate molasses substitute, but you can easily fix that by adding some lime or lemon juice. On the other hand, if the concentrate is too tart, a little bit of sugar will cancel it out.
9. Cranberry sauce
Cranberry sauce is a richer, fuller alternative for pomegranate molasses than cranberry juice concentrate. It has a thick, jelly-like consistency thanks to a natural ingredient named pectin, which naturally gels the fruit when cooked with sugar and acid.
We already know that cranberry sauce is a must-have in a Thanksgiving feast, but it also compliments meats other than turkey, as well as veggies and salads.
10. Simple syrup and grenadine juice
If you want to add a touch of grenadine tartness to your cocktails or non-alcoholic beverages, but you don’t have grenadine, this combination is the way to go. With simple syrup, you’re getting that sweetness and consistency that grenadine provides. Simply combine it with some grenadine juice – and you’re all set.
For homemade simple syrup, you’ll need:
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar of your choice/honey
Combine the ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer while constantly stirring and making sure the sugar/honey is dissolving. Cool and store in an airtight container.
11. Pomegranate salad dressing
If you love to experiment with your salad dressing, and you enjoy adding a little bit of texture and extra crunch to your salads, this is a recipe you need to try. Keep in mind that this option isn’t as sweet as pomegranate molasses, and it is more on the refreshing, sour side.
For this pomegranate salad dressing, combine:
- seeds from ½ pomegranate
- 4 tbsp pomegranate juice
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- ½ tsp caster sugar.
How to choose a pomegranate molasses substitute
Perhaps you couldn’t find pomegranate molasses at your local market, you haven’t stumbled upon a brand you liked, or you aren’t exactly thrilled about the idea of making it at home.
Depending on the recipe you’re following, different alternatives can work amazing as substitutes for pomegranate molasses. Some of them resemble the flavor, while others can mimic the specific texture of molasses.
Homemade pomegranate molasses is undoubtedly the best option – even better than the store-bought product. If you’re looking for that thick, rich consistency and overbearing fruity flavor, you can’t go wrong with raspberry jam, cranberry sauce, or plum sauce, especially if you want to avoid pomegranate. Each of these alternatives offers a variety of options in cooking, and they aren’t limited to just salad dressings.
Grenadine and simple syrup with pomegranate juice are just the perfect doses of pomegranate for your cocktails and other refreshing beverages, and they’re basically pomegranate molasses in liquid form, but generally not used in cooking. Pomegranate seeds and juice, as well as cranberry juice concentrate, can work just as well in beverages as in salads and other dishes. However, keep in mind that neither pomegranate seeds nor juice can’t deliver the texture of molasses if that’s what you’re going for.
When it comes to salad dressing, if you want a perfect balance between acidity, sweetness, and tartness, choose combinations of lemon juice and honey, balsamic vinegar and sugar, or the pomegranate salad dressing. These duos are extremely easy to make, yet extremely flavorful and rich.