If you’re a fan of Middle Eastern dishes, then you know the absolute flavor bomb that is pomegranate molasses. This decadent condiment is a result of cooking down pomegranate juice until it becomes a thick, slightly sour syrup.
However, since this molasses is so specific to Middle Eastern cooking, it’s not readily available everywhere. But don’t think this means your Turkish-inspired dinner is ruined. There are plenty of other sweet and sour condiments that can easily substitute for pomegranate molasses, without sacrificing flavor!
Substitutes For Pomegranate Molasses
1. Pomegranate Seeds
When substituting something, it’s always a good idea to go with the closest alternative. In that case, what could be a better substitute for pomegranate molasses than actual pomegranates? The seeds will impart that delicious, fruity flavor your dish requires, while also saving you the time of having to look for an obscure condiment.
But keep in mind that your dish won’t have the same flavor or texture. For one, the most obvious difference between pomegranate molasses and actual seeds is that the former is liquid. So if you’re using the condiment in say a stew, or a marinade, then this substitute isn’t ideal. However, if you need it for a salad, it should work like a charm!
When substituting, remember the ratios.
1 Tbsp of pomegranate molasses = 6-7 pomegranate seeds.
However, keep in mind that pomegranate molasses is much sourer than regular seeds. So if you’re using the sub, it may be a good idea to add a splash of vinegar to spice up the dish.
2. Balsamic Vinegar
Sweet, sticky, and sour? There truly is no better substitute for pomegranate molasses than balsamic vinegar. This deep brown vinegar is made from unfermented grape juice. It’s bursting with complex, rich flavors that are especially well suited for fresh summer salads. Not only that, but it also lowers cholesterol, contributes to weight loss, and improves your complexion.
Therefore, if you want a healthier alternative to pomegranate molasses, use balsamic vinegar. Since it has a similar balance of sweet and sour, swapping is easy.
1 Tbsp of pomegranate molasses = 1 Tbsp of balsamic vinegar.
But keep in mind that certain types of balsamic vinegar can have a much thinner consistency than molasses. So using this substitute will change the texture of your dish.
3. Cranberry Juice
When looking for a fruit that is most similar to pomegranate, cranberries rank close to the top. These red berries have the same, bittersweet note that pomegranates do, but they’re a bit lighter in terms of flavor. This is why they make for the perfect substitute.
Since pomegranate molasses has a thicker texture, you’re going to have to do some kitchen magic to make the juice match up. One of the best options is adding 1-3 Tbsp of sugar to the juice and cooking it down till it reduces in volume and becomes thicker. Depending on whether or not you like the sauce to be sweeter or more tart, adjust the amount of sugar.
After getting your cranberry sauce, substituting is easy.
1 Tbsp of pomegranate molasses = 1 Tbsp of cranberry juice.
Grenadine is another pomegranate derivative you can use as a substitute for pomegranate molasses. This tasty syrup is created by cooking down pomegranate juice with some sugar and lemon. The resulting concoction offers the best blend of sweet and sour, which is very similar to pomegranate molasses.
Grenadine is the ultimate secret ingredient in alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails. So if you’re making a tasty summer drink that calls for pomegranate molasses, consider using grenadine instead. But keep in mind that this syrup tends to be mucus sweeter than the pomegranate condiment, especially if it’s store-bought.
1 Tbsp of pomegranate molasses = ½ Tbsp of grenadine.
Alternatively, you can use the full Tbsp of grenadine, but only if you don’t add any other sweeteners to the dish.
5. Lemon and Honey
If the texture is what you most value in your meal, then a lemon-honey mix is the ideal substitute for pomegranate molasses. Lemon juice provides the ideal levels of acidity to any dish, be it hot, or cold. If you mix it with honey, you will get a thick, sticky syrup that will have that note of sweetness you’re looking for.
If you don’t have honey on hand, you can always use another liquid sweetener to create the mix. Maple syrup is the most popular option, though it’s slightly more liquid. Therefore, it will alter the texture of your dish. A much better alternative in terms of consistency would be agave nectar or even regular molasses.
When substituting, keep the amounts in mind.
1 Tbsp of pomegranate molasses = ½ tbsp of the lemon-honey mix.
But remember that this substitute lacks that delicious fruity flavor the molasses is known for. Therefore, feel free to adjust the amounts, or add a splash of some kind of fruit syrup to upgrade your dish.
6. Raspberry Jam
Raspberry jam may seem like an unusual addition to a savory dish. However, it actually provides the same, fruity sweetness that pomegranate molasses does. Though it’s a bit smoother and runnier than molasses, you can easily thicken it by cooking it down.
Simply simmer it on the stove for roughly half an hour to get it to reduce in volume. This will automatically thicken it. To add a bit of acidity, feel free to squeeze in a tablespoon or so of lemon juice, or more, depending on your taste preferences.
1 Tbsp of pomegranate molasses = 1 Tbsp of raspberry jam-lemon mix.
Feel free to drizzle this substitute over your salads or mix it into your marinade.
7. Tamarind Paste and Honey
Speaking of a good, fruity substitute for pomegranate molasses, tamarind paste with honey is an excellent option. This thick, sticky paste is derived from the tamarind fruit, which is native to Thailand. It has a strong bite of acidity that will elevate any hearty meat dish. To add a bit of sweetness to it, you will need to combine it with some kind of sweetener.
Honey is your best bet since it has both the sweetness and texture to make the combo a worthy substitute. If you’re out of honey, mix 1 Tbsp of agave with 1 Tbsp of tamarind and you will be golden. Now you can use this mixture in place of pomegranate molasses.
1 Tbsp of pomegranate molasses = 1 Tbsp of tamarind paste with honey.