I often use pomegranate molasses for making my homemade sweets and for baking and whilst I try to make sure I always have some around, I do sometimes run out. When I did run of of pomegranate molasses syrup last time, I tried to work out what to use instead.
Since pomegranate molasses syrup has such a unique flavour, it wasn’t exactly easy, but I managed to find at least 10 really good replacements for my pomegranate molasses, which worked great!
What does pomegranate molasses taste like?
Pomegranate molasses taste very sweet, rich, fruity and kind of tart with a bitter end. It looks like a very dark sugar syrup and it’s usually quite thick when you pour it.
What is pomegranate molasses used for?
Drizzled over salad dressings
Making traditional sweets, such as Turkish Delight or traditional hard boiled sweets
Adding sweetness and fruitiness to cooked or roasted meats
How to choose the best pomegranate molasses substitute for your recipe
This very much depends on what you are cooking or baking, so here are few ideas. If you want to replace the pomegranate molasses flavour then I’d use something that’s going to be the closest to the flavour – eg. the reduced pomegranate or cranberry juice.
If it’s just the sweetness you are after, then you have a wider scope and pretty much anything from the list below will work, including any sugar syrup and lemon for sharpness.
In some recipes, you can completely take out the pomegranate molasses and don’t replace it at all or use something that will change the flavour, but it won’t make much difference (it will just be a slightly different food).
For example if you are using pomegranate molasses as a salad dressing, you can easily use any other type of salad dressing you have and it will be fine.
The easiest & cheapest way to substitute pomegranate molasses
If you don’t have pomegranate molasses at home, I’ll assume that you don’t have most of the other fancy options on my list, so the easiest way to replace pomegranate molasses is really just use any kind of dark or brown sugar (or honey, agave syrup, maple syrup etc.) and lots of lemon juice (fresh or concentrated).
If on top of that you have raspberry, blackcurrant or blackberry jam at home, you can add a bit in for the fruity flavour.
If you know that you are not going to use pomegranate molasses regularly for your cooking or baking, then it’s probably not worth you buying it, but rather replacing it with something you already have at home or you can buy and use for other cooking or baking later.
Here is my favourite list to help you to choose the best option for you to substitute pomegranate molasses.
Brown/Light Brown sugar +water+ lemon
Light brown or brown sugar, water and lemon is the cheapest way to replace pomegranate molasses and the chances are you probably have all of these ingredients at home already.
You can also use other types of unrefined sugars, such as coconut sugar or it’s substitutes which also make a great replacement for the sugar element in the pomegranate molasses.
Mix 2-3 tablespoons of light brown or dark brown sugar with 1 tablespoon of water in a microwave suitable bowl (or a very small saucepan). Heat in the microwave to disolve the sugar and add lemon juice. Adjust the amount of sugar and lemon depending on your taste (and how much of the syrup you need).
You can also use
Demerara sugar + water + lemon
Demerara sugar is much richer and darker type of sugar than brown sugar, but it’s more specialist, so not everyone will have it at home and you might even have problems with purchasing it in your local shop.
In case you do have some, follow the same instructions like with the brown sugar above.
Dark sugar molasses + lemon
The benefit of using dark sugar molasses is that it’s already liquid and thick and it only needs a lemon to give it it’s sharpness. If you have raspberry jam, add a tablespoon in too (make sure it’s seedless or take it through a sieve).
Pomegranate Juice + dark sugar + lemon juice
Pomegranate juice is obviously the closest substitution – flavour wise – but if you need that thick, rich flavour of pomegranate molasses, you will need to reduce the juice first and add some sugar or sugar syrup and lemon juice to make it.
Take as much pomegranate juice as you have (say 1-2 cups or 250-500 ml) and first reduce it by simmering in a small saucepan on a very low heat. When it’s much reduced (at least by half) add some dark sugar or sugar syrup or dark molasses and some lemon juice (fresh or concentrated). Carry on simmering until you reach the right thickness and adjust the flavour by adding more sugar or lemon.
Fresh Pomegranate seeds + dark sugar + lemon juice
If you have a fresh pomegranate you can always make your own pomegranate molasses at home. Take out all the pomegranate seeds and place the in a small saucepan with a small amount of water (only to cover them). Simmer on a very low heat, until the seeds get soft. Push through a fine sieve to get rid of the actual seeds and any outer layers of the seeds skins. Make sure you get as much pomegranate pulp as possible.
Put back into the saucepan, add some dark sugar or molasses and some lemon juice and carry on simmering until the sugar dissolves and you are happy with the thickness of the sauce and the flavour.
Cranberry Juice + dark sugar + lemon juice
Cranberry has a very similar sharpness and tartiness to pomegranate, so it’s a great replacement. It’s also much widely available and often cheaper than fresh pomegranate or pomegranate juice.
Follow the same process as making pomegranate molasses substitute from pomegranate juice.
Fresh or frozen cranberries
Fresh or frozen cranberries are widely available in the supermarkets, especially during the festive Christmas season. They are also perfect for making pomegranate molasses substitute. Follow the same steps as making pomegranate molasses from fresh pomegranate.
Cranberry sauce or jam + dark sugar + lemon
Scoope out few tablespoons of the cranberry sauce, add some dark sugar and fresh lemon juice and let the whole sauce to warm up in the microwave or on the hob. Let the cranberry sauce to simmer for long enough for the dark sugar to dissolve and the whole sauce to thicken a little.
Raspberry Juice, Coulis, Jam or Fresh Raspberries + dark sugar + lemon juice
Raspberry has the right amount of sharpness, the right colour and it’s widely available in most shops. We’ll be simmering and reducing the raspberries into a thick sauce, so there is no need to use the best raspberries.
Frozen raspberries are completely fine and last time I checked, they are actually much cheaper than the fresh ones.
If you are using raspberries with pips, push the sauce through a fine sieve at the end to make sure that it’s smooth.
Blood orange juice + dark sugar + lemon
Using a blood orange will make the flavour ever so slightly different, but still fresh, zesty and fruity! This combination will be perfect for a salad dressing or flavouring turkish delight or other sweets.
Blackcurrant Juice, Jam, frozen or fresh blackcurrants + dark sugar + lemon
Although not that widely available anymore, I thought it would be worth mentioning that blackcurrants make a great pomegranate molasses substitute. Using blackcurrant juice, jam frozen or fresh fruit, reduce the amount first by simmering on a very low heat and add some dark or light brown sugar and some lemon juice.
If you are using blackcurrant jam, ease on the sugar, as jam already includes a lot of sugar. Jam is also easy to use as you only need a bit of dark molasses, agave, maple or honey syrup, lemon juice, mix everything together and warm up in the microwave or on a hob. Jam is already thick, so don’t add any more water.
Redcurrant Juice, Jam, frozen or fresh redcurrants + dark sugar + lemon
Redcurrants are not as widely available in the supermarkets, so you are more likely to be given some by a neighborough or a friend who likes to garden. Follow the same instructions as with the blackcurrants.
Redcurrants are quite sharp, so you might not need as much lemon as with the blackcurrants.
Blackberry Juice, Jam, frozen or fresh blackberries + dark sugar + lemon
Blackberries are much sweater than blaccurrants and not as tart as pomegranate, but they have the right dark colour and with extra lemon can make an excellent pomegranate molasses substitute.