I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of grenadine substitutes to find the best one for every occasion.
Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry substitute, or seeking an alternative tailored to your specific dietary requirements, rest assured I’ve got you covered.
Pomegranate simple syrup is a quick and easy homemade alternative to grenadine. You can also use pomegranate molasses to make a classic grenadine. And if you’re in a pinch, the syrup from a jar of Maraschino cherries works. You can also try pomegranate liqueur for a boozier drink.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
I mixed different grenadine substitutes with soda water to find the best one!
Grenadine is a non-alcoholic bar syrup with a bright red color. The main ingredients are pomegranate juice, sugar, and lemon juice, so it has a fruity, sweet flavor with a tart finish.
It’s a staple in various cocktails, but it also works excellently as an accompaniment for desserts.
I was looking for a substitute that could bring a similar vibrant pop of color to my cocktails and a fruity flavor to sweeten them up.
Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:
|Substitutes||How to Substitute||Rating|
|Pomegranate Simple Syrup||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Pomegranate Molasses + Simple Syrup||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Raspberry Syrup||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Maraschino Cherry Syrup||replace 1 tbsp of grenadine with 1/2 tbsp of Maraschino cherry syrup.||9/10|
|Cranberry Simple Syrup||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Hibiscus Simple Syrup||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Pomegranate Liqueur||Start by using half the amount of grenadine, adjust to taste||8/10|
Common uses of grenadine
Here are some popular ways to use grenadine and the best substitutes for those situations:
- For cocktails: Try using pomegranate simple syrup, raspberry syrup, or maraschino cherry syrup. You can also use pomegranate molasses to make DIY grenadine or pomegranate liqueur if you want a boozier drink.
- For desserts and sweets: Try using pomegranate simple syrup, raspberry syrup, or maraschino cherry syrup. Go with cranberry simple syrup if you prefer a more sour twist to balance the sweetness of your desserts.
- As garnish: Try using pomegranate simple syrup, pomegranate molasses, raspberry syrup, or maraschino cherries syrup.
Pomegranate simple syrup
Pomegranate simple syrup is a super easy DIY substitute for grenadine.
You’ll only need two ingredients to get it done: equal parts unsweetened pomegranate juice and sugar.
This makeshift syrup should be a tad thinner than grenadine.
You can simmer it on a low heat to thicken it slightly, but don’t go overboard, or you’ll have pomegranate candy instead of syrup!
Think this mixture is too sweet? Try adding fresh orange peels as your syrup cooks to add a fresh, citrusy zing.
Or just mix in a splash of lemon juice!
How to substitute: replace grenadine in a 1:1 ratio with pomegranate simple syrup.
Traditional grenadine is made from pomegranate juice, just like pomegranate molasses!
The most significant difference is that pomegranate molasses has a more concentrated tart flavor because most brands don’t add sugar.
Most DIY grenadine recipes involve cooking pomegranate molasses with pomegranate juice and sugar, like with the recipe below.
But a quick hack I found is to mix pomegranate molasses with regular simple syrup (i.e sugar water).
It worked surprisingly well – the simple syrup toned down the intense tartness of the molasses, achieving a taste similar to homemade grenadine.
I found pomegranate molasses in my local Walmart’s international aisle.
Psst… don’t mistake it for regular molasses, they’re very different!
How to substitute: replace grenadine in a 1:1 ratio with a mixture of pomegranate molasses and simple syrup.
Raspberry syrup is an exciting substitute for grenadine if you’re up for a little change in your cocktails.
It looks strikingly similar to grenadine, so your taste buds may be surprised with its more pronounced tart flavor.
You can always mix in a splash of simple syrup to sweeten this up, but I actually preferred the tangy berry notes.
Raspberry syrup is widely available, but you can also make it from scratch if you can get fresh raspberries.
How to substitute: replace grenadine in a 1:1 ratio with raspberry syrup.
Maraschino cherry syrup
Got a sweet tooth, you’ll LOVE maraschino cherry syrup.
It’s missing pomegranates’ punchy tartness but has a fruity sweetness that’ll perk up your cocktails in a pinch.
It’s far sweeter than grenadine, so you won’t need much. The last thing you want is to drown out the other flavors in your cocktails!
My favorite thing about this substitute is the deep, red color it gave my plain old soda water. I can guarantee it’ll bring a similar effect to drinks like tequila sunrise and Shirley temple.
And as a bonus, you can use the cherries for garnishing your cocktails. Win-win!
How to substitute: replace 1 tbsp of grenadine with 1/2 tbsp of Maraschino cherry syrup.
Cranberry simple syrup
If you find even homemade grenadine to sweet for your taste buds, why not swap it for cranberry simple syrup instead?
As I with the pomegranate simple syrup, all you need is unsweetened cranberry juice and an equal amount of sugar.
Cranberries are fruity like pomegranates but are naturally more sour. Even with a hefty amount of sugar, their sour notes remain dominant.
Pssst… not a fan of cranberries? Other red juices like cherry or grape could work too.
How to substitute: replace grenadine in a 1:1 ratio with cranberry simple syrup.
Hibiscus simple syrup
Here’s an exciting grenadine substitute that takes the flavor game up a notch – hibiscus simple syrup.
Dried hibiscus blossoms are lightly tart, and they carry fruity, floral notes that will remind you of grenadine.
As with our previous substitutes, making hibiscus simple syrup recipe is a breeze. Mix equal parts of sugar and water over low heat, then steep the hibiscus petals.
Strain the mixture, and you have your very own hibiscus simple syrup!
Its vibrant red color is remarkably similar to grenadine.
How to substitute: replace grenadine in a 1:1 ratio with hibiscus simple syrup.
If you have a well-stocked bar, that bottle of pomegranate liqueur can stand in for grenadine in a pinch.
It’s sweeter and more watery than grenadine, so this is something to remember when using it in a recipe.
But the biggest catch is this substitute will add alcohol to your drinks.
I used Pama, which is 34 proof and isn’t the booziest. But I could definitely taste the alcohol with my soda water.
While it can be great for some occasions, be cautious with this substitute if you or your guests prefer a lighter cocktail.
How to substitute: start with half the amount of grenadine called for in the recipe, then adjust to taste.
Other substitutes to consider
The list above features my top picks for grenadine substitutes, but here are other alternatives you can use:
- Strawberry syrup – this perfectly replicates grenadine’s vibrant red color. But it’s sweeter and has a more prominent berry flavor.
- Creme de Cassis – this is a dark liqueur made from blackcurrants. This has a dark color in the bottle but will bring a deep red tinge when mixed with other ingredients. It’s mostly sweet, with a prominent berry flavor.
- Fruit juice + honey – in a real bind, you can use any fruit juice you have in your cupboards and mix it with honey (or another sweetener). Cheap, easy, and not bad!
Avoid using orgeat syrup
I saw this substitute suggested on another blog – but I’m pretty sure they’ve never tasted it!
It has a strong nutty flavor from almonds (think mai tai), so doesn’t taste anything like grenadine.
10 Best Grenadine Substitutes + 1 To Avoid
- 4 cups unsweetened pomegranate juice
- 3 cups organic (cane) sugar
- 6 oz pomegranate molasses
- In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the unsweetened pomegranate juice and sugar. Stir constantly without bringing to a boil until sugar is dissolved.
- Stir in the pomegranate molasses and mix until well incorporated. Transfer into a clean bottle. Use immediately or keep in a bottle for about two weeks.