* If you click a link on this page and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.

12 BEST Pomegranate Molasses Substitutes + 1 To Avoid

I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of pomegranate molasses substitutes to find the best one for every cooking or baking 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 that I’ve got you covered.

In general, anything that gives you a combination of fruity and tart works well as a pomegranate substitute. Try a combination or honey and lemon juice, cranberry juice and brown sugar, or balsamic vinegar. You can also make your own homemade pomegranate molasses using fresh or store-bought juice.

Ready? Let’s jump right in.

The experiment

I made small batches of dressing for the classic Fattoush salad to try out different pomegranate molasses substitutes. 

Pomegranate molasses is a mainstay ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine. It’s a syrupy liquid made from pomegranate juice that boasts a tart, tangy flavor with a background of caramelized sweetness. 

It goes really well with fish or chicken, and it’s often used instead of vinegar in salad dressings.

I was looking for a substitute that would deliver the same sweet-tangy twist to my dishes. 

Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts: 

SubstitutesHow to SubstituteVerdict
Balsamic VinegarReplace in a 1:1 ratio, adding sugar if needed10/10
Homemade Pomegranate MolassesReplace in a 1:1 ratio10/10
Honey + Lemon JuiceReplace in a 1:1 ratio with a mix of honey and lemon juice9/10
Cranberry Juice + Brown SugarReplace in a 1:1 ratio with the cranberry juice and brown sugar syrup9/10
Lingonberry Jam 1 tbsp of pomegranate molasses = 1/2 tbsp of lingonberry jam.8/10
Tamarind Paste1 tbsp of pomegranate molasses = 1 tsp of tamarind paste8/10
Blackcurrant SyrupReplace in a 1:1 ratio8/10

Common uses of pomegranate molasses

Here are some popular ways to use pomegranate molasses and the best substitutes for those situations:

  • For muhammara and other dips: Try using balsamic vinegar, the homemade version, molasses, honey and lemon juice, or cranberry juice and sugar. 
  • For salad dressings: Try using balsamic vinegar. Honey and lemon juice also works, but you may need to adjust your recipe if it already calls for lemon juice. You can also use jams like lingonberry, but they’re a bit sweeter. 
  • For glazes and marinades: Try using balsamic vinegar, the homemade version, molasses, or cranberry juice + brown sugar. 
  • For desserts: Try using balsamic vinegar, the homemade version, cranberry jam + brown sugar, or lingonberry jam. You can also use tamarind paste for a tangier twist. 
  • For cocktails and other beverages: Try using balsamic vinegar, homemade pomegranate molasses, or blackcurrant syrup. 

Balsamic vinegar

Balsamic vinegar is an easy and versatile substitute for pomegranate molasses you might already have sitting in your pantry. 

It had a similar sweet and sour profile, although I had to reduce the lemon juice in my dressing because it was a touch tarter than pomegranate molasses. 

Balsamic vinegar also has a thinner consistency, which won’t matter for most things.

But if you want to mimic the molasses’ syrupy texture, cook the Balsamic down with a pinch of brown sugar. Easy peasy! 

How to substitute: replace pomegranate molasses in a 1:1 ratio with balsamic vinegar.

Homemade pomegranate molasses

Pomegranate molasses sounds exotic, but making it is actually pretty easy. 

All you need is some fresh pomegranate juice (check out this guide if you’ve never tried deseeding pomegranates).

Then you’ll cook this down until it has a thick and syrupy consistency. It’s that easy! 

And don’t worry if you can’t find fresh pomegranate. You can also use store-bought juice. 

Just make sure you choose a brand made from 100% pomegranates, lots of them have other fruits mixed in!

Pssst… you can use grape juice instead and get a pretty similar result

How to substitute: replace pomegranate molasses in a 1:1 ratio with the homemade version.

Honey + lemon juice

This simple blend of pantry staples may not be perfect, but it offers that pop of sweet and tart notes similar to pomegranate molasses.

The beauty of this substitute boils down to customization. Add more lemon to increase the tart factor or enhance the sweetness with an extra dollop of honey.

Start with equal amounts of honey and lemon, then adjust to your taste. I used a tad less juice because my dressing already had lemons in and I didn’t want it to be too sour.  

Pssst… can’t have honey? Maple, date syrup, agave nectar, or regular brown sugar will also work.

How to substitute: replace pomegranate molasses in a 1:1 ratio with a mixture of honey and lemon juice, adjust to taste.

Cranberry juice + brown sugar

Got a carton of cranberry juice in the fridge and need pomegranate molasses? You’re in luck because cranberry is a great alternative! 

The cranberry juice brings those vibrant tart notes that are a staple of pomegranate molasses, while the brown sugar introduces rich, caramelized sweetness to seal the deal.

Boil the sugar and juice together to achieve that luscious, syrupy consistency. 

Pro-tip: if you don’t mind cooking with alcohol, wine also works. 

How to substitute: replace pomegranate molasses in a 1:1 ratio with cranberry juice and brown sugar syrup.

Fruit jam (lingonberry, raspberry)

Ahhh, lingonberry jam! This North European staple, famously paired with Swedish meatballs, has a unique sweet-and-sour flavor, making it a great stand-in for pomegranate molasses.

It tends to be sweeter than pomegranate molasses but you can also use a spritz of lemon juice to brighten it up.

I found a jar of this jam in my local Walmart, but you can also try other tart-sweet jams like seedless raspberry as a fallback.

How to substitute: replace 1 tbsp of pomegranate molasses with 1/2 tbsp of lingonberry jam.

Tamarind paste

This Thai staple is was an unexpectedly good substitue. It’s got an intensely sour flavor with caramel notes running through it.

The paste is much thicker than pomegranate molasses, but it’s easy to thin out with water. Mixing it with water also helps to tame the sourness slightly.

Pro tip: wondering what else you can make with tamarind paste? It’s essential for pad thai, and I also use it in curries.

How to substitute: replace 1 tbsp of pomegranate molasses with 1 tsp of tamarind paste or an equal amount of diluted tamarind paste.

Blackcurrant syrup

Let me introduce you to blackcurrant syrup, another fruity alternative that brings a tart flavor profile with a background sweetness reminiscent of pomegranate molasses. 

But here’s where it gets interesting: it also carries an added bitter note, providing a depth that balances the sweetness beautifully.

Blackcurrant syrup is typically a superstar in cocktails and mocktails, but it’s also superb with desserts and meaty dishes.

Monin is a popular brand that makes this syrup, and you can typically find it in well-stocked grocery stores. 

How to substitute: replace pomegranate molasses in a 1:1 ratio with blackcurrant syrup.

Other substitutes to consider

The suggestions above are my top picks for pomegranate molasses substitutes, but the following are other options you can try using: 

  • Fresh pomegranates – another option is to simply add pomegranate seeds straight into your dish. This will add texture and color, but it wont work for all applications (like baking).
  • Prunes – these are essentially dried plums, and you can add them straight to your dish to bring a subtle sweet flavor and a hint of tartness. Or you can puree them in a food processor (but you’ll need a decently strong processor).
  • Grenadine – this used to be made with pomegranate juice, but nowadays it’s typically produced with corn syrup. It has a sweeter flavor than pomegranate molasses, so I recommend using this for desserts or cocktails.
  • Boiled cider – you can think of this as ‘apple molasses’. It will be sweeter then pomegranate molasses, so this sub works best in sweet recipes. And I would reduce the amount of a different sweet ingredient.
  • Hibiscus simple syrup – made from dried hibiscus blossoms, which have a floral, tart flavor. But combining them with sugar adds a layer of sweetness and make this a decent substitute for pomegranate molasses. Check out the recipe here.

Avoid using white sugar

I’ve specifically mentioned brown sugar throughout this article because it has a delicious caramelized flavor like you get with pomegranate molasses.

White sugar doesn’t have the same rich flavor, and the sweetness of more flat and one-dimensional.

Pomegranate Molasses Substitutes + 1 To Avoid

I tested loads of pomegranate molasses substitutes to find the best one. I also provided an easy homemade version you can try if you're up for a DIY project.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Ingredient
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Keyword: pomegranate molasses substitutes, substitutes for pomegranate molasses
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 16 servings
Calories: 50kcal


  • 33 fl oz pomegranate juice or 5 large pomegranate fruits.
  • 2.5 tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ cup sugar, optional


  • if using fresh pomegranates, deseed them. Add the "seeds" into a blender or juicer and give them a blitz. Strain the juice using a cheese cloth or strainer over a bowl.
  • In a large pot over medium heat, add your pomegranate juice. Add in the lemon juice and sugar (if using).
  • Skim the floating scum once it comes to a simmer.
  • Allow it to simmer for a few hours or until the juice is reduced to about ¼ of its original volume. The molasses is finish once the mixture coats the back of the spoon.
  • Remove from heat and leave to cool. After resting, pour into a jug or container. Use immediately or store in the fridge.


other options: balsamic vinegar, honey + lemon juice, cranberry juice + brown sugar, lingonberry jam, tamarind paste, blackcurrant syrup, fresh pomegranates, prunes, grenadine, plum sauce, hibiscus simple syrup 


Serving: 1tbsp | Calories: 50kcal

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating