I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of fresh pomegranate seed substitutes to find the best ones for every cooking occasion. Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry swap, or want a substitute that fits your diet, I’ve got the answers.
Dried cranberries are the best substitutes for fresh pomegranate seeds. If you prefer fresh options, try strawberries, raspberries, or red currants. Pomegranate molasses is also a good option if you don’t mind a change in consistency.
I made a delicious Brussels sprouts salad to put various fresh pomegranate seed substitutes to the test.
Most fruits are prized for their flesh, but not pomegranates – their seeds (also called arils) are the star of the show. They’re typically consumed or used fresh straight out of the fruit to add a burst of sweet-tangy goodness and a nice crunch.
Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:
|Substitutes||How to Substitute||Verdict|
|Dried cranberries||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Fresh strawberries||Replace in a 1:1 ratio with chopped strawberries||7/10|
|Red currants||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Blackberries||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Pomegranate molasses||½ cup pomegranate seeds = 1 ½ tbsp pomegranate molasses||9/10|
|Dried apricots||Replace in a 1:1 ratio with chopped dried apricots||6/10|
Dried cranberries are a super convenient alternative to pomegranate seeds. They’re budget-friendly and are available all year round, ensuring your favorite recipe never misses that fruity punch.
Fresh cranberries are extremely sour, but they become sweeter when you dry them, giving them a more balanced tartness that’s close to fresh pomegranate seeds. The only downside is the texture – dried cranberries have no crunch and aren’t as juicy.
My salad recipe included almonds, which made up for the missing crunch. But for dishes where pomegranate was the only crunchy ingredient, consider adding your choice of nuts or seeds to make up for this.
How to substitute: Replace pomegranate seeds in a 1:1 ratio with dried cranberries.
Pomegranate molasses may seem like a no-brainer substitute, but I included it in case you aren’t familiar with this ingredient. This thick, syrup-like substitute has the same sweet-tart flavor profile as the fresh fruit, but with an added touch of caramel notes.
I drizzled this syrup over my salad before tossing everything and it turned out great. The only obvious downside is you won’t get the added juicy, crunchy goodness of pomegranate seeds. But the silver lining is its syrupy consistency makes it super versatile. You can drizzle it over pancakes, yogurt, or even into a glass of sparkling water for an instant mocktail.
You might find this gem in big-name grocery chains, but your best bet is to check out an Indian or Middle Eastern grocery store (it should be cheaper in these stores).
How to substitute: Replace ½ cup pomegranate seeds = 1 ½ tbsp pomegranate molasses
While the tartness of pomegranate seeds is their standout feature, you might prefer a softer, sweeter substitute. Fresh strawberries are exactly that – their sweet profile is more prominent, and they’ll bring the same delightful pop of red color to your dishes.
Strawberries also have tiny edible seeds embedded within their flesh. While these seeds don’t quite offer the crunch of pomegranate seeds, they add a textural nuance that can elevate your dish in a different yet equally pleasant way.
And they’re just as juicy!
Psst… chop your strawberries up into small pieces so they’re the same size as pomegranate seeds.
How to substitute: Replace pomegranate seeds in a 1:1 ratio with chopped fresh strawberries.
Raspberries have a surprisingly similar flavor to pomegranate seeds, with the same balance of tart and sweet flavors. However, their soft texture meant they got easily squashed in my salad, losing their textural appeal.
This wouldn’t be an issue in smoothies though!
Psst… did you know that raspberries originated from Turkey?
How to substitute: Replace pomegranate seeds in a 1:1 ratio with raspberries.
I have a newfound appreciation for these little berries! Redcurrants are very tart, so they’re usually processed into a jam or jelly. But you can eat them raw. To tone down the sharp, sour edge sprinkle them with sugar before adding them to your dish.
Or make sure you have enough other sweet ingredients to balance them out. For example, I used more honey in my salad dressing to make it sweeter.
Redcurrants also have a pretty similar texture to pomegranate seeds and will burst in your mouth to release their juices. They can be tricky to find, though, so make sure to check your local farmer’s market in the summer through early fall.
How to substitute: Replace pomegranate seeds in a 1:1 ratio with red currants.
Blackberries share a surprising amount of common ground with pomegranate seeds. They have the same sweet-tart notes, although blackberries carry a distinct berry flavor that sets them apart.
And just like pomegranates, these berries offer a delightful juicy burst and a satisfying crunch to every bite. They worked excellently in my salad, but they’re also great in desserts, or even in a savory main course that could use a fruity twist.
Psst… blackberries are seasonal fruits so check when they’re in season in your local area.
How to substitute: Replace pomegranate seeds in a 1:1 ratio with ripe blackberries.
Dried apricots may not look like pomegranate seeds but they’re another accessible alternative you can try.
They’re noticeably sweeter, but they still carry a prominent tang that makes them a solid substitute. And like any dried fruit, their biggest advantage is they’re widely available all year round.
They’re larger than pomegranate seeds, so I highly recommend chopping them up. And like with dried cranberries, you can combine these with a handful of nuts or seeds to make up for the crunch you’d usually get with pomegranate seeds.
How to substitute: Replace pomegranate seeds in a 1:1 ratio with chopped dried apricots.
Can you swap fresh pomegranate seeds with the dried version?
Yes, you can use dried pomegranate seeds in place of the fresh ones. Ideally, you would use whole dried seeds in things like salads, but if you just have the powder that can work too. Just add it to the dressing or sprinkle it over the salad like seasoning.
I found that the dried seeds were more tart than their fresh counterparts, but not so tart that it was a problem. The dried seeds also didn’t have the same juiciness, so you may still need to resort to other fruity alternatives for this purpose.
Pro tip: you won’t need to use as many dried seeds because of their more concentrated flavor.
Other substitute options
The list above are my top picks for pomegranate seed substitutes, but they’re not the only options:
- Cranberry juice: Can be used in dressings, sauces, or smoothies to mimic the tart flavor of pomegranate seeds, but you won’t get any texture!
- Dried Barberries: These offer a tangy touch similar to pomegranate seeds and can be used in all the same ways, but they can be hard to find which is why they’re not on the main list!
- Blueberries: Blueberries are sweeter and less tart than pomegranate seeds, but they’ll add a similar burst of juicy fruitiness.
- Cherries: Cherries have a different flavor to pomegranate seeds, but like blueberries, they’ll add the same fruity essence.
Substitutes to avoid
I came across plenty of substitute suggestions for fresh pomegranate seeds, but not all of them turned out great.
Figs were one of the suggestions for the fresh seeds but I have to disagree. These fruits are all about sweetness and none of the tang – they’re even often compared with honey! Likewise, I thought raisins were also too sweet.
Best Pomegranate Seeds Substitutes + 2 To Avoid
Fresh seeds substitutes
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup chopped strawberries
- ½ cup red currants
- ½ cup blackberries
- 1 ½ tbsp pomegranate molasses
- ½ cup dried apricots
- ½ cup raspberries
- Cook your meal according to the recipe.
- Add your chosen fresh/dried pomegranate seeds substitutes at the appropriate cooking time.
- Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe.