First things first, what is grenadine? Grenadine is a pomegranate syrup (usually non-alcoholic) that is deep red in color and has a sweet flavor.
Originally, grenadine was made from reduced pomegranate juice, sugar, and water. Currently, store-bought grenadine has additional ingredients including corn syrup, sodium benzoate, and artificial colors.
The most common use of grenadine is in cocktails. It is used as an ingredient in most popular cocktails including Singapore Sling, Tequila Sunrise, and Shirley Temple. Grenadine is also used to flavor slushies and sweets.
If you need to use grenadine in your cocktails but don’t have any on hand, you’d have to use a substitute instead. Luckily, there are several grenadine substitutes that will give you similar results.
Your best bet would be to make homemade grenadine, but if you don’t have the time to do so you can always use pomegranate molasses/concentrate, Cranberry Juice cocktail, raspberry syrup, strawberry daiquiri syrup, pomegranate juice, Creme de Cassis, and cocktail cherry juice.
- Homemade grenadine
If you want a substitute that would give you similar or even better results compared to the store-bought grenadine, make your own grenadine at home.
Homemade grenadine is quite easy to make, and you will only need a few basic ingredients. I love this specific recipe because it always gives me the authentic grenadine flavor.
Additionally, you get to control the ingredients you use, so it won’t have the unwanted ingredients that store-bought grenadine has.
Here is how to make homemade grenadine.
You will need:
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 cup of unsweetened pomegranate juice
- Fresh juice from ½ a lemon
- In a saucepan, add the unsweetened pomegranate juice and sugar then heat it on medium high until all the sugar dissolves. Make sure that you frequently stir the mixture.
- Let the mixture boil for 4 minutes or until it becomes thick. Once it has a thick consistency, remove from heat and allow it to cool.
Note: It is important to remove the mixture from the heat once it starts having that thick and syrup-like consistency. If you leave it on the heat for too long, the mixture will crystallize.
- Once the mixture cools down, add the lemon juice. Taste to see if you like the level of tartness, if not, add a little bit more lemon juice. At this point, your homemade grenadine is ready.
- Pour the mixture into a bottle using a funnel and store it in the refrigerator for up to four weeks. Alternatively, you can store the homemade grenadine in a sealable jar or airtight container.
- Pomegranate molasses/concentrate
Pomegranate molasses is one of my go-to grenadine substitutes. It is a very popular ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine but is a surprisingly great addition to cocktails thanks to its fruity tangy flavor, and deep red color.
Just like grenadine, pomegranate molasses has a syrup-like and sticky consistency. The only downside is that the molasses are not as sweet as grenadine.
Therefore, your cocktail may not be as sweet as it usually is. To make it sweeter, all you need to do is add a syrup made of sugar and water. To make the syrup, just boil equal amounts of water and sugar until it becomes syrupy.
Pomegranate molasses also have a tarter flavor compared to grenadine. Its consistency is also much thicker. Despite these differences, one can hardly tell the difference when incorporated into mixers and desserts.
When substituting grenadine with pomegranate molasses, use half the amount that the recipe requires.
Pomegranate molasses is readily available and you can find it in Middle Eastern specialty stores.
- Cranberry Juice cocktail
Cranberry juice cocktail is simply a mixture of cranberry juice concentrate, ascorbic acid, sugar/ corn syrup, and water. It is much sweeter compared to regular cranberry juice and also has a tart flavor.
Cranberry juice cocktail is specifically made for cocktails and plays the same role that grenadine does. It gives cocktails a syrupy consistency and a burst of red color.
It is important to note that a cranberry juice cocktail will add a new flavor to your drinks or desserts. It will give them the taste of cranberries instead of pomegranate. The flavor profile is not completely different, but it will definitely be tarter.
The tart cranberry juice flavor can easily overwhelm your cocktail, so I suggest you only use half the amount that the recipe calls for when using this substitute.
- Raspberry syrup
Raspberry syrup is another ideal substitute you can use. It is bright red in color with a sweet and tangy flavor. If you want a substitute that has a similar texture, tartness, and color with grenadine, the raspberry syrup is a great choice. It also provides a raspberry flavor that a lot of people find pleasant.
You can substitute grenadine with raspberry syrup in equal measures. It is readily available and you can find it in any supermarket or local liquor store.
- Strawberry daiquiri syrup
This substitute is a premixed beverage that manufacturers use to make strawberry daiquiris. It is basically strawberry juice that is mixed with sugar. A lot of people use it to give drinks a fruity flavor.
Compared to grenadine, the consistency of strawberry daiquiri syrup is much thicker. Its flavor is also less tart and a little bit different compared to that of grenadine.
If you want a substitute that is sweeter and less tart, this is a great option. You can use it in both smoothies and cocktails.
- Pomegranate juice
If you are looking to reduce your sugar intake, you can use unsweetened pomegranate juice as an alternative. It is more natural compared to grenadine as it does not have any added sugar. Its flavor is also fresher.
It is notable that when you use this substitute, your cocktails will not be as sweet as when you use grenadine. The reduction in sweetness is quite noticeable. In case you want it to be sweeter, you can always add a sweetener.
When substituting grenadine with pomegranate juice, use twice the amount that the recipe requires for the best results. If you use it in baking, be sure to reduce other liquid ingredients in the recipe.
- Creme de Cassis
If you want a substitute that is less sweet compared to grenadine, Creme de Cassis would work.
Unlike grenadine, Creme de Cassis is a liqueur and is therefore alcoholic. It has a mild sweet taste and is a great addition to cocktails. Use half the amount that the recipe calls for.
- Cocktail cherry juice.
Cocktail cherry juice is another substitute that is readily available. You can find it in any supermarket near you.
This substitute has an amazing cherry flavor that is both sweet and sour. It is ideal for sweet dishes as well as homemade summer drinks.
Use this substitute in classic cocktails for the best results.
Like I mentioned at the beginning of the article, homemade grenadine is the best option if you are looking to replace grenadine in your recipes.
The recipe is really easy to follow and it would only take you a few minutes to get a natural and suitable alternative to the store-bought grenadine.
If you don’t feel like making your own or just don’t have the time to you can use pomegranate molasses, cranberry juice, or raspberry syrup for the best results.
These three substitutes will give you amazing results and you can hardly tell the difference when you use them in cocktails and desserts.
Strawberry daiquiri syrup, pomegranate juice, Creme de Cassis, and cocktail cherry juice are also good substitutes in select cocktails and desserts.
Try using the recipes as discussed above and tell me how your cocktails turn out.