This easy homemade Pomegranate Vinaigrette is a great way to add extra flavor and zing to salads, chicken, grain bowsl, and more.
When it comes to salad dressing, it is hard to beat classic balsamic vinaigrette but something really special happens when you add pomegranate juice to this classic dressing. The pomegranate juice adds extra flavor and sweetness to the balsamic vinegar making this salad dressing anything but boring.
Recently I read an amazing article where they talked about volume eating and volume foods. If you haven't heard of it before, volume eating basically means choosing foods that have a lot of volume (size) but are low in calories. Something like lettuce is a perfect example. You can eat tons of greens for very few calories.
Not surprisingly salads are a mainstay of volume eating since salads are naturally full of lower-calorie choices if you add lots of fresh veggies. However, it can get boring pretty quick if you don't have some killer salad dressings to mix in.
This simple pomegranate balsamic vinaigrette is one of my absolute favorites. The pomegranate seeds and juice add a touch of sweetness and a tartness I love. It pairs great with this easy spring mix salad, arugula salad, and I love it with lots of greens, roasted veggies, and feta cheese. And in case you need a refresher on pomegranates, here's my favorite way to get out the seeds.
Key Ingredients and Easy Pantry Swaps
Basically, this is a classic balsamic vinaigrette dressing with the addition of pomegranate juice and arils. Here is what you need:
- Pomegranate juice: Pomegranate juice is naturally very tart with minimal sweetness. It is packed with antioxidants and has been shown to help lower blood pressure, making it good for your heart. Since it is very time-consuming to make your own pomegranate juice, I usually buy the store-bought option. If you don't have any pomegranate juice, you could swap in natural cranberry juice or raspberry juice.
- Balsamic vinegar: Look for a flavorful balsamic vinegar that tastes good on its own. If you don't have balsamic, you could swap in apple cider vinegar, white balsamic vinegar. Pomegranate vinegar can also be used for even more flavor.
- Olive oil: Olive oil serves as the emulsifier in this recipe and is essential to balance out all the tartness in the pomegranate and balsamic vinegar, If you find the dressing to be too zingy, add some extra olive oil to balance it out. Avocado oil can also work here but the flavor won't be quite as rich and balanced.
- Dijon mustard: Dijon mustard is one of the secrets to making a delicious homemade salad dressing. You could swap in whole grain mustard or another grainy mustard, but I wouldn't recommend using yellow mustard.
- Honey: A little sweetness helps to balance out the tartness in this dressing. Honey, maple syrup, brown sugar, agave, or stevia can all be used.
- Spices: Garlic powder and oregano round out the flavors in this dressing. You could swap in a freshly grated garlic clove or some minced garlic. Italian seasoning, rosemary, or basil could be used instead of oregano.
- Salt and pepper: Many people claim their homemade dressings lack flavor and usually it is due to a lack of salt and pepper. Make sure to season your dressing well.
Fun Ways to Use Pomegranate Vinaigrette
This dressing is one of my favorite things to use on a salad (lots of ideas below) but there are so many other ways to use this tasty dressing.
- Salads: This dressing pairs really well with greens, crunchy veggies, goat cheese, and some leftover grilled chicken or tofu. It is also so good with this Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad, Spinach Salad, Arugula Pomegranate Salad.
- Grilled Chicken: Looking for a new way to marinate chicken? This dressing makes the most incredible marinade for chicken, just leave out the pomegranate arils when marinating. Serve the chicken with the arils on top.
- Grain Bowls: Grain bowls work great for meal prep and lunch prep, but they can get boring without fun dressing and sauces. Pack some of this pomegranate dressing on the side and pour it over your lunchtime grain bowls.
How to Remove Arils From a Pomegranate
Many people don't buy pomegranates because it seems like so much work to remove the arils, or seeds of the pomegranate. Plus buying the arils already separated is very expensive. Here's how to quickly remove the pomegranate seeds without a huge mess.
Start by gently cutting the pomegranate in half. Don't cut through the center of the pomegranate, just score the outside and then break the pomegranate in half. Then gently squeeze the pomegranate halves over a bowl to loosen the seeds. Finally use a wooden spoon to hit the back of the pomegranate. The seeds will fall out.
For best results do this over a bowl filled with water. This will help minimize the mess and the white parts of the pomegranate will float to the top of the water for easy removal.
Recipe Ideas and Tips
This salad dressing is very easy to customize to make it suit your needs or preferences.
- Adjust the sweetness of this dressing by adding more honey or maple syrup. This dressing is tart so you may want to add some additional sweetness, especially if your salad contains lots of bitter ingredients.
- Add the olive oil slowly to make sure the salad dressing emulsifiers and becomes creamy. You can also shake everything together in a mason jar.
- If you prefer to make your own pomegranate juice, blend the arils in a high-speed blender and then strain the juice to remove any seeds or hard pieces.
- If you want the dressing to have a lighter hue, swap in white balsamic vinegar for the classic dark version.
- This dressing pairs great with fruit, so consider adding some citrus, apples, pears, or berries to whatever salad you are making. It is also great with feta cheese, goat cheese, and walnuts.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most common questions about this homemade pomegranate salad dressing.
How long can homemade dressing be stored in the fridge?
This dressing will last for up to 2 weeks in the fridge. Store the pomegranate arils separately so they don' break down in the dressing over time.
The olive oil may harden and separate in the fridge. Make sure to let it come to room temperature if this happens. Whisk or shake well before using so the dressing is creamy.
Are pomegranates good for you?
Pomegranates are one of the healthiest fruits out there and are packed with antioxidants, fiber, and Vitamin C. They are also shown to promote heart health, gut health, and can help with inflammation.
Does this taste like Wendy's pomegranate dressing?
The overall taste of this dressing is similar to Wendy's dressing for their Apple Pecan Salad but Wendy's dressing is significantly sweeter. For a similar flavor, you will want to use 3-4 tablespoons of honey, sugar, or maple syrup. Also to get a similar color, swap in white balsamic vinegar.
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- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup pomegranate juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp honey (or maple syrup for vegan, more to taste)
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
- Salt and pepper
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* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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