Best Sumac Substitutes

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Sumac is a dark crimson, peppery substance made from crushed sumac berries that is popular in Middle Eastern cookery. Even though it is widely accessible at specialist food shops, you may need a substitute at some time. That is why keeping a decent sumac replacement on hand is a smart idea.

Sumac has a taste similar to citrus fruits, but with a spicy edge that sticks out in every recipe. This versatile spice may be used in dry rubs, grilled meats and vegetables, salads, sauces, dips, and even desserts.

This post will lead you through the alternatives to sumac for a magnificent supper.

What Is Sumac?

Sumac is a tasty spice derived from the fruit of the same-named Middle Eastern tree. Sumac is also called as elm-leaved sumac, Sicilian sumac, sumach, and sumak depending on where you live.

It’s worth noting that sumac and cashew trees are members of the same biological family. As a result, those who are sensitive to cashews may also be allergic to sumac and should avoid it.

Sumac has a sweet and acidic taste, similar to lemon juice. It adds a fresh, zesty lemon taste to the dish as well as a lovely reddish-purple colour.

Its brilliant red hue, in particular, is in great demand as an eye-catching color accent. It is widely used to garnish Middle Eastern dishes such as falafel and hummus, and it is the key component in pink lemonade.

Sumac Substitute

Sumac substitutes should be carefully researched since there is no one best choice. Several alternatives are readily accessible in the grocery. Others could already be in your pantry. These are some of the top alternatives you may discover.

1. Lemon Pepper

In terms of taste, lemon pepper seasoning is the most comparable to sumac. It has a tangy and sour flavor with a touch of salt and pepper, making it an excellent replacement.

If you can’t get sumac, you can simply manufacture lemon pepper seasoning. In fact, its accessibility is what makes it such a good option. Its flavor is also not overpowering, so you won’t have to worry about it overpowering the taste of your dish.

Lemon pepper spice should be 1.5 times the quantity of sumac recommended for. While its taste isn’t as strong as sumac’s, more of this spice is advised.

2. Vinegar

Vinegar is another commonly available sumac substitute that may be used to replicate its sour taste. It is preferred above other spices for producing a more realistic sumac flavor in your meal. It will not, however, supply the same subtleties as sumac, which is responsible for the spice’s delicate strength.

This condiment is an excellent substitute, but it must be used gently at first. You don’t want to overload the food with vinegar taste since you won’t be able to alter it afterwards. If the vinegar you’ve added isn’t producing the taste you desire, try adding little amounts until you’re happy.

3. Za’atar

Although zaatar may not be recognizable to everyone, it is a prominent component in Middle Eastern cuisine. Nonetheless, if you’re fortunate enough to locate it, it works well.

Zaatar is made out of basic materials such as salt, sesame seeds, and dried herbs such as thyme, marjoram, oregano, and even sumac.

The sumac component has the strongest flavor in many combinations, making it an ideal culinary replacement. Just substitute one teaspoon of sumac with one teaspoon of zaatar.

4. Tamarind

Tamarind is related to the Middle Eastern spice mix zaatar. The tropical fruit’s sour taste is a mainstay in many Indian, Thai, and West Indian meals and beverages.

Tamarind fruit is somewhat sour and pleasantly sweet, but it lacks sumac’s lemony taste and harshness. As a result, it may not be the ideal solution in every situation.

This fruit may be substituted for sumac in any dish, but it should be introduced gradually until the desired taste is obtained.

5. Amchoor

Amchoor (sometimes written amchur) is a sweet Indian flavoring made from unripe mango flesh. If you can’t get sumac, use amchoor instead. It has a tangy and slightly sweet taste character. Its acidic flavor enhances the softer tastes of fish and white meat.

Since amchoor is also available in powder form, it may be used as a direct equivalent for powdered sumac. It’s also handy in meals when liquids like lemon juice wouldn’t suffice.

This replacement has a distinct flavor. But, since amchoor is a rare spice, you may have difficulty finding it. We also suggest gently adding it to your food and tasting it as you go to attain the right flavor.

6. Lemon Zest

Lemon zest’s acidic acidity makes it an ideal option. A meal containing lemon zest and juice has a stronger sour taste. Begin by using it slightly at first to observe how it combines with the other components.

Some recipes may urge you to replace sumac for the same quantity of juice or zest, but it is recommended to start slowly. Increase the quantity gradually until your dish has the desired taste.

When replacing, one and a half times as much lemon zest as sumac is a good ratio. In other words, if a recipe calls for one teaspoon of sumac, substitute one teaspoon lemon zest and a sprinkle of salt.


Sumac is an extra-delicious spice that many meals would be incomplete without. Yet, it is worth mentioning that there are several options accessible. Thus, if you’re looking for a sumac alternative, consider one of our suggestions.


What is the best substitute for sumac?

Sumac replacement

To recreate the acidic taste of sumac, use lemon zest, lemon pepper, lemon juice, or vinegar.

What can I use instead of sumac in Zaatar?

Since za’atar includes sumac, you’ll get the same zesty taste. Yet, there are also herbal, woodsy thyme and oregano notes, as well as nutty sesame. If you don’t need all of that extra taste, lemon or lime zest is an excellent replacement for sumac.

What is another name for sumac?

Rhus toxicodendron), poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum, also known as Rhus diversiloba), and poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix, also known as Rhus toxicodendron).

What does sumac taste like?

Sumac’s taste is similar to the sharpness of freshly squeezed lemon juice; it’s sour and sharp, but still has a touch of sweetness and lingering flowery undertones. “It’s a gentle taste with some fruitiness that you wouldn’t get from lemon juice,” adds Amina Al-Saigh, a culinary blogger. “I also like how pink it is.”

Is sumac the same as paprika?

Sumac is not as spicy as chili powder or hot paprika. It has a tangy, flowery flavour that is similar to lemon or lime but not as astringent.

Can I make my own sumac spice?

Sumac has a distinct acidity and is used similarly to lemon in the Middle East, where it is a popular spice. To prepare the sumac as a spice, I begin by extracting the stag’s solitary red berries (drupes). I put all of the berries in the blender and mix for a minute or two.

Does Mccormick zaatar have sumac in it?

Nothing truly captures the distinct taste of Middle Eastern food like za’atar, a herb and spice combination comprised of thyme, oregano, sumac, and sesame seeds that is often served as a condiment with pita bread and olive oil.

What are the variations of sumac?

Red sumac, crimson sumac, common sumac, and western sumac are some more frequent regional names. It has huge pinnate leaves that are glossy and dark green, with 11 to 31 leaflets grouped in a fern-like arrangement. In the fall, it becomes a very appealing hue of brilliant orange or red.

What is the difference between zaatar and sumac?

If you have sumac, you can create your own delicious za’atar. Za’atar is both the name of a kind of wild thyme that grows in the Mediterranean and the combination of sumac, sesame seeds, and salt.

Is sumac similar to turmeric?

Nonetheless, the sumac flavor is unique and separate from turmeric. Turmeric has a bitter, somewhat pungent taste that complements a wide range of cuisines. Sumac, on the other hand, has a tangier and lemony flavor, which is why lemon zest coupled with black pepper is sometimes used as a sumac spice alternative.

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