10 Best Sumac Substitutes

Posted on

Sumac Substitutes



Prep time

Cooking time

Total time


This article may contain affiliate links and if you make a purchase after clicking on a link, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

In Middle Eastern cuisine, Sumac is normally drizzled on rice, hummus, and Kofta Kabobs. It is also used in flavoring marinades and salad dressings. These days, it’s even utilized in desserts!

However, it’s not often simple to locate, except in Middle Eastern markets. And, unless you make Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food frequently, there are likelihoods that you can turn your cupboard inside out but still won’t discover this outstanding spice that gives life to so many recipes

But not to worry, you can always use other sumac substitutes, such as lemon juice, lemon pepper seasoning, za’atar, lemon zest, tamarind, vinegar, smoked paprika, ground coriander, Amchoor, and lemon balm.

Now, let’s learn more about these spices and how they can replace sumac in your dishes!

Best Sumac Substitutes

The best sumac alternatives should replicate the citrusy tartness that is so celebrated of sumac. And the following substitutes are the very best ones for the job.

1. Lemon Juice

Check around your kitchen and search for lemons. Of course, you wouldn’t run out of lemons in your house, except for special situations.

Raw lemon juice has the exact souring means with sumac that can refine your dish in its place. Just estimate the quantity of lemon juice that you’re going to put, appropriately else you stand the risk of altering the complete flavor of your dish.

The dominant flavor from sumac consists of a lemony freshness that arises from its increased malic acid quantity.

Malic acid is the acid that bestows green apples their freshness. So, if you don’t have any sumac, lemon juice should be your first point of call.

And if you want even additional acidity, squeezing the lemon in is a wonderful alternative option for a dash of sumac. You won’t get a similar look, but according to flavor, trust me, you’ll be very pleased.

2. Lemon Pepper Seasoning

You can improve natural lemon juice by utilizing this more potent form. Lemon pepper seasoning carries dried lemon zest and cracked black pepper flawlessly.

The corresponding sense you get from lemon zest and dried black pepper is suitable for a tremendous variation to sumac, particularly in duplicating its acidity.

Lemon pepper is already relatively powerful in itself. Nonetheless, if you do not have sumac, you can utilize around 1.5 servings additionally, more than what is needed in the recipe.

This spice mix is accessible everywhere, and if you run out of it, you can effortlessly integrate the two components yourself. The flavors complete each other flawlessly and make an outstanding alternate for sumac’s acidity.

Sumac was first used before lemons were taken to the Middle East by the Romans. But lemon has evolved into a very famous way of providing sourness in Middle Eastern dishes, so any food spiced up with this alternate will still have that authentic taste.

3. Lemon zest

Lemon zest is the bright outer area of its strip.

It is frequently utilized with or without lemon juice to bring in a tangy flavor to recipes.

Lemon zest itself also functions as a substitute or as Za’atar, which is a Middle Eastern spice mix that comprises Sumac, if you can locate it at your grocery mart.

A variety of lemon zest, salt, and black pepper makes an outstanding substitute for the pastry; it is a little bitter, dried red spice mostly employed in Middle Eastern cuisine.

4. Za’atar

A timely remedy that can handily be used in place of sumac is za’atar.

Made of numerous spices comprising dried herbs, sesame seeds, salt, and yes, sumac, this combination will work even as well as the actual thing. Za’atar spice blend consists of an assortment of herbs and spices, comprising thyme and sumac.

Za’atar will function well in many cases, like when used as a rub or stirred in olive oil to make a marinade. Still, it wouldn’t if sumac was a main element in the recipe.

To avoid difficulty and cooking oversights from occurring, be sure to choose the za’atar flavor blend that enables you to attain the recipe you desire to perform.

5. Tamarind

Being a tropical fruit, tamarind carries a scarcely sweet, salty, and sour taste. Mostly wielded in India and Thailand in cooking and drinking, tamarind loads a powerful tart flavor.

There are different kinds of tamarind that you can employ for your cooking, like whole dried pods, paste, frozen pulps. They are generally packaged in a tube as a slightly thick paste or as scorched pods.

In some other cases, you can also purchase frozen tamarind pods. To help duplicate the distinctive sumac flavor, put tiny portions into your dish until you have attained your desired effect.

Tamarind is powerful, as I have stated earlier, so a small amount goes a long way.

6. Vinegar

Vinegar is an adequate sumac substitute.

Sumac’s flavor is largely tart, and tartness is what vinegar delivers. Vinegar relatively has more tart than sumac, so you need to use it with care.

When replacing sumac with vinegar, you can begin by putting a tiny proportion and then increasing to taste.

Vinegar is an acceptable alternative in any dish due to its complicated zest and tanginess. Because it can come off as too strong on the palate, please ensure to add it in minor portions.

If you want tartness identical to that of sumac but made better with citrus, you can add lemon juice at the end of cooking.

For the most favorable result, use 1 tbsp of regular vinegar to replace 1 tbsp of sumac.

But for another sharp alternative, you can use the regular vinegar, which you are inclined to have at hand, in making one tablespoon; stir two 3/4 teaspoons of normal vinegar with 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice.

7. Smoked Paprika

This Spanish spice has a similar red color as ground sumac and can be used to replace it in recipes that need such.

But only those kinds of recipes can employ smoked paprika as an alternative for ground sumac, as it doesn’t contain its tangy flavor.

Yet, while its flavor profile is relatively different, it’s outstanding as a color infuser. That way, you’ll get an identical hue in your cooking as you’d expect from ground sumac.

Smoked paprika is also generally utilized as an adornment or in toppings or garnish. And a sprinkle of it can function in place of ground sumac on yogurts and other desserts.

Smoked paprika doesn’t have the equivalent lemony emphasis of sumac, BUT it will certainly offer you the lovely red color.

So, if your recipe demands a sprinkle of sumac over yogurt or any other food you’re cooking at the end, a sprinkle of smoked paprika can work in its stead.

8. Ground Coriander

Coriander is an herb that is mostly employed in enhancing international dishes. It is gotten from the Coriandrum sativum plant and is recognized with parsley, carrots, and celery.

However, in the US, Coriandrum sativum seeds are named “coriander,” and its leaves are named cilantro. Fresh Coriander is an aromatic, antioxidant-rich herb.

To speak to you as a friend would, ground coriander is the first option I’ll ask you to take as a substituting spice for sumac because it has an identical lemony flavor.

Coriander is extra earthy and much less lively, but it will bring in a pleasant freshness in a way identical to sumac.

Ground coriander is a fascinating alternative in making foods where the ground sumac will be simmered.

Note, though, that ground coriander isn’t as robust as ground sumac, so you’ll require more of it. But then, begin with similar amounts, then regulate with extra teaspoons till the intended outcome is achieved.

9. Amchoor/Amchur

Amchoor is another great alternative if you want to utilize sumac because of its citrus flavor; it is the dried mango powder.

This powder is made of dried, pulverized, unripe mangoes.

Most recipes that demand amchur use flavors and techniques familiar to northern India and Pakistan, which is a famous spice.

But there is no specific reason to constrain ourselves to those kinds of recipes.

The flavor of amchur is relatively sour and slightly fruity, which makes it universal; it functions well with vegetables, meats, grains, beans, fish, fruit. It also does well in both delicious and sweet dishes.

You can use amchoor in any place where you’d utilize lemon juice, fruit-based vinegar, or sumac.

But then, sumac has characteristics that these others do not. There would be instances where you would want a souring agent but wouldn’t like to put in any liquid.

Sumac is a very rough-grained spice that is more suitable for finishing; sumac also has an intense purple color, prettier than amchur.

Amchur vanishes more handily into dishes than sumac, enabling you additional influence over the overall dish.

The flavor too, when considered, is also different. Sumac is slightly astringent, while amchur is mellower and fruitier.

Amchur also maintains a unique mango flavor because of how it was made and what it was made from, which brings something surprising to dishes where you wouldn’t anticipate a bang of tropical fruit.

Like most souring agents, though, its power reduces with an extended cooking time. Amchur is best introduced into the dish right when you finish cooking; it should not be left close to heat for more than a few minutes.

It’s excellent for stewing fish and chicken because of the precise grade of sourness that it can deliver.

10. Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm is a seasoning with a mint relish, making it an excellent option amongst other Sumac alternatives, like lemon zest. The leaves have a soft lemon scent.

During summer, small white bouquets packed with nectar appear.

Apart from being a Sumac alternative, it has tremendous benefits to the body, like assisting in disposing of stomach-related issues, cerebral pains, and spasms.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does sumac taste like?

It has a delightful tangy taste with an indication of citrus fruitiness and practically no aroma.

Is sumac a paprika?

No, it is not. Although paprika can function as a visible substitute for sumac when adorning dishes.

What is sumac called in English?

Sumec is called Rhus coriaria in English. It is also spelled as sumach.

Is sumac the same as turmeric?

No, sumac is different from turmeric. The sumac taste is very unique, quite very distinct from turmeric.

Is sumac the same as annatto?

Sumac is different from annatto. Like sumac, ground annatto is not generally utilized in most kitchens.


Ground sumac has a flavored form that is identical to lemon, but its fruitiness harmonizes the acidity.

And these outstanding characteristics can make replacing it a difficult task. Many substitutes for sumac only substitute for one or a few of its aspects, but it still shouldn’t deter you from preparing a wonderful dish for yourself and your family.

That’s why we’ve given you these excellent sumac substitutes; thanks for reading!


You might also like these recipes