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Sumac is often poured over rice, hummus, and Kofta Kabobs in Middle Eastern cuisine. It’s also used in marinades and salad dressings. It’s even used in desserts these days!

Unfortunately, it is not always easy to find, notably in Middle Eastern marketplaces. Nevertheless, unless you prepare Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine on a regular basis, chances are you won’t be able to get this excellent spice that brings so many dishes to life.

But don’t worry, you can always use lemon juice, lemon pepper seasoning, zaatar, lemon zest, tamarind, vinegar, smoked paprika, powdered coriander, Amchoor, and lemon balm in place of sumac.

Let’s learn more about these spices and how they may be used in lieu of sumac in your recipes!

Best Sumac Substitutes

The finest sumac substitutes should be able to reproduce sumac’s lemony tartness. And the alternatives listed below are the finest for the task.

1. Lemon Juice

Look around your kitchen for any lemons. Unless in extreme cases, you would never run out of lemons in your home.

In its place, raw lemon juice has the same souring methods with sumac that may enhance your food. Just estimate the amount of lemon juice you’re going to use; otherwise, you risk changing the whole taste of your meal.

Sumac’s characteristic taste is a lemony freshness that results from its high malic acid content.

Green apples retain their freshness due to malic acid. If you don’t have any sumac, lemon juice should be your first choice.

If you want even more acidity, squeezing the lemon in is a great substitute for a dash of sumac. You won’t get the same appearance, but believe me when I say you’ll be quite happy with the taste.

2. Lemon Pepper Seasoning

By using this more strong variant, you may boost natural lemon juice. Lemon pepper flavor perfectly blends dried lemon zest with crushed black pepper.

The comparable sensation from lemon zest and dried black pepper is appropriate for a significant change to sumac, especially in mimicking its acidity.

Lemon pepper is already rather potent on its own. If you don’t have sumac, you may use around 1.5 serves more, which is more than the recipe calls for.

This spice blend is widely available, and if you run out, you can easily combine the two components yourself. The tastes complement each other well and provide an excellent substitute for sumac’s acidity.

Sumac was utilized before the Romans brought lemons to the Middle East. Nonetheless, lemon has grown into a well-known technique of supplying sourness in Middle Eastern cuisines, thus any item spiced up with this alternative will retain the genuine flavor.

3. Lemon zest

The bright outside part of its strip is lemon zest.

It is widely used in dishes, either with or without lemon juice, to provide a tart taste.

Lemon zest may be be used as a substitution, as can Zaatar, a Middle Eastern spice blend that includes Sumac, if you can get it at your local grocery store.

A mixture of lemon zest, salt, and black pepper provides an excellent substitution for the pastry; it is a somewhat bitter, dried red spice often used in Middle Eastern cooking.

4. Za’atar

Zaatar is a useful cure that may be used in lieu of sumac.

This blend of spices, including dried herbs, sesame seeds, salt, and, yes, sumac, works just as well as the real thing. Zaatar spice mix is made up of a variety of herbs and spices, including thyme and sumac.

Zaatar works well in a variety of applications, such as as a rub or when combined with olive oil to produce a marinade. It wouldn’t, though, if sumac was a key ingredient in the dish.

To minimize trouble and cooking mistakes, choose the zaatar flavor mix that allows you to complete the dish you want to do.

5. Tamarind

Tamarind, being a tropical fruit, has a bittersweet, salty, and sour flavor. Tamarind is a robust sour taste that is often used in cooking and drinking in India and Thailand.

You may use tamarind in a variety of ways in your recipes, including whole dried pods, paste, and frozen pulps. They’re usually sold in tubes as a fairly thick paste or as charred pods.

In rare circumstances, frozen tamarind pods are also available. To help replicate the unique sumac taste, use little amounts in your meal until you get the desired impact.

As previously indicated, tamarind is quite potent, thus a tiny quantity goes a long way.

6. Vinegar

Vinegar works well as a sumac alternative.

Sumac’s taste is mostly tart, and vinegar provides tartness. Vinegar has a higher tartness than sumac, so use it with caution.

When substituting sumac with vinegar, start with a little amount and gradually increase to taste.

Vinegar, with its complex flavor and tanginess, is an appropriate substitute in any recipe. Since it has the potential to be excessively powerful on the palate, use it sparingly.

If you want a tartness similar to sumac but enhanced with citrus, add lemon juice towards the end of cooking.

Use 1 tbsp normal vinegar instead of 1 tbsp sumac for the best results.

4 teaspoon lemon juice. 4 tablespoons regular vinegar with 1 Nevertheless, for another sharp option, you may make one tablespoon of ordinary vinegar, which you are likely to have on hand, by stirring two 3

7. Smoked Paprika

This Spanish spice has a similar red hue to ground sumac and may be used in recipes that call for it.

Nevertheless, since smoked paprika lacks the sour taste of ground sumac, it can only be used in certain types of dishes.

Nevertheless, despite its distinct taste character, it excels as a color infuser. That way, you’ll get the same color in your cuisine as you would with ground sumac.

Smoked paprika is also often used as a garnish, topping, or garnish. It may also be used in lieu of ground sumac on yogurts and other sweets.

Smoked paprika may not have the same lemony accent as sumac, but it does have the same gorgeous red color.

Thus, if your recipe calls for a sprinkle of sumac over yogurt or any other item you’re preparing at the end, smoked paprika may stand in for it.

8. Ground Coriander

Coriander is a plant that is often used to flavor foreign meals. It is derived from the plant Coriandrum sativum and is related to parsley, carrots, and celery.

Coriandrum sativum seeds are known as coriander in the United States, while its leaves are known as cilantro. Coriander is a fragrant, antioxidant-rich plant.

To talk to you as a friend would, ground coriander is the first spice I’d recommend as a substitute for sumac since it has a similar lemony taste.

Coriander is more earthy and less vibrant than sumac, but it provides a delightful freshness in the same manner.

Ground coriander is an intriguing substitute for ground sumac in dishes that will be cooked.

Nevertheless, since ground coriander isn’t as sturdy as ground sumac, you’ll need more of it. Nevertheless, start with equal quantities and adjust with additional teaspoons until the desired result is attained.

9. Amchoor/Amchur

Amchoor, or dried mango powder, is another excellent substitute for sumac due of its citrus taste.

This powder is formed from unripe, dry mangoes that have been mashed.

Most recipes that call for amchur employ tastes and methods that are common in northern India and Pakistan, where amchur is a well-known spice.

Yet there’s no need to limit ourselves to those types of dishes.

Amchur’s taste is somewhat sour and slightly fruity, making it versatile; it goes well with vegetables, meats, grains, beans, fish, and fruit. It also works nicely in both savory and sweet meals.

Amchoor may be used everywhere you’d use lemon juice, fruit-based vinegar, or sumac.

Yet, sumac possesses properties that the others do not. There may be times when you need a souring agent but do not want to use any liquid.

Sumac is a coarse-grained spice that is more suited for finishing; sumac also has a deeper purple hue than amchur.

Amchur dissolves more easily into dishes than sumac, giving you greater control over the whole meal.

When taste is taken into account, it is also distinct. Sumac is somewhat astringent, but amchur is fruitier and mellower.

Amchur also has a distinct mango taste due to how it was manufactured and what it was made from, which adds something unexpected to meals where you wouldn’t expect a bang of tropical fruit.

Nevertheless, like other souring agents, its potency decreases with cooking time. Amchur is best added to the meal shortly after it’s finished cooking; it shouldn’t be allowed near the flame for more than a few minutes.

Because of the exact level of sourness it can provide, it is ideal for stewing fish and fowl.

10. Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm is a condiment with a mint taste, making it a good alternative to Sumac, such as lemon zest. The leaves have a light lemon aroma.

Little white blooms filled with nectar develop throughout the summer.

Aside from being a Sumac substitute, it has other health advantages, including aiding in the treatment of gastrointestinal problems, brain aches, and spasms.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does sumac taste like?

It has a lovely tangy flavor with hints of citrus fruitiness and almost little fragrance.

Is sumac a paprika?

No, it doesn’t. When it comes to garnishing foods, paprika may serve as a noticeable alternative for sumac.

What is sumac called in English?

In English, Sumec is known as Rhus coriaria. Sumach is another spelling.

Is sumac the same as turmeric?

No, sumac is not the same as turmeric. Sumac has a distinct flavor that is separate from turmeric.

Is sumac the same as annatto?

Sumac is not the same as annatto. Ground annatto, like sumac, is not often used in most kitchens.


Ground sumac has a taste similar to lemon, but its fruitiness balances out the acidity.

And because of these great traits, replacing it might be tough. Many sumac alternatives just substitute for one or a few of its characteristics, but that shouldn’t stop you from making a delicious meal for yourself and your family.

That is why we have provided you with these fantastic sumac replacements; thank you for reading!


What can I replace sumac with?

To recreate the acidic taste of sumac, use lemon zest, lemon pepper, lemon juice, or vinegar. Nevertheless, since these replacements are more potent than sumac, you should use less of them than the recipe asks for.

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.

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.

Can you substitute tamarind for sumac?

Tamarind or Vinegar in a pinch When it comes to sour fruits, tamarind is an excellent alternative to sumac due to its acidity and sweetness. Tamarind is used extensively in Thai cuisine, particularly in drinks. Tamarinds are available in dried pods and paste form on the market.

What is the closest spice to sumac?

Since it has a similar lemony flavor to sumac, ground coriander would be my first pick as a replacement spice. Coriander is more earthy and less brilliant than sumac, but it adds a pleasant freshness in the same manner. It’s especially nice in meals where the sumac will be cooked.

What is the flavor of sumac?

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.”

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.

Does sumac taste like 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.

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.

What is sumac a blend of?

It’s formed from the berry fruit of the Rhus Coriaria plant, which was originally cultivated in the Mediterranean basin before spreading to Europe. The berries are dried before being pulverized and sifted to remove the bitter interior seed. The coarse crimson powder is then packaged as a spice for cooking.

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