Substitute for Sumac

Substitute for Sumac
Substitute for Sumac

Sumac powder is obtained from sumac bushes which are ground to produce a dark red powder which is used as a spice. Sumac has a sour lemony taste like vinegar. The powder is used in high-end restaurants in most times; it is very popular in the Middle East.

This spice is not only beneficial for dishes in providing a range of tastes and flavors but also, it is said to have health benefits. It is said to have antioxidant properties that help in eliminating cholesterol from the blood. Also, it can be taken to ease cardiovascular complications. Sumac alternatives are listed below:

1. Lemon zest and salt

You can get lemon zest easily art home. This can be transformed to become your best bet for sumac replacement by adding some salt to it. Usually, this turns out like a dry rub which yopu7 muse as an alternative for sumac. Do not be worried because it doesn’t have the characteristic dark red color. The flavor it has is similar to that of sumac.

2. Za’atar

This is a seasoning in the Middle East that is made by mixing multiple flavors. Basically, sumac is one of the flavors in the mixture. This makes it an excellent alternative if there is none at the moment. These different flavors are meticulously put together to give a nice, and authentic the Middle East and Mediterranean flavor of their dishes.

3. Lemmon pepper seasoning

This is easily found by your local retailer. It has the same taste and flavor as sumac. Most cooks use it to dust dishes. Before applying, you might consider adding a little salt to it. This makes it a dry rub like lemon zest and salt.

4. Tamarind

Tamarind is an original spice that originated from India and Thailand. You can get it from a vendor in paste form or pods. While using, ensure you get the taste right. This can be done by applying small amounts while tasting until you achieve the required flavor.

5. Vinegar

Vinegar tastes like sumac. In fact, it has the same tartness and the same sour taste. Just like tamarind, apply a few drops while tasting to achieve the rich flavor and flavor you need.

6. Lemon juice

To achieve a zesty taste for your dishes without sumac, you can use lemon instead. In your list of liquid substitutes for sumac, lemon comes second after vinegar. It has citric acid. This makes its juice to taste sour. The taste can be furthered by adding some salt to achieve the zesty flavor for your salads.

7. Amchoor

This is a mango powder with a sour taste. It is made from unripe green mangoes which are dried and ground to get the powder which has the sour and tangy flavor.

Summary Table

Substitute Flavor Profile Texture Best Used In Source
Lemon Zest and Salt Citrusy, salty Granulated Seasoning, marinades Kitchen
Za’atar Herbaceous, tangy Powder Middle Eastern dishes Grocery stores
Lemon Pepper Seasoning Citrusy, peppery Granulated Seasoning, marinades Grocery stores
Tamarind Tangy, slightly sweet Paste, pulp Sauces, curries Grocery stores
Vinegar Acidic, tangy Liquid Dressings, marinades Grocery stores
Lemon Juice Citrusy, tangy Liquid Cooking, dressings Kitchen
Amchoor Tangy, fruity Powder Indian dishes Grocery stores


What can I use if I don’t have sumac?

If you don’t have sumac, you can use a combination of lemon zest and salt as a substitute. This will provide a tangy and slightly citrusy flavor similar to sumac.

What spice is closest to sumac?

Lemon pepper or lemon zest mixed with salt can be the closest spice to replicate the tangy flavor of sumac.

What is a substitute for sumac in Zaatar?

If you don’t have sumac for making Zaatar spice blend, you can use more thyme, sesame seeds, and a touch of lemon zest as a substitute. Sumac adds a unique tanginess, but the other ingredients can still provide a delicious flavor.

Is sumac the same as turmeric?

No, sumac and turmeric are not the same. Sumac is a reddish-purple spice with a tangy flavor, while turmeric is a bright yellow spice with an earthy, slightly bitter taste. They have different flavors, colors, and uses in cooking.

The bottom line

Sumac has its signature color. However, the taste and flavor can be achieved using different components. The most common include vinegar, za’atar, tamarind, lemon and salt, lemon juice, etc. Some of these components can easily be found in a retail shop near you.

Ji Eun Kim

Written by Ji Eun Kim

Don't listen to anyone who says you can't be vegan and do well in sports and fitness. Vegans can do great, look good, and feel awesome!

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