Sumac Substitute: 5 Spice Substitutes for Simple Replacement

Sumac is a unique spice that might be difficult to replicate using substitutes. If you need a fast sumac substitution, there are still lots of possibilities.

Five of the best sumac spice substitutes are lemon zest, Zaatar, lemon pepper seasoning, tamarind, and vinegar.

Sumac has a flavor that is both sweet and acidic, akin to lemon juice. Its striking red tint is in high demand for that ideal splash of color. As a prominent Middle Eastern spice, it is usually used to garnish falafel or hummus, and it is also the source of pink lemonade.

There is no perfect substitute for sumac, although some options are preferable to others. This group of five all have the same sweet and sour flavor sumac is known for.

Some options are readily accessible at the grocery store or may already be in your home. Others may be more difficult to locate, but they give an authentic-tasting meal, particularly if you’re attempting to replicate a real Middle Eastern taste.

1. Lemon Pepper Seasoning

More sumac flavour ingredients are matched by lemon pepper seasoning than by any other spice. It’s acidic and sour, with hints of salt and pepper. Even if you can’t buy it at the market, the combination of crushed black pepper and dried lemon zest is simple to make at home. As a result, it’s always on hand and available as a sumac substitute, and it doesn’t have an overbearing taste like some other alternatives.

When calculating quantities, use one and a half times the amount of lemon pepper spice as sumac. Because the seasoning isn’t as powerful as sumac, a bigger quantity will aid with taste. A pinch of salt added to the seasoning might also help you recreate the sumac taste.

Lemon pepper spice may be used in any Middle Eastern cuisine since the tastes of the seasoning match those of the dish. Lemon pepper flavor is also a great addition to fish or poultry, particularly when grilled.

2. Za’atar

Zaatar is less common than the other choices on this list, but if you can locate it, it works well as a sumac substitution. It is a Middle Eastern spice combination made out of sumac, salt, sesame seeds, and dried herbs such as thyme, marjoram, and oregano. The sumac in the combination is frequently the strongest taste, making it an excellent substitute in dishes.

Any dish that calls for sumac may simply be replaced with Zaatar. It is one of the simplest alternatives since it may be used in the same proportions as sumac. If you think the taste is missing, just add a little extra.

The ideal areas to replace Zaatar for sumac are when sumac is called for. If you want to add sumac to a recipe that doesn’t call for it, you may use Zaatar instead, but the taste will be the same as if you threw in some sumac that wasn’t on the ingredient list.

3. Lemon Zest

Using lemon zest will provide the appropriate degree of acidic acidity for a sumac substitute. Lemons are widely available at grocery stores, and anybody with a cheese grater may manufacture their own zest.

It may also be combined with other spices to get the desired sumac taste. Because lemon zest has a citrus and lemony flavor, it does not have the same strange taste as sumac spice.

Lemon juice is another good replacement, and many people prefer it over zest since it is simpler to work with. Juicing a lemon takes minimal effort, and estimating the proper quantity is much easier with liquid.

Lemon zest and juice will provide an additional sour flavor to your meal, so use it lightly at first to get a feel of how it influences the other ingredients.

When replacing sumac, some recipes say to use the same quantity of juice or zest, but it’s best to err on the side of caution. It’s advisable to start with modest quantities of lemon and gradually increase the quantity until you have the ideal flavor.

Lemon zest or juice complements Middle Eastern cuisine, so any meal that calls for sumac should be good with a lemon zest or juice substitution. Similarly, lemons may be substituted for sumac in Indian cuisine.

Have extra lemon zest? Learn how to freeze lemon zest to keep it fresh.

4. Tamarind

Tamarind, a tropical fruit often used in Indian and Thai cuisine, may be difficult to get. However, its distinct combination of acidity, sweetness, and sourness makes it an excellent sumac spice substitute. It is available as dried pods or as a thick paste that may be readily used into your recipe.

You simply need a sprinkle of tamarind per teaspoon of sumac substituted. If you can’t taste the flavor, add a bit extra slowly. Because tamarind has a stronger taste than sumac, using the same amounts will overpower the meal.

A Middle Eastern or Indian dish would be your best bet for replacing sumac with tamarind. Tamarind can mimic many of the characteristics of sumac well enough to enhance other flavors in these cuisines.

Can’t seem to locate tamarind? Tamarind paste may be used in its place.

5. Vinegar

Vinegar, another readily accessible replacement, has the same acidic flavor as sumac. Though it lacks the intricacies that sumac provides, vinegar is a better option than other spices for getting your meal closer to its intended flavor.

It’s critical to start with modest quantities of vinegar instead of sumac. Vinegar has a considerably stronger flavor than sumac, so using too much will flavor your food more than required. If it doesn’t taste right, you can always add more vinegar, but you can’t take it out again.

Any dish that calls for sumac may be substituted with vinegar. You could also add a hint of other seasonings if youre going for a particular sumac influence that vinegar cant replicate.

Frequently Asked Questions

The following are some commonly asked questions about sumac and its substitutes.

Can I make my own sumac spice?

As long as you have the berries and a method to ground them up, you can make your own sumac spice. Grind the red sumac berries (the white ones are toxic) in a pestle and mortar or in a blender. Next, filter off the seeds so they don’t interfere with the overall flavor. Sumac spice is made from the residual red granules.

Is sumac the same as Za’atar?

Sumac and Zaatar are not the same thing since sumac is a single spice and Zaatar is a spice combination. Sumac, on the other hand, is a frequent element in Zaatar, accounting for a percentage of the spice mix.

Can I use paprika instead of sumac?

If you want a comparable flavor, paprika is not an acceptable substitute for sumac. Paprika does not have the same taste as sumac, despite their similar hue. Paprika is often added to dishes that call for sumac because it imparts the same wonderful red color.

If you want both the taste and the color but don’t have any sumac, you may substitute another spice for the flavor and a pinch of paprika for the color.

What kind of spice is sumac?

Sumac is a Middle Eastern spice made from the berries of a cashew-related species. It has a sharp but sweet taste and a vivid red color that resembles paprika. It is sometimes a spice or a component of a spice rub or mix. Sumac may also be used as a condiment.

What are the health benefits of sumac?

Sumac offers several health advantages, including lowering blood pressure in persons with hypertension. Sumac has been shown in studies to reduce blood sugar levels in persons with type 2 diabetes. It also has an abundance of antioxidants and is strong in vitamin C.


What spice can I use instead of sumac?

Because 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.

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.

What is the same as sumac?

What Can You Use in Place of Sumac Spice? Sumac is best replaced with lemon zest, lemon pepper spice, lemon juice, or vinegar because of its sour, acidic taste. Each of these replacements, however, has a more overpoweringly sour flavor than sumac and should therefore be used sparingly as a substitute for the spice.

What is a substitute for sumac in Zaatar?

Because za’atar includes sumac, you’ll get the same zesty taste. However, 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 the closest thing to sumac?

Za’atar, lemon zest, lemon pepper, vinegar, and tamarind are the top five sumac substitutes.

What spice does sumac taste like?

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 subtle tang with some fruitiness that you wouldn’t get from lemon juice,” adds Amina Al-Saigh, a culinary blogger.

Can you substitute paprika for sumac?

If you want a comparable flavor, paprika is not an acceptable substitute for sumac. Paprika does not have the same taste as sumac, despite their similar hue. Paprika is often added to dishes that call for sumac because it imparts the same wonderful red color.

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 region 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.

Is sumac the same as turmeric?

However, 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.

Is sumac spice spicy?

Is sumac hot? 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.

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