sumac substitute and alternatives to use in kitchen

many people loves to have sumac in their recipes across the world, mainly in middle east region, africa and north America region because it gives a distinct taste to the dish but some time you cant get it when required that’s when you need to make use of sumac substitutes shared below to get a similar taste just like sumac in your recipe.

Sumac is used to give kick to your recipe due to its zesty nature. we have shared ideal sumac alternatives to use in place of sumac below incase you don’t like to add sumac to your dishes or is not available in your region.

What is sumac

sumac originates from middle east region and come with little bit lemon like and tangy taste. it sour in nature and is extracted from berries which are crushed to get sumac powder after being dried for few days in sun or in spice dehydrator in factories. it has almost no specific aroma.

it seems to be one of the well known and effective anti inflammatory spice and comes packed with lot of anti oxidants which helps to reduce unwanted free radicals in your body responsible for cancer and similar unwanted diseases. some people has also reported its benefits for controlling issues like type 2 diabetes when consumed in small quantities.

it is red in color and can be found on supermarket shelfs and online sites from where you can buy and try it for yourself, but if you don’t get it then use sumac substitutes shared below.

sumac comes with antioxidants which helps to reduce your cholesterol levels. it helps with heart issues and also makes skin smooth in long term.

sumac substitute and alternatives

Uses of sumac

  • Sumac can be used in lot of dishes across the world but mainly in middle east area. some of the popular ones includes soups, falafel, manakeesh, fattoush etc.
  • you can add it to salads or other dishes which are dry in nature but requires little bit lemon zest. some people also add sumac powder to popcorns to give it tangy flavor instead of your normal cheese or bbq flavor, add little bit and get lemon like flavor in your popcorn, it would be different but you will like it which makes it worth a try.
  • if you are making some savory dish then sumac powder would definitely compliment the flavor of the dish which makes it work for many dishes from Israel and similar regions and many other parts of world.
  • if you don’t have lemon juice in your fridge but would like to add it in your grilled fish platter or veggies hummus bowl or any other barbequed dishes then sumac can take the responsibility to make the dish great tasting even in absence of traditional lemon juice always.
  • people across the world also like to make sumac tea as its nutritional with ample amount of vitamin c and other essential vitamins and gives lemon tea like flavor. to get fruity flavor in your hot or cold sumac tea you can add some crushed or soaked berries also, it would be delicious in the drink too.
  • this red color spice can make any pale and bland looking and tasting dish flavorful instantly with less quantity to get yourself  praise of everyone with its lemon like tinge. weather its salad, bbq, baked, roasted or curry item you wont get disappointed when thinking to sumacify the recipe with this vibrant red spice.

Best sumac substitutes for making tasty recipes


if you are looking for sumac alternative in liquid form then vinegar can work as it is sour and comes with tartness in nature just like sumac and has extra power to it, so add it in little quantities till you get the desired taste level and you will be fine.

you can also checkout balsamic vinegar substitutes to use when its not in house and market.

lemon juice

lemon juice is yet another liquid sumac alternatives which gives tangy and zesty flavor to dishes when sumac is not available with you. add it to your dishes and get the citrus flavor of the lemon in dish to make it taste good. you can also add small lemon slices for garnish and better presentation on grilled dishes made with bbq grills.


tamarind also gives tart flavor which makes it a worth it substitute for sumac. it comes in form of paste or cubes, you can add as per your taste level as it is very tarty in flavor and extra can make the dish really zesty. it is easily available in market and many dishes from region across Thailand and India use it in the preparation.


its water is also added to non veg curry dishes to reduce the thickness and add the punchy tangy flavor to the dishes. lot of sauces are made using it like Worcestershire sauce, sweet tamarind sauce with jaggery etc. some people prefer to add little bit of coconut milk in the recipe when using tamarind to reduce its tanginess. tamarind jams, juices concentrates and pickles are quite popular in some parts of the world.

fish curries, rice platter often uses tamarind to add tinge of tanginess in them. it can be used in anything you like to make sour or tangy. my advice would be to add it gradually to make the recipe taste as per your liking without overdoing it.

as far as benefits of tamarind for our health are concerned then it contains lot of calcium and magnesium in it which makes it great for healing bone fractures and any other bone related issues in different body parts.

lemon zest

lemon zest also works as sumac alternative if you don’t have anything to add in the dish which can give tangy and zesty flavor like sumac. you can add salt and pepper with the zest to get more authentic flavor and close resemblance to sumac.

it is perfect to use in salads and dry rubs as it is dry in nature can be easily found in every kitchen which makes it a quick fix to make tasty dishes of sought when sumac is running low in kitchen and nearby market.

lemon zest

mango powder

it is made from green and raw mango. the mangoes are dried and converted to powder to get the mango powder. it has high tangy and sour flavor to it which makes it an alternative to sumac but it is advised to use it in less quantity as high sourness can make recipe bad. it come in small packaging and you can get in grocery store’s spices section.

dry mango powder


it is a mixture of some of the different spices to give the dish good flavor similar to sumac. if you are looking for some authentic middle east flavor then zaatar is the mixture you want to add to the dish, not to forget it also contains sumac in it which makes perfect alternative if you cant get pure sumac from market.

Zaatar image

Tips for using sumac and its substitute’s

  • sumac and its alternatives are sour and tangy in flavor so high quantity can change the dish taste completely by over powering other ingredients and herbs so it is advised to use sumac and its substitutes in small quantities to get the right amount of sourness in the dish for everyone to enjoy happily.
  • to increase the shelf life of sumac and its alternatives make sure to use air tight containers for its storage in cool and moisture free place.
  • if your recipe is liquid in nature like marinades, soups, dips, dressings, sauces etc. then use lemon or vinegar as sumac alternatives but if you are working with dry recipes like tangy rice made in cooker, spice mix, dry rubs etc. then use dry sumac substitutes shared above for best taste and experience with sumac alternatives.

Checkout: rosemary substitutes and replacements

How to store the sumac safely?

To store sumac safely you need to keep the sumac spice powder in the air tight glass container or plastic jar or air tight zip lock bag and make sure its closed fully without any passageway for air to seep in and then keep in cool dry place like cabinet in the pantry or fridge then it will be safe for very long time and keep making your dishes tasty with lemon like tinge each and every time.

where can i get sumac?

sumac is very easy to find in all kinds of supermarkets or local spice markets, generally it comes in 2 forms i.e. grounded which is directly added in the recipe in quantities like 1/4 spoon, 1/2 spoon etc. as per the requirement or you can buy whole sumac berries in fresh or dried form in 100 grams, 250 grams, 500 grams quantities also and add in your dish if you recipe demands an intense flavor and sumac berries texture in it, then cut in 2 parts and then add in the dishes like curries etc. while cooking.

What are benefits of sumac for our body?

Eating sumac spice in grounded form or berries in your local dishes can have a positive effect on your heart health as it improves the overall cardiovascular system working besides reducing the blood sugar levels to some extent. it also helps in reducing the unwanted body fat by improving the body metabolism which make your body working effective and efficient with healthy inside and fit outside.


Hope you like our collection of some of the common and easy to find substitutes of sumac to make your recipe taste good even in absence of sumac.

these sumac alternatives not only will help you get the sumac like flavor but are also easy to find unlike sumac which is not available in some place around the world.

Try these sumac substitutes and let us know which one works best with which dish as per your liking. if you have any other alternative you use then let us know in comments below.

share this post with your friends to give their recipes some tangy sumac like flavor with these sumac substitute and make your friendship bond stronger over the lunch while eating tasty dishes with them.

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