Sumac Spice Substitute: Cooking Alternatives

  • By: Ann Williams
  • Time to read: 4 min.

Sumac Spice Substitute

If you’re in need of a sumac spice substitute to add that tangy, citrusy flavor to your dishes, don’t worry – there are several excellent alternatives available.

Whether you’re exploring new recipes or your pantry is running low, we’ve have some fantastic options to replace sumac spice.

What Is A Substitute For Sumac Spice?

  1. Lemon Zest: Freshly grated lemon zest is the closest substitute for sumac spice. Its zesty and tangy notes can replicate the citrusy flavor of sumac.
  2. Tamarind Paste: Tamarind paste brings a delightful tang and mild sweetness to your dishes, making it an ideal alternative for sumac spice.
  3. Sour Mango Powder (Amchur): Commonly used in Indian cuisine, sour mango powder offers a sour and slightly fruity taste, similar to sumac spice.
  4. Pomegranate Molasses: Pomegranate molasses adds a sweet and tart flavor, akin to sumac spice, perfect for marinades and dressings.
  5. Citrus Vinegar: Citrus-infused vinegar, like lemon or lime vinegar, can be a convenient substitute for sumac spice.
  6. Dried Lime Powder: Dried lime powder provides a tangy punch and can be used as an alternative to sumac in various Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes.


Substitution for Sumac Spice

What is sumac?

Sumac is a spice derived from the dried and ground berries of the sumac plant (genus Rhus).

It is widely used in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines and has a tangy, lemony flavor that adds depth and brightness to various dishes.


What spice is similar to sumac?

A spice that is like sumac is lemon pepper. Lemon pepper is a blend of black pepper and dried lemon zest, which also provides a tangy citrusy flavor.

For a list of spices, click on – Herb and Spices


Can I make my own sumac spice?

Yes, you can make your own sumac spice by harvesting the sumac berries, drying them thoroughly, and then grinding them into a fine powder. However, it’s important to be cautious about identifying the correct sumac plant, as some species can be toxic.


Does sumac taste like paprika?

No, sumac does not taste like paprika.

Paprika is made from dried and ground sweet or hot chili peppers and has a distinctly different flavor profile, being mildly sweet and sometimes smoky.


What is sumac in English spice?

In English, sumac is referred to as “sumac spice.”


Is sumac and turmeric the same?

No, sumac and turmeric are not the same. Turmeric is a bright yellow spice with an earthy, slightly bitter taste, commonly used in Indian and Southeast Asian cuisines.


What is a substitute for sumac and coriander?

Substitutes for sumac and coriander can be lemon pepper, lemon zest, or a combination of lemon juice and lemon zest.


Is sumac spice expensive?

The cost of sumac spice can vary depending on the brand, location, and quality, but it is generally not considered an expensive spice.


What flavor is sumac?

The flavor of sumac is tangy, tart, and lemony, often described as slightly fruity with a hint of astringency.


Does sumac taste like tamarind?

No, sumac does not taste like tamarind. Tamarind has a distinct sweet and sour flavor, commonly used in Asian and Latin American cuisines.


Does sumac taste like salt?

Sumac itself is not salty, but its tangy flavor can give the impression of saltiness when used in dishes.


What is the Indian name for sumac?

In India, sumac is known as “Indian sumac” or “kala amchur.” It is not as commonly used in Indian cuisine as it is in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines.


Is sumac a healthy spice?

Sumac spices

Sumac is generally considered a healthy spice. It is rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, and other beneficial compounds.


Is Zaatar a substitute for sumac?

Za’atar is not a direct substitute for sumac, but it often contains sumac as one of its key ingredients. Za’atar is a blend of dried herbs (such as thyme, oregano, and marjoram), sumac, sesame seeds, and sometimes salt.


Is sumac spice anti-inflammatory?

Sumac spice has been associated with potential anti-inflammatory properties due to its high antioxidant content, but it’s important to remember that spices alone cannot treat medical conditions, and a balanced diet is essential for overall health.


How much vinegar do I substitute for sumac?

If a recipe calls for sumac, you can substitute it with a mixture of vinegar and lemon zest. The exact amount of vinegar would depend on the recipe and your personal taste preferences.


What is the purple spice on hummus?

The purple spice on hummus is likely sumac. Sumac is often sprinkled on top of hummus and other Middle Eastern dishes for added flavor and a vibrant, colorful garnish.



Next time you find yourself without sumac spice, reach for these fantastic alternatives: lemon zest, tamarind paste, sour mango powder (amchur), pomegranate molasses, citrus vinegar, and dried lime powder.

These options will help you maintain the tangy and citrusy flavor in your culinary creations, ensuring your dishes continue to delight with or without sumac spice.



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