10 Best Substitutes for Sumac You Can Find Easily

Recently, I was planning to host a party. I invited many of my best friends and family, so I was looking for a way to bring something interesting to the table.

When my neighbor told me about sumac and its unique flavor, it quickly caught my interest. But still, I didn’t want to spend the money on buying a whole bottle if I wasn’t sure I would like it.

That’s when I started to look for substitutes for sumac. The problem was that I couldn’t find a comprehensive guide that listed all the substitutes and their flavors. So, I decided to write one myself!

If you’re looking for substitutes for sumac, you’ve come to the right place. I’m going to show you different substitutes that you can use in your recipes and give you tips on how to use them.

Substitutes for Sumac:

  1. Lemon Balm
  2. Lemon zest
  3. Za’atar
  4. Lemon Juice
  5. Tamarind
  6. Lemon Pepper Seasoning
  7. Smoked paprika
  8. Ground Coriander
  9. Amchoor/Amchur
  10. Vinegar

Lemon Balm

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a perennial herb in the mint family. Native to Europe and Asia, it has naturalized in many parts of the world. The leaves have a mild lemon scent and are used to flavor teas, cocktails, and dishes. They are in fact, a versatile ingredient in both sweet and savory dishes.

The substitute is also prized for its health benefits. The leaves can be used to relieve headaches and cerebral pains, and the essential oil has powerful antiseptic and antibacterial properties.

Sumac has a lemony flavor with a hint of bitterness and is often used to add tartness to dishes. However, you can use lemon balm in the same way, and it imparts a similar flavor without bitterness.

This is also a good choice for those who are looking for an alternative that has fewer calories. Lemon balm is a versatile herb that can be used in many different ways. So whether you’re looking for a new flavor for your favorite dish or you’re searching for a herb with health benefits, lemon balm is worth considering.

Lemon zest

When life gives you lemons, don’t just make lemonade- use the zest as a replacement for sumac!

Lemon zest is the outer area of the peel that is grated or cut from the fruit, with or without the inner white pith. It is added to food to enhance the flavor and aroma. I love it because of its tangy, citrusy flavor that can brighten up any dish.

While it can be used as a substitute for sumac in many recipes, it is especially well-suited for dressings, marinades, and sauces. In addition, lemon zest is a versatile ingredient that can add a touch of brightness to any dish. So next time you’re looking for a sumac substitute, reach for the lemon zest!


This Middle Eastern spice blend typically contains numerous spices and dried herbs, including sesame seeds, thyme, salt, and so on. It is often used as a seasoning for meats or vegetables or mixed with oil to create a flavorful dip or marinade.

Sumac is similar to Za’atar in that it is often used to flavor meats or vegetables. However, it has a slightly sour flavor that Za’atar does not possess.

Nevertheless, it can be used as a 1:1 replacement for sumac in most recipes. The benefits of using Za’atar as a substitute for sumac include that it is more widely available and has a milder flavor that may be more appealing to some people.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is a liquid extracted from the lemon fruit that you may certainly use as an alternative to sumac. It’s also used in baking, cleaning, and polishing. Moreover, Lemon juice is high in citric acid, vitamin C, and flavonoids making it one of my favorite alternatives because it has a tart flavor that mimics sumac.

When substituting lemon juice for sumac, use it in the same proportions as you would sumac. But be careful not to overdo it, or the lemon juice may change the color or flavor of your dish.


This is a tropical fruit that is used in many Asian cuisines. It has a dark brown color and a sour, sweet taste. Tamarind is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

When it comes to sumac alternatives, tamarind due to its strong sour taste and the fact that it is readily available in a variety of forms such as whole dried pods, paste, frozen pulps, and tamarind, is an easy selection.

They are typically sold in a tube as a somewhat thick paste or as burned pods. But, did you also know that you can buy frozen tamarind pods? That’s amazing, in my opinion.

Tamarind is a versatile fruit that can be used in many different dishes. It is especially well-suited for curries, sauces, and marinades. So if you’re looking for a sumac substitute, give tamarind a try!

Lemon Pepper Seasoning

Here is a blend of dried lemon zest, ground black pepper, and salt, that you can use to add flavor to your food. Lemon pepper is a stronger variation on sumac’s flavor, and it has a similar acidity.

I promise you, the taste you’ll get from the combination of lemon zest and dry black pepper is ideal for substituting sumac, particularly in replicating its acidity. This is why lemon pepper seasoning is such a potent substitute on its own.

Regardless of this potency, where you are using a 1:1 substitution, you may add another one and a half servings beyond what is called for in the recipe.

Lemon pepper seasoning is a great sumac substitute because it has a similar tart and sour flavor. Also, it is easy to find and can be used in many different dishes.

Smoked Paprika

This is a type of paprika that is made from dried and smoked peppers. It has a deep red color and a smoky, sweet flavor. And it is rich in vitamins A and C, as well as iron.

I’m telling you, smoke paprika is an excellent sumac substitute, and the major reason for this conclusion is its unique color along with its smoky flavor. This is apart from the fact that it is easy to find and can be used in many different dishes.

You can use smoked paprika in toppings, or as a garnish on yogurts and desserts.

Ground Coriander

Ground coriander is a spice made from the cilantro plant’s seeds. Ground coriander is an excellent substitute for sumac with a lemony flavor that is used as an alternative in many cuisines worldwide. It is also rich in vitamins, iron, and calcium, making it an aromatic, antioxidant-rich herb.

The ground coriander seed has a citrusy flavor, making it a good sumac substitute. It also has a similar fresh scent like that of sumac.

This is the reason it works well as a substitute, particularly when preparing meals in which the sumac will be simmered.

Ground coriander is a little more delicate than ground sumac, so you’ll need to use more of it. But then, start with equal amounts, then adjust with additional amounts until you reach the desired result.

Amchoor Powder

Amchoor Powder is made from dried and unripe green mangoes. It has a tart, citrusy flavor and is used as a souring agent in many Indian dishes.

The health benefits that this substitute provides are numerous; t is rich in vitamins C and A, as well as potassium.

Amchoor adds a distinctive mango flavor to meals because it is made from mangoes, delivering something unexpected to dishes where you wouldn’t expect a burst of tropical fruit.

However, keep in mind that the spice’s strength decreases with time. As a result, it’s best to add it only just before the dish is ready.

The powder is very fruity, so you’ll need to use less of it than sumac. I would start with half the amount of sumac called for in the recipe and then adjust from there.


Vinegar is a sour liquid that is made by fermentation. It has a tart, acidic flavor and is used in many different dishes.

There are many different types of vinegar, such as apple cider, balsamic, white, etc. So, you can use any of these options as a sumac substitute, but I would recommend using apple cider vinegar or white vinegar.

Sumac has a distinctive tart flavor that vinegar also has. In fact, this is its core strength as a sumac substitute. Vinegar is considerably more tart than sumac, so you must exercise caution when making use of it.


What is the best sumac substitute?

The substitutes that come closest in terms of flavor are lemon pepper seasoning, smoked paprika, ground coriander, and amchoor powder.

Can I use vinegar as a sumac substitute?

Yes, you can use vinegar as a sumac substitute. Just keep in mind that it is more tart than sumac, so you must use it sparingly.

What are the health benefits of sumac substitutes?

All of the substitutes listed above have health benefits. They are all rich in vitamins and minerals, and they also have antioxidant properties.

What is another name for sumac?

Another name for sumac is Rhus Coriaria. It is also sometimes referred to as Sicilian sumac.

Where can I buy sumac substitutes?

You can buy all of the substitutes listed above at your local grocery store or online.

What is sumac good for?

Sumac is often used as a spice or seasoning. It can be used to add flavor to many different dishes, such as chicken, fish, rice, and salads.

What does sumac taste like?

Sumac has a distinctive, tart flavor. It is also slightly lemony and tangy.

In Conclusion

And that’s it! A list of substitutes for sumac, along with their flavor profiles and health benefits. The substitutes that we have listed so far all have a sour flavor, but vinegar is the sourest of them all. So, when substituting vinegar for sumac, start with half the amount and then adjust from there.

With this information, you can easily swap out sumac for another ingredient that will taste just as though you were using sumac in the first place.

So, go ahead and experiment with these substitutes in your cooking and see the results!