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Sumac Substitute (10 Great Options For Fattoush)

Sumac Substitute
Sumac Substitute

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Unable to locate sumac spice in your local area, here we have reduced your hassle by listing the best sumac substitute for specific cooking recipes like Fattoush, hummus, kabobs, marinades, and desserts.

Sumac is a notorious spice of the Middle East you can spot easily by its deep crimson-reddish hue more similar to ground paprika and cayenne Chile powder. In terms of final mouthfeel, sumac packs a punch of savory notes coupled with a citrusy tartness more like lemon zest.

The Sumac versatility knows no bounds as it spices up traditional cuisines and savory treats of the Middle East and Mediterranean areas. It adds a ton of flavor to soups, stews, marinades, salsas, and marinades. Many people sprinkle ground sumac on grilled vegetables, meat dishes, and rice to turn the flavor magically. Thanks to its lemony tartness, it compliments a lot of desserts and sweet treats. Moreover, a variety of recipes use this workhorse as a garnishing spice.

Sumac Substitute For Cooking

Ground sumac is a Coarse spice powder used to give a vibrant red hue to a variety of casseroles, cuisines, and desserts. But when sumac spice seems out of stock, give a turn to the following substitutes to fake the signature tint of the sumac in cooking dishes.

Ground Sumac Substitute

These dry substitution ideas are great to replace sumac spice in grilled meat dishes and roasted vegetables.

1. Lemon Pepper Seasoning

Lemon Pepper Seasoning
Lemon Pepper Seasoning

The dual flavor of sumac spice makes things a bit challenging when you want to replace it in cooking recipes. But, what about lemon pepper seasoning? Lemon pepper seasoning packs a perfect combo of peppery spice and lemony citrus flavor with a strong floral fruity aroma.

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The overall texture is similarly crunchy and coarse as sumac and gives a crispy peppery bite to the foods calling for sumac. However, lemon pepper seasoning is not a good replacement for sumac in terms of apparent color as it brings bright yellow color to the recipe instead of a reddish sumac hue.

Where To Use? Curries, soups, stews, poultry, seafood, and casseroles

2. Lemon Zest + Black Pepper

Lemon Zest
Lemon Zest

The combination of lemon zest and black pepper works the same way as lemon pepper seasoning in cooking dishes. It’s also a great ground sumac spice substitute one can prepare immediately and use to spice up the food.

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To make a fresh sumac spice alternative, take an equal quantity of both ingredients. Crush the pepper flakes and lemon zest coarsely to infuse all the fruity zesty flavor and aroma of lemon zest into the whole mixture.

After that, bake the mixture and let it dry. It will give you a balanced spice combo you can incorporate in sumac recipes to burst the flavor incredibly.

Where To Use? Meat dishes, soups, casseroles, and grilled veggies

3. Za’atar


Za’atar is another great alternative for ground sumac spice as it packs a burst of crunchy, herby, and peppery bite. Its versatile and huge ingredient profile gives an exotic punch of flavor to the recipes.

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Although za’atar is prepared in different ways, it mainly contains dried oregano, sea salt, sesame seeds, and a lot of culinary herbs. Most of the time, za’atar also contains sumac spice as one of the primary ingredients. Thereby, it can replace sumac in all the cooking dishes needed for this reddish spice to bring a palatable flavor.

Where To Use? Rubs, soups, salads, and salsas

4. Ground Coriander + Sea Salt

Ground Coriander
Ground Coriander

Ground coriander packs a fascinating punch of earthy flavor and pleasant aroma with a coarse texture like sumac spice. Because it cannot substitute the intense tart flavor of sumac, prepare a blend of ground coriander and sea salt.

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Together, these ingredients are a quick replacement for ground sumac you can prepare in no time and use when nothing seems ready to make a spice substitution.

Where To Use? Soups, stews, casseroles, and sauces

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Sumac Substitute For Fattoush

Fattoush is a signature salad recipe that calls for sumac spice as an essential flavoring. But if you have no sumac on hand, you can either use ground tamarind, amchur, or smoked paprika to fake the sumac flavor.

5. Tamarind


Tamarind is a versatile fruit having deep roots in the culinary world. It gives an aesthetic blend of sour, tangy, subtly sweet, and tart flavor notes to food dishes. Although tamarind is available as fresh fruit, ground powder, and a fascinating paste, ground tamarind goes well in Fattoush to replace sumac spice.

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Its deep sour and tangy hints fake the ground sumac easily and bring the recipe incredibly satisfying and appealing.

6. Amchur


Amchur is a sweetish sour and tangy spice powder made from the flesh of unripe mangoes. It works well in Fattoush and many other cooking recipes to substitute ground sumac spice in terms of complex and versatile flavor.

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If you have it on hand, it’s a quick and complete replacement for sumac in Fattoush that turns the overall recipe flavor to the comfort side.

7. Smoked Paprika + Sea Salt

Smoked Paprika
Smoked Paprika

Smoked paprika offers a similar subtle tangy bite as sumac spice to Fattoush. It’s the best ground sumac alternative as it gives a similar reddish eye pop to the dish. Besides Fattoush, you can also employ this spice in cuisines, soups, stews, and various sauces to fake the color of sumac.

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As smoked paprika isn’t have sourness like sumac, it alone cannot make a better replacement. So, add some sea salt to the smoked paprika and mix well. It will round off the flavor of the recipe in the way as sumac spice.

Liquid Sumac Substitute

Liquid smoke substitutes for sumac spice come in handy when you want to make satisfying thanksgiving soups, stews, sauces, and casseroles. Few drops of either lemon juice, lime juice, or vinegar shift the recipe flavor in the way sumac did.

8. Lemon Juice

Lemon Juice
Lemon Juice

Since lemon juice cannot give the recipe a color pop similar to sumac spice, it pairs well in simmering recipes and grilled meat dishes. In terms of flavor, lemon juice can mimic the lemony sourness of ground sumac in cooking dishes.

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To more, lemons are easily available all around the globe. So, if you have no sumac powder to add to food dishes, give a turn to lemon juice as its few drops are enough to give an exotic sumac-like flavor.

Where To Use? Desserts, soups, sauces, marinades, and salad dressings

9. Lime Juice

Lime Juice
Lime Juice

Lime juice is also a great sumac spice substitute you can get easily and enjoy. It works the same way as lemon juice and drives the flavor of the recipe greatly towards tangy sourness.

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You can also use lime zest along with sea salt or black pepper flakes to replace ground sumac spice in cooking recipes.

Where To Use? Sauces, salsas, desserts, and soups.

10. Vinegar


Vinegar is not only a good alternative for lemon zest, lemon, or lime juice, it’s also best to replace the zesty tartness of ground sumac spice. Readily available and easy to use, this liquid sumac alternative delivers a complicated tart kick to various sauces, marinades, soups, and casseroles.

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To get a more realistic mouthfeel, you can add 2-3 drops of lemon juice to the regular vinegar. An ideal blend is a combination of 1/3 tbsp vinegar and 1/4 tbsp lemon juice.

Where To Use? Sauces, condiments, and casseroles


Are Za’atar And Sumac The Same Thing?

No, both are pretty much different. Sumac spice is a fruit of sumac shrub that you can use either whole or ground. However, za’atar is a whole spice mix or a spice rub containing a lot of culinary herbs and spices including sumac. Sumac derives the za’atar flavor to the tangy and citrusy side which makes it a better choice to use when no sumac is on hand.

Is Sumac A Paprika?

No, sumac and paprika both are different spices with distinct flavor profiles. Sumac spice is employed in food recipes for its zesty fruity flavor along with piquant tangy undertones equally common in savory treats as well as desserts. Whereas paprika is a chili spice having moderate heat and a smoked flavor.

One can substitute ground sumac spice in Fattoush and other recipes with paprika in terms of similar recipe outlook rather than chasing comparable flavor.

Can You Make Your Own Sumac Spice Powder?

Yes, you can. In fact, it’s pretty much easier and simple to make your own ground sumac spice alternative with minimal ingredients. So, get the lemon zest, sea salt, and citric acid on hand to make a recipe. Crush all the ingredients using a pestle and mortar to draw the aromatic zesty oils out of lemon zest and infuse into the whole mixture. After that, microwave this spice mixture for 20 to 30 seconds to get a spice crisp similar to sumac spice in terms of flavor.

What’s The Best Substitute For Ground Sumac Spice?

For many people, za’atar works the best instead of sumac spice in various cooking dishes. And for others, lemon zest and sea salt are pretty much closest to sumac spice. For me, it’s all depend on your recipe. For instance, liquid sumac substitutes work great in simmering food dishes such as soups, stews, and casseroles. On the other side, dry sumac alternatives go well in recipes like Fattoush, hummus, kabobs, and grilled meat or vegetables as a garnishing spice.


Hey, I’m Ayesha Khalid, the main writer of Substitutesfor.com. I love to write about food ingredients, cooking guides, and helping tips and tricks to upgrade your cooking experience. The aim of writing is to provide you with a collection of substitutions and novel ideas to try so that you can find all the needed information at once. Here, you can get ideas according to your diet restrictions, taste preferences, and health conditions.

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