Are there any good substitutions for ground sumac?

I made fattoush last week, but had no sumac since my local grocery did not carry it and I had no time to go to a specialty grocery. Are there any decent substitutes for sumac?

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13 Comments

Linda S. November 2, 2017
(1) Lemon Zest: This is the most easily available ingredient that can be used as a sumac substitute. Mix some fresh lemon zest with salt and voila! You have an alternative ready. (2) Lemon Pepper Seasoning: This is easily available everywhere and is a very effective Sumac substitute.
 
DM October 13, 2015
I just wanted to add that some people who have even very mild pollen allergy have a pretty strong allergic reaction to sumac. And obviously, many people do great with it. You might want to tell guests this, then at least if they start having a reaction, they'll know what's up.
 
Picholine October 11, 2015
Zatar has sumac in it and for fattoush it would be perfect. I use lemon zest and oregano as a substitute for Zatar. I do not taste any heat in sumac or Zatar. Aleppo pepper is available at Penzeys as well as sumac and Zatar. I love to sprinkle Aleppo on my Italian pasta sauce for a very light heat kick.
 
Nancy October 11, 2015
Agree with you about not tasting heat in sumac, rather a sour counterpoint.
Depending on the dish - and in addition to the ammchur, lemon juice & lemon zest already mentioned - consider sour cream, buttermilk, vinegar or tamarind paste.
Last, for similar texture and warmth (but not the sourness), consider a pinch of cinnamon along with the other substitutes.
 
Manuel October 10, 2015
I propose grinding dry hibiscus flower (known as Jamaica in México)
The first time I tasted Sumac i thought it was A milder variety of Jamaica.
I have to say that is just a thought that I never tried because not many recipes call for sumac.
I will try it as a topping on jasmine or basmanti rice. I love the persian rice (yellow an white) topped with Sumac at the only Persian restaurant I frequent
 
Linda January 19, 2015
I use Coriander, it's really the citrus acidity your looking for and while Coriander is a bit more herbal it's got a similar lemony/citrus kick.
 
Reiney August 23, 2012
Aleppo pepper might also be a sub (though it's found next to the sumac, so if you can't access one, you probably can't access the other!)
 
Nancy January 20, 2015
FYI unintended side effect (minor in the great scheme of things) of the current Syrian war is a shortage of Aleppo pepper.
 
healthierkitchen January 20, 2015
most places had been selling Turkish "Aleppo" pepper for a while before too. You can get Maras in many middle eastern markets and it's almost the same taste.
 

Voted the Best Reply!

Panfusine August 23, 2012
You could try some 'aamchur' , its dried mango powder..
 
sdebrango August 23, 2012
If I am out of sumac I sometimes mix ground black pepper with lemon zest and you get a similar flavor. it is peppery and lemony sometimes I add just a dash of paprika to the mix also.
 
caroline_kuhn August 23, 2012
Thank you! I do love Jamie Oliver. I heard sumac simply lends a sour taste to the dish, so that makes perfect sense!
 
cratecooking August 23, 2012
I've heard Jamie Oliver, on his show Jamie at Home, suggest fresh lemon juice in place of ground sumac for his Grilled Lamb Kofta Kebabs.
 
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