What are sumac spice substitutes?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “What are sumac spice substitutes?”. We will also discuss all of them in detail.

What are sumac spice substitutes?

Many ingredients can be used as a substitute for sumac spice including lemon zest, lemon juice, za’atar, tamarind, amchoor, lemon pepper, vinegar, etc. These ingredients can replicate the citrusy tartness of sumac spice. Let us discuss them in detail:

Lemon zest

It is one of the best substitutes for sumac spice due to its sour and acidic nature. You sure have some lemons in your refrigerator, so you can easily zest some lemons right in this instance. 

You might want to add some salt and pepper to the lemon zest if you want an even better substitute for sumac spice as lemon zest alone might not be enough to recreate the magical taste of sumac. For every teaspoon of sumac spice, replace it with an extra half teaspoon of this combination.


It is one of the most popular substitutes for sumac spice. It is a popular spice blend where sumac is one of the main ingredients along with other spices and herbs like dried oregano, thyme, marjoram, and toasted sesame seeds, so you can get some flavors of sumac when you use za’atar. 

You can use an equal proportion of za’atar while using it in place of sumac but be ready for some surprising flavors as you will get hints of other spices and herbs as well.

Lemon juice 

Just like lemon zest, you can easily extract some lemon juice if you’re cooking something that calls for sumac spice. You will get similar sour, citrusy, and acidic flavors as sumac. To neutralize the bitterness of the lemon, add some salt to the juice before using it as a sumac alternative.


It is undoubtedly the easiest and closest substitute for sumac spice. The tarty flavors of vinegar are quite similar to that of sumac, which is why it is an excellent substitute. Since there are many varieties of vinegar available, you can choose the vinegar which works the best for you while substituting it with sumac. 

One thing to keep in mind while using vinegar is to use it carefully because vinegar is far more acidic than sumac spice. It can be used as a topping for different dishes like salads and sauces while using it as a sumac replacement.


It is a tropical fruit with sour flavors that is ideal for a sumac spice substitute. Although it has some mild sweetness to it, it can still be used in place of sumac in small quantities until you get the desired flavor to some extent. 

You use all forms of tamarind to replace with sumac including fresh fruit, dried fruits, or a tamarind paste. However, tamarind paste is a closer, easy and convenient option as it is readily available in grocery stores.


It is a sour powder with somewhat sweet flavors made from the dried flesh of unripe mangoes. It is also called dry mango powder. Since amchoor comes in powdered forms with a light beige to light brown color, it is the best substitute for sumac powder. It works well where liquid substitutes like lemon juice or vinegar might not work. 

The only downside of amchoor is it may not be easily available in all parts of the world. Although it is a very popular spice in India, Pakistan, and Nepal, the western parts of the country are not very well aware of its existence. You can find amchoor powder in some locations here.

Lemon pepper seasoning

This seasoning is made by combining dried lemon zest and ground black pepper. Due to its sour and citrus flavors, it makes an excellent replacement for sumac spice. You can easily get the lemon pepper seasoning at the market but making it at home is even easier. You can do what is convenient for you. Unlike with the lemon zest, we don’t add the salt here, but this seasoning still contains some salty notes from the pepper. This seasoning can be used in any recipe that calls for sumac spice.


In this brief guide, we have answered the query, “What are sumac spice substitutes?”. We have also discussed all of them in detail.


What was missing from this post which could have made it better?

Leave a Comment