Simple Sumac Dressing (sumac sauce)

This simple sumac dressing is light, bright, and tangy. Kick up your boring old salad or Mediterranean bowl with the addition of sumac, a zesty and colorful Middle Eastern spice.

Easy lemon sumac dressing and sauce.

What is Sumac?

Sumac comes from 35 species of flowering plants in the cashew family. It grows in subtropical climates in the Eastern Mediterranean, Asia, Africa, and North America. Sumac is used as a spice, a dye, and in medicine.

The dried fruit of some of the species of sumac is ground into sumac spice, a dark red (crimson) color that has a tangy, bright flavor.

What Flavor Does Sumac Add?

Sumac brings a slightly smoky, tart flavor. Think of it as the powdered version of lemon or vinegar…zesty, bright, and refreshing.

Personally, it makes me pucker/smack my lips together and say SU-MACK, get it? 🙂

Lemon Sumac Dressing Ingredients

Labeled ingredients on counter for sumac sauce and dressing.
  • Sumac: The star of this recipe, sumac brings a smack-yours-lips-together tartness and crimson red color that is unbeatable.
  • Lemon: Fresh lemon juice pairs beautifully with the dry sumac spice to bring a brightness to the tang.
  • Garlic Powder: Powder form brings a stronger garlic flavor than fresh and without the bad breath!
  • Onion Powder: Balances the tart with a mild oniony sweetness.
  • Sea Salt: Only a touch needed to round out this dressing.
  • Black Pepper: Adds just a bit of peppery depth to the flavor profile.
  • Maple Syrup: Not to sweeten the dressing, but rather to balance the flavors out so the dressing is not overly tart.
  • Olive Oil: Olive oil is a natural oil choice for Middle Eastern recipes.

Substitutions and Variations

This Lebanese salad dressing is perfect as is, but if you are missing one of the ingredients, it is adaptable:

  • Looking for a substitution for sumac? Try za’atar, a spice blend that includes sumac and has a more herbaceous flavor profile due to the addition of thyme and oregano, as well as sesame seeds. Or if you can’t find either of those dry spices, red wine vinegar, lemon zest, lemon pepper, or more lemon juice can replace sumac.
  • Looking for a creamy sumac dressing? Try blending in two tablespoons of tahini paste for a tahini sumac sauce.
  • In place of maple syrup, you can use pomegranate syrup, balsamic vinegar, white balsamic vinegar, agave syrup, or even orange juice.
  • Substitute fresh garlic or granulated garlic for garlic powder using this conversion chart for accurate measurements.

Sumac Vinaigrette Serving Suggestions

Use this dressing recipe in any Turkish, Greek, Mediterranean, or Lebanese salad. Or use as a sumac sauce on top any Middle Eastern dish like wraps, gyros, falafel bowls, lentils, quinoa, tabbouli, and more.


Is sumac similar to paprika?

While both have a natural smokiness, sumac has a much more acidic, tangy flavor than paprika.

What is the closest to sumac?

Lemon zest, lemon pepper, lemon juice, za’atar, or red wine vinegar bring a similar flavor to sumac.

What dishes can you use sumac in?

Sumac is a flavorful addition to dressings, marinades, and sauces. Or sumac can be sprinkled on top of endless dishes like hummus, baba ganoush, rice dishes, meat, fish, falafel, or salad.

Pin this Sumac Salad Dressing for later:

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Tried this simply sumac dressing at home? I would love to know what you thought! Please rate and review below!



Simple Sumac Dressing (Sumac Sauce)

Jennifer Freedman
This simple sumac dressing is light, bright, and tangy. Kick up your Mediterranean salad or bowl with the addition of sumac, a zesty and colorful Middle Eastern spice.
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course dinner, dip sauce, dressing, lunch, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine Greek, Lebanese, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern
Servings 3
Calories 134 kcal


  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons sumac
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil


  • Combine all ingredients in bowl or jar with lid.
  • Shake or whisk to combine.


Store leftovers in refrigerator for up to a week. Or freeze in air tight container for up to four months.


Calories: 134kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 0.2gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gSodium: 195mgPotassium: 26mgFiber: 0.2gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 2IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 5mgIron: 0.1mg
Keyword easy dressing, sumac, sumac dressing, sumac sauce, sumac vinaigrette
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