Sumac Onions

By Lee Jackson ↣ Published on: October 19, 2019

Last Updated: January 26th, 20240 Comments on Sumac Onions

Sometimes the simplest salads are the most effective! This super easy sumac onions dish is an amazing pairing with bread, meats, fish and more. It’s sweet, zingy and tangy, it’s your new favourite simple salad.

A small bowl of Sumac Onions with a small serving fork and spoon

Part salad, part condiment, this simple combination of red onion and sumac is an essential at any Turkish, Middle Eastern or Mediterranean dinner table. It's versatile enough to pair with meats, poultry and fish - adding a tangy acid hit to freshen everything it comes into contact with. Think pickled onion, but way fresher.

It transports me directly back to Istanbul where I'd spoon it over everything from oily mackerel, kofta kebabs, grilled lamb and pretty much everything else I ate. Sumac onions play so well with other flavours, they're pretty much the perfect accompaniment. And the great news keeps coming... it's the easiest recipe to make at home.

A small bowl of Sumac Onions with a small serving fork and spoon

What is Sumac?

Sumac is a versatile spice made from the crushed berries of the sumac shrub, known for its vibrant, crimson hue and tangy, citrusy flavour. Widely used in Turkish, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines, it enhances dishes like salads, kebabs, and roasted meats.

Why it works?

It's fresh - the dish offers a unique zingy freshness that bring to life anything it meets. This can be very useful with rich or heavily meaty dishes like lamb or oily fish.

It's quick and easy - a 15 minute wonder, this simple salad is ready in no time.

The ingredients for Sumac Onions: Red onion, sumac, garlic, lemon, olive oil, parsley and mint.

Stuff You'll Need

Making sumac onions requires only a few simple ingredients. Here's what you'll need.

  • Red onion - for a milder, less pungent sweeter flavour, red onion is the star of the show.
  • Sumac - has a unique tangy citrus flavour that enhances the onion beautifully
  • Lemon - adds more citrus sharpness to act like a kind of pickle.
  • Garlic - a small amount rounds off the natural earthiness of the salad.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil - It wouldn't be Mediterranean or Middle Eastern without a little EVO!
  • Parsley & Mint - add a fresh, floral finish to the salad.

Step by Step

The good news is that this is super easy. I like to get my hands in to 'massage' the sumac into the onion. I find you get a better crimson hue to the final salad when you use you hands. Salting the onions first, takes out some of the acidity for a more subtle flavour.

  1. Step 1 - Peel, half and cut the onion into half-moons then sprinkle over the salt. Stir it in and place into a sieve or colander for a few minutes. Then, drain and rinse. Pat dry using paper towels and you're ready for step 2.
  2. Step 2 - Add all the remaining ingredients to a bowl and use your hands (or a spoon if that doesn't appeal) to gently mix everything together.

I like to leave my sumac onions for at least 15 minutes to let the flavours mingle a bit.

A small bowl of Sumac Onions with a small serving fork and spoon

Serving & Storage Suggestions

A small bowl of Sumac Onions with a small serving fork and spoon

Ready to get started?

Have I convinced you with this quick and easy Turkish and Middle Eastern staple? It really is a versatile, flexible little condiment salad that pairs so brilliantly with other dishes. Try it with some grilled meat, wrapped in a flatbread or scattered over some pan-fried fish with tahini sauce. It's the perfect flavour enhancer! I hope you enjoy!

A small bowl of Sumac Onions with a small serving fork and spoon

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A small bowl of Sumac Onions with a small serving fork and spoon

Sumac Onions

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4.67 from 3 votes
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Recipe by Lee
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Turkish
Prep Time15 minutes
Resting (optional)15 minutes
Total Time15 minutes
Servings (adjustable) 6 condiment-sized portions
Calories (per serving) | 47


  • 1 red onion
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sumac
  • 1 lemon juice of
  • 1 garlic clove (small) (minced into a paste)
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp flat leaf parsley (finely chopped)
  • 1 tbsp mint (finely chopped)


  • Peel the onion and cut in half then into thin slices. Sprinkle over 1 tsp salt and stir well. Add to a colander or sieve and leave for 10 minutes. Rinse the onion well and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Add the onion to a bowl and, using your hands or a spoon, combine with all the other ingredients. I like to leave my salad to rest for 15 minutes.


Calories: 47kcal (2%) | Carbohydrates: 4g (1%) | Protein: 1g (2%) | Fat: 4g (6%) | Saturated Fat: 1g (6%) | Sodium: 3mg | Potassium: 75mg (2%) | Fiber: 1g (4%) | Sugar: 2g (2%) | Vitamin A: 253IU (5%) | Vitamin C: 13mg (16%) | Calcium: 14mg (1%) | Iron: 1mg (6%)
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