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Sumac Onions

Marinated sumac onions or Turkish onion salad is a tangy side dish or garnish that takes just 5 minutes to make! Pair sumac onion salad with grilled meat like kabobs, salads, and restaurant-style wraps like tantuni. For all you sumac lovers, make sumac cucumbers next!

Sumac onions in a small bowl.

What are Sumac Onions?

Turkish sumac onions consist of thinly sliced red onions massaged with and marinated in ground sumac, olive oil, and fresh lemon juice (sometimes red wine vinegar) to flavor and soften the onions.

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Onion: I prefer the sharpness of red onions, but you can also use white onions or shallots.
  • Lemon Juice: Fresh lemon juice from one lemon is all you need.
  • Parsley: Parsley adds a bright color to the salad and complements the onions. 
  • Spices: Enhance the onions with ground sumac and salt. Sumac is a popular Middle Eastern seasoning found online and at health stores. However, I recommend visiting a local Middle Eastern grocery store to explore. The ground-up sumac berries give the side its signature color and flavor. 
  • Olive Oil: Massage the onions with a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil.

Additions and Substitutions

How to Make Sumac Onions

The full recipe with measurements is in the recipe card below.

Step 1: Add the ingredients for sumac onions to a serving bowl and massage to combine for 2-3 minutes.

Parsley added to the sumac onions.

Step 2: Taste and season with more ground sumac. Cover and set it aside for 30 minutes before serving.

Ingredients for sumac onions in a bowl.
Sumac onions in a serving bowl.

Expert Tips

  • If you find the raw onion flavor too strong, soak the red onions in cold water for 20 minutes before using them to reduce the intensity. Then, drain the onions, pat them dry, and continue preparing the salad.
  • Refrigerate the salad for 30 minutes to let the flavors combine before serving them.

If you enjoy this side dish, pair it with one of these dinner recipes!

Sumac onions in a serving bowl.

Serving Suggestions

Sumac marinated onions often accompany chicken and red meat dishes, but you can use them to garnish sandwiches, salads, wraps, and soup. Serve the tangy onions with savory meals such as boneless leg of lamb or zaatar turkey, and they go hand in hand with kebabs like Adana kebab, shish kebab, shish tawook, döner kebab, and köfte.

What to do with the Leftovers

  • Refrigerate: Store the leftover onions in an airtight container 3-4 days.  

Frequently Asked Questions

What is sumac?

Sumac (summāq) means dark red in Arabic, and the name refers to a spice common throughout the Middle East to finish meals like fattoush. It comes from sumac berries, which are dried and ground into a coarse red powder for culinary purposes.

What does sumac taste like?

Like fresh lemons, ground sumac is tart and slightly sweet, but it’s a perfect way to provide acidity to meals and side dishes without citrus.

More Salad Recipes:

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Sumac onions in a small bowl.

Sumac Onions

Tressa Jamil
Marinated sumac onions are an easy Turkish onion salad you can serve as a side or a tangy addition to grilled meat, kabobs, salad.
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Marinating Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Appetizer, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine Turkish
Servings 4 Servings
Calories 78 kcal
Ingredients
  
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • lemon juice, 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon ground sumac
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
Instructions
 
  • Add the ingredients for sumac onions to a serving bowl and massage to combine for 2-3 minutes.
  • Taste and season with more ground sumac. Cover and set it aside for 30 minutes before serving.
Notes
Expert Tips:
  • If you find the raw onion flavor too strong, soak the red onions in cold water for 20 minutes before using them to reduce the intensity. Then, drain the onions, pat them dry, and continue preparing the salad.
  • Refrigerate the salad for 30 minutes to let the flavors combine before serving them.
Nutrition Disclosure:
  • The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for professional advice.
Nutrition
Serving: 1 Serving | Calories: 78 kcal | Carbohydrates: 4 g | Protein: 1 g | Fat: 7 g | Saturated Fat: 1 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5 g | Sodium: 300 mg | Potassium: 123 mg | Fiber: 1 g | Sugar: 1 g | Vitamin A: 1264 IU | Vitamin C: 22 mg | Calcium: 27 mg | Iron: 1 mg
Did you make this recipe? Let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and follow @thejamilghar or tag #thejamilghar on Instagram!
5 from 5 votes (3 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating




Ali Aslam

Wednesday 19th of April 2023

I've had these twice now and they are great! A healthy way to add so much flavor to a steak or lamb dish. I've had it over salad and shawarma now and it tastes very authentic.

Julia Cooper

Wednesday 19th of April 2023

I just made this Sumac Onion Salad for the first time and I can't believe how easy it was! The tangy and bright flavors paired perfectly with my grilled chicken and added a refreshing twist to my dinner. Thank you for sharing this delicious recipe!