Where to Buy Sumac (Plus, Finding It In Grocery Stores)

Are you searching for Sumac but have no idea where to start? 

Sumac is a tangy spice made from the dried and ground berries of the wild sumac flower, therefore, if you wish to find it in a grocery store or supermarket, the first place to go to is the spice aisle.

In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about sumac, including stores where you can most easily find it – both online and offline. 

What is Sumac?

Boasting a deep red hue and unique citrusy tartness, sumac is regarded as one of the most recognizable spices in the Middle East. Although it’s often cultivated in countries like Turkey and Iran, the sumac flower is primarily grown in temperate and subtropical areas of Africa and North America. 

sumac
Katya from Moscow, Russia, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sumac is not as popular in the United States, so you won’t find it in a typical American household, but it’s an ingredient that’s been gaining traction worldwide for its bold flavor and health properties. 

Sumac has a rich culinary history that dates back to the Roman empire. Its health benefits were first documented thousands of years ago in Greek medicine texts, which mentioned sumac’s antiseptic qualities.

However, nowadays it’s mostly used as a versatile spice that can be used to enhance or complement the flavors of fresh vegetables, desserts, or grilled meats. 

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What Are The Different Types of Sumac?

There are roughly 150 varieties of sumac plants, including fragrant sumac, evergreen sumac, lemonade berry sumac, elm-leaved sumac, little leaf sumac, Sicilian sumac, and many others. 

However, the two most prolific sumac are the following:

  • Fragrant sumac (or lemon sumac)
  • Smooth sumac (or scarlet sumac)

These two spices are the most commonly used in cooking and are usually the ones used to create sumac spice blends. 

sumac poisonous
Ken-ichi Ueda, cc-by-nc-2.0, via eol.org

Typically, sumac plants sold for human consumption are all safe to eat, however, there is a poisonous form of this plant that can be found in the wild.

In contrast to the edible sumac plant that has red berries, the poisonous form of the sumac plant can be seen with white berries and drooping leaves.

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What Stores Have Sumac?

Several stores typically have sumac in stock, and most of the stores are no surprise to you, as they’re the biggest retailers around. 

Here are the stores that are most likely to have sumac available:

  • Amazon: Perhaps the biggest marketplace in the world, Amazon has several vendors that sell ground sumac, including Eat Well Premium Foods, The Spice Way Store, and Zamouri Spices. While sumac is not widely popular in the United States, the aforementioned vendors have thousands of reviews. 
  • Walmart: Also one of the biggest (if not the biggest) retailers in the United States, Walmart also sells ground sumac from brands such as U Simply Season, Frontier, and Sadaf. 
  • Whole Foods: Unlike many retailers or grocery stores, Whole Foods has a bulk spice section where you can find a variety of spices, including sumac. They also have packaged ground sumac from a brand called Spicely in the aisle where you find the spices and condiments. 
  • Kroger: If you have a Kroger near you, you can find sumac from brands such as Spicely, Sadaf, and Ziyad.
  • Publix: This supermarket also carries sumac from the brand Ziyad.
  • Local Health Stores: Another option to consider are local health stores, as they usually carry spices available in bulk, but you can also find bottled spices, etc. 
  • Asian & Middle Eastern Markets: Given that sumac is quite common in Middle Eastern (and potentially Asian) cultures, it’s likely that you’ll be able to find it in Asian & Middle Eastern stores.

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Where Is Sumac Located In A Grocery Store?

Given that Sumac is technically a spice, you will be able to find it in the spice and condiment aisle at your nearest grocery store or supermarket. 

If you can’t find it in the spice or condiment aisle, the next best option is to check the international aisle, particularly the section with Middle Eastern items. 

In case you’re having a really hard time finding, use retailers like Amazon and Walmart, as they always have sumac (among other spices) available.

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Ways to Use Sumac

Given its bold flavor and complementary nature, sumac can be used to enhance a wide variety of dishes, which is essentially how it is mainly used in Middle Eastern cuisine. 

However, sumac doesn’t have to be uniquely restricted to Middle Eastern cuisine and it can certainly be applied to other types of cuisine. 

For example, it can:

  • Be used to dust a wide variety of dishes, including meats, salads, bread, and desserts, providing them a colorful garnish as well as lend some citrusy acidity.
  • It can be used to replace lemon juice or vinegar, though it has a less overpowering citrusy flavor, which is ideal if you prefer a less pungent taste.
  • It can also be used to rub meat and vegetables, or as a marinade to enhance their flavors. 

We personally add it to salads, although you can also use it to make salad dressings, or use it in recipes where you would typically use lemon or lime. It’s also great on chips, rice dishes, as well as sprinkled on hummus. 

poached egg with sumac
jules, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr

Although it’s not something we recommend as we have a plant-based diet, in the image above you can see sumac being added to Turkish poached eggs. 

Therefore, it’s clearly a spice with a multitude of applications. 

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Conclusion

Sumac is a spice that is commonly used in the Middle East, however, you can now see it being used all across the globe, much like other common spices. 

If you wish to buy sumac, the best place is to visit a local supermarket and check the spice and condiment aisle, where you should see it next to other common spices. If you do not find it there, the next best place is in the international aisle, typically in the area where Middle Eastern items are sold. 

On the very rare occasion you do not find it – another way to (successfully) find sumac is by buying it online via Amazon or Walmart, as they will surely have it in stock. 


*This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you, if you purchase through these links. See my full disclosure here.

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Alexandre Valente

Hey there! My name is Alex and I've been vegan for more than three years! I've set up this blog because I'm really passionate about veganism and living a more eco-conscious life. Hopefully, I can use this website as a channel to help you out on your own journey!

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