Easy Turkish Sumac Onions Recipe (Turkish Onion Salad) (2024)

By: Author Tressa Jamil

Posted on - Last updated:


Marinated sumac onions or Turkish onion salad are a tangy side dish or topping that takes 5 minutes to make. Pair the sumac onion salad with grilled meats like kabobs, salads, vegetable dishes, and wraps like Turkishtantuni.

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Easy Turkish Sumac Onions Recipe (Turkish Onion Salad) (1)

Table Of Contents

  1. What are Sumac Onions?
  2. Ingredients You'll Need
  3. Additions and Substitutions
  4. How to Make Sumac Onions
  5. Expert Tips
  6. Serving Suggestions
  7. What to do With the Leftovers
  8. Frequently Asked Questions
  9. Sumac Onions

What are Sumac Onions?

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

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Onion: I prefer the sharpness of red onion, but you can also use white or yellow onion.
  • Lemon Juice: Fresh lemon juice from one lemon is all you need for a nice pop of acidity. Other recipes rely on red wine vinegar or pomegranate molasses instead of lemon to provide tartness.
  • Parsley: Fresh parsley adds color to the salad and compliments the flavor of the other ingredients.
  • Spices: Season the onions with sumac and salt. Sumac is a popular Middle Eastern spice found online and in health stores. However, I recommend visiting a local Middle Eastern store to explore; the ground-up sumac berries give the dish its signature color and flavor.
  • Olive Oil: Be generous with the olive oil; since it is a prominent ingredient, I recommend using high-quality olive oil if you can.

Additions and Substitutions

  • Add a pinch of ground Aleppo pepper for even more flavor.

How to Make Sumac Onions

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

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

Easy Turkish Sumac Onions Recipe (Turkish Onion Salad) (2)

Step 2: Taste and season with sumac. Then, cover and set it aside for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Easy Turkish Sumac Onions Recipe (Turkish Onion Salad) (3)

Expert Tips

  • If you find the raw onion flavor too strong, soak the onions in cold water for 20 minutes to lessen the intensity. Drain the onions, pat them dry, and continue with the salad.

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Easy Turkish Sumac Onions Recipe (Turkish Onion Salad) (8)

Serving Suggestions

Sumac marinated onions often accompany chicken and red meat dishes but also act as a garnish for sandwiches, salads, and soup; brighten any meal with this healthy side dish.

  • Lamb:Boneless Leg of Lamb
  • Kabobs: Adana Kebab, Shish Kebab, Shish Tawook,Beef Seekh Kabob,Koobideh Kabob, Kefta Kebab,Joojeh Kabob
  • Wraps:Falafel Gyro,Tantuni, Döner Kebab, Shawarma
  • Chicken:BBQ Baked Chicken Legs,Al Faham Chicken

What to do With the Leftovers

  • Refrigerate Store the leftovers in an airtight container 4-5 days.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is sumac?

Sumac ‘summāq’ means ‘dark red’ in Arabic, and it refers to a spice commonly used throughout the Middle East to top popular meals like fattoush. It comes from sumac berries, which are dried and ground into a coarse red powder for culinary purposes.

What are the onions on a kebab?

Sumac onions are a staple in kebab restaurants. They will serve them on top for meals like tantuni or on the side if ordering something like adana kebab.

How do you make raw onions less spicy?

Soak the onions in hot water for 10 minutes. Drain the onion, pat them dry, and proceed with making the salad.

What does sumac taste like?

Like lemons, sumac is tart and slightly sweet. It’s a perfect way to acidity to any meal without citrus.

What are the benefits of sumac?

According to an article written by contributors forLebanese International University, studies show that sumac contains antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties, and the spice is helpful for meat tenderization and preservation.

More Mediterranean Recipes:

  • Skhug
  • Moroccan Shakshuka
  • Haydari
  • Biwaz

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Easy Turkish Sumac Onions Recipe (Turkish Onion Salad) (9)

Sumac Onions

Tressa Jamil

Marinated sumac onions or Turkish onion salad are a tangy addition to grilled meats, kabobs, salads, and vegetable dishes.

5 from 5 votes

Print Recipe Pin Recipe

Prep Time 5 minutes mins

Marinating Time 30 minutes mins

Total Time 35 minutes mins

Course Appetizer, Salad, Side Dish

Cuisine Turkish

Servings 4 Servings

Calories 96 kcal


  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 lemon, juice
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground sumac
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt


  • Add the ingredients to a serving bowl and massage to combine for about 2-3 minutes.

  • Taste and season with sumac. Then, cover and set it aside for at least 30 minutes before serving.


Expert Tips:

  • If you find the raw onion flavor too strong, soak the onions in cold water for 20 minutes to lessen the intensity. Drain the onions, pat them dry, and continue with the salad.

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.


Serving: 1 Serving | Calories: 96 kcal | Carbohydrates: 9 g | Protein: 2 g | Fat: 7 g | Saturated Fat: 5 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5 g | Sodium: 308 mg | Potassium: 231 mg | Fiber: 3 g | Sugar: 3 g | Vitamin A: 12 IU | Vitamin C: 81 mg | Calcium: 5 mg | Iron: 9 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!

Easy Turkish Sumac Onions Recipe (Turkish Onion Salad) (2024)


How do you make onions less strong for salad? ›

Submerge Them in Cold Water

Submerging them in cold water takes away that intense, sharp bite from the raw onion. The cold water helps the enzyme that causes onions to have their pungent flavor to leach out. Similarly, storing onions in the refrigerator will help mellow them out when you go to use them.

What are the 5 ingredients that are most commonly consumed in Turkish cuisine? ›

This guide to the basic ingredients used in Turkish cuisine is a great place to start!
  • 1 Rosewater. ...
  • 2 Burghul. ...
  • 3 Tahini. ...
  • 4 Tomato paste. ...
  • 5 Yoghurt. ...
  • 6 Filo. ...
  • 7 Walnuts, almonds and pistachios. ...
  • 8 Feta.

What is the difference between Greek and Turkish salad? ›

Both the Greeks and the Turks make tasty salads from a variety of raw fresh vegetables; the Greeks may add Feta cheese, while the Turks may spice it up with peppers.

Why do you soak onions in water? ›

When preparing raw onions, soak in cold water before hand to remove some of the pungency and soften the flavor. However since soaking too long will dilute the flavor, soaking in cold water for 5 to 10 minutes is recommended.

What does baking soda do to onions? ›

Baking soda makes the onions more alkaline, which speeds up the browning reactions necessary for properly caramelized onions. But it also weakens the pectin that holds the onion's cells together, turning what should be soft but distinct pieces of browned onion into a nauseating stew of pea-green mush.

How to sweeten onions for salad? ›

You can get rid of the strong taste by soaking sliced onions in ice water for 20 to 30 minutes or by sprinkling them with an acid such as vinegar. Onions soaked in ice water will get very crisp while those sprinkled with vinegar will soften a bit, but they will lose the strong taste and become sweeter.

What is the main ingredient in Turkish food? ›

Key ingredients

Frequently used ingredients in Turkish specialties include lamb, chicken, beef, fish, rice, eggplants, green peppers, onions, garlic, lentils, beans, zucchinis, chickpeas and tomatoes.

What makes Turkish food different? ›

There are also many soups and other traditional Turkish foods that incorporate butter, sunflower oil, and olive oil as an ingredient. Turkish cuisine has also its own unique types of healthy food, such as grape molasses, yogurt, bulgur, etc.

What is Turkish sweet made of? ›

Turkish Delight is made from a sugar syrup and starch milk mixture that is cooked for five to six hours, at which point the flavor is added. The mixture is then poured into large wooden trays to be set and about five hours later they are rolled, cut and dusted with icing.

What does Turkish breakfast contain? ›

Accordingly, a classic Turkish breakfast is generally comprised of black and green olives, cucumbers, cured meats, dips and sauces, eggs, fresh cheeses, fresh tomatoes, fresh-baked bread, fruit preserves and jams, honey, pastries, and sweet butter.

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