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 prepare onions for salad? ›

Just peel and slice the red onion as called for in your recipe, then submerge them in a bowl of cold or ice water. Let them sit for at least ten minutes, stirring once or twice, before draining and using them in your recipe. For added flavor, you can also soak the onions in lime juice, lemon juice, or vinegar.

What are the best onions for salads? ›

Red Onions: The salad onion. While you can cook with it, it's less overpowering than white or yellow onions, making it ideal for uses that require raw onion. The colour fades as you cook them. Great for Greek salad, on burgers, etc.

How do you soften onions for salad? ›

To soften the taste of raw onions, slice them thinly or cut them into larger chunks and soak them in very cold water for about 15 minutes. This will soften the taste, making them ideally suited for a salad.

Why do you soak red onions in cold water? ›

Soak them for at least 15 minutes (longer is even more beneficial), properly drain, and eat away! 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.

Should you put raw onion in salad? ›

Sure, you can totally put raw onions in a salad without cooking them. Raw onions give a strong and tangy taste to salads, making them more interesting.

Should I cook onions for a salad? ›

Raw onions can add a nice bite to salads, from a green onion sliced and added to a simple green salad to easy creations based almost entirely on the sweetness of Vidalia onions.

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 are the best onions for beginners? ›

It's an easy, fairly fast crop to grow. Spring Onion White Lisbon is ideal for a beginner gardener and a great place to start.

Which onions have the best flavor? ›

Yellow onions are your go-to cooking onions. This onion has yellow skin and a strong flavor due to its high sulphur content, which mellows out during cooking, becoming sweet and flavorful. Its ability to hold up to heat makes it great for caramelizing and roasting.

What does putting onions in vinegar do? ›

Then you just have to wait long enough for the vinegar to do its job, rinsing away the harsh sulfurous compounds, softening the onion, and giving it a pleasantly tart pop of flavor. If you use red wine vinegar, my personal favorite, the onions also turn an amazing hot-pink color.

Does lemon juice neutralize onion? ›

Lemon juice works to remove onion smell due to its acid level. This is why vinegar is also a solution, as well as tomato juice, celery juice, mustard, and rubbing alcohol. Any of these can be put onto a wet towel, and used to scrub while you run water over your hands.

Why pour boiling water over onions? ›

A simple and quick way to do that, according to chef Rick Bayless, is to pour boiling water over the chopped onions. That's pretty much all you need to know. This step makes the onions much mellower and is an easy alternative to sauteing onions in a pan for 10 minutes to take the "flame" out of them.

Why put sliced onions in water? ›

Onions - soaking in cold water to soften the flavor

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.

How do you make onions less gassy? ›

Soaking onions in water for at least an hour before cooking them can help to reduce their sulfur content. You can also cook onions with other foods that contain sulfur, such as garlic or leeks, which can help to neutralize the sulfur compounds.

Can you put raw yellow onion in salad? ›

If you don't have any yellow onions on hand for your next soup or sauce, white onions can be substituted with minimal differences in the end result. However, we wouldn't recommend eating yellow onions raw for your salads and sandwiches, unless you don't mind the more pungent flavor and aroma.


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