Marinated Red Onions with Sumac

How would you describe the taste of a raw red onion? Sweet? Sharp? Bitter?

I’ve heard chefs refer to the red onion as being sweet. Sorry chefs, but my palate definitely disagrees. To me, a raw red onion is quite sharp to the point where I only enjoy it if it’s been marinated.

There is one – very simple – red onion recipe that I enjoy so much, I could eat it by the bowlful, but that would be unladylike. Whenever we’re at a Middle Eastern restaurant and the dish I ordered is served with a red onion -sumac condiment, I’m overjoyed!

Marinated Red Onions with Sumac

An easy and versatile red onion condiment.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Side Dish
Servings 8 servings


  • 1 medium red onions (cut in half and thinly sliced)
  • 2 tbsp Italian flat-leaf parsley (coarsely chopped- optional)
  • tbsp ground sumac (or to taste)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)


  • Place sliced onions in a bowl. Pour enough very hot water over the onions to cover. Allow to sit for about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain in a colander. Place onions on paper towels in a single layer; pat to dry. (This step helps to lessen the sharpness of the onion.)
  • Place onions in a mixing bowl.  Toss with remaining ingredients. Taste, and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Allow the onions to sit for about 30 minutes before serving so flavors can blend. Best served at room temperature.


To Serve:
This is a perfect accompaniment  with your favorite kebab dish (chicken, lamb, beef, pork, lule), burger, or grilled meat, poultry or fish.
If meat isn’t your thing, add the marinated red onion-sumac to a salad, cooked potatoes, or a grain dish.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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  1. Ara October 19, 2014 at 11:09 pm

    Does the first step (where you cover the onions with hot water) soften the onions or do they stay crisp? If the former, is it possible to do the same thing a different way, maybe by salting the onions?

    1. Robyn Kalajian October 19, 2014 at 11:50 pm

      The onions remain crisp. Soaking them briefly in the warm water simply helps remove some of the sharp taste. The longer the marinated onions sit in the refrigerator, however, the softer they become. So, eat 'em up quickly!

    2. Ara October 20, 2014 at 6:52 pm

      Oh cool. And it's lo-salt, too. Thanks for the info.

  2. Unknown February 11, 2017 at 12:08 am

    Does it work with white onions? I don't have any red onions handy but plenty of white ones.

    1. Robyn February 11, 2017 at 2:06 am


  3. Grecophile75 February 11, 2020 at 6:52 pm

    Hi Robyn, made this recipe with chicken shish yesterday and they were delicious. Thanks

    1. Robyn Kalajian February 19, 2020 at 4:24 pm

      I'm so glad you liked it!


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