Sorrel Substitute – 5 Ingredients With Tart And Acidic Flavors

It’s absolutely relishing and appetizing to enjoy the sorrel soup or sauce. My grandma would use sorrel not only for cooking but also for managing cavities, and swelling. Unfortunately, sorrel isn’t easily available outside Eurasia and the British Isles.

Have you run out of sorrel? Or you are preparing a recipe that calls for sorrel and you don’t have it? Don’t worry. This article throws light on a few good sorrel substitutes that you can choose from.

What is Sorrel?

Common sorrel or garden sorrel, often simply called sorrel, is a perennial herb in the family Polygonaceae.

The use of sorrel in cooking became popular in ancient Europe when people used this spinach-like herb to lend a sour flavor to their dishes. Indeed, even today this herb is used as an alternative to citrus ingredients in cooking. It’s a flavorful ingredient best known for its acidic, sour taste similar to lemon zest. Home cooks use it interchangeably as a salad green and herb.

Vegetables pair well with sorrel, also, some prefer to use it in steamed meat, cream soups, pesto, and vinaigrette. Puree sorrel with sauce is a wonderful topping for egg and meat dishes.

Best Sorrel Substitute To Use

According to your place of living, you may find it difficult to source this salad green herb. If you are left with no ways to procure sorrel for your dish, then think of using any one of the suitable sorrel substitutes listed below:


Arugula has an intense herbaceous flavor with a peppery note that matches the sorrel to a great extent. However, matured arugula leaves might taste bitter, so use them when they are tender. Importantly, arugula can be eaten raw in a salad or sauce like sorrel. Often, also it’s wilted and served as a complementary side dish to the main menu.

Arugula does not have the tartness of sorrel, thus adding a little lemon juice or vinegar to the arugula recipe is a fine idea.

Lastly, arugula is the best leafy green substitute for sorrel that comes to the nearest.


Rhubarb is the fleshy, edible stalks of species and hybrids of Rheum in the family Polygonaceae. It’s a popular ingredient for making sauces, chutneys, and smoothies, but is most famous for being a delightful pie filling.

Because of tartness and pepper-like flavors owing to oxalic acid, rhubarb is a fine substitute for sorrel.

Only the stalks of the rhubarb plant are used for eating, not the leaves; can be eaten raw like the sorrel as well. Usually, thinly sliced rhubarb stalks are used to replace sorrel in dishes like soups and salads.

Mustard greens

Mustard greens are peppery-tasting greens that come from the mustard plant. These leaves have a sharp, biting peppery taste that can sting like a strong radish or arugula. Both the stalks and leaves of this plant can be eaten either cooked or raw.

Like sorrel, the mustard herb has a strong flavor that may overpower other greens in your dish. Mustard greens can best replace sorrel in salads. If you wish to use them in soups, then they need to be mashed up in a blender to soften their rich fiber.


Spinach has an earthy flavor with a mild note of bitterness that is an agreeable alternative for the tartness of sorrel. Despite their flavor differences, adding a squeeze of lemon juice or a tablespoon of vinegar to spinach would turn them tart-like sorrel. Spinach is a useful substitute for sorrel in green salads.


Sumac is made from the dried and ground berries of the wild sumac flower. It’s a tangy spice with a sour, acidic flavor reminiscent of sorrel or lemon juice. Neither it’s a green herb nor does it look like sorrel, but their flavors are quite identical.

Use sumac in place of sorrel to render a tart flavor to your salad. But it’s not useful as a green substitute for sorrel.

Final Thoughts

Most of us prefer to use sorrel in cooking for the sake of its tangy and acidic profile, thus lemon zest or sumac could be its best flavor substitute.

Other ingredients that can be used as sorrel substitutes include:

  • Arugula
  • Mustard greens
  • Rhubarb
  • Spinach with a squeeze of lemon juice.

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