12 Types of Salt Every Cook Should Know


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Salt is the most essential and versatile product in your pantry. This ingredient is necessary for cooking, baking, and seasoning. Let’s learn about the different types of salt, their uses, and taste profiles.

Five spoons lying on a wooden table with different types of salt in each.

Salt is an integral ingredient to always have on hand when cooking and baking. Not only is salt one of the basic taste receptors, but it’s a nutrient needed to help maintain proper body function. From a culinary standpoint, it’s in nearly all savory and sweet recipes. It can help enhance flavors and change the molecular structures of proteins and plant cells to improve the taste and textures of foods.

Different types of cooking salt are naturally sourced from either evaporated seawater or rock deposits. The location and way that the salt is processed affect its shape, size, and flavor. In recent years, the types of salt offered to home cooks have exploded, which is good news for us but can also be confusing on how to choose.

Several packages of salt on a table from different brand companies.

Types of salt for cooking

No matter where the variety of salt is sourced from, the common thread is that salt is made of sodium chloride and shaped like a cube in crystal form. Even more interesting, the salt’s structure (size and shape) and mineral content affect its taste and how it interacts with other ingredients.

It’s good to be aware that measuring the exact volume does not always give the same salt content amongst different types of salt. For example, you would need twice the amount of kosher salt to have the same sodium level as table salt. Also, the salt content can vary between brands. The best thing to do is start with less when you’re seasoning, then build up until you reach the desired level.

Table Salt

Table salt in a small jar.

Also known as common salt, it is finely ground square-shaped crystals sourced from underground salt deposits and is vacuum evaporated. This is the standard, all-purpose salt you’ll find on your table. It may include anti-caking agents to make it easy to pour. Iodized means iodine has been added, a catch-all to prevent iodine deficiency. However, it imparts a slightly chemical flavor.

  • Taste: A clean salt taste that dissolves quickly. Iodized salt has a slight chemical aftertaste.
  • Best Used For: General cooking and baking applications.

Kosher Salt

Kosher salt in a small jar.

Flakier and coarser than table salt, its larger shape comes from raking during evaporation. The name is such not because it’s kosher but because it’s used during the kosher meat process. Typically contains no additives but check labels. Particle size and salt amounts vary between brands, so adjustments should be made.

Simple Conversion: 1 teaspoon table salt = 1 ½ teaspoons Morton kosher salt = 2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt. [Source].

This is a great quick conversion. However, if you want a more accurate measurement, use 1 ¼ teaspoons of Morton kosher salt. See the table below for detailed salt conversions.

  • Taste: A clean flavor that takes longer to dissolve.
  • Best Used For: Salting meats because it clings well to the surface and is easy to distribute. Sprinkle on roasted vegetables and general seasoning at the end of cooking for a pop of texture and flavor.

Sea Salt

Sea salt in a small jar.

Sea salt is evaporated from salt water, so it’s generally coarse, irregularly shaped, unrefined, and can vary in color. Since it’s minimally processed, it has other trace minerals like calcium, magnesium, and copper, giving it a more complex flavor profile. There is a range of pricing depending on the process’s cost and quality.

  • Taste: Similar to table salt with some complex mineral notes.
  • Best Used For: More affordable versions for salting meats, seafood, and vegetables. It has a more crunchy texture. Popular to use in Whole30 and Paleo diets.

Himalayan Pink Salt

Himalayan pink salt in a small jar.

The purest form of salt in the world is harvested in the Himalayan Mountains of Pakistan. It has a distinct salmon-colored hue and substantial irregularly shaped particles. It’s rich in minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper, and iron. It has a high heat tolerance since it’s dried at 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s often used from a health perspective to create electrolyte balance and increase hydration in the body, among other benefits.

  • Taste: High mineral flavor with complex notes.
  • Best Used For: Seasoning meats, soups, salads, and vegetables. You may need to add the salt crystals to a grinder or buy the finer size, use small amounts, and gradually add more as needed.

Himalayan Black Salt

Also known as Kala Namak, A type of rock salt naturally occurring in the Himalayas. It can range in color from pinkish brown to black. Traces of magnesium, potassium, sulfates, iron sulfide and other elements from the mountains add interesting flavor when added to recipes.

  • Taste: Lower sodium than table salt. The sulfur content adds a savory umami flavor and boiled egg aroma.
  • Best Used For: South Asian dishes and adding an egg-like flavor to vegan recipes.

Celtic Sea Salt

Celtic sea salt in a small jar.

Known as grey salt or sel gris, in French, Celtic sea salt is harvested from tidal pools in France. The salt is whole raw crystals filled with minerals like magnesium, calcium, and potassium, and an alkaline pH that helps with sodium assimilation in the body.

  • Taste: It has a salty mineral taste and a chunky texture.
  • Best Used For: Seasoning meats and fish, pickling, add to a grinder.

Fleur de sel (Flower of Salt)

Fleur de sel on a table.

Harvested from French tidal pools, but in the far northeast of the country, in Brittany. This is a specialty, paper-thin salt delicately taken from the surface of the water from a short-lived crystallization period. It has a blue-grey tinge and retains moisture well.

  • Taste: Light briny flavor, delicate and crunchy texture.
  • Best Used For: A good finishing salt for candy, vegetables, meat, seafood, grilled foods, salads, and baked goods.

Smoked Salt

A simple way to add salty and smoky flavors to dishes. Different types of wood can be used to impart unique flavors and aromas to the salt. The most common are apple wood, alder, mesquite, hickory, and oat.

  • Taste: Smoky, charred, and salty.
  • Best Used For: Adding to dry rubs and marinades to add a smoky taste. Great for barbecued meats and vegetables.

Pickling Salt

Used for pickling foods like cucumbers, onions, or other vegetables. It’s often a pure granulated salt with no added preservatives or ingredients to make the product flow better. This gives a cleaner, pickled taste and a clearer solution that doesn’t get dark and cloudy. It’s also called canning or preserving salt, and canned be used in those applications.

  • Taste: A clean salt taste with no added preservatives or flow agents.
  • Best Used For: Pickling, canning, and preserving foods.

Flake Sea Salt

Flake sea salt spread across a wooden table.

Flake salt is hand-harvested from saltwater and is irregularly shaped, often with unique large flat, square crystals that are beautiful. Low in mineral content.

  • Taste: Clean but intense salt flavor with a soft, crunchy texture.
  • Best Used For: A finishing salt to add texture and enhance the flavors of food. It’s often used in baking and confectionery for garnishing sweets.

Black and Red Hawaiian Salt

Two jars of black and red Hawaiian salt.

Both black and pink Hawaiian salts are volcanic salts with mythical properties back home on the Pacific islands. Red sea salts may contain volcanic clay, natural trace minerals, and electrolytes giving the earth tone colors. Black lava sea salt contains activated charcoal for the dark color.

  • Taste: Both coarse-grained and chunky, they add a sophisticated flavor burst.
  • Best Used For: Seasoning salads, vegetables, barbecued meats, fish, and poultry.

Nutritional aspects

There are low-salt diets and high-salt diets alike–it’s best to ask your doctor which may suit you best, if any. Generally, a healthy amount of salt usage is considered safe, especially during the home cooking process.

Sticking to whole foods and cooking at home is an excellent way to reduce salt intake and ensure that whatever you consume is well within the range of healthy consumption. Salt is also OK in special diets like Whole30, even the iodized table kind. Overall, it’s recommended that adults ingest no more than 2,300 mg daily– equal to about one teaspoon of salt.

Salt conversions

In small amounts below 1 teaspoon, most kinds of salts don’t need to be converted between recipes. However, as levels increase, so does the flavor impact. This is especially important when making a turkey brine that uses high amounts of salt.

The most popular types of salt to use in cooking and baking are table salt, kosher, sea, Himalayan, and pickling. The shape, sizes, and density vary greatly. Use the table below for salt conversion between varieties. [Source] I’ve included Diamond Crystal kosher salt, as the amount varies compared to Morton kosher salt.

Table SaltMorton Coarse Kosher SaltDiamond Crystal Kosher SaltFine Sea SaltCoarse Sea SaltFine Himalayan Pink SaltCoarse Himalayan Pink SaltMorton Canning & Pickling Salt
¼ teaspoon¼ teaspoon¼ teaspoon¼ teaspoon¼ teaspoon¼ teaspoon¼ teaspoon¼ teaspoon
1 teaspoon1 ¼ teaspoon2 teaspoons1 teaspoon1 teaspoon1 teaspoon1 teaspoon1 teaspoon
1 tablespoon1 tablespoon plus ¾ teaspoon2 tablespoons1 tablespoon1 tablespoon1 tablespoon plus ¼ teaspoon1 tablespoon plus ¼ teaspoon1 tablespoon
¼ cup¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon¼ cup plus ½ teaspoon¼ cup plus ½ teaspoon¼ cup ¼ cup plus 1 teaspoon¼ cup plus 1 ½ teaspoon¼ cup plus 1 teaspoon
½ cup½ cup plus
2 tablespoons
1 cup½ cup plus
1 teaspoon
½ cup plus½ cup plus½ cup plus½ cup
¾ cup¾ cup plus
3 tablespoons
1 ½ cups¾ cup plus
1 teaspoon
¾ cup plus ¼ teaspoon¾ cup plus
1 tablespoon
¾ cup plus
4 teaspoons
¾ cup
1 cup1 ¼ cups2 cups2 cups plus
1 tablespoon
2 cups plus
1 teaspoon
2 cups plus
3 tablespoons
2 ¼ cups2 cups
Salt Conversion Chart for Most Common Cooking and Baking Salts

How to use salt

  • Contamination: I store my kosher salt in a small wooden box for general cooking because I use it so frequently. However, if working with raw meat, add a small amount of salt to a separate bowl so that the salt stock does not get contaminated. Keep covered when not in use to prevent moisture pick up.
  • Amounts: Recipes provide a starting amount, usually leaving room to add more salt to taste. Cooking and baking salts typically use table salt, kosher salt, or sea salt. Try to follow directions and guidelines for type. However, make adjustments for quantity if you modify. It’s better to start with less because more can always be added.
  • Applying: When adding salt to food before cooking, it’s best to sprinkle it on at about 12-inches above the ingredient. This technique helps to evenly distribute the salt and prevent pockets that can become over-salted.

Ways to use different types of salt

Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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11 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Cimmay says

    I use 1 level tsp of HADDAR Kosher Mediterranean sea salt (sel cacher) in a bread machine recipe. The bread seems to come out well, just a little low in rising. Next time I’ll try 1.5 tsp. The crystals are large and irregular and have a unique flavor.

  2. Hans says

    Great article. In this context it might be useful / interesting to mention when and how to use other salting options, typically asian, such as miso, fish sauce and sow sauce, and if under certain circumstances certain dishes might benefit from using more than one salting option … ???

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Great suggestion, Hans! I’ll keep your suggestion in mind for future articles. I typically always use a combination, especially since asian ingredients have differing flavor profiles compared to just salt alone.

  3. Marilyn says

    I subscribed 5 days ago and love your wonderful tips. I was amazed about the history of salt. Going to change my salt in my pantry cupboard. About to go onto your next tip.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Welcome, Marilyn! I’m thrilled to hear that you are enjoying the tips. Let me know what salts you end up purchasing.

  4. Joseph says

    Nice article but the comments on any of these being rich in minerals is misleading. The quantities used for cooking will only add a trace amount of minerals bordering on insignificant from a nutritional perspective.

    Hope this helps,


  5. Joe Macaluso says

    Jessica, what a great blog. I recently started to follow you and I am very impressed with your recipes and your science contributions. Keep up the good work.

  6. Michael Redbourn says

    I like your blog but wanted to add that fleur de sel is also produced in Portugal, Spain, Greece, Canada, Mexico and Brasil.