All About Salt

One of the most common questions we get is what the differences are between all the varieties of salt. Some of you might be raising your eyebrows–I mean, salt is salt, right? A little yes, but mostly no. And we’re here to help you figure out those mysterious differences.
Table Salt vs. Coarse Salt
Before I get into the different types of salt, it’s important to note that table salt and coarse salt (kosher salt and sea salt, for example) have different size and texture. Table salt has a finer texture, so if you have 1 teaspoon of table salt and 1 teaspoon of coarse salt, the teaspoon of table salt is going to be saltier. If you’re substituting table salt for coarse salt, you’ll want to use a little less (like, for instance, a scant teaspoon rather than a level teaspoon) salt than the amount that’s been called for. If you’re subtituting coarse salt for table salt, you’ll want to use a bit more–like a heaping teaspoon of coarse salt rather than a level teaspoon.
Iodized Salt
Another concern I hear a lot regarding salt is iodine. Iodine, just like the salt people tell you, is important. However. Your body only needs a tiny bit. I generally don’t use a lot of iodized table salt (although I WILL tell you when I do use it! 🙂 ). I think it has an overwhelming, almost burning, chemical taste to it. I would be more concerned about my potential iodine deficiency if I weren’t an American, eating lots of foods that already contain plenty of iodized salt in them. While I do use it from time to time, I haven’t cooked regularly with table salt in about 6-7 years and I have miraculously survived, so…take that for what it’s worth. 🙂
Table Salt
Like I mentioned earlier, most table salt is iodized and it is very concentrated and salty. Because of its uniform size and shape, is ideal for baked goods. Pretty much the only time I use table salt is in baked sweets like cookies, brownies, and cakes (although I do prefer coarse salt for breads). On the flip side, it’s not the best choice for seasoning mixes and meat rubs.
Some recipes that use table salt include:
Kosher Salt
Kosher salt is my salt of choice. I just buy a big box of it with a pour top and then fill a shaker from Ikea with it as well as a small Tupperware-type bowl for pinching and sprinkling. Kosher salt is less dense than table salt and has some texture to it, so it’s great for meat rubs because it draws the juices to the surface of the meat. It also dissolves quickly and has a nice, clean flavor with minimal aftertaste, so it’s great for use as a garnish, not only to make the presentation more interesting, but also to lightly accentuate and enhance the flavors of the food (or drinks–Kosher salt is the salt of choice for the rims of margaritas and other cocktails). I use Kosher salt almost exclusively–you can try it out in:
Sea Salt
Sea salt, unlike Kosher and table salts, is not mined but rather gained by evaporating sea water. Like Kosher salt, it generally has a more delicate flavor than table salt. Sea salt can range from something you’ll find in your average grocery store salt to fancy schmancy salts coming from various regions of the world. You’re most likely to encounter flake salt, which is great for sprinkling on top of meats once they’re cooked; Fleur de Sel, which is generally from France and great for enhancing the natural, earthy flavors of salads and cooked vegetables; and salt in a grinder, which allows you to freshly grind the salt and adjust its coarseness.
Sea salt is almost always interchangeable with Kosher salt. Try it on:
Sprinkle a TINY bit of flaked sea salt over the melted Rolos on Sara’s Easy Pretzel Turtles
Rock Salt
Rock salt is pretty much inedible. It is extremely heavy and concentrated and designed for use on icy walkways and in ice cream makers that require ice and salt. You can use it with:
If you have an ice cream maker that doesn’t have a gel canister, you can also use it to make:
Cherry Chocolate Chip Ice CreamWe also have great informational posts about the following things:
Flour Facts
All about Oils

30 comments

  1. Oooolala that salsa looks scrumptious! I had never thought to add my sea salts to my salsa recipes. I will have to give this a try. Thank you so much for your efforts to bring us such a beautiful blog. I admire this.
    De Cherie

  2. What is the difference in salt substitute that I get at the grocery store? It really looks basically like the same ingredients. I'm not sure if I'm doing myself any good or not 🙁

  3. i'm a kosher salt girl thanks to the pionner woman. i need to find something to keep in in though. maybe a trip to ikea will be necessary!

  4. Great info, thanks for posting it! Just yesterday I was trying your World's Best Dinner Rolls for the first time and didn't have Kosher salt so I used sea salt (they turned out great still!). I've been wondering what the difference was. Love your blog!

  5. Awesome post…thanks for the clarification. I'm a table salt junkie, mostly because of lack of knowledge. I'm loving your blog and sharing it with anyone who will listen! THANKS!

  6. Jenna–generally, the finer the salt, the more concentrated the saltiness is. So 1 level tsp. of table salt would be more like 1 heaping tsp. of Kosher or coarse sea salt, and 1 level tsp. of coarse salt would be 1 scant tsp. of table salt. Hope that helps!

  7. Now I thought I was up on my salts, using sea salt exclusively on fresh foods and the table salt strickly for baking. But you threw in that Kosher salt and it looks like I may have to switch to that! Humph! I just bought an iodized table salt this morning…now to use that up first. Makes sense about us AMericans not needing to worry about that trace mineral. THanks for all the info.

  8. Thank You! It was actually your tutorials that drew me into your site even before the recipes. (I was in serious need of some kitchen help). You have gotten me on Kosher salt…I love it!

  9. Sea salt contains iodine naturally so if you are trying to avoid iodized salt, don't assume you can use sea salt instead. We learned this when our son had to be on a low iodine diet to prepare for some radioactive treatment. We had to make everything from scratch, such as bread, cereal/granola, pancakes, etc., and use non-iodized salt. We were told specifically to avoid sea salt. It was a lot of work, and a lot of dirty dishes, but it tasted awesome. Hopefully none of you have to be on a low-iodine diet.

  10. Just yesterday I went to my doctor and he has prescribed iodine tablets. In mg quantities it helps with PCOS and other cyst problems, chronic fatigue syndrome, hormonal imbalances and a lot more.

  11. On SALT..when you are on a low sodium diet you can use a salt sub. I use half in most recipes and most need no salt.The daily sodium level for adults is 2000mg. There are also low sodiun baking powders and baking soda’s available. “Think Smart and Save your Heart” I made your dinner rolls and french bread without salt Very Good.

  12. I remember reading somewhere that for recipes that call for adding salt before bringing ingredients to a boil, or simmering for a longish period of time, one may as well use the less expensive iodized table salt because the iodine taste will “boil out”. The writer said it was no use wasting any good salt in such a recipe when the taste will ultimately be the exact same. However, for recipes that call for salt to be added right before serving or at the end of cooking, a non-iodized salt should be used. I can’t remember the source so I suppose we should, um, take it with a grain of salt. Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

    1. You know, I don’t really have a preference either way when boiling water, but since kosher salt really is so cheap, it doesn’t bother me to use it when boiling water. That’s an interesting factoid, though–I’ll have to do some digging. 🙂

  13. I really love all your info! Can’t wait to dig through it more! Please be careful with your iodine levels. I am a thyroid cancer survivor and as such I have done a lot of research on thyroid problems. Thyroids NEED iodine. Many places have enough in their water supply, but if you drink bottled water and mostly eat home made, please have it checked at your next physical. My water does not have enough iodine in it, and my son is a picky eater, so his doctor insists on checking his because of my history.

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