Food and Recipes Seasonings Everything You Need To Know About Different Types of Salt Yes, there's a big difference between kosher salt and table salt. By Marissa Wu Marissa Wu Marissa Wu is a writer with a love for home, food, travel, and art stories. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University. When not editing and producing articles or updating the homepage, she's trying new recipes, jolting along in her manual transmission car, Fitz; hammering out a manuscript on her 1930s Royal Aristocrat typewriter, Georgie; and making film photographs with her Rolleiflex, Cecil. She's currently an Associate SEO Editor for PureWow. Southern Living's editorial guidelines Updated on January 16, 2023 Fact checked by Khara Scheppmann Fact checked by Khara Scheppmann Khara Scheppmann has 12 years of marketing and advertising experience, including proofreading and fact-checking. She previously worked at one of the largest advertising agencies in the southwest. brand's fact checking process Share Tweet Pin Email In This Article View All In This Article Sea Salt vs. Table Salt vs. Kosher Salt How is Salt Made? How to Use Finishing Salt Getting Fancy: Specialty Salts Stand in the salt section of the grocery store, and it's quickly apparent that you have options. Though a pantry staple, salt isn't always on the forefront of the home cook's mind. We simply take for granted that it's there. However, there are many different types of salt that make a difference in your recipe. McCormick Executive Chef of Culinary Development, Hadar Cohen Aviram, shares the key characteristics of various salts and where they'll shine best. Getty Images Sea Salt vs. Table Salt vs. Kosher Salt They may seem similar, but they aren't interchangeable. "All salt must adhere to the FDA definition of salt," Cohen Aviram says. "The difference is in the grain size and shape. The salt crystals in fine salt are much smaller and more unified in shape, while Kosher salt's crystals are bigger, flatter, and oddly shaped." So, when your recipe calls for a teaspoon of Kosher salt, you'll get a lot more than you bargained for by swapping it with table salt in terms of dish texture and saltiness. How is Salt Made? Not all salt is created equal. The source and method of harvesting can differ. "Salt can be harvested on land—from rock deposits, or at sea—by evaporating seawater," Cohen Aviram says. "The slower the evaporation, the bigger the crystals will be—and the more expensive." Additionally, you should know that not all salts are iodized. According to Cohen Aviram, salt must be treated with sodium iodide or potassium iodide, as iodide does not naturally occur in it. Unless specified on the packaging, don't assume your salt is iodized. How to Use Finishing Salt As the name implies, you'll add a finishing salt to the completed dish instead of incorporating it early in the recipe. "The bigger crystals deliver a pleasant mouthfeel, enhancing the food experience," Cohen Aviram shares. Finishing salts can impact everything from afternoon drinks to brunch. Larger crystals are why you can perfectly rim a margarita glass and why avocado toast and summer tomatoes just taste better with a little sprinkling. "These bigger, flakier crystals will create pleasant flavor explosions of saltiness in your mouth, even if very subtle," Cohen Aviram says. Getting Fancy: Specialty Salts Beyond our usual table, sea, and kosher salts, many fun salts are available, all with their unique flavor profile and harvesting process. Cohen Aviram says that cooks should use salts sparingly as they plate your dish for best results. Adding these finishing salts as an ingredient in your recipe is a waste as they will completely dissolve, and you won't be able to enjoy the texture. Fleur de Sel & Sel Gris The sophisticated-sounding fleur de sel and sel gris are two salts cultivated in the same region of France. The difference between the two is in the harvesting—sel gris is allowed to touch the bottom of the ocean before harvest, which gives it a grey color and slightly moist consistency. Cohen Aviram recommends using it on salads, eggs, and pasta. Pink Salt "Pink salt gets its orange-pink hue from traces of minerals like magnesium, potassium, and calcium," Cohen Aviram says. "Those are tiny amounts, so they won't do much for you as a dietary supplement. It will, however, be gorgeous coarsely sprinkled on light-color dishes: Think cured salmon, avocado toast, ravioli, and even brownies." Himalayan Black Salt This type of volcanic rock salt contains traces of Sulphur compounds, giving the salt a "funky, eggy flavor," as Cohen Aviram calls it. "It can be used to create an egg-like flavor profile even when eggs are not part of the recipe. It plays a key role in the Indian Chaat Masala blend. It won't be the same without it." Hawaiian Alaea Red Salt Another volcanic salt, Alaea red salt, gets its tint from red clay. Compared to table salt, it's mellow in taste and crunchy, thanks to the large grain size. Alaea red salt is a great garnish for Hawaiian dishes like poke and a sugar enhancer when used in confections. Black Lava Salt "This salt is enriched with activated charcoal, which can be consumed," Cohen Aviram says. "This is another finishing salt that will be very aesthetically pleasing on anything from seafood such as shrimp and scallops to watermelon or tomatoes." Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources Southern Living is committed to using high-quality, reputable sources to support the facts in our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we fact check our content for accuracy. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Iodine. Bitterman M. Salted: A Manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral, with Recipes [a Cookbook]. Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed; 2010. Fayet-Moore F, Wibisono C, Carr P, et al. An analysis of the mineral composition of pink salt available in Australia. Foods. 2020;9(10):1490. doi:10.3390/foods9101490 MasterClass. What is black salt? 3 ways to use Himalayan black salt. Rettich, Timothy, A grain of salt. Honorees for Teaching Excellence. 2020 University of Hawai‘i. Traditional ways of knowing: salt harvesting.