6 Common Types of Cooking Salt—and When to Use Each One

Sea Salt

In general, sea salt is finer and less concentrated than many of your other options. The finer crystals made it easier to control delicate foods like fish and shellfish. It’s also great for baking because it will disperse evenly, so you don’t wind up with any salty pockets in your cakes or cookies.

But not all types of sea salt are the same—some are coarser and more concentrated, but these types often go by other names (more on that in a bit).

Kosher Salt

Despite its name, kosher salt isn’t necessarily always kosher. It’s called that because its the best salt to use for koshering meat (it’s also sometimes called koshering salt), a process of removing blood that involves rinsing, soaking, and salting.

It has a lower salinity (different brands have different levels of salinity), which makes over-salting more difficult and its coarseness allows it to be picked up and spread evenly with the fingers. It’s best to use for salting meat or pots of water.

Iodized Salt

Also known as table salt – usually contains anti-clumping agents that give it a distinctive, slightly metallic taste—one that most professional cooks do not enjoy. It’s also highly processed and has a weaker salinity and flavor, so it definitely isn’t the best option to cook with. If at a restaurant and need to add a bit of table salt to your food, it definitely won’t hurt, but in general, it’s best to stick with something else in the kitchen. (If baking something that calls for salt and the recipe doesn’t specify, iodized salt will be fine.)

Coarse Salt

Many coarse salts also come from the sea, but they should be used differently than their finer counterparts because they’re more concentrated and they don’t dissolve as easily. Better to use them as a topping at the end than an ingredient during the cooking process. Its more for finishing or garnishing when you’re looking for a dramatic contrast, like on a sweet dessert or it can be used for baking salt-crusted fish, beets, or potatoes.

A few of the most common kinds of coarse salt include sel gris, gros sel, and fleur de sel.

Flaky Salt

Flaky salt is more enjoyed for its texture than its taste. It has a pleasant, crispy texture that is great for finishing touches, especially when you are looking for that salty bite on a dish. It’s also a bit pricier than the other salts on this list, so avoid using it for general cooking and save it for when you’re really showing off your cooking skills.

The most common type of flaky salt you’ll find is Maldon sea salt, which chefs around the world can’t stop raving about.

Pink Himalayan Salt

Pink salt is a type of rock salt that gets its color from trace minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium. These extra minerals also give the salt a slightly different flavor—save it for finishing a dish so you can really enjoy its nuances. You can buy it both finely and coarsely ground, and you may even see it sold in slabs, which make great platters for presentation and also add a bit of flavor to the food sitting on top.