The Best Salts For Cooking and Finishing

When you’re walking past the massive wall of salts in the grocery store, there are a ton of options. It’s hard to know which ones to use and how to use them.

As a general rule of thumb, you want to avoid iodized salt, use kosher salt for cooking, and use sea salt for finishing. But even within those categories, there are a lot of options, so today I’m going to break down each category for you and give you recommendations you can use.

Iodized Salt:

Let’s start with the most common salt out there: iodized salt, also known as table salt. This is the kind of salt most of us grew up with.

Unfortunately, this stuff is awful, because it's heavily refined and processed. If you crack open a container of iodized salt and pour it out, the salt streams out smoothly and evenly. 

This is because during the refinement process, all of the essential minerals that are good for your body are stripped away. In their place, they add anti-caking agents which often include aluminum. These additives build up in your brain and can cause cancer and other major health issues. Iodized salt is also bleached.

The flavor is extremely salty without all the essential minerals, and your body can't process the salt properly in such a refined form. I would stay away from this stuff at all costs because it's so heavily processed.

“The flavor is extremely salty without all the essential minerals, and your body can't process the salt properly in such a refined form.”

Kosher Salt:

Instead I recommend that you cook with kosher salt. There are two main kinds of kosher salt you want to cook with: Morton's or Diamond Crystal. I feel like if you're an East Coast chef, you love Diamond Crystal, and if you're from the Midwest you love Morton's. 

The term “kosher salt” doesn't refer to the fact that a rabbi has blessed the salt - he hasn’t. It refers to the fact that they use it for the koshering process, to pull the blood out of animals to certify it to be kosher. 

One unique quality of kosher salt is the signature texture of the salt crystals. It’s really easy to pick up kosher salt and pinch it over food.

If I try to do that with sea salt or iodized table salt, it's like sand; it would fall through my fingers. It’s easy to over-season food that way, so kosher salt makes it much easier.

The only thing I don't like about this kosher salt, whether it's Morton's or Diamond Crystal, is that it's bleached pure white. Instead, there's a brand called Real Salt, and this stuff is the real deal. It's a pure, unrefined sea salt from Utah.

An ancient seabed dried up, and this company is mining this salt with over 50 minerals in it that your body can absorb. It tastes phenomenal, and they make both a fine sea salt (for finishing), and a kosher sea salt for cooking. 

It’s more expensive than Morton’s and Diamond Crystal. But I just don’t love the fact that those brands are bleached, it bothers me, so if you can afford to make the switch to Real Salt, I recommend it. And if you can't afford it, Morton’s and Diamond Crystal kosher salts are still a way better option than iodized table salt.

Sea Salt:

I don’t recommend cooking with sea salt, because it’s expensive. Instead, use sea salts for finishing, because it adds texture and a pop of flavor.

My favorite sea salt is Maldon Sea Salt Flakes from England. They're known for their signature pyramid-shaped salt crystals. Imagine cooking a steak, slicing it open and pinching this over the top! It adds texture, crunch, and that salty mineral flavor that I love.

Finally, another one of my favorite salts is Himalayan Pink Salt. This is from Pakistan, the Himalayan mountain ranges specifically, and it's become very popular the last few years. It contains over 80 minerals that can be absorbed by the human body.

Each of these salts is a great option for finishing your meals, to give them that extra texture and flair!