Does it really matter what kind of salt you’re using? YES! And no.
When it comes down to it, all of the different types and brands of salt are chemically the same. The biggest difference is the size of the grain, which can affect how much salt is making it into your dish. Varying grain size leads to different bulk densities -- meaning a cup of kosher salt has less salt power than a cup of fine sea salt. Small grains = tightly packed. But that’s enough science.
Here’s a quick reference guide on our favorite types of salt and how to use them.
The Workhorse. Medium sized grains that are easy to pinch and drop. Put this stuff in a salt cellar and keep next to your stove for easy access. Use this as your go-to salt for everyday cooking or when recipes specifically call for it. Our favorite brand is Diamond Kosher because it’s affordable, has an ideal grain size and dissolves quickly.
FLAKY SEA SALT
The Finale. Huge ol’ grains of salt that look like small pyramids. This is what you use to add a crunchy salty punch on the top of a finished dish, like sprinkling on tomato toast or topping a salad. We love the brand Maldon because it’s been a tried-and-true staple since 1882 and because it’s available pretty much everywhere.
FINE SEA SALT
The Baker’s Fav. Tiny grains of salt that dissolve ultra-fast. Bakers love this stuff because it disperses quickly and evenly in doughs and creams. Since baking is more of an exact science, make sure to use fine salt when measuring for recipes. Our favorite is La Baleine, but when it comes to fine sea salt, brands are all interchangeable.
IODIZED TABLE SALT
The Salt Shaker. Minuscule grains of salt that are perfect for a salt shaker. We don’t recommend using this for cooking unless you’re in a bind. Throw it in a strange vintage salt shaker you found at your grandmother's house and store on the dinner table. (Unless of course you’d rather have Maldon out there like us). Morton iodized salt is the standard in this situation.
BOUGIE ARTISANAL SALT
The Gifter. We all have that container of flavored sea salt harvested from somewhere exotic and gifted to us by a family member who knew we liked food. It’s not really useful. It’s not really different than any other salt. We don’t really have a recommendation on how or when to use it. Just don’t buy it for yourself.
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TLDR: Different salts have different grain sizes and therefore different uses. Use kosher salt for everyday cooking. Flaky sea salt for garnishing. Fine sea salt for baking. Iodized salt for salt shakering. And bougie salt if you're feeling bougie.