Skip to main content

You’re not using enough kosher salt in your cooking

Kosher salt: Learn how to properly use this magic crystal, no spells required

Salt is the single-most important item a cook has in the kitchen, followed only by a sharp, trusty chef’s knife. The sad truth, though, is that salt is also one of the most misused ingredients around. With the power to elevate everyday, humdrum dishes into masterpieces and turn mundane ingredients into savory temptations, this little crystal is more powerful than any others you may find in a new-age shop.

Though we won’t excuse them, there are lots of reasons for our misuse of salt, and it’s time we turn our behavior around. By understanding what we’ve done wrong, we can move forward with self-awareness, newfound knowledge, and healthy boundaries. Salt, we promise to do better.

The first step on our road to reconciliation is understanding our fears. Not without reason, to be sure, we’ve been taught to view sodium as an enemy and a health hazard. There are certainly those out there who should be monitoring their salt intake. Cutting back on high-sodium drinks and snack foods is a smart start to reducing sodium and a good choice for optimum health overall. But if we’re honest, properly seasoned, home-cooked food is very seldom the problem.

Another common fear is over-salting food, so we tend to overcorrect and err on the side of blandness. This fear likely stems from the old habit of using table salt instead of kosher salt. So how do we fix that?


What is the difference between salt and kosher salt?

Regular salt, also known as iodized or table salt, is the fine crystal variety you find in salt shakers — and in our opinion, that’s where it belongs. Trap it in there and never let it escape. Unless, you know, you’re making salt dough ornaments with your kids or something. Look, we know people have been using this salt for ages, but it’s time to make the transition to kosher salt.

If you’re wondering what “iodized” means, you’re in good company. Iodine has been added to salt since the 1920s as a way to combat iodine deficiencies. It’s a wholesome idea, to be sure, but not worth the artificial off-putting taste this salt provides. The taste of table salt is stronger, harsher, and more chemical than kosher salt.

Because of its potency, it’s very easy to over-season your food when using this version. If you read “1 tablespoon kosher salt” in a recipe, do not use a tablespoon of iodized as a substitution unless you want to end up with a dish that tastes like a salt lick. This old-fashioned ingredient has some useful household purposes, but cooking shouldn’t be one of them.

Kosher salt, on the other hand, is a larger crystal variety that is generally not iodized. Easier to work with and more natural tasting, kosher salt is a much better alternative for your kitchen counter. It’s also much more fun to add kosher salt to food when you’re cooking. Reaching into a cool little salt cellar and letting the salt rain down into your dish from your expert fingers will bring out your inner Food Network Star.

Salt shaker will salt pouring out.

Should you add salt when cooking?

People often wonder when during the cooking process they should be seasoning their food. The short answer is this: Season mostly in the beginning stages of cooking, adding as needed throughout the process. If, for example, you’re making a soup that first requires vegetables to be sautéed, season the vegetables as they cook before adding other ingredients like stock. This will give the salt time to penetrate through the ingredients, flavoring them completely and evenly. If salt is added at the end of cooking — or worse, once the dish has been plated — it has almost no time to do anything but give your tongue an artificial-tasting coating of salt before the food reaches your palate.

How do you know how much salt to use?

If you haven’t been cooking for a long time or you’re a sucker for strict recipes and want to know exact quantities of every single last ingredient, this is probably a frustrating issue for you. Admittedly, I’ve received quite a few eyerolls when asked for a recipe because my answer usually sounds something like “season to taste” or “just add a little of this or that”.

Here’s the thing: There are too many factors to give a definitive answer. Every palate, every dish, and every salt brand is different. However, here are some very rough guidelines, if this makes you more comfortable.

  • 1-2 teaspoons kosher salt per pound of meat
  • 1 1/2-3 teaspoons kosher salt per 4 cups of soups or sauces
  • 2-3 teaspoons kosher salt per 4 cups of water (for blanching vegetables or boiling pasta)
spilled salt next to a clear glass salt shaker.

Is Morton salt better than Diamond Crystal?

These two popular brands both offer kosher salt, but the two products can’t always be used interchangeably. This is because, depending on the recipe, volume can make a big difference, and these two salts are quite different in terms of size. The difference in crystal size is due to the different processing of the two brands. Morton kosher salt is processed by being crushed under high-pressure rollers. The process for Diamond Crystal salt is entirely different, as that company uses a pan-evaporation technique. Diamond Crystal’s process creates a crystal that’s about twice the size of a Morton salt crystal.

So why does this matter? Just as table salt is more concentrated than kosher salt due to its smaller crystals, Morton kosher salt is more concentrated than Diamond Crystal for the same reason. This certainly doesn’t make one brand better or worse than the other; they’re simply different. If you’re looking for a more potent, concentrated salt, Morton is the way to go. If you’d prefer a bit more forgiveness in your cooking and less fear of over-seasoning, Diamond Crystal is the kosher salt for you.

Editors' Recommendations

Lindsay Parrill
Lindsay is a graduate of California Culinary Academy, Le Cordon Bleu, San Francisco, from where she holds a degree in…
Sotol is the super sustainable alternative to tequila that you’re going to love
Sotol is gaining ground, and given its sustainable nature, it's likely only going to become more popular
Los Magos Sotol field image.

While agave spirits like tequila and mezcal continue to surge in popularity, that may not last forever. Due to sustainability issues — not to mention recent chatter about all the additives in many tequilas — a new player is almost surely going to enjoy some of the limelight. That player is sotol, sometimes known as sotol tequila, and thanks to a more regenerative growing process, this Mexican spirit is poised for a breakout.

It helps that sotol is delicious. While similar to tequila, it's made from a different plant species. Tequila is made from agave, harvested whole, and ultimately replanted, a process that involves a roughly seven-year turnaround time. Sotol, on the other hand, is made from a wild and spiny evergreen plant that grows naturally in arid areas.

Read more
Mitchell & Ness teamed up with Miller Lite on throwback gear to help you look like your dad
We love this Mitchell & Ness collection for Miller Lite
mitchell and ness miller lite athletic wear collaboration x  amp club collection full suit 3


It seems everyone loves the '80s, and honestly, what's not to love? The simpler times, the yuppies, MTV, and, of course, the fashion. Mitchell & Ness Nostalgia Co., a renowned seller of historically accurate vintage sports apparel, is capitalizing on that throwback trend with another partnership with Miller Lite. Together, they have launched a limited-edition collection that "gives a fresh take on the nostalgia of the original Athletic Club line" that originated in that decade. That's right! Now you can own vintage-inspired crew necks, sweatpants, t-shirts, windbreakers, and hats that will take you all the way back to that classic '80s vibe.
What's in the collection?
Pieces from the collection range from $35 to $100, according to a press release,  made with "premium fabrics, providing high-quality pieces that are built to last." This includes a classic crewneck sweatshirt that is unisex and comes with ribbed side panels for maximum stretch, ribbing at the cuffs for a truly '80s look, and the Miller Lite Athletic Club emblem on the front for $80. Also in the collection are the snapback hat in navy ($35), a navy windbreaker (because you can't have a throwback line without a windbreaker) for $100, sweats, and a 100% polyester unisex satin navy jacket ($95) to cap off the look. It can't get much more '80s than this.

Read more
How to cook on a Himalayan salt block
It doesn't get much cooler than cooking on a Himalayan salt block
Himalayan rock salt blocks with meat

If you've spent any amount of time on our site, you should know by now that we love a good cast-iron pan. The reasons for this are many -- their extreme versatility, their evenness of cooking temperature, and the beautifully golden crust they so generously give to almost anything cooking inside. The list goes on and on.

What if we were to tell you, though, that there is another object that can work the same magic? Not only can it do what a cast-iron pan does, but the show-off factor of cooking this way is pretty spectacular. Let us present the Himalayan salt block.

Read more