Learn the difference between all kinds of salts to use on your table

I’ve always considered having options a good thing, especially in the kitchen. There are so many unique flavors to choose from, which makes cooking even more fun in my book. There are certain ingredients that can both overpower a dish or significantly amplify it. For me, salt is that ingredient. A pinch of salt can be the difference between perfectly savory or feeling like your crunching on a salt lick. The amount of salt you put into a dish isn’t the only things that can pose a potential problem though—with so many salt options on the market, how’s a girl to choose which one to use in a recipe?

Since I recently found myself asking the same question, I decided to do a little research. To my surprise, I discovered a handful of different salts suitable for cooking, brining and pickling. Some are used as flavor enhancers while other are used as garnishes or essential ingredients. If you’ve found yourself wondering which salt is best for your favorite dishes, I’ve done the dirty work for you. Below you’ll find six of the most common salts, what their composition is made of, and how you should be using them in the kitchen. Keep scrolling to get the lowdown on salt 101…

Kosher Salt

Let’s start with kosher salt. This salt is originally known for seasoning meat and has a flaky, coarse structure that differentiates itself from table salt. Kosher salt is less likely to contain additives like iodine and anti-caking agents used in table salt to keep it from clumping. This type of salt is ideal for using in cooking—it dissolves quickly and is good to use before, during and after cooking.

Table Salt

Probably the most well-known of the salts, table salt is highly refined, heavily ground and is almost pure sodium chloride. Most of the impurities and trace minerals in table salt are removed and iodine is almost always added into it. Like I mentioned above, table salt usually has anti-caking agents in it so that it doesn’t get all clumpy in your salt shaker. While you can still add this kind of salt into your favorite dishes, table salt is best used for last minute seasoning.

Sea Salt

Sea salt gets its name because it is made by evaporating seawater. Like table salt, sea salt is mostly composed of sodium chloride with some amount of trace minerals like potassium, iron and zinc. Sea salt is coarser than table salt and the size affects how quickly it will dissolve. To add bursts of flavor to your cooking, sprinkle a little sea salt to add the finishing touch to meals. 

Himalayan Pink Salt

This next salt may sound a little bit familiar to my LaurenConrad.com readers. Himalayan pink salt contains 84 trace minerals and elements, making it more nutritious for your body that most other salts. It often contains small amounts of calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium just to name a few. Himalayan salt contains slightly lower amounts of sodium that table salt too, making it more appealing to consume. Fun fact: the iron oxide found in Himalayan salt gives it its pink color. Cook with Himalayan pink salt or sip some water infused with it after your next workout.

Fleur De Sel

This salt is one of my favorites and one that I became very familiar with while working on my book Celebrate (it photographs really nicely on food).  Fleur de sel is more delicate than other salts and looks like little snowflakes. This salt is not meant for seasoning a dish while cooking since it will melt and lose its soft, powdery shape. Because fleur de sel is the most complex in flavor of the different salts, use this one lightly. Sprinkle fleur de sel on food right before it is consumed since it is the saltier of salts.

Pickling Salt

Last but not least we have pickling salt. The name itself gives away what it is used for, but pickling salt is also great for brining, canning and preserving as well. Pickling salt is pure, granulated salt and does not contain anti-caking ingredients or iodine like table salt does.

After reading this, you’re now a guaranteed salt pro. Here’s to improving your cooking skills one grain of salt at a time.

Which one of these salts do you use most often?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

XO Lauren

Photos: Jessi Burrone for LaurenConrad.com
Sources: Authority Nutrition, Real Simple, Wonder How To
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