Remember when there used to be one kind of salt at the grocery store? With all the options crowding the shelves, who knows which to use for what? Use this guide to help you find the right salt for your recipe.


Everyday Salts

Keep these go-tos around for most of your baking and cooking needs.

salt box

1. Kosher Salt

This Test Kitchen workhorse is quick-dissolving, and its large flakes give you more control when grabbing a pinch. Diamond Crystal brand is a favorite because of its lightness and lack of anti-caking agents, which keeps the flavor clean.

2. Fine Sea Salt

Cooks use this as a substitute for conventional table salt, because it has the same teeny crystals and comparable sodium content, without the bitterness. (But, despite the rumors, it's no healthier than regular salt.) Rachael's Salt from the Sea falls into the "fine sea" category and makes a great stand-in for table salt. 

Finishing Salts

These guys are full of cool flavor, but can be a bit pricey, so reserve them for the final flourish.

flake sea salt on chocolate chip cookie
Credit: Photography by Levi Brown/Trunk Archive

1. Flake Sea Salt

This salt's large crystals give food a beautiful look and crunchy finish. Try Maldon or Jacobsen's (two widely available brands) on grilled steak or chocolate chip cookies.

2. Artisanal Sea Salt

This is the stuff your fancy foodie friend swears by. The most commonly available—fleur de sel, sel gris and Celtic salt—range in color from white to pale gray and have a slight mineral flavor that turns simple roasted meats and vegetables into flavor explosions.

3. Himalayan Pink Salt

Harvested in the mountains of Pakistan, this salt is often sold in block form and looks like a lovely slab of pink granite. It gets its color from its mineral content, and it tastes—and looks—beautiful on vegetables or seafood.

4. Black Lava Sea Salt

This mild, earthy Hawaiian salt owes its jet-black color to the charcoal in the volcanic clay that's added to the seawater before it's dried. For dramatic impact, sprinkle over salads, eggs and poke.