What is Kosher Salt and What Is It Used For?

Chemically all salts are the same, use whatever you have on hand. But what is kosher salt and why do recipes call for it?
What is kosher salt? What is the difference between table salt and kosher salt? What is the difference between kosher salt and sea salt? This image features table salt, kosher salt and sea salt flakes in teaspoons

Kosher Salt is a coarsely ground salt, with large, wide, and flakelike grains. It is easy to pinch and distribute evenly, while at the same time Kosher salt is not iodized and is free of additives or anti-caking agents. It is the #1 on the most popular list of spices, and is great for cooking.

Kosher salt flakes look like small mayan temples under a microscope. How cool is that??

What Makes Salt Kosher?

Okay, so take a look at your average grain of table salt. It’s small right? Kosher salt crystals are larger. Larger means they dissolve slower and are capable of drawing in blood and other moisture from meats.

As they remove the moisture the meat becomes kosher, since the salts and remaining liquids can easily be washed off.

If you try the same with table salt you will get a piece of meat with a salty coating on it, as it dissolves nearly instantaneously. Not good.

A better description for kosher salt would be koshering salt, but manufacturers are lazy, and they started to package and market it as “Kosher Salt”.

Although salt is usually kosher by default, its use, and not the salt itself is related to judaism. If you want to make sure that your salt is “kosher”, then you have to check the specific brand you bought.

What is the difference between kosher salt and regular salt?

Table salt usually contains iodine, which might result in a metallic aftertaste. Kosher salt is free from any additives and has a nice, clean taste.

The grains are larger in kosher salt, which cling to meat like no tomorrow, whereas table Salt (regular salt) consists of small, similar sized and shaped cubes packed densely together.

Check out these two gifs below. I have used a pinch of salt on both occasions, same three finger pinch method. Notice how I was able to distribute kosher salt with way more precision compared to table salt. The quantities are also eye opening, table salt was flowing through my fingers freely, like soft sand. There was no control whatsoever.

Table SaltKosher Salt
table salt is hard to distribute. This is a table salt gifkosher salt distributes evenly. this is a kosher salt gif

Table salt flows from your fingers like fine sand, and contains anti-caking agent(s).

  • Measured by weight, both salts are equally salty
  • Measured by volume, you need more kosher salt to achieve the same saltiness as with table salt, since the grains are larger

What is the difference between kosher salt and sea salt?

As said before, salt is salt. But Sea Salt is the least processed of all salts. The flakes of sea salt contain additional minerals, which might alter the color of the salt.

Sea salt is generally more expensive than kosher salt. It may be coarse or finely ground, and depending on that there are various shapes and sizes depending on brand and type.

Use sea salt for garnishing dishes at the last minute before serving.

Kosher salt vs table salt, kosher salt vs sea salt. All three salts compared to eachother. Table salt has much smaller grains, and flows like sand.
Sea salt flakes look stunning O.O

Difference between various brands of Kosher Salt

The two most known salt brands are Morton’s kosher salt and Diamond Crystal kosher salt, so I will focus mainly on these two.

Obviously there are no chemical differences between the two salts.

Different processes of production result in different shapes of grains. Morton’s thin crystals are a result of crushing salt granules between rollers, whereas Diamond Crystal has a patented evaporating process that leads to the Mayan temple like shape

“Slabs of rock” can be packed more densely than “Mayan temples”, so you’ll need less of Morton’s kosher salt for the same saltiness

Whatever your choice, stick to your favorite brand and get used to how salty a “pinch of salt” is.

Kosher Salt Conversion Table

Table SaltKosher saltFine Sea Salt
1/4 teaspoon1/4 teaspoon1/4 teaspoon
1 teaspoon1 + 1/4 teaspoons1 teaspoon
1 tablespoon1 tablespoon + 3/4 teaspoon1 tablespoon + 1/4 teaspoon
1/4 cup1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon1/4 cup + 2 teaspoons
1/2 cup1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon
1 cup1 cup + 1/4 cup1 cup + 4 teaspoons

What is Kosher Salt used for?

  • Use it for all cooking and seasoning purposes, especially steaks, meats, dry rubs and other seasoning mixtures
  • Use kosher salt for salt-rimming Margarita glasses
  • Do not use kosher salt for baking, as the large crystals dissolve slower and unevenly

How To Use Kosher Salt?

Without Salt everything tastes flat, but everyone has a taste for salt according to the level of salt to which they’ve become accustomed to.

This means:

  • Always salt in stages. Taste your food whenever you can and season to taste in order to avoid oversalting

Tl;DR What is Kosher Salt?

  • Kosher salt is simply coarse salt with larger grains, that has no additives in it. Since all salts are chemically equal, don’t worry too much about it, and use whatever you have at home.
  • Kosher salt does not contain iodine
  • Use kosher salt at the beginning of cooking for seasoning, especially on meat, as dry rubs, etc.
  • If you don’t want to keep different types of salts at home, simply buy kosher salt and use it for everything, just get used to whatever you have

Craving something salty now? Check out our article about the best meat for jerky!

Richard

Richard

Richard is the founder of SteakBuff. He manages the team of expert writers on the site and is a foodie who loves eating steaks

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