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The best salt for cooking

Salt is not just a seasoning to enhance the taste of your food, it’s an essential part of a healthy diet. While it’s been given a bad rap over the years, salt has made a comeback for its wellness benefits, especially sea salt and Himalayan salt.

To learn more about the varieties of salt on the market as well as the various textures and colors available, read our buying guide. We’ve also included our favorite culinary salts at the end, like our top pick, the FreshJax Seasoned Sea Salts Gift Set, which includes five different flavors to spice up your meal routine.

What to know before you buy salt

Types of salt

Table salt: The most affordable and ubiquitous type of salt is table salt, also called refined salt. Refined white salt is in salt shakers at restaurants and on most American dinner tables. Table salt features fine granules that dissolve quickly, which makes it popular for recipes. While it has added iodine, which is beneficial to thyroid function, it may also contain unhealthy anti-caking additives.

Kosher salt: Also called kitchen salt, kosher salt features coarser granules than standard salt. Because of its larger crystals, kosher salt sticks better to food. Typically, kosher salt is iodine-free and has a purer, less metallic taste. It’s great for marinades, preparing kosher meats, rubs, pickling, and canning.

Sea salt: Sea salt is harvested from evaporated seawater. It’s the most expensive salt type and its subtle flavor is best used as a garnish rather than in the cooking process. There are subtypes of sea salt distinguished by their regional source — for instance, Celtic sea salt is from the coast of France. Depending on its source, sea salt can contain some or many beneficial trace minerals, but also potentially harmful pollutants.

Himalayan salt: Distinctive for its pink salt crystals, Himalayan salt is mined from the Salt Mountain Range in Pakistan. It’s been touted in the wellness world for containing healthy trace minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium, as well as having air quality benefits when used in Himalayan salt lamps. It’s less processed than table salt and offers a coarser crystal to sprinkle onto dishes.

What to look for in quality salt


Salt comes in three textures: fine, coarse, and flake. Fine salt dissolves the quickest of the three and works well for cooking and in recipes. Table salt is typically finely granulated. Coarse salt is more crystalline and rough and works for seasoning, sprinkling, and marinating. Himalayan and Kosher salt fall into this category. Flakes are light and flat and have the texture of sea salt. Flakes can be used decoratively on baked goods and finished dishes.


Salt isn’t just white — it can come in pink, gray, and even black. The color is indicative of the minerals it contains. Pink salt is not just from the Himalayas; it’s also found in Peru and Australia. Gray salt comes from certain coastal regions in France and is packed with minerals like iron, calcium, and natural iodine. Black salt is from volcanic regions like Hawaii and gets its color from activated carbon and charcoal. Black salt is typically a finishing salt only.  

How much you can expect to spend on salt

Salt can cost anywhere from $1-$30 for a five- to 24-ounce canister. Table salt costs as little as $1-$5, where Himaylan, sea, and kosher salts range from $5-$15. Artisanal sea salts can cost more.

Salt FAQ

Can I substitute kosher salt in a recipe that calls for table/refined salt?

A. You can, but know that you need twice as much kosher salt because its larger crystals offer half the saltiness. Likewise, when seasoning or cooking with table salt, it’s easy to over-salt because the fine crystals are the most salty-tasting of all the types.

Isn’t salt bad for me?

A. If your doctor has put you on a low-sodium diet, then yes, eating a lot of salt isn’t healthy for you. Your body requires some salt to function and consuming too little salt can be harmful. Ask your doctor what an appropriate sodium (the main ingredient in salt) level is for your body.

What’s the best salt to buy?

Top salt

FreshJax Seasoned Sea Salts Gift Set

FreshJax Seasoned Sea Salts Gift Set

Our take: A seasonal seasoned salt gift set for the chef in your house.

What we like: Five salt shakers combine unique seasoning-and-salt mixes. Contains non-irradiated spices. Perfect for sprinkling on popcorn or spicing up a dish.

What we dislike: Shakers lack sprinkler tops, making dispensing a bit messy.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top salt for the money

San Francisco Salt Co. Sherpa Pink Himalyan Salt

San Francisco Salt Co. Sherpa Pink Himalyan Salt

Our take: A generous two-pound package of Himalyan pink salt crystals.

What we like: Resealable bag. Good value. Coarse granules can be ground or used on their own. Popular for seasoning fish or meat. Naturally contains trace minerals.

What we dislike: Not ideal for cooking, because crystals don’t dissolve well in recipes.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Maldon Sea Salt Flakes

Maldon Sea Salt Flakes

Our take: A luxury sea salt featuring pyramid-shaped flakes.

What we like: Lightweight flakes are perfect as a finishing salt on dishes. Subtle flavor enhances rather than overpowers. Hand-harvested on the Essex coast.

What we dislike: Pricey, but you’re paying for purity.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Ana Sanchez writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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