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Our Salt Primer Will Help You Season Every Dish Well

Flavor comes to life when you add this super condiment. Use our glossary to figure out which form to use when.

Assistant Editor
salt varieties flaky gray kosher
Photography by: Ren Fuller

Salt is absolutely essential to cooking and baking. Simply said, salt makes food taste more like itself—in moderation of course. Salts fall into two groups: seasoning varieties to use while cooking, like kosher and fine sea; and textured, colorful finishing kinds that add a shimmer of flavor and crunch just before serving. The best way to understand their subtle differences is to experiment using them on different dishes. We break down what each crystal brings to the table.


Flaky Sea

This finishing salt is a chef favorite for its bite and piquant, briny flavor. We love it on steak or fish, or on sweets, like tarts or ice cream with caramel.


Gray Sea

Coarser and a bit sweeter than its flaky cousin, this type is more versatile. Use it to enliven seafood, soups, and stews, or as a flourish prior to serving.



It’s a staple in our recipes because of its large grain size, which makes it easy to pinch and sprinkle evenly.

salt varieties black hawaiian iodized himalayan
Photography by: Ren Fuller

Black Hawaiian

This blend of Hawaiian sea salt and charcoal has an earthy, mineral taste that’s delicious as a finish on seafood.



Its superfine texture makes this seasoning salt very dense, so a little goes a long way. If you sub it in for kosher, use half of the called-for amount.



The peachy color comes from its mineral content; the flavor is distinctly sweet. Serve it alongside meat or fish, or dust it lightly on mousse, hot chocolate, or sliced fruits, such as melon.

Photography by: Bryan Gardner

Storage Tip

All salts should be kept at room temperature in a dry spot. Both types will keep for years in an airtight container, but seasoning salts can be kept in an open cellar.



Watch our Kitchen Conundrums expert Thomas Joseph delve into even more varieties of salt and how to use them: