What Is So Great About Kosher Salt?

Why do some recipes recommend using ‘kosher’ salt instead of regular salt, even for non-religious purposes? What’s the difference between the two?? Aren’t they both just sodium chloride, and therefore they taste the same???

Is this yet another ‘contrived’ preference?


Kosher salt is great for cooking because of the different grain structure. It is more coarse than regular table salt, and is much easier to add to dishes using your fingers. Try pinching regular table salt, and you’ll see what I mean, it totally sticks to your fingers.

I believe it’s called kosher salt because it is used in “koshering” meats, not because regular salt isn’t kosher. Someone will be along at some point, I’m sure, to elaborate.

Cheesesteak’s right, basically. Kosher salt grains are larger and “fluffier” (i.e., the grain structure is looser). Therefore, the same amount (by volume) of kosher salt will weigh less than regular salt. Kosher salt is also free of iodine and the anti-caking agents typically used in regular table salt; some people feel that these ingredients impart unwelcome flavors to the salt. Because of the looser grain structure, kosher salt also tends to dissolve more quickly and thoroughly than the denser grains of table salt, which is advantageous when you’re cooking.

Yes, kosher salt was designed for koshering.

N.B. that there is no difference in the taste of kosher salt, sea salt, or Morton’s salt. It’s all exactly the same stuff, just in different sizes. Once it dissolves, you can’t tell one from another and you should mistrust anyone who claims he can.

Since I almost never add salt when cooking. it doesn’t matter all that much to me.

Kosher salt

Well, here’s a concrete example for the OP- ever buy a big pretzel from a street vendor? Notice the big grains of salt on the pretzel?
Generallly, that’s kosher salt.

Think you could get the same flavor or effect with regular table salt? Nope. You can use a small number of large grains of kosher salt on a pretzel, to give each bite a tiny bit of salty flavor. but if you tried sprinklinng on regular table salt, you wouldn’t get the same effect. The pretzel would end up tasting eihter way too salty, or not nearly salty enough.

If all you’re going to do with salt is, say, toss it into some boiling water, where it’s going to be dissolved anyway, there’s no advantage to using kosher salt. But for pretzels, and certain other foods, the kosher salt makes a big difference.

Also, IIRC, Mulder off the X-files used Kosher salt to ward off a tribe of zombies, so that might come in handy one day.

Sorry, R.C., but the first sentence quoted above is unsupportable (matters of taste perception being inherently incommunicable between different individuals), and meaningless to boot, since the Morton Salt Company manufactures and markets a wide range of food salt products, including iodized and non-iodized table salt, coarse kosher salt, rock salt, etc. Thus, “Morton salt” is ambiguous at best, and may be considered to subsume the other categories you mention.

Your second sentence is factually incorrect. They’re not “all exactly the same stuff”. They do all contain predominantly sodium chloride. Rock salt, table salt, and kosher salt all start by pumping water into underground salt deposits and then drying the brine that results. As I pointed out before, however, some of these have iodine and/or anti-caking agents added to them, while others (kosher salt in particular) don’t. I’m not prepared to, as you do, flatly state that no one anywhere is able to taste the presence of these agents. Sea salt, while again composed primarily of sodium chloride, is made by drying sea water in open-air beds; salt made this way retains trace amounts of other minerals, and these may vary significantly in salts from different locations.

I’m no salt snob, and whatever differences I’m able to detect in the flavors of the various types of salt are quite subtle. Your third sentence, however, particular the second clause, exhibits an arrogance that’s almost solipsistic, as you baldly state that no one can taste any distinction that you cannot, and you impugn the honesty or trustworthiness of anyone who claims to. Isn’t that a little out of place in a forum that’s supposed to be devoted to factual information?

If your last sentence is true, that you almost never add salt when cooking, doesn’t that also go some way toward impeaching standing as an authority on the flavor qualities of different salts?

Chemically, you’d think there would be little difference between the tastes of different types of salt. But they do taste different, and it has to do with how the crystals dissolve on the tongue. I can’t say beyond this why this does, but if you don’t believe me, try popcorn salt vs. kosher salt on, say, popcorn. You don’t have to be too discerning to notice the difference.

[originally posted in another thread by myself]

Alton Brown explains my thoughts far better than I could in his new book, I’m Just Here For The Food:

Sodium Chloride is Sodium Chloride.

You are probably watching the marketing campaign currently being launched by Diamond Crystal against Morton’s.
They’re hitting cooking schools and high-line restaurant chefs.

I have heard it on a PBS program, Michael Chiarello’s cooking show, that various salts will contain various mineral content thus changing the flavors of the different salts you use.

I don’t know how true it is but it makes sense if you consider that mineral content seems to dramatically change the taste of water throughout the US.

Something to ponder.

Crystal structure does make a difference. Consider the difference between normal chocolate and “bloomed” chocolate, which is chalky and crumbly. Cocoa butter has several different crystal structures, and the “mouth feel” is certainly different for bloomed crystals.

Look toward the bottom of this page for the cite:


The point is that different crystal structures for different types of salt can certainly make a difference in the mouth feel. “Salt is salt,” yeah, but…there is a difference.

No one has yet mentioned popcorn salt? It’s plain old salt, but the grains are tiny tiny tiny, so it’ll stick to popcorn better.