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At first, salt might seem like a simple ingredient. Most of us have been using it since we were children to season our food. But, there is a whole world of salts out there, and a slew of reasons to use it in cooking beyond flavor. There are coarse salt and fine salt, salts of different colors (some of which have had colors or flavors added, and some of which that haven’t), salts for different purposes, and many different brands. Turns out, salt is not all that simple!
There really is a salt for every purpose (and every palate), and we scoured the internet for the best in each category.
Best for Cooking: SoSalt Sicilian Coarse Sea Salt
The SoSalt Sicilian Coarse Sea Salt is special. Coming from ancient salt pans in Trapani and Marsala, it’s loved for its range of potential uses. It’s flavorful with zero bitterness, adds a unique brininess to any dish, and is great for projects like curing olives. It is rather course due to its unique drying method (a combination of crystal water, wind, and sun), but it can easily be put into a salt grinder if you prefer a finer texture. For its range of uses and its flavor, this salt is the best for cooking, especially when you’re whipping up something special.
Best for Baking: La Baleine Fine Sea Salt
This French sea salt comes from the salt pans of Aigues-Mortes in Camargue, France, where salt has been produced since before the Roman occupation. It is naturally crystallized by the sun and sea winds. These fine, unrefined salt crystals are a favorite among chefs, especially pastry chefs, because of their delicacy and ease of use in just about anything you’re making—it dissolves like a dream, incorporates more thoroughly into the food, and adds flavor beyond a kick of sodium.
Best Table Salt: Redmond Real Sea Salt Shaker
Many of the other salts on this list are from faraway places. This one is from Utah, mined from what geologists think was an ancient inland sea from the Jurassic period. Thanks to a layer of bentonite clay, it’s been protected from erosion and contamination for the past few million years. The 60-plus trace minerals give it a lovely pink hue and a clean, delicate flavor with the tiniest hint of sweetness. Redmond salt is available in many iterations, but this shaker makes it easy to use as your everyday table salt. You deserve it!
Best Kosher: Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt
Kosher salt got its name because the size of the crystals tends to be perfect for drawing out salt from meat during the koshering process. Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt has somewhat of a cult following, and it’s not hard to understand why. It’s more of a flat, flake-style kosher salt (as opposed to the rock salt available from other brands) with a truly neutral flavor that is perfect for just about any application you might need it for. There’s a reason chefs swear by it!
Best Finishing Salt: Maldon Sea Salt Flakes
Looking for a beautiful salt to sprinkle atop your Instagram-worthy plated dinners? Meet Maldon. You may have already come across it a time or two—chefs and food-lovers love this stuff. Hailing from the English seashore since the 17th century, this flaky, pyramid-shaped salt is naturally processed using traditional long-handled rakes for a unique texture and flavor that has made it a name for itself. In fact, some chefs are known to travel with their own personal tiny tin of Maldon for emergencies.
Best Himalayan: Thrive Market Pink Himalayan Salt
Himalayan Pink Salt was introduced to the mass market by (what else?) Trader Joe’s in 2009. Most of it comes from Punjab’s Khewra Salt Mine, between Islamabad and Lahore. While some claim that it’s healthier than other salts, most scientists agree that it’s really just better at being pink. Nonetheless, it’s a gorgeous color to have around your kitchen, and this option from Thrive Market is beloved by reviewers for its clean flavor and range of uses. Throw it in a salt grinder or use it as is. If you’re looking for a great Himalayan salt, this is a superb option.
Best Truffle: Sabatino Tartufi Truffle & Salt
For truffle lovers, a good truffle salt is indispensable. The Sabatino Tartufi truffle salt is just lovely—Sicilian sea salt is blended with real flecks of black Umbrian truffle. Plus, it's free from soy and MSG and is certified kosher and non-GMO. Perfect for eggs, popcorn, meat, french fries, and pasta, this truffle salt will serve you well. And, it won’t break the bank! Many online customers love that just a sprinkle of this salt goes a long way.
Best for Curing and Brining: Hoosier Hill Farm Prague Powder No.1 Pink Curing Salt
Pink curing salt is not quite the same thing as pink Himalayan salt. Not edible on its own, it’s made with nitrites, specifically for the curing of meats and for preventing botulism. This can be used to preserve and cure a variety of cooked meats, including jerky, pastrami, fish, ham, bacon, and even corned beef. This option from Indiana-based Hoosier Hill Farm is a favorite for its price, efficacy, and distinct flavor. Just make sure to adhere closely to a curing recipe, because many reviewers say this salt is very potent and a little goes a long way.
Best for Margaritas: Caraval Gourmet Margarita Lime Salt
This salt contains only natural sea salt and lime, evaporated by the sun and then ground and blended in the Pacific Northwest. It also is simply the best for margarita night (or Bloody Mary brunch). That hint of lime adds complexity and flavor to even the most stunningly crafted margaritas (and will make not-so-stunning ones go down all the easier), and when you’re not enjoying a cocktail, it makes a great addition to chicken, beans, salad, rice, and more.
Best for Steak: Jacobsen Salt Co. Infused Sea Salt Black Pepper
Looking for a salt as special as that Kobe or Wagyu steak? Look no further. Jacobsen Salt, harvested by hand from the Oregon coast’s Netarts Bay, has gained a loyal following for its texture and clean, mellow flavor, with just the right amount of spice. This salt, infused with freshly ground Tellicherry peppercorns, is great on just about anything and perfect for those special cuts of beef that simply call for salt, pepper, and heat.
Best for Popcorn: The Spice House Popcorn Collection
Everyone deserves popcorn exactly to their liking. Whether it’s cheesy, garlicky, or spicy, this collection from The Spice House includes something for everyone. This spice set includes creative flavor combinations like Maple Garlic and Vulcan's Fire Salt, which blends chili paste, shallots, and paprika. Customers love the beautiful packaging and that because the salt is so flavorful, they don't need to add butter, oil, or any extra flavoring.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Writer, podcaster, and professional cheese nerd Christine Clark has kind of a problem when it comes to salt—she has at least 20 different kinds in her cabinet. Each is special and important!