Converting Salt Measurements

Salt conversion
Photo: Diana Rattray

A common misconception is that all salts are alike and can be used in equal measure when swapped out for one another in recipes. In fact, table salt, kosher salt, and fine sea salt are sized and shaped differently and thus require different amounts when added along with ingredients. Each salt also has distinguishing properties and degrees of flavor intensity, so the individual salts need to be considered separately when determining measurements.

Differences Among the Three Salts

It may seem easiest to simply use the same salt you have out for shaking onto finished dishes, but table salt, kosher salt, and sea salt have separate purposes in the kitchen. Table salt is so-named since it is what we find in the salt shakers on dining tables everywhere. It is finely ground rock salt and includes some additives to keep it from sticking together. Since the grounds are very small, table salt covers a greater surface area. It is most often called for in baking recipes as it helps with yeast growth, dissolves easily, and strengthens the gluten. Since it has been stripped down, it does not have as much flavor as kosher and sea salts.

Kosher salt is coarser than table salt and the crystals are large and irregular in shape. Because of its size and shape, kosher salt has a harder time permeating the food than table salt. It does, however, have a brighter taste and helps bring out the natural flavors of ingredients.

As its name implies, sea salt is distilled from sea waters and can be either finely or coarsely ground. The finely ground can be used in recipes calling for salt, but the coarser ground is best when used as finishing touch on a dish.

Exact Measurement Conversions

Because each salt is sized and shaped differently, a measurement of one does not result in the same amount of another.

For example, to use kosher salt in place of 1 teaspoon table salt, you will need to add another 1/4 teaspoon to the measurement. Once you have an idea of how to convert these types of salts, you can feel comfortable substituting one for the other in recipes.

Salt Conversion
Table SaltKosher SaltFine Sea Salt
1/4 teaspoon1/4 teaspoon1/4 teaspoon
1 teaspoon1 1/4 teaspoons1 teaspoon
1 tablespoon1 tablespoon plus 3/4 teaspoon1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon
1/4 cup1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons
1/2 cup1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons
3/4 cup3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon
1 cup1 1/4 cups1 cup plus 4 teaspoons

Diamond Crystal kosher salt has no anti-caking agents, but it is coarser than the Morton brand so you will have to measure by weight to get the required amount.

Substituting Kosher for Pickling Salt

When pickling a food, using pickling salt is ideal since it does not contain anti-caking agents which can make the liquid cloudy. Kosher salt may be used in its place, but check the label to make sure there are no additives. (Morton has an anti-caking agent in their kosher salt, so the quality of the pickles might suffer.) Also, the grains are different so adjustments have to be made to the amount; Morton Salt's conversion chart lists 1 1/4 cups of kosher is equal to 1 cup of pickling and canning salt.