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Should We Be Using Iodized Salt, Kosher Salt Or Sea Salt In The Kitchen? We Asked An Expert.

These days, you can find dozens of different varieties of salt in almost every grocery store and dozens more in specialty shops.
These days, you can find dozens of different varieties of salt in almost every grocery store and dozens more in specialty shops. Aleksandr Zubkov via Getty Images

Not so long ago, if you asked most people what kind of salt they used, they’d give you a quizzical look and reply, “Uh... just salt?”

But these days, you can find dozens of different varieties in almost every grocery store and dozens more in specialty shops.

So what kind should we be using? And what do professional chefs reach for when they’re cooking?

That’s what we — Raj Punjabi and Noah Michelson, the co-hosts of HuffPost’s “Am I Doing It Wrong?” podcast — recently asked celebrity chef and restaurateur Jet Tila when he joined us to reveal some of his favorite cooking secrets.

“My grandmother only cooked with iodized salt because it was all we had,” Tila said. “It was $0.39 for that round tub of Morton’s, and it was salty as hell, and it made everything delicious.”

However, iodized salt, which is a “table salt” made with iodine (non-iodized table salt is also available) and has a finer grain size than kosher or sea salts, is now seen by many chefs as more of a “speciality salt” that’s great for specific recipes or culinary processes.

″[I use] iodized salt for popcorn, for curing, for pickling — because it’s really, really salty,” Tila said. “And it’s super fine, so for popcorn, I don’t think there’s a better salt.”

Tila said “99% of the time” he’s using kosher salt in the kitchen — specifically Diamond Crystal, which he claims the vast majority of pro chefs use.

“Sorry, Morton — I gave you the plug on the iodized but not for the kosher,” he said, laughing. “The grains are larger and fatter — they’re like snowflakes, so they melt more and they’re less concentrated.”

Tila emphasized that kosher salt will “do everything” and can be used in every step of a recipe, but different brands will have different tastes and properties, so tasting and adjusting measurements if you switch between them is vital.

Many chefs also like kosher salt because it can be handled more easily than iodized or table salt. They can pick up the large grains with their fingers and be more precise when seasoning than if they are grabbing for finer-grained vanities.

If you’re feeling fancy, you can also try what’s known as a “finishing” salt.

“These are your Maldon [salt], your sea salts, your flaked salts, and your [La] Baleine salt,” Tila said. These salts are often more expensive than kosher or table salts and should be used on top of a dish or baked good, like a chocolate chip cookie, to add a satisfying crunch and an extra pop of salinity.

It’s important to remember that chemically, iodized or table salt, kosher salt, and sea salt are virtually identical. The difference is in the size and texture of the grains and, therefore, the relative density of the salts. Because iodized or table salt has much finer and almost uniform grains, and kosher salt and sea salt have larger, irregularly shaped grains, they are not interchangeable by volume. So, if a recipe calls for kosher salt and you only have iodized salt available, you’ll want to use less.

Salts can also have slightly different flavors depending on where they’re sourced, how they’re processed and the minerals they contain. Like so many things in life, choosing “the best” really comes down to your personal preference. Ultimately, what matters most is what you like, so go wild — try out a bunch of different kinds and stock up on your favorites.

During our chat, Chef Tila also revealed which two knives he thinks every cook should own, the secret to making dishes taste as good as they do in restaurants and much more.

After you’ve had a listen to the full episode above or wherever you get your podcasts, subscribe to “Am I Doing It Wrong?” so you don’t miss a single episode, including our investigations of the ins and outs of tipping, how to score the best deals on airline tickets, how to apologize or vanquish your credit card debt, how to find love online or overcome anxietyonline shopping, tips for taking care of your teethpooping like a prosecrets to booking and staying in a hotel, how to deal with an angry person and more.

For more from Jet Tila, visit his website and find him on Instagram, X and Facebook.

Need some help with something you’ve been doing wrong? Email us at AmIDoingItWrong@HuffPost.com, and we might investigate the topic in an upcoming episode.  

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