In every culture around the world, salt is seen as the most important ingredient for flavoring food. It is popular because it works; food that contains salt tastes much better than food without it. Aside from health reasons, most cooks would never seriously consider leaving salt out of their recipes. Sea salt is one type of salt that is prized for the purity of its flavor and for the fact that it has large crystals. Its large crystals make it an excellent finishing salt; it is often sprinkled onto food to provide a textural enhancement along with its flavor.
If you have run out of sea salt and are unable to find any in your local supermarket, are there any worthwhile alternatives? Fortunately, there are a few good options. If you need a substitute for sea salt, take a look at some of our suggestions below.
Your best bet: Kosher salt
Kosher salt was originally used to draw the blood from meat to render it ceremonially pure. One of the things that makes it an excellent sea salt substitute is that like sea salt, it has larger crystals than table salt. This means that you can use kosher salt as a finishing salt since it can provide a satisfying crunch and is not likely to dissolve as quickly as table salt will. Those large crystals make it easy to pick kosher salt up with the fingers and apply it to food precisely; this is one of the reasons that both sea and kosher salts are popular with chefs. Another reason to use kosher salt as a sea salt substitute is that both are made without the additives used in iodized table salt, which means that they provide a cleaner flavor.
A decent second choice: Pink Himalayan salt
This salt comes from the Khewra Salt Mine in Pakistan and is pink because it contains small amounts of iron oxide. It also contains a few other minerals such as potassium and calcium. The most notable feature of this salt is its color, which can be visually striking when it is used as a finishing salt. Pink Himalayan salt can be purchased in crystal form or in block form. Food can be cooked on the blocks of salt; this method of cooking infuses the food with a mild salt flavor.
In a pinch: Iodized table salt
While some chefs may be able to tell the difference between the flavor of iodized table salt and other salts like the ones mentioned above, most people cannot. Chemically speaking, all salts are virtually identical in that they all consist of 99 percent sodium chloride. When they are dissolved in food, the flavors are essentially the same. Table salt is no different and aside from the matter of smaller crystal-size, it too can serve as an effective sea salt alternative.
Pickling salt is a more concentrated form of salt that you can use for more than just pickling. For example, it can be used for brining poultry. Like sea salt, it has no iodine and therefore will not cause the bitterness some people associate with iodized salt. Fleur de sel is widely considered to be the best of all the finishing salts and comes from France’s Guerande region. It has large crystals and a clean flavor thus allowing it to be an effective stand-in for sea salt.