A chefs’ guide to shopping for your kitchen’s most essential ingredient

There are few more basic yet more essential ingredients than salt. A mineral that has started wars, salt is so important in just about everything you cook. It’s much more than just means of punching up a savory dish. Different salts yield different results, and taking the time to choose the best one for your meal is a low-effort move with big rewards. I talked to chefs around the country to find out how to shop for salt and the types to stock in your pantry. 

Less is more

Most chefs want clean and simple salt. “I always look to see that a salt is pure and has no additives, like iodine in table salt; though this was added for public health reasons,” says Doug Psaltis, chef and partner of RPM Restaurants in Chicago and Washington, DC. “Otherwise they have no character to them.” You can’t always find out how processed or enhanced a salt is by its label. “You may not be able to spot this from looking at a salt, so do some research about the different kinds of salts on the market, from kosher salt to sea salt,” says chef Jimmy Ly of Madame Vo in New York.