Ingredients

What's the Difference Between Morton's and Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt?

Not all kosher salt is the same.

December 21, 2021
Photo by Julia Gartland

Chefs are anything but nonchalant about sourcing ingredients. Missy Robbins, who cooks at Lilia in Brooklyn, has been using La Valle tomatoes for the past ten years; when it was time to choose a cooking olive oil for their restaurant, she tasted fifteen types before landing on Monini; and they bring in Tutto Calabria jarred chiles from Italy.

Even the salt, an ingredient often taken for granted, is carefully chosen: At Lilia, they use only Diamond Crystal kosher salt—and if Morton's kosher salt comes in, Chef Robbins says, it throws everything off. (When Food52's Test Kitchen Manager worked in the kitchen at Franny's, he remembers using "the red box"—that's also Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt too).

It's not just chefs who have an expressed preference for a certain name in salt. When we asked our Twitter followers what brand of salt they use in cooking (as opposed to finishing or garnishing), they showed allegiance to Morton's.

But is this brand loyalty among kosher salts based on family biases and traditions—it's what your dad used, it's what you're comfortable with—or is there a real, taste-able difference between Morton’s Kosher Salt and Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt?

What Samin Nosrat Says

Samin Nosrat basically wrote a book-length love letter to Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt in Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. Okay, not really, but she did single-handedly save the three-pound boxes from being discontinued in early 2019. Safe to say that she is the foremost expert on these two brands of kosher salt. “There are two major producers of kosher salt: Diamond Crystal, which crystallizes in an open container of brine, yielding light and hollow flakes; and Morton, which is made by rolling cubic crystals of vacuum-evaporated salt into thin dense flakes.” But what does that mean for cooking and baking purposes? Diamond Crystal is less salty and more crumbly, whereas Morton is much saltier and denser. You cannot, I repeat, cannot swap out one for the other without adjusting the amounts. Doing so will either create a much saltier recipe or a significantly undersalted dish.

Nosrat also notes that Diamond Crystal dissolves much more quickly than Morton. “The more quickly salt dissolves, the less likely you are to overseason a dish, thinking it needs more salt when actually the salt just needs more time to dissolve.” Oh, and did we mention that Diamond Crystal sticks to food much better because of the smaller crystals, which means if you season meat or vegetables, the salt won’t just fall off in the pan. We’re starting to understand why Nosrat loves it so much.

What Is Table Salt?

Even though Diamond Crystal and Morton both have “kosher salt” in their name, Morton Kosher Salt is considered table salt. Diamond Crystal contains 53 percent less sodium by volume compared to table salt. If you see a recipe call for table salt, or if it specifically calls for Morton, then you should obviously use Morton. But if a recipe calls for kosher salt, stick with Diamond Crystal.

As a rule of thumb, Food52’s recipes are tested with Diamond Crystal, unless one says otherwise.

Turns out that there are visible differences at the level of the individual salt crystals. As Jill Santopietro reported for Chowhound back in 2010, Diamond Crystal and Morton's have different shapes: Morton's is made by flattening salt granules into large thin flakes by pressing them through high-pressure rollers, whereas Diamond Crystal is formed by a patented method in which "upside-down pyramids [are] stacked one over the next to form a crystal."

This process, according Edward Schneider of the New York Times, who also wrote about D.C. versus Morton's in April of that year, is the patented Alberger method (yep—that's the same process used to make Flavacol stick so well to popcorn): It results in "handsome hollow pyramid-shaped grains. This hollow structure accounts for the salt’s lightness, and the thin walls of the 'pyramids' for its crushability."

In each pinch of Diamond Crystal, there's more space between the grains of salt (because the crystals don't sit as snug against each other)—which makes it, writes Santopietro, lighter and less salty than Morton's (and fine sea salt or table salt)—"and therefore more forgiving in the kitchen." You're less likely to over-salt if you use Diamond Crystal. Switch from Diamond Crystal to Morton's without making adjustments and your food might burn a hole through your tongue.

Schneider recounts his own experience:

Suddenly, I lost my knack for getting the salt spot-on: everything was oversalted. Everything. Pound cake tasted like something you might serve with pot roast, and pot roast tasted like the barrel-preserved meat served on HMS Bounty. For heaven’s sake, the spaghetti was too salty—I was overdosing the pasta water.

If you're wondering about converting between the different kinds of salts, Santopietro and Schneider have done that research for us:

  • Schneider: 1 : 1.85, Morton's : D.C.
  • Santopietro: 1 1/4 : 1 3/4, Morton's : D.C.

Santopietro's rule of thumb? "Think of Morton's and fine salt as roughly the same" and substitute it with nearly twice the amount of Diamond Crystal.

But recipe writers frequently neglect to identify the brand of kosher salt (shame on us!), even though it makes quite a difference. So what's a home cook to do? "Pretend they used Diamond salt," says Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen: You can always increase the amount of salt later.

Are you a Morton's or a Diamond Crystal sort of cook? Tell us in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Katy Connally
    Katy Connally
  • Lynn Donahue
    Lynn Donahue
  • MacGuffin
    MacGuffin
  • phip
    phip
  • Heather Zeleny
    Heather Zeleny
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.

80 Comments

Katy C. May 23, 2022
I've used Morton's Kosher Salt forever since I didn't even know about Diamond Crystal until I read Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. I've looked for it, but my grocery store doesn't carry it. I'm going to order some from Amazon, though, because I'm interested to try it, especially in the SFAH recipes I've tried. I probably oversalted the heck out of chicken since I put as much as she said (like make it snow salt!), but used Morton's.
 
Lynn D. March 25, 2022
I will ONLY use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt. It can be very hard to find in Arizona but when I find it, I buy three boxes! I am on my last box so the search is on! I know I can order it on Amazon but it's annoying to pay 3x the price.
 
MacGuffin March 15, 2022
Which one is the go-to for koshering meat?
 
phip January 3, 2022
Diamond is very hard to find in California. It would be interesting if the author contacted the company to ask why distribution is such a problem.
 
Debbie S. January 7, 2022
I live in Southern California and after ordering Diamond Crystal on Amazon I spotted it on a shelf with other Holiday baking supplies at Whole Foods last month. Of course they are the same company now.
 
Heather Z. December 24, 2021
This is why recipes need to include weights for ingredients, most especially salt. I picked up loads of Diamond Crystal at a local grocery store when they were being cleared out for some reason. I bought all they had. :D But, I also love using Mediterranean sea salt for some things, and absolutely love my Himalayan pink salt. I use that for everything, and really love if for pickling.
 
Katy C. May 23, 2022
Yes! The Himalayan Pink salt is excellent for finishing on vegetables. Something about it is just different from putting on regular kosher salt.
 
LeslieDR December 23, 2021
Only Diamond! Even making the adjustment, I simply can’t tolerate Morton’s. Way too salty.
 
Kate's K. December 22, 2021
I recently found a box of Diamond Crystal at a Penzey’s retail store. Since I can’t find it anywhere else either I bought it.
 
BookBitch December 22, 2021
I got DC for years at Costco, or in a pinch, the small box at Publix. Neither carries it anymore; both only stock Morton's. According to the DC website, there is no one carrying their kosher salt anywhere in South Florida and frankly, I refuse to buy it for three times the price from Amazon. Has anyone tried Whole Foods 365 kosher salt? Curious how it stacks up against these two. Thanks!
 
Dina December 1, 2021
One of the reasons readers may 'prefer' Morton's is because Diamond Crystal salt is damn hard to find!!! I had to google for resources here outside of Philadelphia and found it at Acme. Giant is the major chain out here in Chester County, so of course I could not find it.
 
Licia October 31, 2021
I respectfully disagree with SaltySweet on her comment that all salts are equal once they are dissolved.. There is a difference in intensity between different salts, some have an almost citrusy taste, others a more peppery taste and each cook can find the salt that accommodates most her personal taste. The soil and environment is also important, just like the provenance of spices varies according to the way they are cultivated, harvested, dried and packed. Not all salts are the same by weight and it is not just a matter of the salt crystals. Some salts are meant for sprinkling cooked foods before serving because of the way they impact your tongue and some dissolve like snowflakes whereas others remain crystal hard. I think experimentation is the best way to pick and choose which types of salts accommodate your cooking the best, and you might be surprised to have a few different favorites for each application.
 
SaltySweet October 31, 2021
This article seems ridiculous to me. What this boils down to is a failure to measure ingredients in a consistent way. If you are trying to measure dry ingredients by volume, you will always have inconsistent results. Would you try to buy a gallon of apples at the store? No, we buy apples by weight because the air spaces between the apples and the different ways they can be packed into a given space would lead to inconsistencies in measurement. The same thing is occurring with salt crystals, but it's just easier for you to see with apples because they're larger.

Regardless of what brand of salt you use, regardless of what shape the crystals are, they will always have air spaces between them and they will settle/pack to varying degrees. It's unavoidable. This is why the proper way to measure dry ingredients is to weigh them. The weight (or mass) of an ingredient doesn't change depending on air pockets. 6 grams of salt is 6 grams of salt, regardless of the shapes of the crystals or how much they have settled.

But additionally: Once you dissolve PURE salt in water or a liquid, it doesn't matter what shape the crystals were beforehand -- whether "table salt" or "kosher salt" -- because it's all the same when it's dissolved. Some people claim that they can taste the iodine in iodized table salt, but in that case, use plain, non-iodized table salt -- 100% pure sodium chloride. Outside of iodization, which you can avoid by using plain salt, I see no possible reason why dissolved table salt would taste or behave any differently than dissolved kosher salt. The only difference between them is the texture in cases when they are sprinkled on food without being dissolved, and differences in packing when it comes to measuring their volumes -- but you should be weighing your ingredients anyway!
 
MacGuffin March 15, 2022
I just measured out a half-teaspoon of Maldon salt, which turned out to weigh 1.22g (yes, this scale provides 100ths). It took more effort than I wanted to expend to get EXACTLY 1g, assuming a recipe that calls for it. A more powdery ingredient is going to involve more of it sticking to my fingers as I attempt to get EXACTLY what's called for. Weighing larger amounts (in the units of your choice, U.S. avoirdupois is fine) is a great idea if one wants super consistency and is especially useful for stuff like "firmly packed" brown sugar, but I'm respectfully requesting that you please suggest, rather than lecture on, what we "should" be doing, especially since it involves investment in an additional piece of equipment that some readers might not be able to budget for.
 
Dale W. March 15, 2021
I started using Morton's when I was doing some home canning, and I bought it because it was the cheaper brand. And for home canning, and for dry brining a turkey, it's perfectly good. But I've acquired a stack of Barefoot Contessa cookbooks, and I've learned the hard way that when she calls for kosher salt, she's talking about Diamond Crystal, and if I use the same amount of Morton's kosher salt, things are going to be too salty, because her measurements are based on Diamond Crystal.
 
Walter J. March 9, 2021
ONLY DC! I do keep about a dozen other salts for finishing, but I do not allow Morton in the door! The Morton Kosher salt has anti-caking additives - to which several friends have an allergy! WHY? Diamond Crystal tastes so good; it is so forgiving; why use anything else?! Recently, it has become difficult to get it at the grocery store chain which dominates Florida. I have requested they special order for me. No response yet. So, I have resorted to purchasing on Amazon. I buy several boxes at a time to save on shipping - even give some to friends! There is NOTHING quite like Diamond Crystal. If a cook isn't using it, it's only because they have not yet tried it!
 
MuskokaWolfePack March 9, 2021
Windsor Coarse Kosher Salt for Gourmet Cooking in Canada is equivalent to Morton’s and includes the anti-caking agent. Cannot always get Diamond Crystal.
 
Luke W. March 26, 2021
Is the Windsor salt non-iodized? The hospital told me that all salt in Canada is iodized so we need to order from the states.
 
MuskokaWolfePack November 5, 2021
Ingredients listed on Windsor Coarse Kosher Salt include Salt and Yellow Prussiate of Soda (an anti-caking agent). However, no guarantees as the Diamond Crystal says that it does not supply iodide.
 
Carol C. March 8, 2021
I knew there was a taste difference between DC vs Morton
Mom used DV iodized for all her cooking
I can find it here in Florida
Unless they changed the packaging.
 
Bkhuna December 13, 2020
It wouldn't be a problem if recipe writers would start using weights for dry ingredients. A of either type of salt will contain the same number of sodium and chloride ions.

Same with liquids. If it's important enough to call for a volume, it should be precise. Saying "one quarter of a cup plus two teaspoons" is ridiculous". Especially in baking.
I know it doesn't matter in all situations, but it does often enough to deserve consideration.

Give us milliliters and grams and questions about salt equivalences become and such are rendered moot.
 
Diane H. May 12, 2022
except milliliters are a volume measurement. measure in grams.
 
Licia July 17, 2020
I use La Baleine fine salt for most cooking, La Baleine coarse salt for salting water or brines, Maldon's sea flakes for finishing touches (cookies, cold dishes where you want that crunch). However, I am experimenting with both Morton's and Diamond Crystal Kosher Salts for other recipes and have a preference for Diamond Crystal which tastes much more refined. I would depict the difference between Diamond Crystal and Morton's like the difference between white and black pepper. Morton is the black pepper, in your face salty and gives the punch, whereas Diamond Crystal is the white pepper, layered and nuanced and much better at salting through without oversalting.
I would also appreciate if recipe writers would include their preference with the ingredients. It makes all the difference, especially with something as overpowering as salt where a little too much will ruin the recipe.
 
Das E. December 4, 2019
Just got my first box of Diamond Crystal K.S. and it is fine like table salt - very disappointed.
Something funny going on because my salt is not course. I went online to learn if there is a difference because the DCKS did not do it for me like Mortons KS. Kosher salt should be course.
 
Cecilia April 13, 2019
I’m a fan of diamond crystal. I don’t end up oversaIting my food and it sticks to food better.
I travel for work and stay in various locations for extended periods of time on assignments. Lodging in most cases is apartments or “extended stay” hotels with kitchens. I discovered that diamond crystal salt is not readily available and the kitchen wares in apartments and hotels are of poor quality so I pack my diamond crystal in my “travel pantry/kitchen” along with my no 8 field cast iron skillet, a couple of other skillets/pans, knives, cutting board and a few cooking utensils. Creating a meal away from home is relaxing and comforting when I’m able to use my core ingredients and kitchen wares.
Thanks... 🤓
 
Kate's K. January 11, 2019
I haven’t been able to find Diamond at my grocery stores over the past year - it’s my favorite.
 
Connie B. April 28, 2019
Whole Foods!