Pickling Salt

By Cook's Illustrated Published January 2012

Many pickle recipes call for pickling salt. What is this ingredient? And is there a substitute?

Pickling salt is pure sodium chloride that’s free of the anticaking agents and other additives found in table salt. This means that it dissolves completely in brine, leaving the liquid perfectly clear. Table salt, on the other hand, includes a small amount of calcium silicate or silico-aluminate, which keeps the small crystals from clumping during storage. These additives are not water-soluble (if they were, they could not perform their intended function), so they can make a brine cloudy.

To find a substitute, we singled out another salt that we know doesn’t include additives: kosher salt. Except for a larger crystal size, it is otherwise identical to pickling salt. Because of the size difference (and because kosher salt crystal size varies from brand to brand), the salts cannot be directly substituted. For every teaspoon of pickling salt, you’ll need 2 teaspoons of Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt or 1 1/2 teaspoons of Morton’s Kosher Salt.


Free of anticaking agents, pickling salt dissolves clearly.