NEW! Google Custom Search


Kosher Salt Dilemma

Christene's picture

Kosher Salt Dilemma (post #71336)

Hi there --

I have a Kosher Salt dilemma that I'm hoping one of the masters here can help me with! I've read that Diamond Crystal kosher salt is less dense (bigger crystals) than Morton kosher salt. Its my understanding if you're making a brine with Morton salt, the same brine would need nearly twice as much Diamond Crystal (or half as much table salt). This seems to be a significant difference but recipes usually just say "kosher salt". Is there one that is considered to be the 'default' in regular cooking?

I've never really given this any thought in most recipes. However now I have a marinade / paste to make that calls for 2 Tbsp Kosher Salt. In my salt jar, I think I have Diamond Crystal (Weber recommends DC for grilling). So, I'm thinking if most recipes by default refer to Morton salt, I would want to use nearly twice as much DC. But 2 tablespoons to 4 tablespoons is a lot if I'm wrong!

This particular recipe makes a marinade of lime juice, mint, chilis, garlic, smoked paprika, cumin and oregano. You process that into a paste which you rub over and under the skin of the chicken. Then the chicken goes into the fridge for up to 24 hours. My chicken is small, just over 3.5 lbs.

Any guidance would be greatly appreciated! I'm making this for friends this weekend and want it to be fantastic!


Pielove's picture

salt (post #71336, reply #1 of 16)

Hi Christene,

You are right to check the salt-- I switched brands and almost ruined 20 pounds of sauerkraut.  

Here is my take.  You are better having too little salt than too much, so it is safest to assume that Diamond is the default brand.  If you use the same volume of Morton's, you will get a lot more salt and risk your dish being oversalted.  That is what I did with my kraut.  It would be better still if recipes called for salt by weight-- Peter Reinhardt and Bruce Adiels do that many times, bless them.

Good luck with your recipe!  It sounds delicious!


Gretchen10's picture

I do not brine poultry (post #71336, reply #2 of 16)

I do not brine poultry because I think it makes it mushy, and i think 24 hours for a small chicken will be 'way too much.

It is easy to look up the equivialents, and if I could cut and paste here, I'd give you the link.


Table salt = 1C
Morton Kosher = 1.5C
Diamond crystal = 2C

Pielove's picture

brine? (post #71336, reply #3 of 16)

Is the recipe a brine or more of a spice paste, where salt is a lesser component?  I agree with Gretchen that 24 hours would be too long for a brine.  However, if it is more of a spice paste, 24 should be okay-- Gretchen what do you think?


Gretchen10's picture

Yes, I agree. I read it fast (post #71336, reply #4 of 16)

Yes, I agree. I read it fast first. Then went to look up the salt stuff, came back are re-read, posted and forgot that it was not for brine.

Pielove's picture

Phew... (post #71336, reply #5 of 16)

Thanks Gretchen!

Christene, would you share this recipe, it sounds delicious!!!


Christene's picture

Peruvian Chicken (post #71336, reply #6 of 16)

Thanks so much for the replies! Yes, it is a spice paste. The salt is a lesser component, but not small at 2 Tbs. The ingredient below are combined in a food processor to make the paste. You then rub part of it under the chicken skin, the rest on the outside, and put it in a gallon size ziplock in the fridge for 6-24 hours.

3 Tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 Cup lightly packed mint leaves
2 Tbs Kosher salt
6 medium garlic cloves, peeled & roughly chopped
1 Tbs freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbs cumin
1 Tbs sugar
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp finely grated lime zest
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 tsp minced habanero chili

So, that's a lot of ingredients. I was thinking of splitting the difference and going with 3 Tbs Diamond Crystal salt but I think I better stick with two.

I've been making this kid-friendly by using serrano pepper and sweet smoked paprika. I'm making 2 chickens tomorrow for friends - I plan to do one very mild with regular smoked paprika and jalapeno, and a spicy one with habanero and hot smoked paprika.

By the way - this is Cooks Illustrated's Peruvian Chicken (March 2011). Its become our favorite. They roast it in the oven using a vertical roaster but we've adapted this to the grill and beer can. (Actually this was a good enough exuse for me to go out and buy a dobule chicken roasting pan for the grill! Those beer cans get tricky so I'm looking forward to the cups that are attachd to the pan - a lot more stable!) They also featured a spicy mayo to serve with it that has pickled jalapeno and cilantro. 

Thanks again!


schnitzel's picture

This recipe sounds really (post #71336, reply #7 of 16)

This recipe sounds really good, Christene. Please let us know how it turns out.

FWIW, I always use Diamond Crystal kosher salt.

Christene's picture

Dilemma: Roasting Whole vs. Pieces (post #71336, reply #8 of 16)

Its our favorite. I'm planning to make it again for another dinner party this weekend. I ended up using 3 Tbs of Diamond Crystal. It was good but may have been a little salty, so I'll go back to two I think. I love griling and started using Diamond Crystal when Weber recommended it.

Here's another dilemma if anyone has a moment. My plan for the 2 beer can chickens ended up turning into 3 chickens which was a little too much for my grill to handle well. I'm thinking I might have been better off doing 2 chickens plus a couple of chicken pieces like bone in breasts and legs. Then I started thinking for parties, maybe chicken pieces would be easier so I don't have to do the carving at the end. Does anyone have any opinions as to how much roasting the chicken whole and vertically over a beer can adds over just grilling chicken pieces?

The plus of the vertical roasting method is the chicken just sits pretty needing little attention for the whole roasting time and is super juicy. The downside is the carving, especially if there are two chickens (and mojitos are flowing, which are great with this recipe by the way!). The upside of pieces is no carving at the end, but more attention needed during grilling and pieces that may finish at different times. And the concern that it might not be as juicy.



Gretchen10's picture

Foir what it is worth, and I (post #71336, reply #9 of 16)

Foir what it is worth, and I guess I'm in the minority, I don''t particularly like beer can chickens--don't think it adds anything. I even thave the "forms" to hold them. I LOVE my traditionally roast chicken and love my roasted chicken parts--beautifully browned and very moist and succulent. I would probably never fix them for a party because of serving, making sure I had enough white meat, etc.

ICDOCEAN1's picture

Classic BBQ Chicken (post #71336, reply #10 of 16)

I think that I have a recipe for chicken (pieces) that I recall came out very good, might be from Cooks Illustrated or Cooks Country and while it has a sauce recipe you could make one of your own or use Gretchen's wonderful sauce.  I'll see if I can come up with it and get back to you.

ICDOCEAN1's picture

Grilled chicken (post #71336, reply #11 of 16)

It was Cook's Country and their site give you the charcoal grill version (, but I have the gas grill version handy:

Classic Barbecued Chicken on a Gas Grill

From the episode: Barbecued Chicken

Our foolproof recipe for barbecue chicken produces perfectly cooked meat that boasts intense flavor from the grill and a liberal application of tangy-sweet barbecue sauce.

Serves 4 to 6.  

You can use a mix of chicken breasts, thighs, and drumsticks, making sure they add up to about 10 pieces. Any more than that and you won't be able to line them up on the grill. Although our jazzed-up barbecue sauce is best, this recipe also works with plain store-bought sauce; our favorite brand is Bull's-Eye.



Quick BBQ Sauce


cups barbecue sauce (bottled) I happen to have Head Country BBQ Sauce on hand.  Dashes of Soy sauce and Worcestershire also.


cup molasses


cup ketchup


cup cider vinegar


tablespoons brown mustard


teaspoons onion powder


teaspoon garlic powder

Optional, Dashes of Soy sauce and Worcestershire also



teaspoon salt


teaspoon pepper


teaspoon cayenne pepper


pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces (breasts, whole legs, thighs, and/or drumsticks), trimmed and breasts halved


·  1. For the sauce: Whisk all ingredients in medium saucepan and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook until sauce is thick and reduced to 3 cups, about 20 minutes. (Sauce can be refrigerated in airtight container for up to 1 week.)

·  2. For the chicken: Mix salt, pepper, and cayenne in small bowl. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and rub spice mixture all over chicken pieces.  I air dry the seasoned chicken parts for several hours in the refrigerator.

·  3. Turn all burners to high, close lid, and heat grill for 15 minutes. Scrape cooking grate clean and oil grate. Leave primary burner on high and turn all other burners off. Position chicken over cooler side of grill and cover.

·  4. Cook until chicken begins to brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Move chicken into single line close to coals. Begin flipping chicken and brushing with 2 cups sauce every 5 minutes until sticky, about 20 minutes. Slide chicken pieces over coals and continue to brush chicken until sauce on chicken becomes crusted and internal temperature of breast meat registers 165 degrees and legs, thighs, and drumsticks register 175 degrees, about 5 minutes. Transfer chicken to platter, tent with foil, and let rest 10 minutes. Remove foil and serve, passing remaining sauce at table.

Christene's picture

This sounds great! And I like (post #71336, reply #14 of 16)

This sounds great! And I like the tip about sitting the chicken in the fridge with the rub for a couple of hours. Would it be worthwhile to brine first?

ICDOCEAN1's picture

Brining (post #71336, reply #15 of 16)

I would hate to direct you on brining, sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.  There is a site that mentions after brining, you might consider air drying in the fridge...take a look here" :

When I made that chicken recipe, I didn't brine the pieces.

schnitzel's picture

Actually... (post #71336, reply #12 of 16)

I prefer chicken thighs and seldom roast a whole bird vertically. DH likes to slow-cook chicken thighs over hardwood charcoal (indirect heat with a drip pan) and it takes 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  Will have to try this spice paste some time.

Oh, and I would bet you dinner that Cook's Illustrated uses DC kosher salt in their recipes.

Christene's picture

Thanks! I think you're right. (post #71336, reply #13 of 16)

Thanks! I think you're right. If they used Morton I should have been able to nearly double the salt without noticing it being salty. I added only 50% more and found it a tad salty. I also tend to prefer thighs - they're always juicy and full of flavor.

PatricKinOnt's picture

Re: Salt by volume. (post #71336, reply #16 of 16)

When substituting salt, never go by volume as you've discovered, go by weight.  A good example is to take 1/4 cup of plain anodized table salt and 1/4 cup of diamond crystal (or whatever else you have on hand) and weigh them both.  You'll find that the table salt will weigh 2-3 times more for the same volume.  You can then use this factor when substituting.

A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject.
by Sir Winston Churchill
And I'm a fanatic about Wine, Food, Scotch, and Coffee.....:-/