Cook’s Talk: A Three-Fingered Pinch of Salt

updated May 2, 2019
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(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

We’ve seen this phrase “a three-fingered pinch” popping up in a lot of recipes recently, and we think it’s a great way to describe a rather indeterminate amount of seasoning. We’re being told to add more than a spare pinch, but not so much that we need to break out the measuring spoons. It’s perfect!

To be honest, the amount of salt you get from a meager pinch between your thumb and first finger isn’t really enough to do much in terms of flavoring in most dishes. It’s fine if we’re talking about cayenne pepper, but not really for salt!

The healthier “three-fingered pinch” is a better way to incrementally amp up the seasoning without either a) taking forever or b) accidentally over-salting the dish. It’s also close to how restaurant chefs and trained cooks think about salting their dishes.

The first time you sprinkle a healthy three-fingered pinch of salt into a dish, it can feel like you’re really adding a lot! To put things in perspective, the actual amount is only somewhere between 1/4 teaspoon and 1/8 teaspoon depending on the size of your hands and your general enthusiasm.

Do you have any other tricks for adding just the right amount of salt to a dish?

(Image: Emma Christensen for the Kitchn)