When low heat is involved, you don’t want to take chances with your favorite dish. Anyone who has attempted to will warn you that 99% of the time, the undercooking stakes are higher.

This article is here to help. We took the liberty of finding the answers to all of your questions regarding simmering, and whether it is the same as or lower than low.

If you’re in search of clear and well-explained answers, read on.

Is simmer lower than low

Is Simmer lower than low?

This is the most frequently asked question amongst a lot of people who look forward to not only achieving a successful simmer but also becoming proficient at it in the long run.

Simmer is a food preparation method that involves cooking food in hot liquids maintained just below the boiling point. This technique is characterized by small, gentle bubbles occasionally breaking the surface.

A recipe that instructs you to “bring to simmer ” is particularly calling for you to cook on medium-low heat.

This is because Simmer is not low or medium heat. Neither is it lower than low.

So if you are wondering if Simmer is lower than low, the answer is NO. Simmer can be lower than medium heat but is certainly not lower than low heat or “low” as it’s marked on some stoves.

Is Simmer the same as low?

Basically, to simmer means to cook on low to moderate heat or to be exact, medium-low heat.

Depending on the recipe, a steady simmer may require you to first bring the dish to a boil, then reduce the heat source to low heat.

However, some recipes may call for a direct simmer. This means cooking your food on low to moderate heat.

When a recipe calls for the second simmer approach, it could take a while for your dish to cook. Again, since low heat is less likely to bring a dish to a boil, the undercooking chances of simmering directly are always high.

The key point to note however is that stoves heat up differently. Some stoves heat faster than others. Simmer may be the same as low on one stove but that won’t always be the case with other stove types.

It’s for this reason that you should know what a simmer looks like and what temperature it usually is.

Is Simmer a low boil?

The simmer technique is divided into three active stages: the low simmer stage, the full simmer, and the quick/rapid simmer stage.

The low simmer happens on low heat and there is zero to minimal activity taking place in the pot.

The full simmer stage sees the introduction of small, gentle bubbles trying to occasionally break the surface. You will also notice tiny wisps of steam escaping from the pot.

The rapid simmer stage is just a skip and a jump away from boiling. Most people refer to it as the beginning stage of boiling. It happens on medium to medium-high heat.

At the rapid simmer stage, a simmer can be regarded as a low boil. The bubbles remain small but at this stage, they are more rapid.

What stove setting is Simmer?

Some stove manufacturers are thoughtful enough to include a labeled simmer setting on their stovetops. In such a case, when a recipe calls for simmer, all you have to do is adjust the temperature control knob to the inbuilt simmer setting.

However, most of the stovetops in most households do not feature a labeled simmer setting. This makes it a little bit difficult to pinpoint the simmer setting, leaving you a lot of room for guesswork.

Stove heat settings knob

A simmer is a medium-low heat. When it’s time to bring it to Simmer, move the heat control knob to medium-low heat which falls between the low heat and the medium heat settings.

Once again, stoves operate differently. A simmer may be low heat on one stove and medium heat on another. You will have to occasionally adjust the temperature.

On a stove top with numbers 1 to 9, the simmer setting is 3 and 4. That’s the medium low heat as it falls between 1 which is low heat and 5 which is medium heat.

If your stove has 6 numbers on the heat control knob, the simmer setting is 2 and slightly below 3.

One thing that will come in handy when simmering is learning the simmer characteristics. This will guide you on when to slightly add or lower the heat.

A successful simmer is characterized by small, gentle bubbles breaking the surface every two to three seconds and tiny wisps of steam escaping from the pot.

Simmered Japanese Dish

Does simmer mean cover?

The recipe has all the powers to decide whether simmer means to cover or otherwise.

A good number of cookbooks go a step further in directions and oversimplify every nitty-gritty to the extent of telling you whether or not to forgo the lid.

For the other fraction of recipes that choose ambiguity and leave you to figure everything out by yourself, that’s where your cooking instincts kick in.

There is nothing else to depend on but your intuition. Do you think a cover will do? Then go ahead and cover.

To give you an idea, a simmer can mean cover if your end goal is to trap both the heat and the moisture inside your pot. This allows your ingredients to gently mix together giving your dish all the flavors it deserves.

On the other hand, if your simmer goal is to reduce the liquid and thicken your soup, then simmer does not mean cover. A lidless simmer will allow the moisture to escape, reducing the liquid gradually. Don’t worry though, the flavors will not escape alongside the moisture.


To say the most, cooking can be enjoyable. You just have to make it your business to learn and understand the techniques and hacks involved.

To become a simmer guru and a cooking guru altogether, you need to experiment with different dishes on different heat settings.

Learning won’t be easy at the beginning, but once you start to notice the progress, there is no turning back.