On many occasions, a recipe will call for you to cook on medium heat for X amount of time. But, what exactly is medium heat on a stove?

There are different heat settings on any given stove–high, medium, and low.

These settings are involved in different cooking methods such as boiling, simmering, sauteing, and frying.

In this article, we take an all-inclusive look at medium heat, answering some of the most frequently asked questions, all in the hope of helping you understand this heat setting. Read on.

what is medium heat on a stove

What is medium heat on a stove?

Medium heat at its most basic can be defined as the heat setting that settles in somewhere between the highest level and the lowest level of heat on your stove.

There’s a catch though, adjusting the knob to the middle won’t always do the trick largely because stoves are different.

We have gas, electric, and induction stoves but even with these, each brand tends to have different features and settings.

Take gas stoves as an example; some have powerful burners with high output BTUs.

Yellow Gas stove flame

This means that even with the control knob in the middle, your food will cook rapidly and risk burning.

Other stoves have low output burners, in that even with the control knob in the middle, your food will undercook or not cook at all.

Either way, medium heat should hover around the 300° F to 400° F temperature mark, so if you’re a nerd like me and own a temperature gun, that should be what you’re looking for.

Many people still consider medium heat to be a mystery that’s theoretically easy to solve; adjust the temperature control knob halfway and you are good to go.

In the real sense though, medium heat is practically complicated and can only be achieved through trial and error.

Cooking lovers, through numerous experiments, have figured out that medium heat is the safest heat setting for the majority of cooking.

This is because it is less likely to undercook, overcook or even burn your food.

What number is medium heat on a stove?

This question happens to top the list of the most frequently asked questions about medium heat.

Unfortunately, there is no straight-up answer.

Giving consideration to the variation in types and makes of stoves, there is no standard number that can specifically be used to measure medium heat.

Now, what number is medium varies a ton based on your stove type.

Irrespective of the power source, some stoves have 6 numbers on the temperature control knob while others 8, 9 and some go up to 10, sometimes even more.

Typically, medium, which also means middle, is marked by the number that falls in between the low heat and the high heat setting.

Stove heat settings knob

If the numbers on your stove knob run from 1-6, then medium heat should be anywhere between numbers 3 and slightly below 4.

On the other hand, if your stove has 9 numbers on the heat control knob, medium heat should settle at number 5. It can also be slightly below or above depending on your type of stove.

If your stove has 8 numbers on the heat control knob, number 4 can do the trick.

Again, considering the kind of stove that you use, it can fall slightly above or below number 4.

Be advised though, as mentioned above, some stoves heat up faster than others. This means that the medium number will vary from stove to stove.

You will be required to experiment with different dishes while paying close attention to what happens when you adjust the notch to what number.

That way you will learn what works best with your particular stove.

What is medium heat on a stove 1-6?

If your stove’s temperature control knob has numbers ranging from 1-6, number 1 is obviously the lowest heat while number 6, being the largest, is the highest heat setting.

Stove control knob 1 to 6

In this case, the middle number is 3 hence the mid-heat setting.

This definitely means that if you want to cook on medium heat on a 6-numbered stove, you should adjust the heat control knob to number 3.

What is medium heat on stove 1-8?

If your stove is uniquely designed with 8 numbers on the heat control knob, the highest heat setting will be 8 whereas number 1 will be the lowest heat, as usual.

Medium heat is likely to settle anywhere between 4 and slightly below 5.

What is medium heat on stove 1-9?

These are the most common type of stoves that you are likely to find in many households.

Even so, the one fact that remains constant across all the stove types is that number 1 is the lowest heat setting and number 9 represents the highest temperature/heat setting.

Stove control knob 1 to 10

The number that sits in the middle of 1-9 is number 5 with four numbers before and four numbers after.

This makes 5 the medium heat on this kind of stove. But again, this will depend on the kind of stove and the kind of burners.


To say the least, it is medium heat when it’s not low or high heat.

This sounds easy in theory but when it comes to the real thing where you are called to cook on medium heat, you will need all the attention you can gather.

You’ll also need to keenly observe what happens when you push the knob a notch forward or backward.

If numbers confuse you or are generally not your thing, there are other ways to characterize medium heat.

For instance, you can hold the palm of your hand 2-3 inches above your pan for a few seconds, if it’s warm enough to let your hand stay for a while, that’s what you are looking for.

All in all, it’s essential to put in mind that stoves operate differently. Also, the type of pots and pans used can impact the heat levels on your stove.

If you’ve learned what medium heat is in this post, you’ll love these posts too:

What is low heat on a stove
What Temperature Is Medium High Heat
What is medium low heat on a stovetop