It’s a fact that the amount of heat applied when cooking can make all the difference.

More often than not, the number one trick of becoming a great cook is having an in-depth understanding of different cooking techniques.

Now, as you might know already, cooking methods such as poaching, boiling, frying, simmering, to mention but a few, require different cooking heat levels.

Simmered Dish

Fortunately, mastering the art of cooking and being a good kitchen master doesn’t require you to enroll in any culinary arts institution, as you can learn every bit of it all by yourself.

The first step to becoming a good self-teacher in the matter of stove heat and cooking, in general, is through trial and error.

To eliminate most of the “error” part for you, we’ll help you tackle the ins and outs of the cooking technique of “simmering”.

In this blog post, we discuss everything there is about simmering; what temperature is simmer, when, and how to simmer.


How often have you tried a recipe with a “bring to simmer” instruction? That’s what I thought too.

Simmer may sound complicated, (hell yeah, it is complicated) but in other respects,it is just a term used by professional chefs to else say, “cook in medium low heat for a certain amount of time”

Some recipes will require you to boil your dish first then reduce to simmer(that’s a typical simmer) whilst others will directly instruct you to bring to a simmer.

Simmer heating dish

When a recipe calls for you to bring to a simmer, all it requires you to do is cook your dish in a hot liquid at a temperature just below the boiling point and slightly above the poaching temperature.

The required temperature for simmer ranges from 180 degrees to 205 degrees F.

However, boiling is essential in setting up a steady simmer. You, for instance, will be required to first bring the liquid to a boil and then slowly reduce the source of heat to a lower temperature.


On many occasions, most people fail to differentiate between simmer and boil.

However intimately these two food preparation techniques are related, they differ from each other by far, and using one in place of the other can result in an utter mess of your entire dish.

Electric stove dials

When a recipe calls for you to simmer, do NOT tear your precious stove apart in search of a labeled simmer temperature setting; It’s not there.

Most stove models do not have a precise temperature setting for simmer. This alone makes it strenuous to pinpoint a simmer temperature.

The ideal temperature for simmering is still a topic of discussion among seasoned chefs.

Although many argue that the heat just below the boiling point of water is what is regarded as a simmer temperature.

Typically, water boils at a temperature of 212 degrees F. Simmer, being the temperature just below the boiling point, can range from somewhere between 185 degrees to 205 degrees F.

Simmering is a sophisticated game of the eye. On an electric stove, you can determine simmer temperature by just observing:

  • The tiny bubbles at the bottom of the pan
  • The rising of the steam


If you are fortunate enough to have landed yourself a stove design that has a “simmer” temperature setting labeled on top, well, aren’t you such a lucky fellow?

Majority of the stoves do not have a labeled simmer setting anywhere on them.

Stove heat settings knob

To master the simmering food preparation technique, you will be compelled to practice by consistently experimenting and observing. It’s only then will you be able to wrap your finger around some of the signs of simmering.

All the same, if your stove top’s temperature adjustment knob has numbers ranging from 1-9, the lowest heat is obviously 1 whereas 9 is the highest heat setting.

The medium heat temperature setting is represented by number 5, located two thirds of the way.

Low heat is less likely to bring a dish to simmer. The same case applies to medium heat as it is prone to boil your dish instead.

Medium low heat seems like an ideal setting to simmer and on a nine-numbered stove, medium-low heat falls between numbers 3 and 4.

So, on an electric stove with nine knobs, numbers 3 and 4 are simmer temperature settings.


If your stove has six knobs and you are wondering what number to use to simmer, just move the heat adjustment knob to numbers 2 and 3.

Remember to occasionally adjust the temperature knob to avoid a simmer turning into a poach or even worse a boil.

Stove temperature knobs


At this point, you must have realized that simmering is just another puzzle on a stove top that requires a solution.

Not being a heat level on a stove makes simmer neither low nor medium heat.

If you choose to associate simmering with low heat, the chances that you will be consuming raw or undercooked food is above average.

On the other hand, medium heat is more likely to stretch beyond simmer and jump to boil instead.

Knowing that, we can conclude that a simmer is medium low heat. However, on a larger scale, simmer is more medium than it is low.

However, in some instances, depending on the type and make of a stove, simmer can be either low heat or medium heat. Yes, confusing I know, but remember we said sometimes it’ll take a bit of trial and error to master your stove.


In a nutshell, simmering allows your dishes a gentle touch by slowly exposing the ingredients to heat.

The exact simmering setting/temperature might not be as straight forward as you might have hoped, but take heart, as with most things cooking, learning the simmering technique can also be quite fun.

All it requires is a little patience and the correct motivation to ensure that you remain consistent in refining your craft.