What Number Is Simmer On An Electric Stove? (Answered)

Simmer is one of the heat settings on a stove. Its purpose is to heat the pan up without bringing the contents to a boil.

Simmer is a very helpful setting on the stove, so why is it sometimes so difficult to find within the numbered settings? Read on to find out what number is simmer on an electric stove.

What Number Is Simmer on an Electric Stove? (Answered)

Let’s talk about the settings on an electric stove

Most stoves will come with numbered settings, indicating low, medium, and high heats.

The lower numbers are often low heats, and higher numbers indicate higher heats. However, when a recipe calls for you to bring your food to a simmer, it can be a little difficult to know how high to turn the stove up.

You don’t want to go too low with the number so that the pan takes ages to heat up and cook. Still, you don’t want to set it too high in case you bring the pan to boil rather than a simmer.

So What Number Is Simmer On An Electric Stove?

First of all, I need to be clear: There is technically no “simmer” setting on a stove. Simmer is a state just under boiling. The simmer setting on a stove will be low to medium heat, so between numbers 2 and 4 on the temperature dial.

This will give you enough heat to get the food moving within the pot, but not too much heat that it starts to boil.

There will either be 1 to 6 numbers on your heat setting, or 1 to 9 numbers. Each number dictates a different level of heat.

For the first set of numbers, setting 6 will offer you the highest heat. On the second, setting 9 is the hottest. Similarly, the number 1 setting will be the lowest heat. But which indicates the simmer setting?

Bringing your food to a simmer usually means that you will need it on a low to medium heat.

Unfortunately, there is no one setting that works as the simmer function for every electric stove. Getting liquid to simmer is dependent on:

  • Stove itself and how powerful the elements are
  • Type of liquid (a thick soup will take a higher temp to simmer than water)
  • Depth of the liquid
  • Quality of the pans and what they are made of

So, you will have to experiment with what works best for your stove and pans.

For example, on a stove with numbers 1 to 6, the middle number would be between 3 and 4. For a low to medium heat, you’d want to choose either 2 or 3.

Similarly, with a stove numbered 1 to 9, the middle number would be 5. So, in the hopes of simmering your food rather than boiling it, a low to medium heat would be around 3 to 4.

Some stoves come with a manual that will tell you the correct number of heat for simmering.

It’s always worth checking your manual to see if you have this information before you guess the correct number. This will make cooking much easier for you.

What Does It Mean To Simmer?

Simmering is a type of temperature control that is used when cooking.

It heats the food up enough to get it moving within the pan, but not so much that it begins to boil. Simmer will usually be one of the low to medium heat settings on a stove.

It’s important to consider the fact that simmering your food sometimes requires you to alter the temperature to prevent the pan from getting too hot.

For example, when you bring something to a simmer, remaining it over the hot stove (at the same temperature) will keep heating it until eventually, it turns into a boil.

If you need to keep your pan at a steady simmer, you might find that you need to turn the heat down in small increments periodically to prevent it from getting too hot.

Some electric stoves come with a simmer control already in motion. This would be much easier to use as you can leave the work up to the oven and know that you’ll be getting the best results every time.

However, it is not necessary to have this function as you can do it yourself with a low-medium heat setting.

It would simply be easier to have a function on your stove to find the right temperature for you and to keep it lowering to prevent the pan coming to a boil.

But not everyone wants to pay for this added feature, in which you will have a little more work to do while cooking.

How Do You Know If Food Is Simmering?

When food is simmering, it should be moving within the pan slightly, but not bubbling constantly.

Simmering food will produce one or two bubbles every couple of seconds. The rest of the time, the liquid will simply look like it’s vibrating very slightly.

What Number Is Simmer on an Electric Stove? (Answered)

If the food is bubbling a lot and jumping around the pan, splattering your stovetop and kitchen, then it needs to be turned down.

This means it’s boiling and that it is too hot if your recipe calls for a simmer.

Take the pan off of the stovetop for a couple of minutes to allow the food to cool before simmering it again at a lower heat.

Similarly, if the food is not moving at all in the pan and it has been on the stove for several minutes, turn the heat up slightly.

No movement at all might mean that the food is too cold and is not cooking. Turn the heat up a little bit to get it simmering. You can always turn it back down once you have reached simmering status.

Why Would You Need To Simmer Food?

Many people put their food in a pan and whack the temperature all the way up to high to cook their food in the least amount of time possible.

However, this means that the food will be cooking in very fast-paced moving water with lots of bubbles. These bubbles can break apart fragile foods.

Another issue is that boiling foods requires cooking them at very high temperatures.

This can remove some of the vitamins and nutrients from the food, making it less healthy and nourishing for your body.

Some foods need to be cooked more gently, which is why simmering is a great cooking technique. It is much more gentle and often leaves the food at a better quality than if you were to boil it.

A great example of this is when you cook meat. Boiling meat often leaves it dry and chewy, as the high temperature required to boil it toughens up the protein within, leaving you with a bad eating experience.

On the other hand, simmering meats often leaves them tender and moist, which will be much more pleasant for diners.

We’re not saying that all foods should always be simmered and that boiling is the worst thing you could do with a stovetop, but be mindful that there are other ways to cook than just boiling everything at a high heat.

Is Simmer Low or Medium Heat?

The answer to this question could be either! Simmering a pan on one stove might require a very low heat, while other stoves might require a medium heat.

When simmering food, you’re most likely going to need to turn the heat down at some point to prevent the food temperature from rising too high and beginning to boil anyway.

We suggest using a medium to low temperature to start with, around 3 to 5 heat setting, if yours are numbered.

Wait until the food starts to simmer within the pan and turn the temperature right down to low. This will keep your food from boiling.

Now it’s up to you to watch the pot and wait to see if anything else needs doing to the temperature.

You might need to adjust the temperature to keep the simmer going throughout the cooking process, so don’t move too far away from the stove.

This is a disadvantage to simmering food rather than boiling it. As boiling is simply cooking at a high temperature, you don’t need to be standing over it constantly.

However, as simmering takes a little more patience and dedication, you need to monitor it throughout the entire cooking process. Some people prefer the former if they are busy.

Why Is The Pan Boiling No Matter What?

If you feel like your food is boiling constantly and you’re not sure what you’re doing wrong, it might be something else you’re missing.

First, look at the temperature controls. As we have already mentioned, you have to be vigilant when it comes to turning the heat down to prevent it boiling.

Make sure that you are monitoring the pan every couple of minutes to prevent its contents from getting too hot and starting to boil.

If you are doing this and your food is continuing to boil no matter how low you put the temperature, it might be time to invest in some better equipment.

High-quality pans will work in your favor by regulating the temperature within them, leaving you with an easier task when simmering food.

Lower quality pans are more likely to get hot much quicker and burn food within them.

You might still have to turn the temperature down periodically with high quality new pans, but they’re likely to make simmering easier on you.

If you already have high quality pans but your food is STILL boiling no matter what you do, you might just have to accept that your stove has strong cooking power This is certainly not always a bad thing, but it can be trickier to achieve a simmer with a strong stove power.

To amend this, you will have to keep a closer eye on your food and remove it from the heat every so often to allow it to cool slightly before returning back to the stove.


We hope that this article has helped you learn more about simmering food on your stovetop! The number will usually be between 3 and 5 depending on your stove and its power.

Joe Carrow

Reno addict, keen gardener, and baker. I  started blogging in 2012 and have been hooked ever since!

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