Cooking Basics: What Is Medium Heat on a Stove?

what is medium heat on a stove

Have you ever looked up your favorite recipe and weren’t sure what heat setting you should use? Maybe there were times when you looked at stove knobs and wondered: what is medium heat on a stove? If you are new to cooking, understanding different heat settings on a stove can be confusing and frustrating.

If you were inspecting your stove in the hope of finding buttons for low, medium, or high heat, you must be disappointed. Luckily, it won’t take you much to get a grip of what different heat settings mean. So, let’s start with the basics.

Stove Introduction


You might not be using a stove too often, but you’re probably familiar with what you should use it for. Of course, you guessed right — it’s for preparing food. Yet, there are different types of stoves, such as electric, gas propelled, and wood burning. For example, gas stoves use an open flame for cooking food. Alternatively, electric ones heat food without exposing it to a direct blaze.

Also, depending on the make, your stovetop can have a different number of burners. Most often, it will have four or five that you can control by using knobs that correspond to each burner. Burners will usually be of different sizes and power to accommodate your cooking needs. For instance, large burners, or power burners, are usually paired with medium-strength and low burners.

Different Levels of Heat


If you’ve ever read a recipe book, you must have come across terms such as fry, simmer, or boil. This means that preparing various foods requires different temperature settings on your cooking range. You will want to saute some dishes, such as vegetables, while others will need frying. To understand how to do this, you’ll need to know how to adjust the cooking temperature on a stove.

There are a few levels of heat you’ll need to understand when cooking:

• low heat
• medium heat
• medium-high heat
• and high heat.

It’s important to note that low, medium, or high heat settings are not real settings. What does that mean? Well, you’ll have to follow the numbers on the burner knobs to get the heat setting you need.

What Do Numbers on a Stove Mean?

Not all brands are consistent when it comes to making temperature dials on stoves. Numbers usually range from 1 to 9, or 1 to 6, depending on the make. However, they all have one thing in common — the lower the number on the knob, the lower the temperature, and vice versa.

So, if you want to determine what medium heat on your stove is, you’ll want to follow some logic. On a six-labeled stove, it’ll probably be numbers 4 and 5, whereas, on a nine-labeled dial, medium heat will be on 5 or 6.

You will want to follow the same principle when deciding which setting you should use for your dish. This means you will set the knob to 1 or 2 for low heat if you’re using a six-labeled dial, and 5 or 6 for high heat.

All this might sound confusing, but rest assured that you will get the hang of it after a few trials and errors on your own stove.

Why Does Temperature Matter?


When preparing food, you will need to adjust the stove temperature quite often. To meet the demands of any recipe, you will need to raise or lower heat at different stages. Otherwise, you’ll run a risk of ruining your food by either burning it or overcooking it.

Of course, some dishes require more temperature adjustments than others. However, knowing how to set the heat on your stove will prevent you from ruining your dishes and sending your efforts down the drain.

Recipes Using the Different Heat Settings

Heat Settings

As we mentioned, you will cook some meals using low heat, and you will prepare others using a high heat setting.

Low heat is the lowest setting on the temperature dial. Let’s say you want to prepare fish or poach eggs. In this case, you will opt for a low heat setting on your temperature dial. You can also use low heat for simmering foods or reducing the amount of liquid in a pot.

Medium heat is the setting somewhere in the middle of the temperature dial. It is best for preparing foods such as quesadillas, fried onions, or rice. This temperature setting will ensure your food doesn’t burn.

Medium-high heat is the setting between medium and highest temperature. You usually use it for cooking meats, searing, and pan-frying. Meat needs to be well processed before consuming it, and you don’t want to risk undercooking it for health reasons.

Finally, if you need to bring a liquid to a boil, you’ll turn the knob to the highest number. This is usually used for boiling water for making pasta, boiling eggs, or steaming vegetables.

If you are a novice in cooking, or you bought a new stove, be patient! Once you get familiar with the stove, setting the appropriate heat will become a routine.

Gretchen Walker
Gretchen is a homemaker by day and writer by night. She takes a keen interest in life as it unfolds around her and spends her free time observing people go about their everyday affairs.