What Is Low, Medium, and High Heat on a Stove?

If you are new to cooking at home, you may not be familiar with low, medium, and high heat settings on a stove. The good news is that the settings are quite simple once you understand what they mean and how they should be used

Many people may be confused about how they should use low, medium, and high heat settings on their stovetop. Especially if they are trying to cook certain dishes and do not know how hot the food needs to get.

This is why it is important to become familiar with the stove top settings, as you will need to achieve certain temperatures for certain dishes. Especially if you want to get a specific temperature in order to create different results in your recipes.

Keep reading to find out what low, medium, and high heat settings on a stove mean, as well as how to use them when cooking.

Low, Medium, and High Heat Stovetop Settings

This can feel quite confusing if you are not used to cooking on your stovetop and using the different heat settings. You may also notice that the heat settings on your oven include numbers as well as the average low, medium, and high settings.

These can mean different things according to the make and model of your particular oven. But they usually are there to help you better adjust the heat settings when you are cooking certain dishes.


Most people choose to ignore the numbers and focus on the actual heat settings, as these are more accurate and easy to follow. Many recipes also refer to low, medium, and high heat settings, making them easier to adjust.

You are never going to achieve a perfectly even heat on a stovetop, as the settings can be slightly unpredictable. But you can use them in a way so that you have more control over the temperature that you are cooking your food with.

It mostly comes down to recognizing these heat settings and knowing what setting is best to use for certain dishes

How to Keep an Even Stove Top Heat?

One of the biggest problems that people face when they are trying to cook from home is that they can’t get an even stovetop heat. This can be frustrating if you are trying to cook food and you are either overheating it or underheating it.

This is a very common problem as the heat settings on a stovetop can be slightly unpredictable and difficult to control. Despite the fact that you have different settings to work with, they may not always work the way you want them to.

Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to get a perfectly even stove top heat when you are cooking. All you can do is follow a few steps to help you achieve a more even heat so that you can cook your food the way you want to.

Keep reading to find out how you should work with your stove top to achieve a more even heat for your dishes.

Person Heating a Frying Pan on a Stove Top

Avoid High Heat

One rule that many home cooks stick to is to avoid the high heat setting on their stovetop. This is because the high heat setting is not considered to be very useful for the majority of foods that you will be cooking.

It is far too hot and aggressive and is not going to allow you to slowly cook foods in order to develop the flavor. In fact, high heat will more likely burn your food beyond recognition rather than cook it to perfection.

Because of this, higher heat is typically only used to get water to boil before you turn the heat down to create a rolling boil. This is because high heat settings create a very aggressive boil that isn’t even good for cooking pasta in.

So you will not need to use the high heat setting very often and it should be avoided for the most part. Especially if you are cooking dishes that need to slowly cook down in order to develop flavor and condense.

Go Between

Though you only have the low, medium, and high settings on a stovetop, that doesn’t mean that you are limited to the settings. You can also go between the settings and adjust the temperature slightly according to what you are cooking.

This can be done by using the temperature gauge and adjusting it to sit between low and medium or medium and high. This allows you to adjust the temperature so that you can have a medium-low heat or high-medium heat.

These are ideal options for a variety of recipes, and the recipe instructions may even call for you to make this adjustment. This is one way where you can take more control over the heat settings on your stovetop when cooking.

You can also start your food off at a higher setting, then turn the heat down to allow it to slowly cook for a longer period of time. This is something that many people do and can be a great option if you want to adjust the temperature if it is too high.

Don’t Cover

Another great way to take better control over your stoves heat and create an even temperature is to not cover your cooking dishes. This is a very common practice when cooking food in pots as it elevates the internal temperature.

White and Black Gas Stove

This is why people will cover a pot of water that they need to boil, as it insulates the heat and allows the temperature to rise faster. Though this can be effective when trying to boil water, this is not an ideal option for a variety of other foods.

If you are trying to cook a dish at a lower heat setting so that it can slowly condense and become more flavorful, you should avoid covering it. Covering it will most likely bring it to a simmer or a boil, cooking it too quickly.

Why Are There Only Low, Medium, and High Settings on a Stove?

Many people may wonder why stove tops only offer low, medium, and high heat settings. But this is how it has always been, as these are the most common heat settings that people easily recognize.

This also makes it easier to create stoves that the majority of people are going to be able to afford and want to use. You may find more specialty settings for specialty stoves, but these are going to be much rarer and less in demand.

For the most part, the majority of stoves are going to be made exactly the same and offer the same kinds of heat settings.

Final Thoughts

If you are cooking more at home, you may be wondering what the low, medium, and high heat settings on your stove top mean. These are adjustable settings that allow you to cook your food over low, medium, or high heat to achieve different results.

If you are sautéing food, you may use a medium-high heat, while soup will most likely be set on medium-low or medium for a simmer.