Taking a look at your stovetop, you’ll notice each control knob has a set of numbers or perhaps it says “Low” and “High.” Obviously, a stove gets hot, but what temperature does each number represent? Does a “1” mean warm or hot?
Unlike a fridge, turning the knobs towards a higher number will indeed increase the temperature of the stovetop. Each stovetop is different though, and each model has a general range of temperatures for each number.
Stove Top Temperature Chart
Cooking with the right temperature is the key to consistently great results, but terms like “medium-low” and “medium-high” leave a lot of room for interpretation — and a lot of room for error. Knowing the precise optimal temperature for, say, stir-frying green beans means the difference between soggy, scorched, and just right. Imagine never burning anything again.
Knowing the right temperature to cook your food at is crucial but having settings on your control knob that consists of numbers, or words like low medium, or high can leave a lot of room for interpretation and have you clueless when it comes to deciding a temperature for cooking your food.
If you’re reading a cookbook or reading up a recipe online and it says medium-high, what temperature do you turn the dial to? Using the stovetop temperature chart above produced by Hesten Cue, you can check the ideal temperature to set your stovetop dial to depending on what you want to cook. The stovetop temperature guide has been created by a team of culinary scientists and chefs over hundreds of hours to make sure that you’re accurately cooking your food at the right temperature. It allows you to put a number to low or medium as well as lets you know the types of foods you should be cooking at those temperatures if your cookbook or web article has failed to do so.
It reveals the ideal stovetop temperature settings from everything to chicken (400 degrees F) at medium heat to fried eggs at (250 degrees F) on low heat. If you have numbers on your dial, temperatures like medium or low will correspond to how high the number is. If it’s medium temperature, then it’s the middle number, if it’s a low temperature, then it’s towards the first numbers. If it’s high, then it’s the highest number. From now on you’ll know exactly what temperature to use for cooking everything you ever wanted to cook in a pan.
Stove Top Temperatures Explained
The components of your stove are heat variable temperature devices. The stove isn’t connected to a thermostat that turns the temperature on or off, instead, the elements can be variably adjusted between MAX and OFF depending on the setting that you chose for your stove. If you increase the setting on the temperature knob, it’ll keep getting hotter and hotter. If you decrease the setting, it’ll get less hot. The temperature can also be affected by something being placed on the stove, such as a plan when you’re cooking. The higher the number that you choose on the knob, the faster it gets hotter.
Trying to determine how hot your stove is can be difficult because they all give off a different amount of power. Trying to find a universal temperature for the numbers on your stovetop is tricky because they don’t correlate to a specific temperature. You could test it out by putting the stove on the first number. From here, put a cold pan with a specific amount of water in it and test how long it takes to go from 0 degrees to 212° F or 100° C using a thermometer with a probe (view on Amazon). From here, wait till the pan is room temperature again, move the setting up on the temperature knob, fill it with the same amount of water as last time, wait till it starts boiling, and record the time it took from placing it on the stove to boiling. Repeat this step till you reach the last number on your stove.
You’ll notice that most of the settings get the water to reach boiling point, but they just took longer. If the left the pan on long enough, you’ll also notice that the higher settings reached higher temperatures and boiled more aggressively than the lower ones. The main thing you’ll notice is the time it took for each number or settings to reach boiling point got lower and lower as the number increased on the knob. Rather than trying to figure out the temperature of each number, you could think about it as a rate of heat output. The highest number will output heat at a quicker rate meaning that the pan will reach higher temperatures quicker and the lowest number will reach lower temperatures slowly.
Stove Top Numbers to Degrees
|Stove Top Number
Let’s start with stovetops that have temperature knobs with numbers. Anytime a recipe calls for a pan on, say, the low setting, what numbers do you actually use? Is it one or two? It’s tough to determine due to how inconsistent each stove brand is. And to make matters worse, some stoves range from one to nine, while others range from one to five. A stove’s one might be more like a two on another stove. It’s maddening!
Thankfully, there’s at least a range of temperatures you’ll get for each setting. With that said, they too can vary from stove to stove. But first, let’s clear up the air on one key, consistent fact: the higher the number, the higher the temperature. Usually, stovetop temperature knobs go from 1 to 10, and 1 is the lowest temperature whilst 10 is the highest temperature. Some stovetop knobs start with 1/2 then from one it goes up 10 with integers.
Low Heat 1 – 3
This is where a low setting would range between. When a recipe calls for a low setting, then placing it between one and three should do the trick. Now, with that said, you should always start at one and work your way up until you get the results the recipe expects. As for a stove that ranges between one through five, a low setting is between one and two.
Medium Heat 4 – 6
In some recipes where you’re cooking vegetables and such, you’ll be using a medium setting. Between four and six is what can be considered “medium.” However, as you push towards six, you’re stepping into medium-high. When a recipe wants medium-high, it specifies for medium-high. If it does not, set it to medium.
As for stoves that range between one and five, your medium setting sits right on three. In some cases, it might sit around two. Always start lower.
High Heat 7 – 9
Setting your stove between seven and nine is the kind of setting that’s consistent with the high setting. It’s going to definitely boil any oil you place on the burners and burn any kind of cheese you throw on it.
As for stoves that range between one and five, your high setting is between four and five, though a four can sometimes be considered medium-high.
Stove Tops Without Numbers
Then there are stoves without numbers, instead, replaced with settings such as Low, Medium, High, and a few in between. Cookbooks usually use such settings when referring to the temperature of cooking food, including recipes from boxed dinners. But they too suffer from inconsistent temperatures across models.
With that said, there is a general range of temperatures for each setting. Bear in mind that your stove’s “simmer” setting might be another stove’s “low” setting. Instead, each temperature is based on how certain food is cooked.
|Stove Top Settings
|250 F – 325 F
|130 C – 165 C
|350 F – 425 F
|177 C – 220 C
|450 F – 500 F
|230 C – 250 C
If you want to melt the cheese without burning it into a flaky crisp, you would set it to simmer. Simmer is ideal for, again, melting cheese, but it’s also the perfect setting when recipes call for the sauce to be simmered. It’s also pretty ideal for heating up leftovers. If you had a tool to gauge the temperature, it would sit around 140 degrees Fahrenheit, give or take 10 degrees (60 degrees celsius).
In other words, a slow, very low setting that’s ideal for warmer food rather than straight out cooking it.
A low setting on a stovetop can generally work for pan-cooking chick and other meats such as pork or lamb. Even so, it’s a temperature setting that can make onions sweat. But again, your particular stove can alter that rule of thumb. With that said, a low setting will net you a temperature of around 190 degrees Fahrenheit or 87 degrees celsius.
On the other hand, if you want to cook onions—among other vegetables such as broccoli—then you would bump the stove temperature up to the medium setting. Considering your stove, it should be exuded a temperature between 210 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit or 100 to 150 degrees celsius.
In some cases, a medium setting might act as a medium-high, while a low setting will be more like a medium.
Let’s say you throw a piece of cheese into a pan on a stove set to a high setting. Well, you’re going to melt that cheese fast and burn it to a crisp. A high setting is ideal for caramelizing various meats but also frying goods such as donuts, fries, and so on. You’ll be feeling the heat on this one with temperatures reaching 300 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit or 150 to 260 degrees celsius.
It would certainly help if all stoves had expectations, but alas, that is not the case. At least each model does tend to hit right around the same temperatures, give or take 10 to 15 degrees. However, it just goes to show you that in order to know for sure, you have to toss on a piece of cheese or use butter to get an estimation on what your stove, in particular, considers “medium” and so on.
Gas, Electric & Induction Stoves And Their Temperatures
There are different stovetops that can be in a home. Whether this is gas, electric, or an induction stovetop, they all output a different amount of energy and this can affect the temperature of each stove setting. Whether you have numbers or low, medium, and high. It’s also common to get wood and downward draft stoves, but gas electric and induction stovetops are the most common.
Gas stoves use combustible gas as the fuel source to create a flame. Some of the gas these stoves may use are syngas, propane, butane, and more. A gas tank is connected to the stove via a hose.
Combustible gas is used to produce a flame on a gas stovetop and these commonly use energy sources like propane, syngas, butane etc. The gas is carried through a pipe securely so there are no leaks. You can turn a valve on your gas tank to let the gas flow through the hose. Once it’s flowing, you turn the knob and your gas tank and select the appropriate setting, and this will cause the gas to ignite.
If a standing pilot stove always has a burning flame and it burns under a cooker – this is known as the pilot light and it’s between the front and back burners. When you turn the dial on your stove, the gas that’s flowing is ignited by the pilot light.
If an electric ignition is being used, then there’s no pilot since an electric spark is used to ignore the burners. This is a very common type of burner and you’ll know you have this if you hear a clicking sound before a flame is ignited. The clicking sounds are from the sparks trying to ignite the flame.
Gas Stove Top Temperature
Once you have a flame going, you turn the stove knob to control it. The larger the flame, the higher the heat level. The dial is divided into numbers or levels that can go all the way up to 10. Each level is divided in terms of BTU.
With a gas stovetop, a stove knob can be used to control the flame. A larger flame means a higher heat level. The dial used to control the heat has numbers that typically go from 1 to 10 or 1 to 9. If you’ve been told low heat by a cookbook or web article, then you should know that a low heat level doesn’t correspond to just 1 number but a range. If it goes from 1 to 9, then typically the first 3 numbers would be low heat. If it goes from 1 to 5, then typically numbers 1 to 2 would be low heat. You may also find that your gas stove doesn’t have numbers as temperature settings but rather the expected temperature at each level.
An electric stove uses an electrical heating device. Instead of burners, electronic stoves have heating elements. Some people still call them burners though. The heating elements are usually eclectic coil. The coils can be completely exposed or they can run beneath the tops. When you turn the dial, electricity runs through the coils to heat them up.
An electric stove uses electricity to conduct heat through coils. With each electric stove, there’s a heating element that usually consists of an electric coil. These coils usually run beneath the stovetops and once the dial is turned, a current is sent through the coils to heat them up. Most electric stoves have a glass-ceramic top and the coil underneath radiates the heat through the top via infrared energy. Glass ceramic doesn’t conduct heat well which means most of the energy transfer is between the coils and the cookware. Some cooktops are made of halogen and the heating elements are halogen bulbs rather than coils. These bulbs stay underneath the top and transfer the heat through.
Electric Stove Top Temperature
The flow of electricity from the coils or the halogen bulbs determines the heat level. If the knob is turned to a high number, then more electricity flows through and the heating element gets hotter. The heat levels are usually labeled with numbers and If it goes from 1 to 9, then typically the first 3 numbers would be low heat. If it goes from 1 to 5, then typically numbers 1 to 2 would be low heat.
Since more electricity is used when the dial is turned up, a higher setting chosen by the dial means more electricity will be used. The energy usage of each electric stovetop is different – each heating element will use around 400 watts when on low heat but they can go up to 2,000 to 5,000 watts when at high heat. These numbers are arbitrary since the energy consumption is dependent on several different factors like the heat setting, how long the stove was used for, and the stove itself.
Induction stoves are typically seen in modern homes and they use induction to create heat. Similar to electric stoves, induction stoves use electricity to create heat but a copper coil underneath the glass is what the energy is passed through to create heat. The copper coil underneath the cooking surface turns an electromagnet and creates a magnetic field to generate heat once cookware is placed on the surface.
The cookware can gain an electric current once placed on the surface due to the magnetic field underneath the surface. This current can be resisted by the cookware with the by-product being heat. This means that the stop top never heats up until the current is resisted by the cookware once placed on the surface. Once the cookware is removed from the surface, the current is no longer being resisted by the cookware therefore the stovetop can’t get hotter. Although it’ll appear hot, it’s just the residual heat from the cookware. In essence, it’s the cookware getting hot, not the stovetop or the coil itself – although everything gets hot, it’s all triggered by the cookware.
An induction stove is the most efficient out of a gas and electric stove due to it having the least amount of heat energy wasted. This is because electric and gas, heat is transferred from the stove to the cookware. Whereas with induction, the cookware is the old thing that generates heat and everything else gets hot as a by-product. Because of the heat transfer from the stove to the cookware with electric and gas stoves, a lot of heat is lost in the surroundings whereas this is the opposite with induction stovetops. Since the cookware needs to be magnetic for it to work on an induction stovetop, bring the cookware close to the stovetop, and if it’s attracted, then it’ll work.
Induction Stove Top Temperature
Since induction stovetops are so efficient, temperature readers on dials are more common since they’re more accurate. All induction stovetops have digital displays and heat levels are usually indicated by numbers. If it goes from 1 to 9, then typically the first 3 numbers would be low heat. If it goes from 1 to 5, then typically numbers 1 to 2 would be low heat. Just like electric stovetops, the higher the heat required from one, the more energy will be used. To check the stove tops’ energy consumption, check the stoves manual.
Cookbooks Are All Over the Place
One of the most frustrating aspects that come out of not having consistent temperature across all stoves is linked to cookbooks. Flip through a cookbook and chances are most of them will use “medium-high” or “low” or “high” when a recipe refers to a temperature to cook a particular meal at. Relative to what, exactly? One stove’s “low” could be another stove’s “medium.” What do you do then?
It takes trial and error, unfortunately. There’s another trick you can perform with butter. You can gauge temperatures based on how fast each setting melts butter. What you would consider a “low” setting is anything that melts butter slowly, maybe bubbles a bit, but ultimately takes so long to brown that you might fall asleep from boredom. What you would consider “medium” is butter melting quickly, definitely bubbling, and browning shortly after. As for a “high” setting, you would see butter melt very quickly, bubble to the point of flinging butter, and reach a smoke point, releasing a cloud of smoke into your house.
It isn’t the cleanest of methods, nor does it give you exact temperatures, but it does give you a general idea of how hot your particular stove gets. If a meal calls for medium, always start with a low setting and work your way up. It’s a lot easier to salvage a meal that hasn’t been cooked thoroughly yet, than a meal that’s burnt to a crisp.