What temperature is medium heat? (the only guide you need!)

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So you’re in the middle of cooking a delicious recipe, maybe this fettucine alfredo (yum), and you’ve been told to “cook on medium heat.”

You take a moment to pause, and you think you know the answer, but you aren’t positive because “medium heat” isn’t that descriptive.

toaster oven
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Particularly in something like an oven, medium heat can be hard to figure out, and while on something like a stove it can mean the exact middle of your heat source, it can also be a range of numbers.

Let’s talk more about medium heat, what temperature medium heat is, and what to do when your recipe doesn’t specify the temperature, but just says “medium.”

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What is Medium Heat Used For?

To be honest, most things are cooked at medium heat – a lot more than either low or high.

The reason is that it’s generally a more fool-proof way to cook things.

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More technique is often required for low or high heat, like if you’re searing a steak or simmering a soup.

“Medium heat” can be used for everything from eggs to vegetables to rice and pastas to many types of meat.

In fact, if you’re unsure what to do, sticking something on medium is usually your best bet.

What Degree is Medium Heat?

If you’re cooking in an oven, medium heat is typically 350 to 375 degrees Fahrenheit or 180 to 190 degrees Celsius.

You may start noticing that a lot of recipes have you turn the oven on to 350!

That’s medium!

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However, this is the degree of the oven medium heat, not just the temperature for medium heat in general.

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If you have your own food thermometer and are trying to test if your food is cooking at medium heat in the pan, then you should be going for 300 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

What Number is Medium Heat?

Often, when talking about what medium heat is, you’ll be dealing in numbers rather than degrees.

That’s because people often use this in stovetop recipes.

There is no one-size fits all approach to this because the numbers actually vary on appliances.

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Some go from 1 to 10, some from 1 – 6, some from 1-8, etc, and it’s up to you to “find medium.”

Luckily, medium does simply mean the middle of your temperature ranges.

So if it’s 1-10, then medium is a 4 to a 6, with 5 being actual medium and 4 being low medium and 6 (or 7 almost) being a high medium.

But if you are working with a scale of 1-7, then you’re looking at 3-4 being the medium and a 6 or 7 on this range would be high.

And add to that that your oven or stove can be miscalibrated slightly, so even if you have it at 5 as medium for your 1-10 range, there’s a chance that for “true” medium, you will need to adjust a bit either way.

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Use your kitchen common sense as much as possible here.

If a recipe says it’s going to take 5 minutes to brown your onions and yours go brown in 1 minute, even though you think you have it on “medium,” try turning the heat down to find the sweet spot.

How to Know You’re at Medium Heat

Besides using numbers or temperatures, how do you know you’re at medium heat?

One of the easiest ways is to put your hand hovering a few inches above the burner.

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If you feel a heat, but can leave your hand there for 10 or so seconds comfortably, then you’re likely at medium heat.

There are also infrared thermometers like this one to check the surface temperature of your pan (seriously, check out this price on Amazon, you’d be surprised how cheap they are!)

What is Medium Heat on a Stove?

Medium heat on a stove depends on the dial, but is often from around 4 to 6.

stove burner
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But keep in mind that if your stove only goes from 1-6, then of course 6 is not medium, but high heat.

Adjust to the exact middle of the numbers range on your stove to get a medium heat.

What Temperature is Medium Heat on a Grill?

If you’re outside grilling and need to know what medium heat is on your grill (often used for thicker cuts of steak, chicken, and fish), you should know that you’re aiming for around 350 degrees usually.

Your grill should have a knob, if it’s a gas-powered one, so simply turn that to the middle.

Grilling hamburgers
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What is Medium Heat on a Griddle?

If you’re using an electric griddle (and if you’re not, we recommend this one because it’s awesome and the pancakes you can make on it are amazing) , you should know that the medium heat on these appliances are a bit less in temperature than other appliances.

On a griddle, 320 to 375 degrees is closer to medium heat (just a bit lower than in an oven).

Want more cooking tips?

Interested in learning more to turn your kitchen fails into successes? Here are some handy guides!

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