Difference Between Simmer and Boil

Simmer vs Boil

Simmer and boil are two cooking methods that are very similar in nature which is why most people remain confused between them. Many recipes ask for boiling the hot liquids while there are some that require simmering and not boiling. There is no mystery behind these cooking techniques as both require heating the recipe or water in a pan over the flame. However, there are subtle differences that will be highlighted in this article.

To understand the difference between simmer and boil, we have to gain some knowledge about how water boils. It takes a temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit for water to start boiling. At its boiling point, bubbles of oxygen start to break and reach up to the surface of the liquid. Once water has reached its boiling point, there is no increase in its temperature even if you turn the knob of the burner to the maximum.


There are many recipes for which this boiling point of water is too hot, and the temperature must be kept a little down for the food to be properly cooked. You need to simmer the liquids rather than allowing them to boil for these recipes. Simmer takes place at below the boiling point of water, and the range for simmer is 185-205 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a temperature range that is below the boiling point and does not let the liquids become too hot for the recipes. Simmer is ideal for tougher cuts of meat and other food items that take longer time to cook. It is also referred to as gentle boil as water is not allowed to boil vigorously. You can see the bubbles rising to the top, but they are small and not very fast. In fact, these bubbles only try to break free to reach the top but the surface tension of water keeps them inside. If you are using simmer as the cooking method, try to stand near the gas and do not cover the recipe with a lid as the temperature will soon rise above the simmer range and make the contents boil.


Boil is a method of cooking that requires you to bring the liquids to a boiling point. The bubbles get a chance to break free and come to the top of the surface of the liquid when it reaches its boiling point. The liquid is in a stage where it is churning vigorously. The temperature of water, if it is used alone for cooking, reaches 212 degrees Fahrenheit and green vegetables that are thrown inside cook quickly with this high temperature. Salt and sometimes oil are also added to water to introduce flavor in the vegetables that are so cooked. While using boiling as the cooking method, you can cover the lid over the recipe as water temperature does not increase beyond 212 degrees Fahrenheit even if you forget to remove the lid for some time.

What is the difference between Simmer and Boil?

• Simmer and boil are variations of the same cooking procedure that requires recipes to be heated over the flame in a pan.

• Simmer is gentler boil as it keeps the temperature below the boiling point of water.

• Do not cover the recipe with a lid while simmering the contents.

• Simmer is ideal for tougher meats and foods that take longer to cook.