Poaching vs. Simmering vs. Boiling Temperatures

What is the difference between poaching, simmering
and boiling?

Is just a matter of temperature degrees, do you know the difference?

Be sure and use a good Cooking or Meat Thermometer.

This question may seem very basic but actually the subtleties of each are important cooking techniques to learn as it affects how you cook an egg vs melting chocolate.


Poaching is cooking technique used for cooking delicate foods, such as eggs, fish and fruits. To poach, gently place the food so that it is fully submerged into a pot of water that is between 160 and 180 degrees. 


Simmering food is achieved at a liquid temperature between 185 to 200 degrees. You have reached simmering when you see tiny bubbles begin to form on the surface of the liquid. Be careful to maintain a simmer and not let your liquid reach a boil. 

  1. Fine simmer – Tiny bubbles begin to form at a rate of a few every two to three seconds.
  2. Simmer – Small but continuous bubbling is obtained on the surface of the liquid. 
  3. Vigorous simmer – Bubbles are continuously on the surface of the liquid and steam begins to rise from the surface.

How do you maintain a simmer?

To maintain a simmer while cooking, you will need to be adjusting the temperature of the stove top to keep the bubbles small. Pulling your pot halfway off the burner sometimes help in controlling the heat.



When the liquid reaches 212 degrees you will have achieved a boil and you will see larger, continuous bubbles rising in the liquid and you will see steam.

1. Boil – Large steaming bubbles rise continuously to the surface of the liquid.
2. Rolling boil – Erupting bubblies continuously rise and break on the surface of the liquid and maintain their rate even while the liquid is being stirred. 



     poaching simmering boiling temperatures          poaching simmering boiling termperature          poaching simmering boiling temperature

160 degrees to 180 degrees F.
185 degrees to 200 degrees F.

 212 degrees F.
Poaching is "to cook an item by submerging it in a barely simmering liquid. Poaching is not a rolling boil. Poaching, compared to boiling, is a much gentler technique.

Poaching generally calls for food to be fully submerged in a liquid that is kept at a constant and moderate temperature, between 160° and 180°F. Keeping the temperature constant can take a little practice. The surface of the liquid should just shimmer with the possibility of a bubble.

The liquid is generally well flavored - stock, broth, court bouillon infused with herbs, spices or anything the imagination can conceive.

Usually the most delicate of foods, like eggs, fish, fruit, and some organ meats are poached. The food must be completely submerged in the water.
Simmering is usually reserved for tougher cuts or items that need more time to cook. The temperature of the liquid is usually between 185° and 205°F. A simmer is sometimes called a "gentle boil." Small bubbles periodically rise to the surface - the gentler and slower the bubbles, the lower the temperature.

NOTE: You can simmer with a lid, but remember the temperature inside the pot will rise and the simmer can very easily turn into a boil.

The simmered item renders a broth that is served as the sauce with your dish.

Check out my web page How To Boil Water - Boiling Points of Water.

Boiling food is the process of cooking it in a boiling liquid, usually water. Boiling water has a temperature of 212°, and no matter how long it boils or how hard it boils, it never becomes hotter; for at that point it is transformed by the heat into steam, and in time boils away.

This temperature varies with the atmospheric pressure, which in turn varies with both altitude and weather.

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