When to Use Low, Medium vs. High: Your Electric Skillet Temperature Guide

Electric skillets are handy kitchen tools, but their generic settings of low, medium and high can be confusing. Here's a guide to electric skillet temperatures, along with the foods that cook best at each setting.

An unsung kitchen hero, electric skillets are best known for whipping up quick foods, like bacon, hash and burgers. But electric skillets have a huge range of uses, from braising meat to searing steaks. The only trick? Learning to navigate the controls. Our electric skillet temperature guide is here to help.

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How Do Electric Skillets Work?

On the underside of the skillet, a network of electric coils provides direct, consistent heat. This means that electric skillets hold a steadier temperature than a typical pan on the stovetop. That makes skillets ideal for cooking techniques that require a steady temp (like frying), or when a change in temperature can lead to uneven results (ever cooked your first couple pancakes perfectly, then burned the rest?).

Other benefits? Electric skillets also don’t heat up the house as much as the stove. Their portability is also a plus, as they can be used anywhere with outlets, from an RV to a church basement.

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How to Use Electric Skillet Settings

Electric skillets make it easy for cooks to control the temp. Many have just three settings: low, medium and high. Others have a dial that sets the heat to a specific temperature, generally between 200º and 450ºF. It’s simple to cook with either type of skillet, once you understand how the settings work.

What to Cook on Low

Low heat falls around 200º to 250º on a temperature dial. It’s ideal for simmering sauces, slow-cooking stews, braising meat and cooking beans.

To get the food cooking, start by turning the skillet to medium. When food begins to steam, turn the heat down to low and simmer as you would on a stovetop.

  • Stewed or braised recipes: 225º, recipes can take upwards of 90 minutes

What to Cook on Low-Medium

Some foods cook best at a low-medium setting, around 250º to 300º. Think caramelizing onions, cooking eggs or frying delicate fish. If your skillet doesn’t have a temperature dial, you can start these foods on medium and reduce to low to gently finish cooking.

  • Eggs: 275º for 3-5 minutes (cooked scrambled or fried)

What to Cook on Medium

Medium heat falls between 300º and 375º. Use the medium setting for browning, frying and sauteeing. In general, the thinner the food you’re frying, the higher the temp you can go. Thicker foods like burgers prefer a lower temperature, giving the meat time to cook through before the outside burns.

  • Bacon: 325º for 8-10 minutes
  • French toast: 300º-325º for 4-6 minutes
  • Burgers: 325º-375º for 8-12 minutes

What to Cook on High

High heat ranges from 375º to 400º, and some skillets go as high as 450º. This setting is best for browning meat, making pancakes and frying foods.

  • Pancakes: 350º-400º for 2-3 minutes
  • 1-inch steak: 350º-400º for 6-12 minutes, depending on how well done you like it
  • 1.5-inch steak: 350º-400º for 8-20 minutes, depending on preference

Next up: Find the best electric skillet for your cooking style.

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Kelsey Rae Dimberg
A former in-house editor at Taste of Home, Kelsey now writes articles and novels from her home in Milwaukee. She's an avid cook, reader, flâneur, and noir fanatic. Her debut novel, Girl in the Rearview Mirror, will be published in June 2019 by William Morrow.