Boiling, Poaching, or Simmering: What’s the Difference?

Throughout your cooking experience, you may have read the terms poaching, boiling, and simmering.

Of course, while all these involve hot water, they are not the same terms. This article will explore how they’re distinct from one another and how you can apply these terms to your cooking.


Boiling involves heating water to its boiling point (212°F). It is notable because it creates drastic bubbles rolling at the surface. The most common ingredients cooked with the boiling technique are rice, grains, eggs, vegetables, and pasta.


This one is all about cooking at an almost boiling point (185 to 200°F), which is recognizable by the tiny bubbles at the bottom or the top surface of the liquid.

Most dishes cooked with simmer are beef stew, chicken soup, and rice pilaf. Simmering can be fine, full, or vigorous depending on cooking style or requirement.


Poaching is an exquisite French cooking style used to cook eggs, chicken, fish, fruits, and vegetables. It involves immersing ingredients in low-temp liquid (160-180 F).

Some of the liquids used in poaching are water, vinegar, milk, butter, broth, and even wine (red or white). Poaching can be shallow or submersion depending on the liquid amount and the submerged ingredient.

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