Difference Wiki

Simmer vs. Braise: What's the Difference?

By Janet White & Harlon Moss || Updated on May 20, 2024
Simmer involves cooking food gently in liquid at a low temperature just below boiling, while braise combines searing food at high heat and then slow-cooking it in liquid at low temperature.

Key Differences

Simmering is a cooking technique that involves gently cooking food in liquid at a temperature just below boiling, usually between 185°F and 205°F. This method is ideal for cooking delicate foods like vegetables, fish, and sauces, ensuring they are tender without becoming mushy. Braising, on the other hand, is a combination cooking method that starts with searing food at a high temperature to develop flavor and then slow-cooking it in a covered pot with liquid at a lower temperature. Braising is commonly used for tougher cuts of meat and hearty vegetables, making them tender and flavorful through extended cooking.
Simmering is typically used for preparing soups, stews, and sauces, allowing flavors to meld together while maintaining the integrity of the ingredients. The gentle heat helps in preventing overcooking or breaking down of delicate foods. Braising involves two steps: first, the food is browned to enhance flavor, and then it is cooked slowly in a liquid, such as broth or wine, often with aromatics. This method is ideal for transforming tough, fibrous cuts of meat into tender, succulent dishes.
Both simmering and braising use moist heat to cook food, but the key difference lies in their processes and suitable applications. Simmering keeps food partially or fully submerged in liquid at a consistent, gentle heat, while braising begins with high-heat searing followed by slow cooking in a covered vessel with a small amount of liquid.
In terms of equipment, simmering can be done in a regular pot or saucepan, whereas braising usually requires a heavy, lidded pot like a Dutch oven. Simmering is quicker, making it suitable for relatively short cooking times, whereas braising can take several hours, making it perfect for developing deep, complex flavors in tougher foods.

Comparison Chart

Cooking Method

Gently cooking in liquid below boiling point
Searing then slow-cooking in liquid

Temperature Range

185°F to 205°F
Starts with high heat, then low heat

Suitable For

Delicate foods like vegetables, fish, sauces
Tough cuts of meat, hearty vegetables

Cooking Time

Relatively short
Longer, often several hours

Equipment Needed

Regular pot or saucepan
Heavy, lidded pot like a Dutch oven

Flavor Development

Maintains integrity of flavors
Develops deep, complex flavors

Simmer and Braise Definitions


To maintain a low, steady heat while cooking.
Simmer the sauce until it thickens.


To use a combination of dry and moist heat cooking techniques.
The chicken thighs were braised to enhance their flavor.


To reduce liquid gradually through gentle cooking.
Simmer the broth to concentrate its flavor.


To develop deep flavors through long, slow cooking in liquid.
Braise the short ribs until they are melt-in-your-mouth tender.


To cook food gently in liquid at a temperature just below boiling.
Simmer the soup for 20 minutes to blend the flavors.


To sear food at high heat and then cook it slowly in liquid.
Braise the beef in red wine for a rich, tender result.


To cook slowly with gentle bubbling.
The stew needs to simmer on the stove for an hour.


To cook tougher cuts of meat slowly until tender.
Braise the pork shoulder for several hours until it falls apart.


To keep food at a gentle heat, preventing it from boiling.
Simmer the fish until it's tender and cooked through.


To cook (meat or vegetables) by browning in fat, then simmering in a small quantity of liquid in a covered container.


To be cooked gently or remain just at or below the boiling point.


Alternative spelling of braze


To be filled with pent-up emotion
Simmer with resentment.


A dish (usually meat) prepared by braising.
Pot roast is typically a braise, as is osso buco.


To be in a state of mild agitation or turmoil
Resentment simmering between rivals.


A sauce used for braising.
Braised cabbage is cooked in a braise of sliced bacon, one or two thickly sliced onions, one or two sliced carrots, parsley, thyme, a bay leaf, and stock to nearly cover.


To develop in a slow or unexcited way
She let the idea for the novel simmer.


Pagellus bogaraveo, syn. Pagellus centrodontus (sea bream)


(intransitive) To cook or undergo heating slowly at or below the boiling point.
The soup simmered on the stove.


(cooking) To cook in a small amount of liquid, in a covered pan, somewhere between steaming and boiling.


(transitive) To cause to cook or to cause to undergo heating slowly at or below the boiling point.
Simmer the soup for five minutes, then serve.


Alternative spelling of braze{{gloss}}


To be on the point of breaking out into anger; to be agitated.


A European marine fish (Pagrus vulgaris) allied to the American scup; the becker. The name is sometimes applied to the related species.


To remain angry with someone or something past the point of exhaustion; to resign oneself to holding a grudge, especially after some failed attempts to resolve a situation.
I tried to get through to him; all that's left for me to do is simmer.


Charcoal powder; breeze.


To develop gradually, of an idea or plan.


Braised meat.


The state or process of simmering.
The kettle was kept on the simmer.


To stew or broil in a covered kettle or pan.
A braising kettle has a deep cover which holds coals; consequently the cooking is done from above, as well as below.


Someone who plays a sim (a simulation game), particularly The Sims.


Cook in liquid;
Braise beef


To boil gently, or with a gentle hissing; to begin to boil.
I simmer as liquor doth on the fire before it beginneth to boil.


To brown food first, then cook it covered in a small amount of liquid.
Braise the lamb shanks with vegetables and broth.


To cause to boil gently; to cook in liquid heated almost or just to the boiling point.


Temperature just below the boiling point;
The stew remained at a simmer for hours


Boil slowly at low temperature;
Simmer the sauce
Simmering water


Which foods are best for braising?

Braising is ideal for tougher cuts of meat and hearty vegetables.

How does simmering develop flavors?

Simmering allows flavors to meld together gently while maintaining the integrity of the ingredients.

How does braising develop flavors?

Braising develops deep, complex flavors through high-heat searing followed by slow cooking in liquid.

What is simmering?

Simmering is cooking food gently in liquid at a temperature just below boiling, typically between 185°F and 205°F.

Can simmering overcook food?

Simmering is gentle and helps prevent overcooking, making it suitable for delicate foods.

Which foods are best for simmering?

Simmering is best for delicate foods like vegetables, fish, and sauces.

What is braising?

Braising is a cooking method that involves searing food at high heat and then slow-cooking it in liquid at a low temperature.

What equipment is needed for simmering?

A regular pot or saucepan is typically used for simmering.

Is simmering faster than braising?

Yes, simmering usually takes less time than braising.

Can you simmer and braise the same dish?

While some dishes may start with a simmer, braising specifically involves the initial high-heat searing step.

Why sear food before braising?

Searing develops a flavorful crust that enhances the overall taste of the dish during slow cooking.

What liquids are used for simmering?

Water, broth, stock, and wine are common liquids used for simmering.

What equipment is needed for braising?

Braising usually requires a heavy, lidded pot like a Dutch oven.

Does braising require a covered pot?

Yes, braising typically involves cooking in a covered pot to trap moisture and flavors.

What is the temperature range for simmering?

Simmering typically occurs between 185°F and 205°F.

Does simmering require a covered pot?

Not necessarily; it depends on the recipe, but simmering can be done with or without a lid.

What liquids are used for braising?

Broth, stock, wine, and sometimes beer or a combination of these are used for braising.

Can braising overcook food?

If done properly, braising tenderizes tough cuts without overcooking, but it requires careful timing.

How can you tell if food is simmering correctly?

Food is simmering correctly when there are gentle, steady bubbles breaking the surface of the liquid.

Can you braise in a slow cooker?

Yes, a slow cooker can be used for braising, often starting with searing the food in a separate pan.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Co-written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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