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From Dwarf Fortress Wiki
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Skill: Cook
Profession Farmer
Job Title Cook
Labor Cooking
  • Prepare Easy Meal
  • Prepare Fine Meal
  • Prepare Lavish Meal
  • Render Fat
  • Agility
  • Analytical Ability
  • Creativity
  • Kinesthetic Sense
"Cook" in other Languages Books-aj.svg aj ashton 01.svg
Dwarven: rafar
Elven: othi
Goblin: kengku
Human: lem
This article is about the current version of DF.
Note that some content may still need to be updated.

A Cook is a dwarf whose highest skill is in cooking. Cooks will prepare meals at the kitchen workshop using ingredients available in your fortress, and will also render fat into tallow at the kitchen, both of which fall under the Cooking labor.

Although some kinds of food can be eaten raw, other food resources are ingredients; which are only edible when cooked into a meal. Cooking thus increases the number of food sources available to your fortress. Conversely, cooking plants does not yield plant seeds, so cooking edible plants decreases your potential crops. Eating high-quality prepared food gives your dwarves happy thoughts if the meal contains one of their favorite foods Bug:4661. It is not precisely known how a cook's skill and the quality of ingredients affect the happiness generated by a meal, but as a general rule there's no such thing as "too good".

Prepared Meals[edit]

There are three kinds of prepared meals: easy, fine, and lavish. All three of these give the same experience gain to the Cooking skill, so making easy meals maximizes experience gain; if you don't care about experience gain, preparing lavish meals saves much more stockpile space. The number of servings produced has no effect on experience gain. Prepared meals can rot, but will do so much more slowly than raw food, especially meat.

Prepared meals come in three varieties:

  • Easy meals require two ingredients and are named "{last ingredient} biscuit (Biscuit sprite.png).
  • Fine meals require three ingredients and are named "{last ingredient} stew (Stew sprite.png).
  • Lavish meals require four ingredients and are named "{last ingredient} roast (Roast sprite.png).

As you can see, the last ingredient added to the meal will determine its name, which in turn is determined more or less randomly by the order in which the cook grabs them. To successfully create a prepared meal, a cook must have access to the proper number of distinct stacks of ingredients when the job starts, otherwise the job will be cancelled. The same ingredient may be used for a meal multiple times, provided that ingredient is in multiple discrete stacks. The stack size of the finished prepared meal is the sum of the stack sizes of its ingredients, so a cook grabbing "turkey hen egg [14]", "plump helmets [5]" and "plump helmets [5]" would result in a stack of "plump helmet stew [24]". Prepared meals cannot be used as ingredients in other prepared meals.

Cooks may occasionally create a meal that has more than the required number of ingredients; roasts, for instance, may have 5, or, occasionally, 6 ingredients, or even rarely as many as 12. This behavior is presumably a bug, and may be related to the Planepacked glitch and other similar bugs. It seems to occur when many stacks of the same food are available (for example, many, many quarry bush leaves) and the cook grabs multiple stacks of the same food.

Despite their large stack sizes, stacks of prepared meals can usually (though not always) fit into regular barrels or pots on a food stockpile.

Prepared meals are subject to quality modifiers to their base value while each individual ingredient gets a quality modifier as well, making prepared meals an extremely profitable item indeed.

Prepared Meal value[edit]

This table shows how the quality modifiers compare to other items:

Quality Meal Ingredient Value Modifier Value Bonus
(normal) (none) minced +0
-Well-Crafted- well-prepared well-minced 1.1× +3
+Finely-crafted+ finely-prepared finely minced 1.2× +6
*Superior quality* superiorly prepared superiorly minced 4/3× +10
≡Exceptional≡ exceptional prepared exceptionally minced 1.5× +15
☼Masterful☼ masterfully prepared masterfully minced +30

The value of a stack of prepared meals is equal to the prepared meal's base value of 10 times the meal's quality modifier (finely-prepared, etc.), plus the products of each ingredient's base value and its quality modifier (well-minced, etc.) and value bonus, all multiplied by the stack size. So, for example: a well-prepared meal consisting of 5 finely-minced cow cheese, 3 finely-minced llama tripe, 1 finely-minced llama sweetbread, and 2 superiorly minced mussels would be "-mussel roast [11]-", worth 676☼ (for 62☼ of ingredients!). (Exact calculation: (1.1*10+3 + 1.2*10+6 + 1.2*2+6 + 1.2*2+6 + (4/3)*2+10)(5 + 3 + 1 + 2).

This example can be understood as:

(well-prepared = 1.1) × (base value of prepared meal = 10☼)  + (value bonus = 3)
(finely-minced = 1.2) × (value of cheese = 10☼) + (value bonus = 6)
(finely minced = 1.2) × (value of tripe = 2☼) + (value bonus = 6)
(finely minced = 1.2) × (value of sweetbread = 2☼) + (value bonus = 6)
(superiorly minced = 4/3) × (value of mussels = 2☼) + (value bonus = 10)

all multiplied by the total number of meals (11)

The individual stack sizes of the ingredients may affect your profits, but have no effect on the final meal's value. One "masterfully minced plump helmet" cooked with ten "well-minced dog meat" will have exactly the same value and description as ten "masterfully minced plump helmet" and one "well-minced dog meat".


Cooks are notorious for choosing ingredients poorly. To maximize variety in your prepared meals (and improve the chance of including a preferred ingredient) you can link several small stockpiles to the kitchen. Avoid using barrels for solid ingredients, or else your cook will likely continue his string of quarry bush leaves x4 roasts.


Booze (and other liquid ingredients) can be used as an ingredient in prepared meals, but the first ingredient stack of any prepared meal must be a solid. Due to a bug, dwarves prefer to cook solid ingredients. Linking stockpiles to the kitchen can force them to include liquids as well.


When rendering large units of fat (for example from elephants or forgotten beasts) a dwarf gains cooking skill extremely quickly due to the dozens or hundreds of units of tallow created per task - even to the point of going from dabbling to skilled in a single task.[Verify] Thus, rendering fat can be used to rapidly train cooking to high levels.


  • Cooks will only use liquid ingredients (like dwarven syrup and booze) as a last resort, instead preferring to cook only solid foods. Bug:2393 A workaround for this is to set up multiple stockpiles around the kitchen, with only the liquids stockpile set to allow barrels, exploiting their preference for ingredients in barrels. When the other cooking materials around the kitchen are not in barrels, the cooks will use liquids along with the other foodstuffs to cook their meals.
  • Cooks prefer ingredients stored in containers (and, even more so, ingredients stored in containers stored in containers--e.g. flour, quarry bush leaves, etc.).
  • Frozen milk gets cooked into prepared meals as a solid, causing the meal to melt later. Bug:2787
  • High-quality cooked meals only give a happy thought if at least one of the ingredients is preferred by the dwarf eating it. Bug:4661
  • Cooks can combine all the ingredients in a barrel into one massive meal. Bug:7546
Fishery worker