Project Zomboid Cooking Guide

Project Zomboid Cooking Guide – The Great Zombie Bake Off

I’m going to give it to you straight, no bull.

Project Zomboid is easily one of the biggest, most detailed, most intricate, and most frustrating open world survival games I’ve ever played. And I wrote extensively about Elden Ring and Skyrim.

Project Zomboid just has so much stuff in it. There are 26 different skills to level up, around 80 traits to ponder over, and the myriad of things you can get up to while playing are nigh uncountable.

It’s a game that will give you days and days of gameplay. It’s an experience that will yield unending discoveries. It’s a game that’s downright annoying at times.

Project Zomboid is so dedicated to detail and realism that it sometimes gets a little too real. In most games, repairing a car is a simple fix. In Project Zomboid, you’ll have to replace each lightbulb, spark plug, and tire separately. If you ask me, the developers were sometimes too committed to immersion.

And for me, nowhere is that unnecessary detail and dedication more unwanted than in the Cooking skill. The Cooking skill is, in my opinion, one of the most useless skills in Project Zomboid.

And though in this Project Zomboid cooking guide I will explain why it’s not useless and should be cultivated to some degree, I will also show why almost every other skill in the game is more of a priority.

Key Info Up Front

When it comes right down to it, the benefits you get from leveling up your Cooking skill just aren’t that great. You don’t get any extra benefits from the food you cook with a Cooking skill level of 10 aside from feeling really full when you eat.

That’s it. In the grand scheme of things, leveling up every other skill in Project Zomboid offers better results. 

Why I Hate Cooking in Project Zomboid

cooking in project zomboid

Because it’s dumb and pointless.

Cooking in Project Zomboid is like driving respectfully and observing the rules of the road in Grand Theft Auto. Nobody does it. They burn rubber, park wherever they want, and shoot anyone who has a problem with it.

Cooking is useless in Project Zomboid because you never need to do it. Ever. People just open a can of soup and eat it as is; survivors simply grab a handful of veggies and dig in.

You can rely on your farming skill to get you through most of PZ. Taking the time to slice up the veggies and arrange them in a fresh salad bowl makes no sense. There are zombies outside, the world is ending, and it’s the early 90s. Who’s making a salad? Just eat the damn veggies!

To make the Cooking skill more degraded in my eyes, it’s one of the most straightforward skills to upgrade. Opening a can of soup, slicing some bread, or putting fruit in a bowl yields EXP.

If you catch a rabbit in a trap, just placing the thing on fire gives you EXP. You don’t actually need to cook anything to level up your Cooking skill. Just eat. Go about your normal Project Zomboid gameplay; you’ll have a higher Cooking skill before you know it.

Why I’m Wrong to Hate Cooking in Project Zomboid

Because if you want to make it through winter and see what Kentucky looked like in 1994, you’ll need all the help you can get. And even though the benefits you get from leveling up your Cooking skill are so negligible you might miss them, they can give you the slightest edge that might just get your character through some tough spots.

Not to mention there are no more bakers in the zombie apocalypse. They all died or got eaten. So if you want to eat bread, you’ll have to bake it yourself. If you want dessert, you’ll have to bake it yourself.

As you level up your Cooking skill, food will become more and more satisfying to you. Meaning you can last a full 24 hours on a single meal instead of having to eat multiple times a day.

This can become invaluable if you’re low on resources, as you’ll burn through them much slower. And even if you’re not down on resources and have freezers stocked full of cabbages for years, having a higher Cooking skill means they’ll last much longer.

When you reach level 7 with your Cooking skill, you’ll gain the ability to see poison. I know, weird bonus, but who am I to complain? At this point, you can tell the difference between edible and poisonous berries and shrooms in the wild.

Not sure why you’d ever need it, but you can also tell if someone added bleach to your food in an attempt to assassinate you. Because apparently, multiplayer servers weren’t crazy enough.

Once you reach a level 10 Cooking skill, you can basically talk to food. You can tell precisely what nutrients you’ll get from any food you come across, meals satisfy you for much longer, and you can cook just about every recipe in the game. These are not exactly the most glamorous benefits, but they will come in handy during the end game.

Everything You Need to be an Iron Chef

project zomboid cooking

Let’s start with the beginner tools and work our way up to the professionals. You certainly won’t need the majority of these items during your Project Zomboid playthrough, but if you want to be the ultimate chef, you should keep your eye out for everything.

Knife (kitchen, stone, hunting, meat cleaver, bread, butter)

A knife is the most crucial tool in Project Zomboid. I should repeat that statement in all caps to reinforce the idea, but I hope you get it. A knifeless man is a lifeless man, or so my Grandfather taught me, and that’s never more true than in this wildly frustrating game.

A knife isn’t just for slicing bread and carving up that squirrel you just caught; it’s also for self-defense. Sure, nobody wants to rub zombie brains off their knife and then use that same knife to spread jam on their peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but this is the apocalypse, get with the program, people.

Knife. Super important. You’re going to use this for all the recipes.

Can Opener

The second most important tool for survival in Project Zomboid: the holy can opener. Canned food doesn’t go bad (not entirely, anyway), so as long as you have a can opener, you can get fresh food in your face wherever you are in Kentucky. Without this, you’ll stare longingly at every can you come across.

Canned food doesn’t need to be cooked. You can simply open the can and eat. Find a can opener and treat it like it’s your lifeline. Because it is.

Cooking Pot

Cooking pots can weigh a ton, but they are mighty handy. Not only can you purify water and make soup, but you can disinfect bandages and rags in boiling water to help with your wounds.

I did just say that you can eat canned food right out of the can in Project Zomboid, but if you pour it into a cooking pot and put it over a heat source, your soup will get rid of more unhappiness and hunger.

Heat Source (oven, BBQ, campfire)

cooking in project zomboid oven

Well, we aren’t going to cook much if we don’t get a fire going. Or a source of heat from somewhere. Thankfully, almost every house has a stove or microwave you can use to cook your food. But if they don’t, build a small campfire in the backyard and use that.

The trick to not burn your food is to hover your mouse over the food that’s currently cooking. You’ll see a health bar that slowly depletes, showing how much time it has left to thaw, cook, or burn.

Baking Pan

Yes, you’ll need a baking pan for a few recipes. How else will you bake that pumpkin pie that follows your Grandmother’s secret recipe?


We can’t have a bowl of fruit without a bowl, can we? You can’t have a bowl of salad without a bowl, huh? Get a bowl.

Coffee Mug

I usually have a coffee mug somewhere in my inventory as it’s another container I can use to carry water for my High Thirst build. But if you want to make a cup of joe or piping hot cup ‘o tea, you’ll need a cup.

Rolling Pin

Do you see why this game can get a little frustrating? You don’t just gather the ingredients; you also have to use the right tools to prepare all the ingredients. You’ll use this only if you’re baking a pie, but you might as well add it to your list, chef.

Project Zomboid Recipes

project zomboid recipes

Thankfully, there aren’t many recipes in Project Zomboid.

I lied; there are a ton.

This is Project Zomboid! Go big, or go to hell!

But blessedly, many of the recipes require little more than adding heat, and they all give at least a little bit of EXP. These aren’t all the recipes in PZ, but it’s a solid cookbook to keep you busy.

If you’re starting out in your Project Zomboid career, focus on just the first few recipes–beginner recipes. These are so simple, an ignorant loser in 1993 trying to survive the zombie apocalypse could complete them.

Once we get to the more advanced recipes, we’re looking at multiple stages to produce results. For example, you can’t just bake a pie. First, you have to make the pie dough, prepare the pie crust, and then bake the pie.

Yeah. Frustrating.

Easy Recipes

Can of Soup = Cooking Pot + Soup + Heat Source

A can of soup is about as easy as it gets. You don’t even need a spoon or a bowl. Open your can of soup, pour it into the pot, put the pot on the stove, and turn the stove on. Eat. 

Bowl of Beans = Can of Beans + Bowl

You don’t even have to turn the stove on for this one! Open the can, pour it into a bowl, and enjoy your cold beans. That’s cowboy cooking right there.

Bread Slices = Bread Loaf + Knife

Can you believe this actually gives you EXP in Project Zomboid? Just cut yourself some bread slices. Easy peasy.

Medium Recipes

project zomboid medium recipes

Pan-seared = Meat (chicken, salmon, steak) + Heat Source

Now we’re getting to the food that will put hair on your chest. If you caught yourself a small woodland critter and are fixing to cook it up and eat it, this is the recipe for you.

Prepare the meat, get your stove hot, slap that bad boy on there, and watch it sizzle. Eating meat removes the highest amount of unhappiness and hunger.

Pot of Stew = Water + Cooking Pot + Heat Source + Veggies

Pretend you’re a hearthstone chef laboring over a large, boiling pot ‘o stew. Throw anything that might enhance the flavor–any old crops from your garden will do. The only reason this recipe is medium is that gathering all the ingredients is a pain in the ass.

Salad = Veggies + Knife + Bowl

Chop up your veggies however you like, throw them in a bowl, and you’re ready. You might have difficulty gathering all the veggies, but that’s the cost of eating healthy during the zombie apocalypse.

Masterchef Recipes


First, you’ll need the Good Cooking magazine vol 2 for the bread dough recipe. Then you’ll need to make the bread dough (rolling pin + 1 unit of water + 1 unit of yeast + 1 unit of salt + 1 unit of flour). Then you take the dough and put that in the oven. Once that’s baked, you’ve got yourself a fresh loaf of bread. 


project zomboid cooking pie

Again, you’ll have to find the Cooking magazine, but this time vol 1. Once you’ve read the recipe, you’ll have to make pie dough (2 units of water + 2 units of flour + 2 units of salt + 15 units of butter).

Once you’ve made the dough, you’ll need a baking pan and a rolling pin. Roll out the dough, place it in the baking pan, and put it in the oven. Now we’re cooking!


If you’re lucky, you already have bread. If not, you’ll have to bake some and cut some slices. If you’re really lucky, you already have some meat cooked. If not, you’ll have to fry up some meat and cut that into pieces as well. Add both of those together, and you’re the proud owner of a hoagie. 


Did you think baking the pie was time-consuming? Think again. Making the cake batter requires seven different ingredients, so you’ll be hunting for a while. First, read vol 1 of the Cooking magazine. Then, once you have butter, flour, sugar, yeast, milk, and eggs, we can get to work.

Cake batter = 1 unit of flour + 15 units of butter + 3 units of sugar + 1 egg + 1 unit of yeast + 1 unit of milk + a bowl.

Mix everything together in your bowl, and viola, cake batter. But we’re not done yet! Next, you’ll need a baking pan and your stove. Wait a little bit longer and you’ll get to enjoy your very own digital cake. 


Question: Can I Create New Dishes in PZ?

Answer: You’re welcome to knock yourself out, kid. Lord knows there are probably new recipes released with each build, and I strongly doubt all of them have been discovered. Give it a shot, experiment, and see what you develop.

Question: Are there any Mods that Make Cooking Easier?

Answer: I didn’t find many mods that made a difference in my cooking journey throughout Project Zomboid. But I did find a trick that may or may not be considered cheating by some gamers. Under the sandbox settings screen, you can alter the settings around food and cooking.

You can make food spoil much slower, make more food populate the map, and make more fully cooked meals spawn in the world. I didn’t download any mods to help with cooking, but I did make it so that bread wouldn’t go stale for over a week and filled every kitchen full of enough food to feed a family. 

Question: So… All of this is Optional. I don’t have to Cook at All in Project Zomboid, and I’ll be Fine?

Answer: Pretty much. You can focus on farming, trapping, and foraging for all your survival needs. You will, even without trying, inadvertently level up your Cooking skill–after all, you can’t eat raw meat all the time, and every time you cook it, you’re getting EXP.


While the Cooking skill is clearly one of the back burner skills, one of the mechanics the developers obviously didn’t make a priority. But it’s still a necessary skill to survive as long as possible in Project Zomboid.

You certainly don’t need to apply yourself to the Cooking skill, as it’ll gain EXP passively during your survival experience. But it’s also a skill you shouldn’t entirely sleep on.

Getting more nutrients and satisfaction out of your food isn’t a small thing during the end times. And when you’re alone in 1993 Kentucky surrounded by zombies, you should take all the help you can get.

If you need more Project Zomboid tips, be sure to check out the guides below. And if you’re interested in other open world indie titles, we’ve got you covered.

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