The Forest: How to Cook Meat & Food

Mastering the food systems in The Forest can give you a much-needed edge.

One of the most important things about surviving in The Forest is eating. Some of the best ways to top off your hunger meter or health are to consume cooked food. There are many different foods in The Forest that you can consume and satiate your hunger, and they all come with their bonuses. Some foods may be more effective at filling hunger, health, and energy but may be more challenging to acquire, and some foods may make you sick if you aren’t careful.

This guide will cover how to cook the various types of raw meats you’ll gather and help you to gain the most benefit from them. 

After successfully catching your prey, whether it be a rabbit, turtle, lizard, fish, etc., you’ll need to process it into a consumable form. To consume it and gain the most benefit from your hunting efforts, you’ll have to cook your food with a campfire. 

How to Cook Meat and Food in The Forest

To craft a basic fire, you’ll need:

  • 2 Sticks 
  • 7 Leaves
  • 1 Lighter

Do exercise caution when crafting your fire as it has the durability to withstand 1-2 blows from the plane ax and can be destroyed easily by accident. Fire can also attract more attention from the local population to your area, so consider this if you are trying to be stealthy.

Once you have a warm fire going, you will be able to place any meat that you have in your inventory into the fire. While standing over your campfire, press the C key to place the meat, though this may vary based on your keybindings. 

Regular meat will sit on the fire for a short time and be consumable after a few seconds, where you can then directly consume the meat from the fire. If your meat sits there for more than 90 seconds, it will burn but still remain edible. Burned meat still retains some caloric value; however, its hunger and healing effects and your thirst levels are reduced by approximately 10%, so make sure that you watch your meat and not get distracted by mutants. 

Meat states

In The Forest, meat has a few different states and provides different values of benefits based on what state the meat is. Here are the various states of meat:

  • Fresh: Meat that you have just harvested. It cannot be consumed on its own but can be cooked with a fire or used in a stew.
  • Edible: Meat that has been cooked and is ready to eat. It provides the most benefits in this state but will spoil over time.
  • Burnt: Meat cooked for more than 90 seconds. It reduces thirst and has lower benefits. 
  • Spoiled: Meat that has not been consumed or dried within a certain amount of time. It can be consumed but has significantly fewer benefits than cooked meat and has a 20% chance of causing sickness. 
  • Dried: Meat that has been on a drying rack for over 8 minutes. Dried meat does not spoil but provides less nutrition and benefits than cooked meat. Check out our guide on dried meat here. 


Another way to cook your meat is to utilize an old pot to make a stew. You can locate an old pot in the cannibal camp north of the beach with dead sharks and the yacht, and you can find a few inside caves. 

The Forest - Cooking with an Old Pot

To make a stew, take an old pot, fill it with fresh water, and place it on the fire. You can combine meat, herbs, berries, and mushrooms to create different stews or other recipes. For the best experience, we recommend experimenting on your own, as trial and error and discoveries are a large part of what makes The Forest a fun experience. 

Food poisoning

Meat can spoil over time, and in a pinch, you can still consume spoiled meat. If you consume spoiled meat, you risk getting food poisoning. The odds of getting poisoned by the food are right around 20%. Acquiring food poisoning shows up as ‘sickness’ in your survival guide. Sickness reduces your stat gains from food as well as slowing energy regeneration. Sickness can be cured by sleeping or consuming Aloe.

Meat effects

You can utilize various sources of meat, and they restore different values to your stats. Here are the various types of meat available and what their benefits are when consumed:

  • Small meat: Acquired from squirrels and most birds. Small meat cannot be hung on drying racks. Restores 300 calories cooked and 150 burnt. It provides a small boost to hunger and restores a minuscule amount of health and energy.
  • Meat: Acquired from nearly all larger fauna found on the island. Restores 600 Calories cooked and 300 burnt. It provides a large boost to hunger, in most cases filling you up and restoring about a fifth of your health. It restores about double the amount of energy that small meat provides. 
  • Fish: Acquired from the various ponds found on the peninsula, gathered with traps, spears, or other melee weapons. Restores 500 calories cooked and 250 burnt. It provides a small amount more than small meat for hunger and restores around a fifth of your health. It restores a little under half of your energy.
  • Lizard: Lizards are found all over the peninsula but are often seen in more open areas and are generally random to encounter. You can often hear them scurry away when you stumble on one, but once you manage to catch them, they offer amazing armor and benefits. Eating a lizard acts the same as meat and restores the same values as meat. 
  • Rabbit: Rabbits can be found less frequently than lizards and are difficult to spot; however, they offer the same benefits as meat for such small prey. Consuming a rabbit provides the same value as meat.

Consuming human flesh

Fighting a bunch of cannibals and realizing you left your food on the drying rack back at your base? If you don’t want to die and are starving, you can even consume various body parts from the cannibals you’ve just slaughtered. 

The Forest - Consuming Human Flesh

Using your axe, you can harvest limbs from the corpses of your foes, which can be used for crafting and, in this case, dinner. These are the benefits and downsides of consuming human flesh:

  • Arms and legs: Reduces sanity by 3%. It provides 600 calories cooked and 300 burnt. Restores a moderate amount of hunger and nearly tops off your energy and approximately a fifth of your health. If not consumed fresh (not spoiled), consuming an arm can reduce your health as much as eating spoiled meat. 
  • Head: Reduces sanity by 3% and cannot be eaten by a campfire. To consume a cannibal’s head, you must cook it in a stew. It restores 600 calories when cooked and provides a minimal boost to hunger and energy but provides more depending on the ingredients used for the stew. 

Consuming human flesh has an interesting downside, though. When you consume human flesh, your character’s sanity takes a massive hit. This is not all bad; as you will unlock more effigy recipes, the lower your sanity is. At the moment, sanity does not have any other effect than being able to craft effigies and can primarily be used for roleplay purposes on servers.

There are rumors about audio hallucinations, but after some research and testing, many players determined that there wasn’t any difference, but others claim otherwise. Sanity can be restored by various methods like sleeping or listening to music, but a quick way to recover sanity is by consuming cooked meat.

The Forest - Sanity Levels

Now you know how to cook meat and food in The Forest.

Understanding the various types of meat and cooking capabilities in The Forest can give you an edge that might enable you to survive another day. Each encounter you have with wildlife, cannibals, mutants, or even the environment can take its toll. Armed with the knowledge of The Forest’s food system and mechanics, you can ensure your health, calories, hunger, and even sanity are tip-top before venturing out to your next cave crawl.

If you’re brand new to the game, be sure to check out The Forest Beginner’s Guide to gain a well-rounded advantage for getting started.

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About Greysyns

Starting his gaming journey with 1996’s Resident Evil, Greysyns has since played hundreds of titles across several platforms. You’ll often find him racking up hours of gameplay, hunting down rare achievements, or grinding out new content in MMORPGs. With a background in game development and QA testing, Greysyns is equipped with the knowledge and skills to quickly learn a game and uncover hidden secrets and useful strategies to share with other gamers.

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