Skull Cavern can be quite a shock to new Stardew players, especially those who haven’t spent a lot of time in the deep parts of the town mine. The Obsidian Edge can go a long way in the first mines, in fact it’s more than enough to get through them completely, but if you try going through Skull Cavern without getting a Galaxy Weapon of some kind, you’re going to be in for a bad time. You also need to know the best foods to keep yourself fast, strong, and alive in Skull Cavern!
So what exactly are the best foods to load your backpack up with to get through Skull Cavern in Stardew Valley? While there are variations based on play style, weapon used, and specific goals with each run (like collecting iridium versus racing to level 100).
No matter what your Skull Cavern goals, there are a few foods you should always pack up before heading into Skull Cavern, such as:
- Spicy Eel
- Roots Platter
- Crab Cakes
- Pumpkin Soup
- Lucky Lunch
However, not all of these can be used together. We’ll take a look at each one, what it brings to the table, and give you all the information you need to know which of these foods is best for a mining expedition to Skull Cavern for your play style and which you might save for another venture.
Let’s dive right in!
The Best Foods for Skull Cavern Success in Stardew Valley
Skull Cavern is no joke in Stardew Valley, as the locked cave in the desert is so much more vicious and less forgiving than the mines closer to Pelican Town. Whenever I head out to the desert, whether it’s when the desert caves first come open or later in game when I’m just
Spicy Eel: The Best Food for Skull Cavern?
Spicy Eel is my favorite dish for the cave because it is one of the rare dishes that gives you additional Luck (+1) in addition to giving a +1 speed that also is one of the few cooked foods that can stack with coffee so you can get “Double Speed,” which is extremely important when running from flying serpents.
Add in a solid amount of health and energy recovery and this can help you to clear out enemy-infested levels of Skull Cavern, collecting the resources you want and getting further and further down the cave to where even more resources (and enemies) exist. Just as with the normal mines, the deeper you go, the more resources that become available.
Combat is a huge part of Skull Cavern so the ability to have extra luck, which makes it easier to find stairs or holes that let you drop past multiple floors. Add in the “double speed” to get out of bad situations because you also drank coffee, and I am firmly in the spicy eel + coffee camp camp of Stardew Players who believe this is the best overall combo you can have.
With plenty of health elixirs for back up, of course!
Spicy Eel Stats in Stardew
- +115 Energy
- +51 Health
- +1 Luck
- +1 Speed
Coffee: Don’t Go Mining Without It!
Coffee doesn’t give anything remarkable as far as health points or stamina, but it does one critical thing that we can’t overlook: it gives a +1 speed that stacks with all speed from eating food. When you eat Spicy Eel and Crab Cakes, you don’t get +2 speed. Whichever food eaten last overrides the effects of the other.
However, Coffee’s speed boost stacks with Crab Cakes, Spicy Eel, or any other food dish that boosts your stats instead of replacing them.
This means you have a speed boost if you need extra combat bonuses from other foods, or luck, or whatever else you invest in.
Once you can afford to mass buy or mass produce coffee there’s no excuse not to be growing it in mass or buying it in mass.
I might not be a speed runner who uses tricks like Clay Farming and Animation Cancelling in Stardew, but I do endlessly guzzle coffee for my version of Speedy Stardew. Now if only someone would make a mod to inject it directly into my farmer’s veins as long as he had it on his backpack…
Coffee Stats in Stardew
- +3 Energy
- +1 Health
- +1 Speed for 1 Minutes 23 Seconds
This is most important if you find yourself having to start out in Skull Cavern with the Obsidian Edge or weaker weapon and you struggle a bit with the combat being turned up from 5 to 20, at least in comparison to what you’re used to from the Town Mines.
Once you have a Galaxy weapon, or have the intricacies of combat in Skull Cavern down, you should be able to dump these for one of the other foods on the list.
Many find that the double speed boost from crab cakes + coffee or spicy eel + coffee makes up for any drop in attack ability, even if those players otherwise sometimes struggle with combat.
This is still a good emergency backup food if you’re low on the others on this list, or need that combat boost until you can acquire a Galaxy Sword or Galaxy Hammer.
Roots Platter Stats in Stardew
- +125 Energy
- +56 Health
- +3 Attack
If you’re trying to spring down to level 100 after receiving that challenge from Qi, this is a great dish to have on your side. It’s one thing to have a +1 luck, but a +3 is just insane.
You’ll be stumbling over ladders and holes to lower floor with just about every step.
I have personally found this the hardest of the foods to stack up in large number since they’re rarely in Krobus’s Shop, The Traveling Cart, or Gus’s Saloon, and generally in small numbers even when they are, but if you can get a stack of them along with bombs, that is a great way to try to get to Qi without having to use stone staircases.
You know, if you’re the super overachieving type 🙂
The Energy/Health boost is adequate. You’ll definitely need foods specifically for boosting energy or health to go with a Lucky Lunch run, but these are always good as a backup when you’re trying to get to lower floors where iridium is much, much more common.
Lucky Lunch Stats in Stardew
- +100 Energy
- +45 Health
- +3 Luck
The Red Plate is an interesting dish, and if you have an advanced Stardew player who mentions it as their favorite dish to stack up on before hitting Skull Cavern or Ginger Island, then you know you’re talking to someone who is decked out and has the combat systems down pat.
The Red Plate doesn’t gives boosts to luck, combat, or speed. So what does it do?
It gives energy. The Red Plate in Stardew Valley gives an INSANE amount of energy. You recover 240 health, making it one of the few foods better than both Glazed Yams and Life Elixirs, AND it gives a temporary boost of +50 maximum energy for 3 minutes and 30 seconds.
This means you can recover more energy than you can usually even have. If you’re going all out on collecting resources, a few Red Plates can go a very long way to helping you get things done!
Any Other Food That Doesn’t Give Buffs
Why do you want food that doesn’t gives buffs but only recovers health/energy? Because they won’t override the buffs of foods like Crab Cakes or Spicy Eel. This is where ripping through stacks of salads, spaghetti, or purple star cactus fruit are very useful because they recover your energy and health in huge amounts while you still get your speed, luck, and combat bonuses from other foods you ate.
This can be any series of foods, just keep in mind between animations and enemies moving in getting closer to you as you eat more than one thing, you want HIGH energy and life recovery foods.
Great examples include:
- Life Elixirs (+200 Energy, +90 Health)
- Glazed Yams (+200 Energy, +90 Health)
- Iridium Star Cactus Fruit (+195 Energy, +87 Health)
- Iridium Star or Gold Star Cheese (+225 Energy, +101 Health for gold, +325 Energy, +146 Health for iridium)
These deliver an incredible amount of health and energy without wiping out other boosts, making them great supplements to the stat boosting foods that you’re relying on to dodge flying serpents or fight you way out of being cornered by 15+ ghosts in a corner.
Beware Miner’s Treat
While Miner’s Treat can be a good little boost in the early game when you’re still racing down the levels of the original Mine, it’s a trap when it comes to Skull Cavern. The biggest reason? Because it doesn’t give enough health/energy to justify wiping out the boosts given by better foods.
If you’re tackling Skull Cavern you should be at a gold level mining pick at a minimum, so you shouldn’t need a boost to mining. It doesn’t do enough to make up for a lack of luck, speed, attack, or defense. Magnetism isn’t a huge boost at this level and should be covered by rings, anyway.
Related Article: Which Tools Should I Upgrade First in Stardew Valley?
The 125 Energy and 56 Health isn’t bad, but it pales in comparison to the bonuses offered by the foods higher up on the list so unless you don’t have any of those left, leave these at home.
Prepped for the Skull Tavern Deep Dives
There’s no question that being stocked up with the right foods that boost speed, defense, or combat is crucial to help you with your success in diving down to the lower depths of Skull Cavern and getting everything you need and getting out without losing half your stuff from taking damage.
If you load your backpack up with the foods in this article you will increase your chances of a successful run deep into Skull Cavern!
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Proud to embrace the locally created moniker of “Corrupt Overlord” from one of the all time great Lords of Waterdeep runs, Shane is one member of the Assorted Meeples crew and will be hard at work creating awesome content for the website. He is a long-time player of board games, one time semi-professional poker player, and tends to run to the quirky or RPG side of things when it comes to playing video games. He loves tabletop roleplaying systems like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Werewolf, Fate, and others, and not only has been a player but has run games as DM for years. You can find his other work in publications like Level Skip or Hobby Lark.