Cooking 1-600

Guide to leveling your cooking skill from 1 to 600 in Pandaria. This method is for chefs who are at least level 85 and have access to Pandaria. Those below level 85 should read the combined Fishing and Cooking guides. On this page:

"When I grow up, I want to be the best chef in Pandaria." - Nomi


Mists of Pandaria altered the process of leveling cooking. It:

The recipes used here require access to the continent of Pandaria (so you must have seen through the Mists of Pandaria, and unless you have help, must be at least level 85). Solo lower-level cooks can either:

  1. continue to use older methods (see Fishing and Cooking 1-525) and rejoin this guide at cooking skill 525, or
  2. skip cooking entirely until they reach level 85 and visit Pandaria, then follow this guide through from 1 to 600.

The second option is much, much faster overall. But those leveling (a character) will not be able to cook their own food or complete daily cooking quests until reaching level 85. The decision probably depends on how fast one intends to level up to 85: A genuinely new cook, who might never even reach Pandaria, has few reasons to delay learning to cook. In contrast an employee ("alt") might level to 85 (and 90) quickly, without needing to cook food in the meantime.

New low-level anglers can continue to catch fish regardless of whether they wish to use them to cook. For suggested strategies for improving fishing skill, see Developing Your Fishing Skill. Once you are able to visit Pandaria, catch fish there: Most Pandarian fish can be used to level cooking, either directly or indirectly, as described in detail below.

Pandaren automatically gain a racial bonus of +15 cooking skill. Veteran cooks can equip their employees ("alts") with ( account-bound) Frying Pan, Rolling Pin and Apron, for a total of +30 cooking skill bonus (see Mists of Pandaria Cooking). These bonuses should (currently only the Pandaren racial is working correctly) allow cooks to learn new recipes at slightly lower personal skill than normal. Those recipes then remain "orange" (guaranteeing a skill up) over a wider skill range. This mean that new cooks with skill bonuses will sometimes be able to save ingredients by cooking more basic recipes than the guide below suggests: Aim to cook orange dishes.

Old Azeroth's daily cooking quests grant at least on point of cooking skill. At level 90 cooks can complete daily quests at Halfhill Market (in Valley of the Four Winds) that reward a single point of cooking skill each day. Halfhill's cooking daily quests unlock after starting the Tillers farm quests. Cooks with at least 75 cooking skill can also complete the monthly Darkmoon Faire quest, Putting the Crunch in the Frog, which grants 5 points of cooking skill. These bonuses only increase your overall cooking skill, not your skill in the Ways (explained below). They are not an effective method of leveling cooking from 1 to 600 (unless you are prepared to spend years leveling) but may still be helpful.

1-525 Cooking

Halfhill Market
Halfhill Market - Cooking Way training area, Valley of the Four Winds.

New cooks who are:

can level cooking to 525 skill easily thanks to Sungshin Ironpaw. Level 85 is normally needed to reach Pandaria. Below level 85 you will need help to reach Halfhill - for example, a Warlock summon, or a Mage portal followed by a ride on a 2-person mount (thanks jcoleman). It is reported that those at lower level can learn Sungshin's recipes up to skill 525.

Sungshin can be found at Halfhill Market, Valley of the Four Winds. At level 85 Halfhill Market can be reached safely by riding west from the center of The Jade Forest - just keep heading west along the road until you reach Halfhill. Sungshin trains a sequence of cooking recipes that:

  1. Grant 5 skill points when orange, so effectively skill-up 5 points per dish cooked.
  2. Are mostly cooked with ingredients sold by Sungshin Ironpaw (for gold/silver).

Sungshin Ironpaw even trains new cooking ranks, and is stood next to a cooking pot, so there is no need to move! No wonder these Pandaren are obese...

The recipes used for this stage are also trained by Chin at Dawn's Blossom in The Jade Forest. Most of the ingredients are also sold by cooking vendors in the faction cities of the Vale of Eternal Blossoms (Jojo for Alliance and Stephen Wong for Horde). But only Sungshin Ironpaw both trains the recipes and sells the ingredients.

All the ingredients used at this stage are sold by Sungshin Ironpaw, except:

Golden Carp are over 50% of the catch from open water in Pandaria, including waters near Halfhill. If your fishing skill is below the "no-junk" skill (700 in Valley of the Four Winds), you will catch excess Golden Carp instead of junk. This means that at very low fishing skill, almost every catch is guaranteed to be a Golden Carp!

For some bonus Carp, Sungshin will direct you to Ben of the Booming Voice, who is fishing from the river just east of Halfhill. He asks you to catch and deliver 5 Golden Carp, rewarding you with 10 Golden Carp. Ben also trains fishing Ranks and sells basic fishing Equipment.

Wildfowl Breast is easily farmed from birds in Pandaria. There are many nearby, including Cranes in the Gilded Fan (north-east of Halfhill) and Eagles along the river in eastern Valley of the Four Winds. Alternatively Wildfowl Breast can be bought at auction.

You will still need money to buy ingredients from Sungshin Ironpaw: Before perks almost 350g, including the cost of all ingredients (162g, plus 42 Golden Carp and 2 Wildfowl Breast), recipes (23g) and ranks (159g).

Cooking 1-525
Cooking SkillDish to CookTotal Ingredients
1316Sliced Peaches6x Pandaren Peach
31616Perfectly Cooked Instant Noodles6x Instant Noodles
61916Toasted Fish Jerky6x Golden Carp
911216Dried Needle Mushrooms6x Needle Mushrooms
1211516Pounded Rice Cake6x Rice
1511816Yak Cheese Curds6x Yak Milk
1812116Dried Peaches6x Pandaren Peach
2112416Boiled Silkworm Pupa6x Silkworm Pupa
2412716Roasted Barley Tea6x Barley
2713016Golden Carp Consomme12x Golden Carp
3013316Fish Cake12x Golden Carp
3313616Blanched Needle Mushrooms12x Needle Mushrooms
3613916Red Bean Bun6x Red Beans
3914216Skewered Peanut Chicken6x Farm Chicken
4214516Green Curry Fish12x Golden Carp and 6x Rice
4514816Peach Pie12x Pandaren Peach
4814963Tangy Yogurt3x Pandaren Peach and 3x Yak Milk
4965113Pearl Milk Tea6x Yak Milk
5115212Wildfowl Ginseng Soup2x Ginseng and 2x Wildfowl Breast
5215261Rice Pudding1x Rice and 1x Yak Milk
Cooking with Wok
Cooking with Wok - At Halfhill Market.

For reference, the total ingredients required from 1-526 cooking skill are:

Below level 85, or without Mists of Pandaria? Read Fishing and Cooking 1-525.

525-600 Overview

The Zen Master Cooking rank is taught by all Cooking trainers at 500 skill and level 80. However, at level 85, Sungshin Ironpaw's quest Ready for Greatness teaches Zen Master Cooking at lower cost - simply cook 5 Rice Pudding for her. The rank allow your cooking skill to rise to 600, but to reach that you will need to specialise:

Ways are Azeroth's first cooking specialisations. You may learn all of the 6 Ways. Each Way's dishes are associated with a specific buff stat.

Ways require level 85 and 525 cooking skill to learn. All are taught by different trainers at Halfhill Market in the Valley of the Four Winds. All cooking recipes between skill 525 and 600 require a Way.

You gain cooking skill in each Way separately. Your ability to learn Way-specific recipes is determined by your cooking skill in that Way, not your cooking skill in general. Your cooking skill in general is equal to your highest skill in any way. So, you would only need to reach 600 in one Way to be able to learn recipes that require 600 cooking skill in general. However 600 skill in (for example) the Way of the Pot, will not allow you to learn a recipe that require 600 in the Way of the Steamer.

There are only a few Zen Master-level cooking recipes that require 600 overall cooking skill (without a Way), but all these also have other requirements. For example, recipes for the best Banquets (Pandaren Banquet and Great Pandaren Banquet) are only sold after completing the quest To Be A Master. That quest requires each Way's 600-skill dish to be cooked once, so in practice you'll need 600 skill in every Way to buy the recipe, even if the recipe itself only needs 600 overall cooking skill to learn!

Cooking Specialization Skill-Bars
Cooking Specialization Skill-Bars

Each Way levels up via a similar method:

"Fish", "meat" and "vegetables" refer to specific named items, not a choice.

Each 100 Year Soy Sauce costs an Ironpaw Token. 100 Year Soy Sauce are not bound, so may be available from the auction house. A small number of Ironpaw Tokens are rewarded for completing the introductory quests associated with each Way. To gain enough tokens to level all 6 Ways you will need to turn in stacks of ingredients as Groceries (via Replenishing the Pantry, see Nam Ironpaw below).

There are only 2 other methods of reaching 600 cooking skill. Both methods only increase your overall cooking skill, not your skill in the Ways. And neither levels as efficiently as the Ways:

When leveling cooking to 600, there are 2 important questions to ask:

  1. Which Way is associated with my class/role's primary stat? Or for the altruistic, which class/role in my raid group need to be buffed the most urgently?
  2. How am I going to get all the ingredients to level that Way?

The best stat buff food comes from eating 600-skill Way-specific single-person dishes, not group Banquets. Cooks that provide for themselves first, and others second, should focus on the Way that buffs their class/role's primary stat. This approach still allows you to produce an adequate Banquet for most dungeon parties: Each Way-specific Banquet gives +28 in the primary stat of the person eating, based on their class and role (more Stamina for tanks), but if your primary stat is that associated with the Banquet's specialisation, you gain a 31 buff (more Stamina for tanks).

Ultimately the best cooks will want to level to 600 in every Way: The best shared Banquets (Pandaren Banquet and Great Pandaren Banquet) are not associated with Ways, but their recipes are only sold after completing the quest To Be A Master, which requires every Way's 600-skill recipe to be cooked once.

However, the best Banquets still only offer a 31 stat buff (more if class/role's primary stat is Stamina), compared to 34 (or more Stamina) from the best single-person dishes. For the most Challenging dungeons you may want to eat individual dishes, just like the Classic/Burning Crusade-era.

Ways are described next, followed by sources of ingredients. I recommend scanning both sections before starting to level cooking up to 600.

525-600 Ways

Cooking Ways are summarised above, and detailed here:

Way of the Brew

Bobo Ironpaw
Bobo Ironpaw - Halfhill Market.

Way of the Grill

Kol Ironpaw
Kol Ironpaw - Halfhill Market.

Way of the Oven

Jian Ironpaw
Jian Ironpaw - Halfhill Market.

Way of the Pot

Mei Mei Ironpaw
Mei Mei Ironpaw - Halfhill Market.

Way of the Steamer

Yan Ironpaw
Yan Ironpaw - Halfhill Market.

Way of the Wok

Anthea Ironpaw
Anthea Ironpaw - Halfhill Market.

Way Banquets provide a 31 stats buff (more for Stamina) if the Way's stat bias is the same as the primary stat of the class/role eating the Banquet. Otherwise Way Banquets grant a 28 (more for Stamina) buff. Non-Way Banquets (Pandaren Banquet and Great Pandaren Banquet) grant a 31 stat buff (more for Stamina) to everyone.

525-600 Ingredients

There are 4 sources of ingredients, the first of which also allows different types of ingredients to be exchanged.

Nam Ironpaw

Sungshin and Nam Ironpaw
Sungshin and Nam Ironpaw - Cooking trainers and vendors at Halfhill Market. I think they like one another.

Nam Ironpaw sells two types of leveling ingredient:

The introductory Way quests reward a small number of Ironpaw Tokens. The main repeatable source of tokens is Replenishing the Pantry. This quest is only available after:

  1. Completing the introductory quests for all 6 Ways (see above).
  2. Completing Nam Ironpaw's regular quest, Preserving Freshness, which requires an Empty Raw Tiger Steak Container (sold by Merchant Cheng at Halfhill Market).

The repeatable Replenishing the Pantry requires a Bundle of Groceries to be created by combining an Empty Container with a set of identical Pandarian ingredients. For example, combining 20 Redbelly Mandarin with an Empty Redbelly Mandarin Container. Containers are sold by Merchant Cheng at Halfhill Market for 1g 50s, and require level 85 to use. Empty Containers are sold for all known Pandarian cooking ingredients, except those sold by Sungshin Ironpaw and Viseclaw Meat. Bundles require 20 identical ingredients, except vegetables (100) and Golden Carp (60).

Replenishing the Pantry rewards 1 Ironpaw Token. In addition to allowing extra 100 Year Soy Sauce to be purchased, the quest can be used to convert 20 ingredients of one type into 5 ingredients of another type - 100 and 25 respectively for vegetables. Ultimately bundling Groceries for Sacks will be less effecient than gaining ingredients from their native source, or trading them via the auction house. But the quest does create options for those leveling cooking:

Cooks who want to level quickly, without waiting for vegetables to grow, should use the Ironpaw Tokens from the introductory quests to buy a sack of Juicycrunch Carrot. Carrots are required to complete the Way of the Wok introduction, which is one of the quests needed to unlock Replenishing the Pantry. This is particularly important for anyone attempting a Realm First cooking achievement, since your only source of vegetables during the first day will be Nam Ironpaw.

The 2 other repeatable sources of Ironpaw Tokens:

Nomi's final daily quest, A Token of Appreciation, also rewards an Ironpaw Token - see Mists of Pandaria Cooking. However, you will need to level all 6 Ways to 600 skill to even unlock Nomi! So Nomi is not a valid source of tokens for leveling.

Too many ingredients in your bags? Buy a Portable Refrigerator from Nam Ironpaw for 10 Ironpaw Tokens. This 32-slot bag contains raw meat, fish and vegetables, and cooked foods.


Specific fish can be caught from open water (follow each fish's link), but the majority of catches from open water are Golden Carp, especially with low fishing skill. These aren't used directly to level cooking 525-600, and require 60 Carp to bundle into Groceries, so aren't a terribly effective way to gain Ironpaw Tokens either. Culinary anglers are therefore advised to catch fish from pools in Pandaria.

Pandaria Schools
Pool (School)Common CatchZones and Areas
Emperor Salmon SchoolEmperor SalmonInland: Krasarang Wilds, Townlong Steppes (Inland), Valley of the Four Winds
Giant Mantis Shrimp SwarmGiant Mantis ShrimpCoastal: Dread Wastes (Coastal), Isle of Giants, Isle of the Thunder King, The Jade Forest (Coastal), Krasarang Wilds, Kun-Lai Summit (Coastal), Timeless Isle, Townlong Steppes (Coastal)
Jade Lungfish SchoolJade LungfishInland: The Jade Forest (Inland)
Jewel Danio SchoolJewel DanioInland: Timeless Isle
Krasarang Paddlefish SchoolKrasarang PaddlefishInland: Krasarang Wilds, Valley of the Four Winds
Redbelly Mandarin SchoolRedbelly MandarinInland: Townlong Steppes (Inland)
Reef Octopus SwarmReef OctopusCoastal: Dread Wastes (Coastal), Isle of Giants, Isle of the Thunder King, The Jade Forest (Coastal), Krasarang Wilds, Kun-Lai Summit (Coastal), Timeless Isle, Townlong Steppes (Coastal)
Spinefish SchoolSpinefishInland: Dread Wastes (Inland), Kun-Lai Summit (Sha-Touched), Townlong Steppes (Niuzao)
Tiger Gourami SchoolTiger GouramiInland: Kun-Lai Summit (except Coastal), The Veiled Stair

Pools are ideal for new anglers, and anglers whose fishing skill is too low to fish Pandaria's open waters effectively, because junk (or excess Golden Carp) is never caught from these pools, regardless of skill.

Fish of the Day pools are technically the most efficient way to catch large volumes of fish used in Pandaren cooking. Unfortunately, as the name suggests, only one named fish can be caught each day. This makes Fish of the Day pools unsuitable for leveling cooking quickly: You might have to wait several days (or even weeks) to be able to catch all the fish you need!


Meat is dropped by creatures in Pandaria. Meats that may be needed to level cooking are list below (based on the work of Druidmoon):


The main source of vegetables are Tillers farms, which allow individuals to grow their own crops. For a detailed guide, see Tillers Farming.

Without access to Tillers Farms, the most effective source of vegetables is to catch fish or grind meat, bundle 20 of these as Groceries, and use Ironpaw Tokens to buy Sacks of 25 vegetables.

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Comments about Cooking 1-600

Below are readers' comments about "Cooking 1-600":

Cooking 1-600

  • jcoleman, March 2013

    It is possible for a level 80 to train cooking via the Pandaren method (to 525 at least). Getting there is the trick...the #1 easiest way is through a mage portal and a 2-seater flight to The Jade Turnip. I recommend setting your hearthstone to Summer's Rest and learning the flight path. You should bring a pile of Golden Carp and your pocketbook. There is also a fishing trainer nearby and, of course, Golden Carp replaces junk in Pandaria so you will be set for fish one way or another.

  • jcoleman, July 2013

    I can confirm that a lvl 78 can also train right up to 525; I have not yet tried anything lower.

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