From Beer-Basted Boar Ribs to Giant Clam Scorcho, there is no recipe too obscure or odd to avoid notice from the Chefs of Azeroth. Food is used in the game to heal players out of combat, so they can get back to fighting as quickly as possible.
As you're traveling around the world, you'll notice that you often receive pieces of meat, which, instead of being sold to merchants, could be used to create food. If you're a player that relies on food, such as a non-healing player or a player that solos, food should become very important to you.
You can buy food from merchants, but the food gained through cooking is nearly free and it is actually much more effective. Cooking is also a great "flavor" secondary skill because you can entertain players with the funny and interesting dishes you can create. Hand someone some Gooey Spider Cake, Giant Clam Scorcho, or a Curiously Tasty Omelet and you'll see what we mean.
One thing to add that hasn't been mentioned, and which most players overlook, is that certain cooked foods have a 15 minute 'well fed' buff effect in addition to the immediate health boost all foods have. (Know you're going in to battle and have a few minutes? Eat that Herb Baked Egg first and gain 2 Spirit and 2 Stamina for 15 minutes.) +2 stamina equates to 20 hit points and +2 spirit makes you get health and mana back quicker. 'Well fed' recipies are noted below. In the Burning Crusade, cooking is going to be improved for other classes as there are going to be buffs such as increased agility and more. Hunters will get a benefit of cooking when the Burning Crusade comes out, because of the ability to make treats for their pets.
See also: Cooking/Component Farming
Most recipes require spices or ingredients which can be obtained from trade goods vendors. Mild Spices are Template:C for 5, Hot Spices are Template:C each, and Soothing Spices are 1silverTemplate:C each.
Recipes also require a Cooking Fire, such as a Campfire, a Stove, a Brazier or a Fireplace, but not a Forge.
All classes benefit from cooking, but non-healing classes (hunters, mages, rogues, warlocks, and warriors) benefit from it more than others.
Summary of Skill levels
What do the colors mean?
The color of the recipe in your cooking window (menu) indicates whether you will gain a skill point in Cooking when you create the item. The color codes are as follows:
- Red = Cannot create yet; you need a higher skill level in Cooking before you can create this recipe.
- Orange = Will always receive a Cooking skill point when you create that item.
- Yellow = Likely to receive a Cooking skill point.
- Green = Unlikely to receive a Cooking skill point.
- Gray = No skill increase.
Basically you want to create Yellow-named or Orange-named recipes when possible, to ensure you get an increase in your skill level. Some people recommend making only yellow items until they turn green since the ingredients probably will be easier to find.
Cooking trainers can be found in capital cities as well as some minor cities.
- Reaching Expert level requires the purchase of an Expert Cookbook. Horde players can buy the Expert Cookbook from Wulan in Shadowprey Village in Desolace, while Alliance players can find it from Shandrina in Silverwind Refuge in Ashenvale. Purchase price is 100 or 90silver if you can get the faction discount.
- Reaching Artisan level requires completion of series of quests starting from the Cooking trainer in Orgrimmar (Zamja  for Horde) or Ironforge (Daryl Riknussun  for Alliance). You cannot get the quest until your cooking skill is 225. The final quest, "Clamlette Surprise" (Thottbot) comes from Dirge Quikcleave (Thottbot) at the Gadgetzan inn in Tanaris. You might want to gather some Giant Eggs (12), Zesty Clam Meat (10) and Alterac Swiss (20) in anticipation of this quest.
- Where to get Giant Eggs: Rocs (level 41+; Thottbot) and Fire Rocs (level 43+; Thottbot) in Tanaris are the most convenient source, but Owlbeasts (level 42+; Thottbot) in Hinterlands have a much better drop rate and are easier to find. Supposedly all large birds (level 41+) have a chance to drop Giant Eggs.
- Where to get Zesty Clam Meat: Various shoreline mobs (level 40+), such as Crabs, Murlocs, Naga and Turtles, will drop Big-mouth Clams (Thottbot) that often have this inside them.
- Where to get Alterac Swiss: You can buy it from various vendors in both Horde and Alliance cities and towns. The most obvious place for Alliance is the cheese shop in Stormwind; Gol'Bolar Quarry: Kazan Mogosh, the Food & Drink Merchant; Wildhammer Keep: Truk Wildbeard the bartender. For Horde, the innkeepers in Thunder Bluff, Desolace and Hammerfall sell Alterac Swiss. If you want to save some money just pick it up from the supply crates in Stratholme.