Hunger is a feature in Minecraft that requires you to eat in order to survive. Hunger is not used in Creative mode, nor on Peaceful difficulty, nor on Pocket Edition, and it's generally impossible to eat (except golden apples) in those modes. Hunger is represented by a bar next to the health bar. As this bar drains away, various unpleasant things happen, starting with losing your healing ability, and culminating with taking starvation damage. There is also a hidden variable called "saturation", which is exhausted first, before your visible hunger starts to drop. Eating food will replenish various amounts of both hunger and saturation.
 Effects of Hunger
There are two hunger variables you need to worry about: Your visible hunger bar, and a hidden value which is officially miscalled "saturation". Both range from 0 to 20 (hunger is shown in half-shanks), but saturation cannot exceed your hunger. As you move about, fight, mine, etc, saturation drains away, and when saturation reaches zero, your hunger bar will start to ripple, and hunger starts to drain away in place of saturation. In order, the things that will hunger you the most are: Healing damage (most of a food point per health point!), a "sprint jump", sprinting any distance, attacking monsters or receiving damage (from any source), and jumping. More specifically, sprinting two meters costs the same amount of hunger as jumping once, and sprinting three meters costs as much hunger as taking damage or attacking does.
When your hunger drops below 90%, you stop healing automatically. When it drops below 30%, you will be unable to sprint. And when your hunger drops to 0, you start taking damage from your health. On Easy mode, starvation damage will not lower you below half your maximum health, while on Normal mode, it can reduce you to a single hit point. On Hard mode, starvation can kill. Interestingly, the Protection enchantment on armor reduces starvation damage.
While eating is essential to keep your health up, it is not always needed. On Easy and Normal modes the health bar will stop decreasing just before death, so if the player takes care not to take any further damage, they can continue playing normally. In fact, many players drain their hunger to 0 whilst making a farm. Obviously, this is much riskier in multiplayer servers with PvP, as well as adventuring.
With the exception of Golden Apples, you cannot eat when your hunger is at max; when you do eat, each food item restores a specific amount of hunger and saturation. Many items restore more saturation than hunger, but remember that saturation is itself limited by hunger. Do not worry about "wasting" hunger, because if you are losing visible hunger, your saturation meter is empty, and you will soon lose more hunger anyway. Thus, it is still a good idea to eat even when your hunger bar is nearly full, as you will also gain saturation.
Food is a specific type of item that can be eaten by clicking with the mouse, but (mostly) only when you are actually hungry -- that is, when your hunger bar is not at maximum. Food restores both the hunger bar and saturation, with different foods filling different amounts of each. You can obtain food through crafting, farming, and killing mobs. Many of the more nourishing foods (that is, meat and fish) need to be cooked (smelted) for full effect. (If the animals were killed by fire, they may drop their meat pre-cooked!)
Foods can be divided into five tiers, according to how much saturation they restore per hunger unit ("nourishment"). As noted above, more nourishing foods should be eaten when the hunger bar is closer to full, to avoid wasting their high saturation values. This leads to an oddity: When you're very hungry, it's better to eat dessert first, but save room for the real meal!
A few foods also have special effects, mostly bad. While the golden apple can heal you, other foods can poison you (losing hit points), or give you food poisoning (draining your hunger bar). For these, there is milk, obtained by using a bucket on a cow. While milk doesn't restore hunger or saturation, it does wipe away all status effects, which can be handy when you need to eat something that may poison you or give your food poisoning.
Here are the various foods, by category:
 Special foods
- Golden Apple
- Golden Apples can be crafted or (rarely) found in dungeon chests. While only restoring , they grant 5 seconds of regeneration and 2 minutes of absorption, giving the player an extra 2 hearts. Golden Apples also restore 9.6 saturation, a large amount considering their low hunger restoration. Aside from the regular Golden Apple, an enchanted version can be crafted which gives regeneration, resistance and fire resistance. They are, however, expensive.
- They are the only food items that cause temporary constant health regeneration that is not dependent on the player's hunger. This is indicated by the line of hearts bobbing up and down in a wave pattern, with each full wave restoring half a heart.
- Compared with potions of regeneration, golden apples are available for fighting monsters before the player is able to brew or even go to the Nether in singleplayer (brewing requires blaze rods and nether wart, both found only in the Nether). In particular, the enchanted version provides Fire Resistance, which is handy for collecting one's first few blaze rods.
- Although standard apples have a low chance of dropping from oak leaves (0.5% per leaf block), tree farming can produce a good supply of them. Trading with villagers can also get them in quantity.
- Golden apples can be used to create a village by curing zombie villagers. If Generated Structures are turned off, this is the only way to have villagers and trade with them.
- Although they are in a sense renewable, golden apples are extremely expensive to craft. A single enchanted golden apple requires exactly 72 gold ingots (a staggering 648 gold nuggets), along with an apple.
- It takes time to eat, and the basic golden apple then takes 5 seconds to heal 4 () health points. Splash potions are a good alternative, if you have brewing capability.
- Golden Carrot
- Golden Carrots can only be crafted, but are cheaper than golden apples and restore more than them. They also restore 14.4 saturation, the highest of any food currently in the game. The downside is that they are too expensive to be an efficient food source in survival mode unless a gold farm can be made. Golden Carrots can also be used to make potions of night vision.
 Top-tier foods
- Both of these foods have the same restorative value, and can be found relatively early on, provided there are cows and\or pigs nearby. When possible, fence them up near your shelter to breed them. This way, a reliable supply of food can be established.
- Steak and cooked porkchop restore the highest amount of hunger and saturation of any food in the game except special foods.
- Cows and pigs can be bred to supply the player with raw beef and porkchops.
- Raw beef and porkchops can be cooked quickly using sticks when away from a reliable source of food.
- A sword or bow with Fire Aspect/Flame will pre-cook the steaks or porkchops, allowing for fast collection.
- As with raw beef and porkchops, steak and cooked porkchop's availability is dependent on the presence of cows or mooshrooms and pigs within sight, which can be random at best and require extensive travelling depending on the biome the player spawns in. Once at least two animals have been found, however, they can be bred for an easy and infinite supply of steak and cooked porkchops.
- Breeding pigs requires carrots, which can be very difficult to obtain if there are no villages with carrot patches nearby, as they only very rarely drop from zombies.
- Burning cows pigs provides a slightly easier method to obtain steak and cooked porkchops without the need to monitor a furnace. The player can burn a cow or pig by making it walk into lava, right-clicking the block under it with a bucket of lava, or by lighting the squares around it on fire with a flint and steel. You can also obtain cooked porkchops by killing a cow or pig with a sword or bow with the Fire Aspect/Flame enchantment.
- Spider Eyes
- Although they only restore and poison you for 4 seconds (draining over time), spider eyes do restore a large amount of saturation. This is useful if you are already at/near (since poison does not drain your health past half a heart) and you only need to restore a small amount of hunger to start healing again.
- Cooked Mutton (1.8)
- Cooked mutton restores a fairly good amount of hunger and good saturation, making it a good food choice. As sheep are fairly common, it is quite easy to obtain cooked mutton early on. Once two sheep have been found, they can be bred for a reliable supply of cooked mutton.
 Second-tier foods
- Cooked Chicken
- Chickens are easier to find than most other passive mobs, and also lay eggs, which can be brought to a fenced-off area and hatched. As chickens only need seeds to breed, this makes them a good source of food if they can be found. However, they do not restore as much hunger or saturation as other meats.
- Cooked chicken restores a fairly good amount of hunger and saturation.
- Chickens are more common than other passive mobs, as well as giving eggs to speed up farming.
- Farming chickens also provides feathers and eggs.
- Other meats restore more hunger and saturation than cooked chicken.
- Eggs hatch into baby chickens, which need to grow before they are farmed.
- Cooked Fish
- Restores (cooked)
- If you can find string, fishing is a good source of food. It is safer than some other food sources, as water can be brought to your shelter with a bucket. However, meats and bread restore a similar amount of hunger and are often easier to obtain.
- Cooked Salmon
- Restores (cooked)
- Similar to cooked fish, however this type restores more than the regular fish. They are also rarer to catch than the normal fish.
- Mushroom Stew
- If mushrooms can be found, mushroom stew can be a reliable food source. As the ingredients stack and the recipe can be made in the 2x2 crafting menu, mushroom stew can be a useful food source when exploring. Another option is the mushroom biome, where right-clicking the resident mooshrooms with a bowl will fill the bowl with stew. However, mushroom stew does not stack, so carrying a lot of stew takes up a lot of inventory space.
- Bread is one of the easiest foods to obtain early in the game, as a farm can be started by a lake with only a wooden hoe and some seeds. However, it is likely the player will find more efficient food sources later in the game.
- Bread takes little resources to farm.
- Bread restores a fairly good amount of hunger and saturation.
- A wheat farm is easy to maintain.
- Wheat grows slowly, and three are required per bread.
- Meats restore more hunger and saturation than bread.
- Since the introduction of tall grass, Bread is arguably among the most efficient early sustainable food sources, with mushroom stew, or maybe apples, easier to produce (in certain environments). By building farms out into open water, Wheat production can be started on Day 1 with no other tools than a Wooden Hoe. With a little luck at night, you may get enough Bone Meal to help make your first loaf before dawn. Bread has the advantage of not requiring a furnace or fuel, although lighting the farm up to the required light level of 9 for constant crop growth will consume some amount of coal or charcoal.
- Wheat farming suffers from very low density. Several piles of bonemeal may be needed to grow a single stalk of wheat, and you need three wheat for each loaf of bread. This makes it less efficient than using bonemeal to grow a mushroom to giant size. However, seeds are more abundant in most areas than mushrooms, making it a mostly accessible food source. (Then too, growing Huge Mushrooms requires special conditions.) Wheat without the help of bonemeal grows slowly and it takes a fairly large cultivated area to support sufficient food.
- Nevertheless, once operations are underway, farms can be enlarged and automated to provide a reliable, safe and renewable supply of wheat for food security. Using automated harvesting (based on pistons and/or water), wheat production becomes much less labor-intensive—hoppers can even allow the seeds and wheat to be automatically gathered into chests. Mechanical assistance contributes directly to the effective amount of energy obtained from wheat, since both movement and harvesting decrease your hunger bar.
- Bread has more or less been rendered obsolete by carrots, which take the same amount of time to farm but yield 6 times as much hunger (including saturation) for the land and seed used. However, carrots are harder to come by in a new game (and both wheat and wheat seeds have other uses), so bread is still likely to be the first-farmed food for most players.
- Baked Potato
- Although hard to find initially, potatoes are an efficient food source once found, as each potato plant can drop up to 4 potatoes. Unlike bread and carrots, potatoes do require cooking for the full effect. Also, in 1.8, baked potatoes only restore .
- Baked potatoes restore a good amount of hunger and saturation.
- Potatoes can be farmed quickly and in large quantities.
- Baked potatoes restore the same amount of hunger and saturation as cooked chicken, but are easier to farm.
- Meats restore more hunger and saturation than Baked Potatoes.
- In 1.8, Baked Potatoes only restore 5 hunger points instead of 6.
- As no experience is granted for harvesting potatoes, and a cooked chicken yields the same amount of experience, cooked chicken has a slight advantage over cooked potatoes due to the experience bonus of breeding. However, since potatoes only need to be planted, are quickly harvested with almost no waste, and, unlike wheat and raw chicken, are currently not desired by villagers in trade, baked potatoes can be a much more efficient food source than cooked chicken.
- Similar to potatoes, but do not need to be cooked. However, they only restore , making them less efficient than baked potatoes or meat. They are useful when a furnace cannot be accessed or to fill a drained hunger meter before eating something more nourishing.
- Carrots can be farmed quickly.
- Carrots can be used to breed pigs.
- The initial carrot is hard to find unless you spawn near a village.
- Carrots do not restore much hunger or saturation.
- Cooked Rabbit (1.8)
- Although it does not restore much hunger or saturation compared to other meats, as well as not being a guaranteed drop, cooked rabbit can be obtained relatively early on depending on the presence of rabbits. Cooked rabbit is also used to craft rabbit stew.
- Rabbit Stew (1.8)
- Rabbit stew restores the most hunger of any food type currently in the game except cake, and also good saturation. However, it is complicated to craft, requiring multiple ingredients, and does not stack. Additionally, it restores less hunger and saturation than all of it's ingredients combined, and is currently the only food where this is the case.
 Third-tier foods
These have a nourishment of 0.6, suitable for filling up your hunger meter before you eat something more substantial. These include the uncooked versions of potatoes and the various meats, plus a few "half-dessert" foods.
- Pumpkin Pie
- Pumpkin Pie is crafted with pumpkins, sugar and eggs, which can be found almost everywhere in the overworld, making it an easily accessible food source. Pumpkin Pie is a good food to fill a heavily drained hunger meter before eating something more nourishing.
- Pumpkin pie has a higher hunger restoration value than most uncooked foods, being the "largest" of the third-tier foods. It's an excellent choice for restoring a badly drained hunger meter, before eating something with more saturation.
- The crafting recipe for pumpkin pie is shapeless, and fits within the 2x2 crafting grid of the player's inventory. This makes it possible to craft pumpkin pie anywhere without a crafting table or furnace, given the player is carrying the ingredients.
- All ingredients required to craft pumpkin pie can be farmed completely automatically, using pistons and/or hoppers.
- It's still a third-tier food -- steak and cooked porkchops restore the same amount of hunger, and far more saturation, than pumpkin pie.
- Pumpkins are relatively rare, so it may take some time and traveling before the player is able to establish a pumpkin farm.
- Pumpkin plants are slow to bear fruit and only yield a single pumpkin per plant at a time.
- Apples are found when oak leaves are broken or decay, making them available early on depending on where you spawn. They only restore , so the player will likely find more efficient food sources.
- Melons are hard to obtain early on unless you spawn near a village or in a jungle biome. They only restore and little saturation, so the player will likely have more efficient food sources by the time a melon farm can be set up.However, they can be useful to fill a heavily drained hunger bar and to keep your hunger meter topped up while exploring.
- The high volume, low calorie nature of melons makes it somewhat like portable cake in that each consumption is almost never wasted on overhealing the hunger bar. On the other hand, due to the food saturation mechanic, whether or not and how much of a food is "wasted" is not necessarily clear cut. If the point were to restore food saturation to ensure the maximum amount of time before needing to maintain the hunger bar, then melons are very inefficient. Due to the rapid production rate of most melon farms, however, a single harvest can provide plenty to eat for long periods of time.
- In addition to consumption as a food, melons can be crafted back into melon seeds, allowing unused portions to contribute directly to seed stock and the size of future harvests by exponentially increasing the number of productive stems. This is of course provided irrigated, arable soil is available in a secure area. This is a marked advantage over the other tilled-earth farming crop, wheat for which seed supply builds up much more slowly. However, one bonus with wheat is that it is easier to get seeds for it, as growing melon blocks first requires finding melon seeds in chests in abandoned mine shafts, or trading with a villager farmer.
- The arrangement of melon blocks also allows a much more straightforward harvesting method, as stems will stay productive indefinitely so long as they are protected. On the other hand, the low nutrition of each melon means the 1.6 seconds of time required to eat them quickly adds up. Moreover they provide almost no food saturation, so a diet of melons necessitates frequent stops to eat. Needless to say, this can be inconvenient in many situations, such as inside hostile mob-infested caverns. A better use is to fill the hunger saturation with food such as meat, then use melon to fill the bar the rest of the way.
- Melons are renewable, like all other foods.
- Each melon block drops 3-7 melon slices, so you can quickly get a lot in only one harvest.
- Melon slices can be crafted into glistering melons, which can be used to make Potions of Healing.
- Melon farms are easy to automate
- "You'll never starve, but you'll always be hungry"
- Melons restores only , so it's not a very efficient food source.
- Melons have a low saturation level, which causes you to be hungry again more quickly.
- Melon stems grow slowly, and don't instantly spawn melon blocks even when grown with Bone Meal.
- Melons tend to be, but are not always, rather difficult to find in Survival mode.
- Raw Fish
- Raw fish is not nearly as nourishing as cooked fish, however they can be useful if you have no other food source and to tame ocelots.
- Raw Salmon
- Same as raw fish, good as emergency food or taming ocelots.
- Raw Chicken
- Raw Chicken will cause food poisoning 30% of the time, and only restores , however wolves can eat it without being poisoned.
- Chickens are relatively easier to find in the world than pigs or cows.
- Chickens die easier, as they have only 4 units of health, making obtaining raw chicken both time effective, and food/saturation effective.
- Supply of raw chicken is easier to maintain as chickens also drop eggs which can be hatched into chicks for mass production of raw chicken rather than being dependent on seeds or wheat for breeding.
- Raw chicken has a 30% chance of giving the player food poisoning, which is one reason why it's better to cook it first (the other being more food value). However, food poisoning just barely counteracts one raw chicken's food saturation, and will not even drain half a hunger shank. This makes it a very minor drawback, especially when eating multiple raw chickens at once. Because food poisoning does not stack, and because raw chicken has a very high food saturation value, eating multiple raw chickens at a time will easily restore more hunger than the poison can take away.
- As with raw fish, they can be used as emergency food, but far less nourishing than cooked.
- Raw beef is relatively quick to get at all stages of the game without requiring specialized tools, and even faster to collect when the player has a stone sword (or better) and a sizeable herd nearby.
- Unlike raw chicken, raw beef does not carry a chance of contracting food poisoning when eaten.
- Cooking raw beef yields steak, a food item that restores 4 units of the food bar and 12.8 saturation when eaten.
- Cows can drop up to 3 raw beef, as opposed to a chicken, which can only drop 1 raw chicken. This is a relatively high drop rate for a mob, as mobs typically drop up to 2 of an item (save for the pig, which has a chance to drop 3 porkchops), such as skeletons dropping up to only 2 arrows and/or bones upon death.
- Raw beef's availability is dependent on the presence of cows within sight, which can be random at best and require extensive traveling in some cases, depending on the biome the player spawns in.
- Raw Mutton (1.8)
- Same as other raw food, cooking mutton increases it's usefulness, although can be useful as emergency food.
- Raw Rabbit (1.8)
- Same as other raw food, cooking rabbit increases it's usefulness, although can be useful as emergency food.
- Similar to meat, far less nourishing than baked potatoes.
- Poisonous potato
- Dropped when farming potatoes, usable as emergency food but has a 60% chance to inflict the poison effect.
 Junk foods
- The raw ingredients of cookies, wheat and cocoa beans, can be farmed in large quantities, and 8 cookies are made each time. The downside is that they are less nourishing than most other foods, so you will become hungry shortly after eating them.
- Restores (slice), (whole)
- Although cake restores a lot of hunger, it does not restore much saturation. It is also complicated to craft. Cake is not stackable in the inventory, and must be placed on a block to eat. Cake cannot be retrieved once placed, so you will need to return to the same place every time to eat some. Other food sources are more efficient, restoring a similar amount of hunger and saturation, and are stackable.
- Cake can be used repeatedly in SMP, they can be shared by several players as a feast item.
- Despite its complexity, cake is a renewable resource.
- Cake can be eaten instantly without any eating animation and without switching the currently selected item.
- Cake restores six units of the hunger bars total (one hunger bar a usage).
- Cake can be used as mounting for a TNT cannon and produces a range greater than that of a half slab.
- Similar to a half slab, you do not need to jump to walk over cake.
- Cake requires several different items to craft: sugar, wheat, an egg and three buckets of milk. In addition, a crafting table is required to use the recipe. As such, it takes some time to make a cake.
- Once cake is placed it cannot be retrieved.
- Cakes need to be placed to be eaten, which means they cannot be eaten in places where one cannot build (e.g. spawn protection).
- If you only eat part of a cake, you'll have to come back to that exact spot to eat the rest of it later on.
- Cake does not stack, so you will be unable to carry too much of it without sacrificing a large amount of inventory space (as of TU7 on Minecraft Xbox 360, cake does stack).
- Cake has a low saturation level, causing you to become hungry again in a very short amount of time.
- Rotten Flesh
- Obtained from zombies, rotten flesh has an 80% chance to give the player food poisoning, so it is only efficient as an emergency food and when you have milk on hand to cure the poison. Wolves can, however, eat rotten flesh without being poisoned.
- Rotten Flesh is rather easy to get once one has a sword/bow and armor, as zombies are more common than passive mobs. You can also wait until the zombies have burned from exposure to sunlight.
- Rotten Flesh can be a good emergency food when other sources are depleted if used in high doses, restoring more food points than the hunger effect can take away. While in combat, Rotten Flesh is a good way of keeping your hunger topped off so that your health keeps regenerating, without excessively wasting better quality food.
- Rotten Flesh may be used to feed and breed wolves rather than other meats as wolves do not have any hunger bar, so they are immune to food poisoning.
- Rotten Flesh has an 80% chance to trigger food poisoning, making hunger deplete for thirty seconds.
- Rotten Flesh only restores two hunger.
- Killing zombies for rotten flesh may be dangerous for under-equipped players.
- Rotten Flesh restores less saturation than other meats.
- Clownfish is a rare catch from fishing. It only restores , so it is only useful as an emergency food. It can also be used to tame ocelots.
- Although pufferfish may look ok, do not eat them!. They will inflict hunger, poison and nausea effects, draining and keeping you down to for 48 seconds. Pufferfish can be used beneficially in brewing to create water breathing potions, and can be fed to ocelots without poisoning them.
A number of food items can have their production automated.
- Raw and cooked chicken
- Eggs can be collected from chickens by hoppers and then thrown by dispensers to make baby chickens. Timed mechanisms can then kill or burn the chickens after they grow up to produce raw or cooked chicken automatically.
- See also: Egg farming
- Melons can be harvested with pistons and hoppers at regular intervals with a clocked mechanism or as soon as they grow by detecting them with redstone power or a block update detector.
- See also: Pumpkin and melon farming
- Rotten Flesh
- Rotten flesh can be auto-harvested with a mob farm.
 Emergency measures
If your hunger meter is dropping and you have no food in hand, there are a few emergency measures you can take, depending on available resources:
- Mushroom Soup
- If you have both kinds of mushrooms handy and enough wood for bowls (three planks of any type), don't forget mushroom soup!
- If you have a bucket and a cow, milk the cow: The milk will let you fill up on rotten or raw meat, then cure the resulting illness. You can even eat spider eyes or poisonous potatoes, and then cure the poison.
- Local animals
- On the surface: Kill a cow, pig, or chicken. Cook the meat if at all possible, but even eating it raw will fend off utter starvation.
- Fast crops
- If you have any potatoes or carrots, and some bone meal (craft 3 from one skeleton bone), you can make a hoe and till some dirt near any water source, then plant your vegetables and use the bone meal to make them mature more quickly. It can take several pieces of bonemeal to get a mature plant. Cooking the potatoes is also a good idea.
- If you have the bone meal but no carrots or potatoes, you can destroy some tall grass near a river or lake, make and use a hoe, then plant seeds and use the bone meal to rapidly grow your wheat. The same caveats as above apply to the use of bone meal.
- If you have string, wood, and water: Fishing is relatively quick, at least you can get one or two fish within a minute. Note that you can fish in a waterfall.
- Doing nothing
- You don't lose hunger bars if you aren't doing anything (walking, mining, healing, etc.). In hardcore mode especially, this can be a necessary strategy while waiting for crops or baby animals to grow.
- A last-ditch measure: If you're close to your bed or spawn point, stuff your inventory and armor into a chest or two … then die. On hard mode, you can just wait to die of starvation, otherwise good methods are drowning, jumping off cliffs, or dropping gravel/sand on yourself. You will respawn with full health and hunger bars, and can then reclaim your stuff. Naturally, this method doesn't apply in hardcore mode. Note that this isn't a totally free solution: you lose experience.