The Legend of Zelda: The Breath of the Wild’s simple cooking was one of the most delightfully helpful parts of the game when it came to recovering hearts or stamina wheels, and it’s no surprise to see the mechanic return in Tears of the Kingdom. But while cooking has always been important in Nintendo’s current take on Hyrule, Tears of the Kingdom’s new portable pot technologically switches things up so significantly that it’s fair to call it one of the most powerful tools Link has ever had in his arsenal.
Despite it taking place shortly after Breath of the Wild — a story in which Link is meant, but not required, to gain a number of skills, powers, and pieces of armor that make him tougher — Tears of the Kingdom takes you back to square one, and leaves Link quite vulnerable. As the game opens, it isn’t long before Link happens upon a “new” (but seemingly aged, threadbare) toga number and a pair of strappy sandals that look very nice but offer him little in the way of defensive protection against the mechanical Zonai creatures he encounters in the sky — many of which are ready to attack on sight.
Eventually, sturdier armor with proper defense and specialized protections against elemental damage presents itself organically as you play your way through Tears of the Kingdom’s many dungeons. Long before that happens, though, Tears of the Kingdom first presents you with the humble portable pot, one of the more simple, straightforward, and plentiful Zonai devices you can receive from one of the many Zonai device dispensers scattered across Hyrule.
Unlike a lot of other Zonai devices that can do multiple things, the portable pot’s really only good for one thing, and they can only be used to cook single meals. But the fact that you can carry dozens of portable pots everywhere you go and reliably use them to cook up whatever you have the ingredients for whenever you want makes it one of Tears of the Kingdom’s most powerful tools because of how food and elixirs affect Link.
Like in Breath of the Wild, consuming the right kinds of dishes or monster potions will grant Link a variety of different buffs like extra hearts, speed, and more offensive strength or defensive durability. But unlike in Breath of the Wild, where you could really only prepare full meals at fixed locations wherever there just so happened to be a lit cooking surface, Tears of the Kingdom’s portable pots travel with you, making it possible for you to whip up some emergency vittles on the fly. This is especially handy when you’re a few floors deep into a dungeon or in the middle of a boss battle and find yourself in need of extra vitality or strength in a pinch you didn’t see coming.
Because this mode of cooking’s been part of Zelda since Breath of the Wild, it can be hard at first to realize just how invaluable the portable pots are. But as you play through the game, you can see how the stoves are sort of meant to serve a similar function to Link’s new fusing ability. Using Fuse in Tears of the Kingdom allows you to combine weapons, shields, and other consumable items together to become more powerful versions of themselves, and the mechanic encourages you to get into the habit of collecting resources as you go. Fuse always being with you has a way of making you hyper cognizant of all the potential uses things like boulders, rockets, or keese eyeballs have, and incentivizes you keeping them on hand just in case.
In Breath of the Wild, you could always cook things in advance and keep them stored for the moment you needed them the most, but that style of gameplay required a bit of planning ahead and remembering which ingredients made which foods. With the portable pot and Link’s new recipe book, however, all you really need to be concerned about is keeping your pocket pantry (or wherever he keeps all his stuff) stocked enough so that if and when you want to make something, you can, provided you’ve got ample space to work without being attacked to death.
Having a collection of breakable stoves isn’t as immediately impressive as having glowing telekinesis or the power to magically rewind localized time, which is probably why Nintendo hasn’t spent all that much time hyping the portable pots up. But anyone who’s ever taken a Moblin strike to the back of the head while wearing one of Link’s flimsier outfits knows how quickly Tears of the Kingdom will show you the game over and tell you to start over.
The long-term, fashionable solution, of course, is to simply seek out one of Hyrule’s Great Fairies and pay her to make your favorite getup as strong as possible. But until you’ve played through enough of the game to know where the Great Fairies are (and have enough disposable cash to afford their services), the portable pot’s one of your best bets at staying alive and formidable enough to find Princess Zelda.