Despite being released back in 2016, Stardew Valley is still going strong. But even the best-designed games can be tweaked to your liking using mods. New players might decide they prefer a recolored look, while those with hundreds of hours might be searching for an expanded experience. Either way, we’ve gathered some of the best Stardew Valley mods to give you tons of options for your next playthrough.
First, you’ll need to get set up for modding. These mods are predominantly for those playing on a PC, although the Steam Deck and Android versions of Stardew also support some mods. You’ll need an additional piece of software, called SMAPI, which can be downloaded from Nexus Mods. There is also a nice set of instructions for installing and using it available on the Stardew Valley Wiki.
For quite a few mods, you’ll also need to have Content Patcher, so it’s worth setting that up at the same time. Just unzip the folder inside the Mods folder that was created automatically by SMAPI.
Congratulations! You’re ready to dive into the wonderful world of Stardew modding.
Best aesthetic mods for Stardew Valley
Elle’s Town Animals
Image: Elle/Nexus Mods
The animals scattered around Pelican Town help it to feel alive and in tune with the nature around it. Elle’s Town Animals jazzes them up, with multiple options including dozens of new birds and 42 butterfly variants. You can also randomize which ones appear if, like me, that seems like an impossible decision to you.
Seasonal Outfits – Slightly Cuter Aesthetic
Image: Poltergeister/Nexus Mods
Many Stardew Valley mods simply make small changes to how the game looks, and Seasonal Outfits is a popular example. Its subtitle is “Slightly Cuter Aesthetic,” so it’s not here to overhaul anything, but it does tweak NPC sprites so that they have different clothes depending on the weather, as well as giving them special looks for the Flower Dance and Spirit’s Eve festivals. It’s a great place to start if you want to give the game a bit more variety without changing it too much.
DaisyNiko’s Earthy Recolour
Image: DaisyNiko/Nexus Mods
The bright colors of basic Stardew Valley are certainly cheerful, but recolor mods give players tons of other palettes and seasonal moods to choose from. DaisyNiko’s Earthy Recolour brings the whole game down into a more muted, grounded palette that’s easier on the eyes. It also replaces the dig spot so that it grows a clover instead of those weird worms from the base game, which is a nice touch.
Stardew Foliage Redone
Image: Hesper/Nexus Mods
For a slightly more intense aesthetic change, try this mod that swaps out all of the flora and fauna for beautifully pastel versions. I’m a huge fan of the spring look, with multiple shades of blossom trees — and the giant, house-sized mushrooms.
Image: OhoDavi/Nexus Mods
If the standard pixel faces of the bachelors and bachelorettes of Pelican Town aren’t quite your style, it’s anime portraits to the rescue. This mod by OhoDavi is the most popular, which makes Alex look like a sports anime protagonist and Hayley like a magical girl. But there are hundreds of other options available to suit your personal tastes.
Diverse Stardew Valley
Image: Airyn, tenthousandcats, minervamaga
Given how much representation this mod adds to the game, it’s arguably more than just an aesthetic change. It might not affect the gameplay directly, but it makes Pelican Town more inclusive as NPC mods add a broader variety of character races, disabilities, and body types. On top of that, Diverse Stardew Valley adds outfit options like seasonal changes, festival fits, and even maternity clothing.
Elle’s New Barn Animals
Image: Elle/Nexus Mods
There’s a lot to do in Stardew Valley — but there could always be more! This mod, for example, adds to the variety of animals you can keep on your farm. As well as giving pigs, sheep, goats, and cows cute new sprites, it adds a couple of new options for your barn, too. These won’t act any differently, but you’ll still be able to achieve your dreams of becoming an alpaca or deer farmer.
Best mods for adding features in Stardew Valley
Image: wildflourmods/Nexus Mods
While there is some foraging in vanilla Stardew, this mod bumps that up with dozens of new items to find all across the map. Just like real foraging, these seasonal surprises are exciting to stumble across, and cover everything from springtime cherry blossom petals to autumn mushrooms. And the same creator has mods for turning those finds into teas, jams, and more.
The Love of Cooking
Image: blueberry/Nexus Mods
This mod fully overhauls Stardew’s kitchen-related details. You’ll receive Grandpa’s old cookbook in the mail, and as you might expect, it will have a bunch of recipes inside. These recipes are totally reworked from the base game, to make sure they’re all worthwhile in terms of buffs and perks. But the mod adds a lot more than that, too, including Cooking as a skill you can improve, a new frying pan tool you can upgrade, fresh crops, and even the ability to burn your food — although you can turn that feature off if you like!
Note that this is a mod that requires Json Assets, which itself requires a couple of other bits to get working. But all the details and instructions are laid out on Nexus, and it’s worth a bit of extra effort, because having Json Assets will unlock a lot of content packs. According to its page, it “currently supports crafting recipes, crops (including giant crops), fruit trees, big craftables, hats, weapons, clothing, and boots.” So once you get started there’s a lot you can do with it!
More New Fish
Image: Hisameartwork, TrentXV/Nexus Mods
If you’re one of the people who enjoys fishing in Stardew, rather than one of those who (like me) finds it hopelessly difficult, More New Fish is for you. It adds 140 fresh fish to be caught, including rays, clownfish, and new kinds of eels. You can even catch koi and goldfish and put them in a tank in your house with this compatible mod. There are a couple of added quests for the later game, too, so you won’t get bored of fishing any time soon. (Also, I’m in awe of your skill.)
Image: aedenthorn/Nexus Mods
Can’t decide whether to romance Shane or Abigail? Want to make a massive polycule out of the town? Just want to hang out with your favorite NPC as your roommate? Free Love allows all of this and more, in the name of creating more complex relationships between your farmer and the townspeople. It’s based on, but supersedes, the earlier Multiple Spouses mod, which did more than it said on the tin — it also added important features like “Lets you kiss all of your spouses as many times per day as you like, because seriously.” So true.
Image: Project Populate Json Assets/Nexus Mods
Artisan Valley adds more than 200 new items to Stardew, along with 20 machines to make them. All in all, it’s a huge expansion to the crafting system that should keep things fresh for a long time. It’s also one of the Json Assets mods, so you can use it alongside all the new fruits, veggies, trees, flowers, recipes, and so on that are part of that project. In fact, you can grab them all at once here.
Honorable mentions: Aesthetic and feature additions
Before we get into the bigger, full expansions available for Stardew Valley, it’s worth mentioning that many of the most popular mods are much more humble — and no less worthwhile. Quality-of-life changes are some of the most popular mods on Nexus, and they include the ability to keep grass alive over winter, a bigger backpack, and real-time NPC locations being marked on the map. Some of them are a little more in depth, like the Lookup Anything mod, which will give you a ton of information at your fingertips, and some simply skip the fishing minigame. A personal thank you to that one. If there’s any kind of annoyance you face while playing the vanilla game, it’s worth taking a moment to search whether someone has fixed it. They probably have.
Best Stardew Valley content expansion mods
Image: LemurKat and Kdau/Nexus Mods
East Scarp is another content expansion mod, adding a seaside town to explore. There you’ll be able to find new NPCs, items, and more. But as well as adding additional townsfolk to get to know, East Scarp also works as a foundation for other mods adding yet more friendly faces, which can be found on the Nexus page as well.
It’s also worth noting that many of these expansion mods are compatible with one another, so you can add multiple new areas and their associated NPCs and trinkets all at once. For example, if you have Stardew Valley Expanded, you can also add East Scarp, which will be accessible via one of the new bridges added in Expanded.
Stardew Valley Expanded
Image: FlashShifter/Nexus Mods
Eventually, you’ll run out of things to do in Stardew. You’ll have completed the Community Center, befriended all of your neighbors, and have two happy kids and millions in gold. But you can push that moment far, far down the line with Stardew Valley Expanded. This mod adds a whole town’s worth of NPCs, locations to explore, events, quests, crops, and yes, even fish. Modder FlashShifter says that they wanted to recapture the feeling of Stardew’s best moments by creating more of them for the experienced player, and the popularity of this mod certainly suggests that they succeeded. And as a bonus, lots of other mods are also compatible with Stardew Valley Expanded. For example, the anime portrait mod listed earlier also affects Expanded’s NPCs.
Image: Rafseazz, mamaesh/Nexus Mods
Ridgeside Village is another major expansion, opening up a new town accessible by cable car. As you might expect, that means a whole lot more NPCs to make friends with, as well as new quests, events, and items to flesh out the endgame. You might even find romance up in the mountains!
Image: Max Vollmer/Nexus Mods
Reached the bottom of the mines? What about the heart of the forest? Deepwoods adds a new late-game, dangerous, procedurally generated area to explore. There are monsters lurking there and you may just get lost for good, but there are also secrets, surprises, and valuable resources available to the brave ranger who can survive the shady trees.
Image: aedenthorn/Nexus Mods
If you prefer a more laid-back experience, you might want to pick up a part-time job at the Stardrop Saloon. This gives some depth to both the cooking and relationship mechanics, giving you a good reason to make a variety of dishes and a neat way to increase your friendship with the townsfolk. It’s also a well-integrated way of learning what your neighbors like, so that you can keep the friendship ball rolling with gifts if you want to. Plus, you’ll be helping Gus out. What’s not to like?