We all need to relax sometimes, and for some of us, that means indulging in cute farming simulators. The internet’s favourite of these games is Stardew Valley, which was handed down to us from on high by Eric Barone, AKA ConcernedApe, in 2016.
Stardew Valley is an adorable, pixelated life sim in which you have inherited your grandfather’s homestead just outside of the idyllic village of Pelican Town. When you arrive, you discover that you have a whole farm to run, and a whole village of quirky, loveable characters to get to know, befriend, and even marry.
While the game is available for pretty much everything under the sun - PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Android, iOS, and several PC operating systems - hardcore fans of the game will argue that playing the game on a PC is the most rewarding. That’s because Stardew Valley has a huge community of modders behind it who work tirelessly to add content, quality of life improvements, and aesthetics to the game. Even though it lacks an official Steam Workshop, Stardew Valley has thousands of mods available - if you’ve ever wanted something for the game, chances are there’s a mod that can give it to you.
But that huge selection of mods presents a problem - which ones are worth the effort of installing? Today, we’re here to help you pick out mods to add content to the game - these mods add new areas, new recipes, and even new character interactions.
How to Install Mods in Stardew Valley?
If you’re unfamiliar with modding PC games, then Stardew Valley is actually a pretty good place to start. The community makes it really easy to download and install your mods with a few simple pieces of software.
Almost all of the mods available for Stardew Valley are hosted on Nexus Mods, so that’s the website we’re going to reference throughout this article. If you’re getting your mods from another website, you should check their download instructions before implementing your mods.
The most important first step in this process is backing up your game files - you need to be able to protect your saved files if something goes wrong during the mod installation process. DO NOT START MODDING UNTIL YOUR SAVED FILES HAVE BEEN BACKED UP.
Step 1: Get Modding Software
The best tool (and often, a required tool) for modding Stardew Valley is a piece of software called the Stardew Valley Modding API, or SMAPI for short. It’s a free installer and mod manager that is often required for downloading and using files from Nexus Mods.
SMAPI is compatible with Windows, macOS and Linux, so unless you’re using a weird makeshift operating system from 1975, it should work for you. Just make sure you get the latest version. Once you’ve downloaded the zip file, unzip it to a location that isn’t your game folder - I just put it onto my desktop so I can find it later.
The other piece of software that makes modding run smoothly is Vortex, Nexus Mods’ in-house mod manager. Having a mod manager makes the modding experience smoother and easier if you’re a beginner, so we highly recommend having at least this one on board. It’s free to download too!
Some mods might require other software, but it varies widely, so we’re going to list the additional software for each mod as we talk about them.
Step 2: Pick Your Mods!
This is the fun part! Go to Nexus Mods and pick out a mod or two you’d like to try. I don’t recommend installing too many at once for a couple of reasons:
1. Installing too many mods might overwhelm your computer when you try and run the game. Adding them gradually lets you observe your machine for signs of overwork, so you can avoid going overboard.
2. If you install a bunch of mods at once, then it becomes really difficult to tell which one is causing problems if they arise. Are the weird glitches coming from the new recipe pack or the anime portrait retexture? Who knows. If you install your mods one or two at a time, then it’s easy to see who’s going to be problematic and uninstall them.
3. Sometimes mods don’t get along with each other and interfere with how each other runs. If you install a bunch of mods at once, it will get hard to figure out who doesn’t play well together. Again, who knows where the weird glitches are coming from?
Another thing to be aware of is compatibility with the current version of the game. Because mods aren’t technically officially supported and ConcernedApe is constantly updating Stardew Valley, some mods will accidentally become obsolete as new game versions are released. Fortunately for inexperienced modders, SMAPI will often disable any mods that become incompatible with the most current game version. Other than that, you can pretty much do whatever you like (we recommend starting with some of the mods we’ll talk about later!)
Step 3: Find Your Game Folder
Remember that folder we told you not to put SMAPI in? You’re going to need it for this next part. You need access to Stardew Valley’s .exe file, but this is not as difficult as it sounds. If you got the game from Steam or GOG, this folder will be stashed with all of your other game files. Search “Steam” or “GOG” in your File Explorer, and then search “Stardew Valley” from there. For faster searching, the Stardew Valley Wiki helpfully lists the default locations for the game file on every mod-compatible operating system.
Step 4: Install Your Mods
This, surprisingly, is the easiest part - once you’ve found your game folder and set up all of your mod software, all you have to do is unzip your mod files into the “Mods” folder within Stardew Valley’s game folder. This automatically implements them into your game, and you should be able to see SMAPI load them when you launch your game. Voila!
How to disable a mod in Stardew Valley?
Disabling a mod is pretty simple - according to the Stardew Valley Wiki, putting a period in front of the folder name will disable the mod without deleting it. Sometimes this doesn’t work on Windows, but putting a period in the end too will usually work.
To delete a mod, just delete its folder from Stardew Valley’s game folder.
The 13 Best Mods That Add Game Content and Replayability to Stardew Valley
Now that you know how to install your mods, here are our top 13 mods to add more content to Stardew Valley.
13. Remember Your Umbrella
This simple little mod adds a new tool - the umbrella! Currently, there are 7 different colours of umbrella that you can buy from the Hat Mouse. Why would you need an umbrella? Well, this mod also adds a unique wetness mechanic similar to the one from Don’t Starve: Shipwrecked. If you’re out while it’s raining for too long without your umbrella, you’ll be subject to a Wetness debuff that slowly drains your stamina until you go inside to dry off.
For veterans that are finding the game a bit too easy, this subtle change might just add a little excitement for you. And if you just want the cute umbrellas (seriously, they’re adorable) you can disable the wetness system.
12. Happy Birthday
Required Mods: SMAPI, Stardust Core
Download it here.
Birthdays are a big thing in Stardew Valley - giving a villager a suitable gift on their special day can give you a huge boost in friendship hearts, and it’s often hailed as an absolute must for successfully getting everyone in the valley to like you. Unfortunately, no one in Pelican Town seems to care that you also have a birthday.
That is, until you install the simple, but elegant Happy Birthday mod by Omegasis. This mod lets you select your character’s birthday during their creation, and adds new interactions with villagers on your special day. You even get letters from your parents!
11. Fishing Trawler
As a veteran Stardew Valley player, I love everything about the game. Except fishing. Sometimes, the fishing minigame can feel tedious or difficult (much like real fishing) and you just want to change it up. Enter PeacefulEnd’s Fishing Trawler mod!
This mod creates a new weekly minigame that you can play by interacting with a new NPC named Murphy, who will arrive at the dock beyond the repaired bridge at the beach on Wednesdays (though you can change the day he arrives if you wish). Murphy brings his fishing trawler along, and you and your friends can go out to sea to catch fish in bulk!
We really liked this mod for a few reasons; it breaks up the monotony of just playing the fishing minigame over and over again to complete goals, and it adds a cute new NPC! What more could you ask for?
10. Love Letters
We all love romancing the bachelors and bachelorettes in Stardew Valley, but we have to admit that the process can feel a little… one-sided. You give them gifts twice and week and talk to them every single day, and they reward you with an interaction every six months or so. With this mod, you’ll start to receive letters and mail from your romantic interests. The letters even hint at how to trigger their heart events, allowing you to continue your relationships with them without having to constantly refer to the wiki.
This mod is currently still in development; only Sebastian and Elliott’s letters are complete. However, we encourage you to keep an eye on it; this is not a mod you should miss.
9. Romanceable Rasmodius
While Stardew Valley has a huge range of marriageable candidates, some of us want a partner that’s a little more… mysterious. Many have hinted that they wanted to romance Rasmodius, the local wizard since the game was released in 2016. Well, now you can!
The Romanceable Rasmodius mod is a highly detailed experience, allowing you to seduce the wizard and experience 5 unique heart events, just as you would with any other bachelor. If you were looking for a mystical new experience, then this mod is for you.
8. Platonic Partners and Friendships
There are quite a few mods out there that let you romance more than one marriage candidate at a time - there are even mods that let you marry more than one! But what if you just want to be best friends with everyone, without pretending to date them? Modder Amaranthacyan has a solution.
The Platonic Partners and Friendships mod lets you designate a list of marriage candidates that you want to only be platonically involved with, and changes their heart events and dialogue to reflect that choice. For example, if you’ve decided that you want to marry Elliott, but you really want to have a good relationship with Shane, you can use this mod to change Shane’s romantic dialogue and events to reflect a close friendship. No guilt for cheating on your digital spouse here!
7. Stardew Aquarium
Required Mods: Anti-Social NPCs, Content Patcher, Custom NPC Exclusions, Custom NPC Fixes, DaisyNiko’s Tilesheets, Json Assets, Shop Tile Framework, SMAPI, TMXL Map Toolkit, Train Station
Creator(s): Project Stardew Aquarium
Download it here.
Ah, fish. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. If you’re looking for a way to actually observe the fish that you catch or just a new collection challenge after completing the Community Center, then the Stardew Aquarium mod is for you. The mod adds two beautiful new map areas to the game, consisting of a large new beach and the aquarium itself, which has become run-down and abandoned. As you donate fish to the aquarium (in a similar process to donating objects to the museum) the aquarium grows more animated and alive, and the beach shops get more and more stock!
This is a great mod to add a whole new element to your Stardew Valley game - we really liked it because it made fishing feel more important and rewarding.
6. Reverse Proposal
We’ve already mentioned how one-sided dating the bachelors and bachelorettes in Stardew Valley can feel. Sometimes, it seems like you’re only the one initiating every interaction and milestone - that’s not how healthy relationships work! Enter GreenOnion24’s Reverse Proposal mod.
This mod changes NPC’s behaviour, allowing them to ask you to be their boyfriend or girlfriend. Receiving a surprise proposal from an NPC you’ve been flirting with is absolutely delightful, and we highly recommend this mod for anyone who’s getting a little tired of the same interactions with their love interest time and time again.
This mod is still in development, and currently, only the male NPCs have been added. The creator has stated that they’ll be adding the bachelorettes eventually, and even a mechanic where they can ask you to marry them! Watch this space.
Required Mods: SMAPI
Creator(s): Max Vollmer, SVProtector
Download it here.
If you’re a fan of the dungeon-delving elements of Stardew Valley, then this mod is for you. DeepWoods adds a procedurally-generated extension to the Secret Woods area of the map, filled with secrets, danger, and valuable resources for those brave enough to set foot inside.
This mod is AMAZING, and it adds a huge amount of replayability to late-game Stardew Valley. The procedurally-generated forest changes every time you play, so there’s no limit to how many times you can run it. It’s also compatible with Stardew Valley’s recent multiplayer updates, so you can run through DeepWoods with your friends too!
Technically, this mod is still in beta, so keep a lookout for bugs and glitches while you play.
4. The Perks of Being Married
Being married in Stardew Valley can be blissful - after all, it usually represents in-game months or even years of wooing the object of your affection. But if you’re a veteran player, getting married can start to feel a little stale. The behaviour for all of the marriageable NPCs becomes almost identical after they move to the farm, and there’s no real benefit to choosing one over the other, with the exception of Shane’s blue chickens.
Modder TrentXV has come up with a genius way to fix this problem - the Perks of Being Married mod gives you perks based on which character you choose to marry! Each perk suits a character’s interests and strengths; for example, marrying Maru reduces the requirements needed to craft machines and gives you the ability to craft Battery Packs.
If that wasn’t enough for you, the mod also adds 10 new marriageable NPCs! This mod is a gold mine if you’re looking for new ways to play the game and new characters to fall in love with.
3. Karmylla’s Immersive Maps
What’s that? You want some new map areas and aesthetic changes for NPC-specific locations? Modder Karmylla has your back. Karmylla’s Immersive Maps adds a huge amount of aesthetic changes to most NPC’s houses, as well as new areas to explore when you’re good friends with certain NPCs - there’s a basement lab for Maru, a darkroom for Haley, and a barn that Shane owns. What will you discover inside?
While this mod is fairly subtle, we really liked the level of immersion that it adds. It would be a great mod to combine with others like The Perks of Being Married.
2. Project Populate Json Assets
Project Populate Json Assets is the overarching name for roughly 7 MASSIVE content packs created by a collective of modders known as Project Populate Json Assets. It’s hard to even describe what this collection of mods does - rather, what doesn’t it do? PPJA mods add new artisan goods, crops, machines, trees, recipes, flowers, alcoholic drinks, and even a mod where you can grow meat (because who wants to slaughter their adorable pixel cows?).
Right now, there are roughly 17 different content packs from PPJA - you can mix and match them based on what you want to add to your game.
A few of our favourite packs from PPJA include:
- PPJA - Artisan Valley
- PPJA - More Recipes_A Collection of Recipes
- PPJA - Starbrew Valley_A Collection of New Alcoholic Drinks
- PPJA - Fresh Meat_An ‘Alternative’ Butcher Mod
- PPJA - Tailor Mouse_A JA Clothing Shop
We highly recommend checking out Project Populate’s work - their passion and attention to detail make their mods must-haves for any self-respecting Stardew Valley veteran.
1. Stardew Valley Expanded
Required Mods: Content Patcher, Expanded Preconditions Utility, Farm Type Manager (FTM), Json Assets, PyTK - Platonymous Toolkit, SpaceCore, TMXL Map Toolkit, Winter Grass, SMAPI
This is probably the largest mod ever created for Stardew Valley, and it really adds a whole new game to your favourite farming sim. According to the mod’s page, it adds no less than:
- 25 new NPCs
- 32 new locations
- 220 character events
- 850 location messages
- 2 new farm maps
And way, way more. So much love and time have gone into this mod - according to FlashShifter, they created it to “give the player the magical feeling they had when they first played Stardew Valley.” And it really delivers - this mod adds so much content, it will take hundreds of hours to uncover it all. This mod is an absolute must for anyone looking to fall in love with Stardew Valley all over again.
We hope you loved this list and found some new mods for your Stardew Valley saves! There’s more where this came from - check out our article on quality-of-life mods for the game to find even more fan-made masterpieces!