If you want to skip the talk and get right into the action, you need some powerful magic to back you up. Regardless of your level, you probably want to deal some decent damage. In this article, we are going back to the fundamentals and discussing the best damaging cantrips in 5e DnD.
We are looking at these cantrips from a pure damage-dealing perspective. We are not considering class, materials needed, etc. The ranking is somewhat subjective as the damage some cantrips deal can depend on your level, the target, and other factors. We are ranking these based on raw damage output, additional potential damage, our experience using these cantrips, and the input of our community.
The 14 best damaging cantrips in 5e
1. Eldritch Blast
I do not think this comes as a surprise to anyone, but Eldritch Blast is the best Damaging Cantrip in 5e. This warlock cantrip is known for dealing a ton of solid damage right from your first level. Thanks to the fact that it does 1d10 force damage at first level, it is a must-pick for just about any Warlock build. The great thing about Eldritch Blast is that it scales very nicely in terms of damage and number of beams as the caster increases its levels.
2. Fire Bolt
Nine out of ten Wizards recommend just shooting fire bolts at your problems. This cantrip deals 1d10 of fire damage starting at level 1 and nicely scales as your level increases. Fire Bolt does have one significant downside. Fire damage is the most resisted damage in 5e DnD, so the damage of this cantrip is often lower than the base damage you would want when you shoot one at an enemy.
3. Toll the Dead
Toll the Dead is my favorite cantrip and the best cantrip for necromancers by far. The spell deals a solid 1d8 of necrotic damage. However, there is a twist that makes Toll the Dead such a great damaging cantrip.
When a target for your cantrip has already taken damage, you don´t deal 1d8 of damage but a stunning 1d12. That is a massive amount of damage to dish out with as a level 1 character. If you are fighting undead, the cantrip will always deal 1d12 of damage, even if they have not taken damage so far.
4. Ray of Frost
Another great cantrip to consider if you want to deal a good chunk of damage is Ray of Frost. Ray of Frost belongs to the school of evocation and deals a nice 1d8 cold damage. In addition to that, it also has the useful effect of reducing the caster’s speed by 10 feet until the start of your next turn. I really like the secondary effect of this spell. Movement speed is very important in breaking up ranks or trying to escape from an enemy.
5. Sacred Flame
Finishing off our top 5 is Sacred Flame. This potent cantrip is able to deal out radiant damage, one of the least resisted damage types in 5e. The spell has the additional benefit that it can ignore cover and damage foes that are protected from physical harm. Targets can avoid taking damage if they succeed on a Dex saving throw.
6. Poison Spray
A pretty underestimated damaging cantrip is Poison Spray. As you might have suspected, this spell deals poison damage. When a target fails its Con saving throw, they will take a solid 1d12 of poison damage.
The spell scales quite nicely with your level, and poison is not resisted that often. One significant downside to Poison Spray is its short range. With only 10 feet of range, you will need to get very close to enemies. If they are using a simple weapon like a halberd or a spear, you might be in melee range.
7. Acid Splash
Since we are pretty far down the list of best damaging cantrips in 5e, you will notice that the base damage is going down quite a bit. Acid Splash is a fun and powerful spell that is able to hit 2 targets at once if they are within 5 feet of one another. When you hit the target after they fail their Dex Saving Throw, they will take 1d6 of acid damage.
Acid Splash is great to fight low-HP mobs and targets that have low hit points. I do like this spell when you are building a blade sorcerer.
8. Chill Touch
On to another great damaging necromancy cantrip. Chill Touch is a fun alternative for Toll the Dead. Chill Touch is able to deal 1d8 necrotic damage at first level. Moreover, it has the interesting effect that the target cannot regain HP at the start of the next turn.
If your enemy has regenerative abilities or there is a healer in their party, then Chill Touch is fantastic to make sure enemies are taken out. Despite the name, Chill Touch has an impressive range of 120 feet. This feature makes it fantastic for those who want to deal damage from a long range and stay out of immediate melee range.
Number 9 on our list of best damaging cantrips in DnD is Thunderclap. While the base damage of 1d6 of thunder damage is not massive, it is a multi-target spell. The Thunderclap spell can damage all creatures within a range of 5 feet from the caster.
If your spellcaster has a good AC and you know how to keep out of harm’s way on the frontlines, then Thunderclap is a very useful spell. Do keep in mind that all creatures means all creatures, so this includes your allies.
10. Ray of Sickness
Another highly damaging cantrip from the school of necromancy is Ray of Sickness. Ray of Sickness can deal a solid 1d8 of poison damage. In addition to that good amount of damage, a target that fails the saving throw will also be poisoned. When poisoned, the target will have a disadvantage on both attack rolls and ability checks.
The long range of the ray makes this spell a great option for those who want to stay away from melee fighters and hide behind their tank or cover.
11. Word of Radiance
Radiant damage, as stated, is pretty great, as very few monsters have a resistance or immunity to it. If you are looking for a good cantrip that deals reliable damage to creatures around you, then Word of Radiance is well worth considering. You can damage all creatures within 5 feet of you, you do not need to make an attack roll, and the spell ignores all cover.
Do keep in mind that you need a good AC and to be near multiple creatures to get the most out of the spell. The base damage is only 1d6, so you won’t be blasting creatures into oblivion like you would with Eldritch Blast.
Cold damage magic is fun as it often has a fun secondary effect. Frostbite is no different. When you hit the target with Frostbite, they have a disadvantage on their next attack roll. I do like to use this cantrip when you are fighting a single enemy or if your enemy has multiple attacks in a turn. The 1d6 damage is not much, but the spell can be used defensively to great success.
13. Acid Arrow
Acid Arrow barely makes it on our list of the top damaging cantrips in Dungeons and Dragons. Unlike others on the list, you need to roll two damage dice for this one. When you cast the evocation, it will deal 2d4 damage and will keep dealing additional damage at the start of your target’s turn.
The great thing about the spell is that it does scale pretty nicely with your character as you gain levels. So it is a solid long-range pick for those who want a more unconventional damaging cantrip in their arsenal.
14. Poison Sting
Our final spell is a druid cantrip that deals 1d4 poison damage at first level. This is not much and is thus more of an honorable mention than a pick for those looking to do the most DPT (damage per turn) possible. When you successfully hit a target with Poison Sting, the target has a disadvantage on the next attack roll it makes before the end of its next turn.
Summary table of damaging cantrips
|Cantrip||School||Damage Type||Range||Damage||Additional Effect|
|Sacred Flame||Evocation||Radiant||60ft||1d8||Ignores cover and damages protected creatures|
|Acid Splash||Conjuration||Acid||60ft||1d6||Hits 2 targets within 5ft of each other|
|Chill Touch||Necromancy||Necrotic||120ft||1d8||Target can’t regain HP at the start of next turn|
|Thunderclap||Evocation||Thunder||Self||1d6||Damages all creatures within 5ft of caster|
|Ray of Sickness||Necromancy||Poison||60ft||1d8||Poisons target, giving disadvantage|
|Word of Radiance||Evocation||Radiant||Self||1d6||Damages all creatures within 5ft of caster|
|Frostbite||Evocation||Cold||60ft||1d6||Target has disadvantage on next attack roll|
|Acid Arrow||Conjuration||Acid||90ft||2d4||Deals additional damage at start of target’s turn|
|Poison Sting||Transmutation||Poison||30ft||1d4||Target has disadvantage on next attack roll|
How many cantrips can you cast
Unlike regular spells, cantrips can be cast an unlimited amount of times. This is because a cantrip does not expend a spell slot. The rules for this use are found on page 201 of the Player’s Handbook.
How many cantrips can you cast in one turn?
You can cast two cantrips in a turn. However, casting more than one is only possible when you cast one cantrip as a regular action and the other as your bonus action. An example of this would be a Druid casting Poison Spray as their action and then casting Shillelagh in the same turn, as it only requires a bonus action.
How many cantrips are there in 5e DnD?
There are 50 official cantrips in 5e DnD. You can find a list of all cantrips in DnD here.