Nature’s Recipe (Dry)


Rating: ★★★☆☆

Nature’s Recipe Dog Food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3 stars.

The Nature’s Recipe product line includes 16 dry dog foods, seven claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance and nine for all life stages.

The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.

  • Nature’s Recipe Small Bites
  • Nature’s Recipe Large Breed Adult
  • Nature’s Recipe Large Breed Puppy
  • Nature’s Recipe Joint Health (3.5 stars)
  • Nature’s Recipe High Protein (3.5 stars)
  • Nature’s Recipe Small Breed Toy Breed
  • Nature’s Recipe Small Breed Terrier Breed
  • Nature’s Recipe Healthy Weight (3.5 stars)
  • Nature’s Recipe Adult Lamb Meal and Rice
  • Nature’s Recipe Adult Chicken Meal and Rice
  • Nature’s Recipe Easy to Digest Chicken Meal
  • Nature’s Recipe Puppy Chicken Meal and Rice
  • Nature’s Recipe Easy to Digest Fish Meal (2.5 stars)
  • Nature’s Recipe Healthy Skin Venison Meal and Rice
  • Nature’s Recipe Puppy Lamb Meal and Rice (3.5 stars)
  • Nature’s Recipe Senior Lamb Meal and Rice (2.5 stars)

Nature’s Recipe Large Breed Adult was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Nature's Recipe Large Breed Adult

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 24% | Fat = 13% | Carbs = 54%

Ingredients: Chicken, brown rice, barley, oatmeal, chicken meal, poultry fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), potato protein, brewers yeast, tomato pomace, calcium carbonate, natural flavor, salt, potassium chloride, inulin, alfalfa nutrient concentrate, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), inositol, niacin, supplement, vitamin A supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, beta-carotene, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, menadione sodium bisulfite complex, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement), minerals (zinc proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, iron proteinate, copper sulfate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), choline chloride, glucosamine hydrochloride, lactic acid, l-carnitine, chondroitin sulfate, Yucca schidigera extract, citric acid (used as a preservative), rosemary extract

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis22%12%NA
Dry Matter Basis24%13%54%
Calorie Weighted Basis22%29%49%
Protein = 22% | Fat = 29% | Carbs = 49%

The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken. Although it is a quality item, raw chicken contains about 80% water. After cooking, most of that moisture is lost, reducing the meat content to just a fraction of its original weight.

After processing, this item would probably account for a smaller part of the total content of the finished product.

The second ingredient is brown rice, a complex carbohydrate that (once cooked) can be fairly easy to digest. However, aside from its natural energy content, rice is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The third ingredient is barley. Barley is a starchy carbohydrate supplying fiber and other healthy nutrients. However, aside from its energy content, this cereal grain is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The fourth ingredient is oatmeal, a whole-grain product made from coarsely ground oats. Oatmeal is naturally rich in B-vitamins, dietary fiber and can be (depending upon its level of purity) gluten-free.

The fifth ingredient is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.

The sixth ingredient is poultry fat. Poultry fat is obtained from rendering, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.

Poultry fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life.

However, poultry fat is a relatively generic ingredient and can be considered lower in quality than a similar item from a named source animal (like chicken fat).

The seventh ingredient is potato protein, the dry residue remaining after removing the starchy part of a potato.

Even though it contains over 80% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.

And less costly plant-based products like this can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

The eighth ingredient is brewers yeast which can be a controversial item. Although it’s a by-product of the beer making process, this ingredient is rich in minerals and other healthy nutrients.

Fans believe yeast repels fleas and supports the immune system.

Critics argue yeast ingredients can be linked to allergies. This may be true, but (like all allergies) only if your particular dog is allergic to the yeast itself.

In addition, a vocal minority insists yeast can increase the risk of developing the life-threatening condition known as bloat. However, this is a claim we’ve not been able to scientifically verify.

In any case, unless your dog is specifically allergic to it, yeast can still be considered a nutritious additive.

What’s more noteworthy here is that brewers yeast contains about 48% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

The ninth ingredient is tomato pomace. Tomato pomace is a controversial ingredient, a by-product remaining after processing tomatoes into juice, soup and ketchup.

Many praise tomato pomace for its high fiber and nutrient content, while others scorn it as an inexpensive pet food filler.

Just the same, there’s probably not enough tomato pomace here to make much of a difference.

From here, the list goes on to include a number of other items.

But to be realistic, ingredients located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this product.

With four notable exceptions

First, we note the inclusion of inulin, a starch-like compound made up of repeating units of carbohydrates and typically sourced from chicory root.

Not only is inulin a natural source of soluble dietary fiber, it’s also a prebiotic used to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in a dog’s digestive tract.

Next, alfalfa nutrient concentrate is a vitamin and mineral-rich extract made from alfalfa.

Even though it contains over 50% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.

And plant-based products like this can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

In addition, this food contains chelated minerals, minerals that have been chemically attached to protein. This makes them easier to absorb. Chelated minerals are usually found in better dog foods.

And lastly, this food includes menadione, a controversial form of vitamin K linked to liver toxicity, allergies and the abnormal break-down of red blood cells.

Since vitamin K isn’t required by AAFCO in either of its dog food nutrient profiles, we question the use of this substance in any canine formulation.

Nature’s Recipe Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Nature’s Recipe looks like an average dry product.

But ingredient quality by itself cannot tell the whole story. We still need to estimate the product’s meat content before determining a final rating.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 24%, a fat level of 13% and estimated carbohydrates of about 54%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 25% and a mean fat level of 13%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 54% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 51%.

Below-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the potato protein, brewers yeast and alfalfa nutrient concentrate in this recipe, and the pea protein contained in other recipes, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing just a moderate amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Nature’s Recipe is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of chicken, lamb or fish meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3 stars.


Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content and (when appropriate) their fat-to-protein ratios.

Nature’s Recipe Dog Food
Recall History

The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to this product line. If there are no recalls listed in this section, we have not yet reported any events.

You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls sorted by date. Or view the same list sorted alphabetically by brand.

To learn why our ratings have nothing to do with a product’s recall history, please visit our Dog Food Recalls FAQ page.

Get free dog food recall alerts sent to you by email. Subscribe to The Advisor’s recall notification list.

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A Final Word

The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.

The Dog Food Advisor does not test dog food products.

We rely almost entirely on the integrity of the information posted by each company on its website. As such, the accuracy of every review is directly dependent upon the quality of the test results from any specific batch of food a company chooses to publish.

Although it's our goal to ensure all the information on this website is correct, we cannot guarantee its completeness or its accuracy; nor can we commit to ensuring all the material is kept up-to-date on a daily basis.

Each review is offered in good faith and has been designed to help you make a more informed decision when buying dog food.

However, due to the biological uniqueness of every animal, none of our ratings are intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in a specific dietary response or health benefit for your pet.

For a better understanding of how we analyze each product, please read our article, "The Problem with Dog Food Reviews".

Remember, no dog food can possibly be appropriate for every life stage, lifestyle or health condition. So, choose wisely. And when in doubt, consult a qualified veterinary professional for help.

In closing, we do not accept money, gifts or samples from pet food companies in exchange for special consideration in the preparation of our reviews or ratings.

However, we do receive a fee from for each purchase made as a direct result of a referral from our website. This fee is a fixed dollar amount and has nothing to do with the size of an order or the brand selected for purchase.

Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.

Notes and Updates

11/11/2015 Last Update

  • Molly

    We started feeding our 13 year old female lab the dry Nature’s Recipe Easy to Digest about 3 months ago and she is a completely different dog! So much more energy! Everyone is noticing. She also has some hip problems and we haven’t seen her limp in the past month at least. Her coat is shinier now too. We won’t feed her anything else!

  • Sara Cobb

    Petco isn’t stocking the lamb & brown rice on their shelves anymore but they still are carrying all the other flavors. Guess I will start shopping at Petsmart. They had another kind called Farmstead Select before the Pure Essentials, which was awesome.

  • tamara

    I have been feeding my dogs and puppies natures recipe for over 8 years without one issue. I am a breeder of large breed dogs and one thing I loved about this dog food is that even though they have a puppy formula I have always been able to feed the puppies what that other were eating, keep in mind of course not senior or adult per say. do the comparision on the grain free chicken, easy to digest ect it works out for the pups , I wean them onto this just fine and if I need extra protein or whatever they can get that in the little extras I put in there diets me from having different dog foods and save money not that is a huge issue when it comes to your pets health but I am not into spending extra or a lot of money because its the most exspensive. now another thing a lot of my dogs were itching on the other dog food and whatever the previous owners had them on or just the transition to the new place, in either case that went away, I managed to keep there coat as beautiful as it was, none of my dogs or puppies go off their feed, and I have had no picky eatters, no allergies, no stomach upsets, and plenty of growing ppower strong bones excellent size and weight is maintained perfectly…

  • Sara Cobb

    I fed both of my dogs the chicken pure essentials, it was giving them gas & one was throwing up. I switched to the pure essentials lamb & brown rice, it works amazing.

  • Nancy Keys

    Good point.

  • Saucemo

    I was in a similar situation. One of my dogs started having digestive issues while the other seemed fine. The one with the issues acted just as you described. I found the food had been contaminated by a storage container that needed to be cleaned. His problems cleared up after cleaning the container, scoop, and bowls, and starting with a fresh bag of food. I now store the food in the bag inside the container.

  • Bobby dog

    Hi Melissa:
    Food allergies are not common. He could possibly be developing an intolerance to a protein(s) in his kibble.

    I would not offer the kibble to him anymore, he’s letting you know something is not agreeing with him. Maybe try adding some lean ground meat to the rice for the next week to help settle his system.

    Give Fromm, Precise, or Nutrisource a try. I would also try a different protein and carb source as a place to start a search for new food. Adding a probiotic might help with the transition as well. Just remember every dog is different. What one dog does well on might not work for your dog. You won’t know what his magic food is until he does well on it. Good luck!

  • Melissa Springer

    I’ve been feeding my two dogs Nature’s Recipe Chicken, Rice & Barley for about a year now. My one dog has started having stomach issues. He’s been eating less and vomiting. My other dog is still eating the food with no troubles. I’m starting to wonder if maybe he’s developed a food allergy to this brand. I’ll been giving him brown rice to help settle his stomach and he eats that no problem but when I give him the dry food he either snubs it or eats very slowly. Any suggestions for a good dry food for a dog with a very sensitive stomach?

  • BoltandMilo

    Thank you for checking! He is doing much better. I actually found out t was an allergy but it was to a new flea medication. I did switch his food though still. I am doing the raw diet, with turkey necks and homemade food also. It is an amazing diet that they love and is super healthy!! Id recommend it :)

  • theBCnut

    Case in point.

  • Dog_Obsessed

    Okay. These reviews are a starting point. The only things reviewed are the ingredients and nutritional analysis, which is the only information that is reliable unchanging. (Formulas can change, but they generally don’t at the drop of a hat like recalls do.) If you want to chose a dog food, you can start at the reviews, and then look at the companies recall history, reliability, etc. The article “The Problem With Dog Food Reviews” simply explains the rating process, and what else needs to be looked at after the review. Here is a link to a guide on finding good dog foods beyond DFA reviews:

  • Chrissy Hawes

    I hope your baby is doing better , what food is he on Now ?

  • pfolfried


  • theBCnut

    Not if they are capable of reading.

  • pfolfried

    It is misleading to anyone who is looking for guidance

  • DogFoodie
  • Ila East

    Where did you find the email address? I must have missed it somehow.

  • DogFoodie

    I agree. That’s information Iwant also. You’re right, they don’t list the kcals on the website. I emailed them last October about the kcals in the East To Digest Chicken Meal formula. They did get back to me right away and said that specific formula has 312 kcals / cup. Sorry, but that’s the only one I have.

  • Ila East

    One problem i had with the website is they do not give calorie counts. Or at least I could not find them. My dog is diabetic and I need to not only know the carbs, but fat and calories also.

  • Pet Food Formula

    The potassium chloride is used to replace the chloride concentration not the sodium concentration. But the larger concern is towards the palatability and the electrolyte balance of the dog it is a healthier electrolyte than the sodium chloride.

  • Betsy Greer

    I avoid soy for myself and my dogs.

  • theBCnut

    Dr Mike contend that dogs are at least omnivores with a carnivorous bias and should be fed food high in meat content, so that is how his rating system is designed. Go up to the library link and find the article “How We Rate Dog Food.” You may find his rating system is not what you are looking for.

  • pfolfried

    That would mean, according to your statement, that all of your reviews are problematic, so how do you get to the stars rating system? Since you can never truly know what the procedures were, you can never really rate either on any food, correct? However, 2.5 on soymeal/vegetarian sounds like you dislike that option more than the food being a problem in itself. Are you under the assumption that soy is generally bad for dogs?

  • sandy

    The maximum stars a vegetarian food can get is 2.5 stars on this site. The blue links above that say “our rating system” and “problem with dog food reviews” may answer your question.

  • pfolfried

    How come the soymeal vegetarian healthy skin gets only 2.5 stars?

  • BoltandMilo

    Thank toy very much for that side! That is very helpful. I am going to do that tonight actually to see if I can narrow down a few ingredients that may be making a difference and allergies. Then maybe I can find a more affordable food with the right ingredients for him. Thanks for the reply!

  • BoltandMilo

    Thank you for that idea! That is something I will look at because the BB I fed him was turkey based, and this one is chicken. So that could be a problem. I know beef is something his stomach doesn’t tolerate so maybe it’s chicken also! Thanks for the idea and input. Very helpful!

  • Storm’s Mom

    I agree with theBCnut, but just wanted to add that you might want to try a chicken-free food, first (and soon). Most of the BB formulae have chicken, as does the Natures Recipe one you’re feeding, so I’d start with eliminating chicken from his diet first, and see if that helps.

  • theBCnut

    This sounds like a food intolerance issue, so keep the ingredient list to refer to if you see these same symptoms on another food. You may also want to get ingredient lists from the varieties of BB that you had him on that he did well on. Then you can check what ingredients the new food has that BB does not. Good luck, food issues can be tough to work out. My dog is just over 2 years old and we finally think we’ve figured out everything he is reacting to, and we started trying to figure everything out before he turned 6 months.

  • BoltandMilo

    I have a 5 year old Husky, who got very sick as a puppy and has very bad stomach issues. I had him on Blue Buffalo for a couple years, it was amazing for him. He never had any issues. However, it is very expensive so I looked at more affordable, yet healthy options. So I settled on Natures Recipe Easy to Digest Chicken for him. He seemed to do okay at first, however after a few weeks he started vomiting a little bit. Now he is constantly chewing his feet (which he never did before) and now I noticed he is chewing/ licking his stomach and it is very red, flaky, dry and he is losing his hair there. I am going tomorrow to get a different brand to see if its the food that’s the issue, all of these issues he never had suddenly started after I started feeding him this.

  • WranglerShelby

    No, I wish those were available locally, I was able to find a pet store in the city but they don’t have a website so I will have to call. Those were the ones that I narrowed down from the 5 star list that I would like to feed and would have to get online, except the 4health. I think I might smart with a small bag of each and just start the process.

  • Storm’s Mom

    Are the ones that you have narrowed down to ones that are available locally? If so ,that’s a GREAT selection and you can definitely create a rotation around those foods!!

    The only ones I wouldn’t feed are Blue Buffalo and EVO (as much as I love the look of EVO products (ingredients/GA-wise), it’s had at least 1 recent recall, which takes it off the list for me).

    The only ones of that list that are available here are Earthborn, Go!, Merrick, Nature’s Variety, and Wellness CORE, all of which are part of my rotation except for Wellness CORE (I haven’t fed Wellness CORE yet, but it’s on my “to do list”).

    I would LOVE to try Annamaet Grain Free, Back to Basics, and Nutrisca, in particular but none of them are available here :-( I’ve heard great things on here about each of them, though, so I trust that they are great products!

  • Pattyvaughn

    Tractor Supply has 4Health Grain Free. I wouldn’t feed the 4Health grain inclusive formulas, because they are made by Diamond, but the Grain Free is fine.

  • WranglerShelby

    There is a feed/supply store, Tractor Supply but they don’t have many 4 and 5 star foods. I am going to check with a few groomers and a pet store. There might be feed stores in the city (about a 45 min drive) I will have to google where, Thank you.

  • WranglerShelby

    Thank you Storm’s Mom for all the input!
    The only two places besides a grocery store/walmart that have pet food within reason is Petsmart and Tractor Supply. Petsmart has a better selection of foods. Both have an online store as well so that’s where I am looking before I head to the stores. The only food I know Petsmart has that I have narrowed down to is Wellness Core.

    Some of the other foods I am trying to narrow down is (all grain-free)… Annameat, Back to Basic’s, Blue Buffalo (but have been reading really bad reviews, they are about to go), By Nature Organics, Dr. Tim’s, Earthborn, EVO (also about to go), GO!, Merrick, Nature’s Variety, Natrisca, Pinnacle and Wellness Core.

    I know it is a lot but I am still researching a lot, I think if worse comes to worse I will order small bags and if they hate it, it will go to our shelter as a donation.

  • Pattyvaughn

    A very cute picture!

  • Storm’s Mom

    Glad you’ve decided to start rotating and using probiotics and enzymes!! It’ll make a big difference in your dog, I am sure!!

    Which are the foods that ARE local for you? (about 90% of the 5 star list isn’t local for me either..I’m in Canada, so the options are limited by that fact alone!)

    Seems to me like you may have 2 options going forward:

    1. start with something local and see how she does on it can get a better sense of what will work for her and what won’t if you can experiment a bit with the local options.

    2. order a venison one online, since you know she did well on the Nature’s Recipe Venison. Nature’s Logic Venison comes immediately to mind, and I think Timberwolf has a venison-based formula. I can’t think of others at the moment, but I am sure they exist…hopefully someone else with pipe up with some options.

    After feeding a different venison one, you can perhaps try another formula in that new brand (say, Nature’s Logic Duck and Salmon), and then try a new brand with Duck and/or Salmon in it, then that brand’s lamb formula, and then a new brand with lamb, etc. It’s sort of a “building block” approach to start feeding a rotation.