Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free dry dog food gets the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3.5 stars.
The Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free product line includes two kibbles. Since we could not locate AAFCO nutritional adequacy statements for these products on the Nature’s Recipe website, we’re unable to report life stage recommendations.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free Chicken, Sweet Potato and Pumpkin
- Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free Salmon, Sweet Potato and Pumpkin
Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free Chicken, Sweet Potato and Pumpkin was selected to represent both products in the line for this review.
Nature's Recipe Grain-Free Easy-to-Digest Chicken, Sweet Potato and Pumpkin
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken, potatoes, chicken meal, pea protein, peas, sweet potatoes, poultry fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), apples, pumpkin, natural flavor, tapioca starch, tomato pomace, salt, potassium chloride, choline chloride, 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), citric acid (used as a preservative), Yucca schidigera extract, rosemary extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||30%||13%||49%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||27%||29%||44%|
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 potato. Potatoes can be considered a gluten-free source of digestible carbohydrates. Yet with the exception of perhaps their caloric content, potatoes are of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The third ingredient is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.
The fourth ingredient is pea protein, what remains of a pea after removing the starchy part of the vegetable.
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 fifth ingredient mentions peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. Plus (like all legumes) they’re rich in natural fiber.
However, like pea protein, peas also contain a notable amount of protein (about 25%), which must also be taken into account when estimating meat content of this dog food.
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, we would have preferred a single-species item (like chicken fat).
The seventh ingredient is apples, a nutrient-rich, high-fiber fruit.
The eighth ingredient is pumpkin. Pumpkin is another natural source of dietary fiber.
After the natural flavor, we find tapioca, a gluten-free, starchy carbohydrate extract made from the root of the cassava plant.
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, 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.
Next, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing.
Thirdly, this food also 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 Nature’s Recipe product contains menadione, a controversial form of vitamin K linked to liver toxicity, allergies and the abnormal break-down of red blood cells.
Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Nature’s Recipe Grain Free dog food looks to be an above-average kibble.
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.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 30% and a mean fat level of 13%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 49% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 43%.
Above-average protein. Below-average fat. And near-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
All things considered, when you consider the plant-based protein-boosting effect of the peas and pea protein, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a below-average amount of meat.
However, it’s unfortunate the company chose to include menadione in its recipes. Without this controversial supplement and minus the pea protein, we would have been compelled to award this brand our next higher rating.
Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Dog Food is a potato-based kibble using a modest amount of chicken or salmon meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3.5 stars.
Menadione phobics should ignore our rating and look elsewhere for another product.
Rice ingredients can sometimes contain arsenic. Until the US FDA establishes safe upper levels for arsenic content, pet owners may wish to limit the total amount of rice fed in a dog's daily diet.
A Final Word
The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.
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, our rating system is not intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in specific health benefits 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.
To learn how we support the cost of operating this website, please visit our public Disclosure and Disclaimer page.
Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.
Notes and Updates
03/16/2011 Original review
03/23/2012 Review updated
03/23/2012 Last Update