Nature’s Recipe Grain Free (Tubs)

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Rating: ★★★★½

Nature’s Recipe Grain Free dog food tubs receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.

The Nature’s Recipe Grain Free product line includes 4 tubbed dog foods.

Each recipe below includes its related AAFCO nutrient profile when available on the product’s official webpage: Growth, Maintenance, All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.

Important: Because many websites do not reliably specify which Growth or All Life Stages recipes are safe for large breed puppies, we do not include that data in this report. Be sure to check actual packaging for that information.

  • Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Easy to Digest Chicken [A]
  • Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Easy to Digest Chicken and Duck [A]
  • Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Easy to Digest Chicken and Venison [A]

Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Easy to Digest Chicken and Venison was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Nature's Recipe Grain Free Easy to Digest Chicken and Venison

Canned Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 61% | Fat = 11% | Carbs = 20%

Ingredients: Chicken, vegetable broth, sweet potato, chicken fat, venison, green beans, modified food starch, tomato paste, tricalcium phosphate, sugar, salt, natural flavor, potassium chloride, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, niacin supplement, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin A supplement, biotin supplement, riboflavin supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, beta-carotene, folic acid), minerals (zinc glycine complex, iron glycine complex, copper glycine complex, manganese glycine complex, sodium selenite, potassium iodide), choline chloride, parsley

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 8.3%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis11%2%NA
Dry Matter Basis61%11%20%
Calorie Weighted Basis57%25%18%
Protein = 57% | Fat = 25% | Carbs = 18%

The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken. Chicken is considered “the clean combination of flesh and skin… derived from the parts or whole carcasses of chicken”.1

Chicken is naturally rich in the ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.

The second ingredient is vegetable broth. Broths are of only modest nutritional value. Yet because they add both flavor and moisture to a dog food, they are a common addition component in many canned products.

The third ingredient is sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are a gluten-free source of complex carbohydrates in a dog food. They are naturally rich in dietary fiber and beta carotene.

The fourth ingredient is chicken fat. Chicken fat is obtained from rendering chicken, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.

Chicken fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life. Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing, chicken fat is actually a quality ingredient.

The fifth ingredient is venison. Venison is considered “the clean flesh derived from slaughtered” venison and associated with skeletal muscle or the muscle tissues of the tongue, diaphragm, heart or esophagus.2

Venison is naturally rich in all ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.

The sixth ingredient includes green beans, a healthy vegetable notable for its vitamin, mineral and natural fiber content.

The seventh ingredient is modified food starch. The source of this starch is unknown but it is most likely derived from corn or wheat. Without more information, it’s impossible to adequately judge the quality of this ingredient.

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 three notable exceptions

First, sugar is always an unwelcome addition to any dog food. Because of its high glycemic index, it can unfavorably impact the blood glucose level of any animal soon after it is eaten.

Next, unlike the controversial item tomato pomace, the tomato paste detailed here does not include the skin or seeds of the fruit.

And lastly, 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.

Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Tubbed Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Nature’s Recipe Grain Free dog food tubs look like an above-average wet 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 61%, a fat level of 11% and estimated carbohydrates of about 20%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 61% and a mean fat level of 11%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 20% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 18%.

Above-average protein. Below-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical wet dog food.

Free of any plant-based protein boosters, this looks like the profile of a wet product containing a significant amount of meat.

We like this product. However, it’s unfortunate the company chose to include sugar in its recipe. Without this controversial ingredient, we may have been compelled to award this line a higher rating.

Bottom line?

Nature’s Recipe Grain Free is a meat-based wet dog food using a significant amount of named meats as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4.5 stars.

Highly recommended.

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.

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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 entirely on the integrity of the information provided by each company. As such, the accuracy of every review is directly dependent upon the specific data a company chooses to share.

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.

We rely on tips from readers. To report a product change or request an update of any review, please contact us using this form.

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 Chewy.com 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

11/01/2017 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  2. Adapted by the Dog Food Advisor and based upon the official definition for beef published by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, 2008 Edition
  • haleycookie

    My guess would be the new formulation was not available online when this was updated last. Natures recipe did just very recently make these changes so it could have been missed.

  • Angie Rosado Ordoñez

    I just checked the ingredients on Chewy.com and it says there is a new formula and it contains Carrageenan. I found on Chewy a lot of wet foods containing that ingredient but this web site doesn’t mention it. Why?

  • Pat

    Thanks, she really does love this food

  • Pat

    what about the carageenan in it..since it is so far down on the list, maybe not so bad?

  • Pat

    Well, I checked the other three recipes. They don’t contain sugar, but they do have carrageenan unit, but it is located pretty far down I the list..so I don’t know bad they would be…

  • el doctor

    Hi Pat

    There is no perfect food, be it canned, dry, raw, or otherwise. There is always going to be some kind of compromise you will have to make.

    In reading the ingredients and the breakdown by calories of this food I really like what I see. The inclusion of sugar doesn’t bother me that much when I look at the overall numbers.

    Protein – 57%
    Fat – 25%
    Carbs – 18%

    I think this food would be an excellent food to have in your rotation! I would pick this above ANY kibble, and most other canned foods.

  • Pat

    I just bought a couple containers of this food, didn’t notice the sugar..always on the look out for carageenan..lol….well i won’t throw them away but probably won’t buy them again

  • Kim

    Thanks for your reply. The ones I buy are the Nature’s Recipe pure essentials 2.75 oz plastic containers — I can’t take a photo at the moment, but am reading off the back: bottom right hand corner reads: MADE IN THAILAND. Perhaps that’s ok … I am just skeptical. It’s a long way for my little guy’s food to travel. I think I will stick to USA products — perhaps Canada, that’s as far as I’ll go. ;~)

  • CB

    Hmmm… I will have to double check the packages/cups when I get home. If you look at the picture in the post below this one, it says MADE IN THE USA under all 4 of the pictured wet food cups.
    Thailand makes most of the High Quality Natural Dog Food in the US. I grabbed a screen shot from NR’s FB page: most wet dog foods are made in the US, Grain Frees are made in Thailand. Additionally top of the line 5-star brands Weruva adn Tiki are made in Thailand. Quite often these are in better than USDA approved / human food facilities. See http://petshops.about.com/od/petfood/f/Pet-Foods-Made-In-Thailand.htm

  • Kim

    My dog LOVES this food as well … however, I became concerned when I read that it is a “product of Thailand”. Has anyone else noticed that and does that concern you? I prefer to feed products made in USA, but first and foremost, I want to feed QUALITY products. Any thoughts on this coming from Thailand? (I know it looks good, but are we sure it’s chicken, salmon, duck, venison, etc.??)

  • CB

    Apparently Nature’s Recipe have recently added a 5th flavor to this dog food line – Chicken and Turkey in Broth

  • CB

    I have tried a lot of small-portion dog food cups (a lot). Nature’s Recipe wet food cups are by far the best. I understand Dr Mike’s mention of a downgrade for the sugar contained in the venison recipe (1 of the 4 recipes), but my pups and I give this food 5-gold stars based on the 5 senses. It looks fantastic (looks like you are opening a can of shredded chicken at home), it smells fantastic, it sounds good sloshing around in its gravy in the tub (not a gelatinous mass of mystery meat), my pups love the taste of this stuff! I have tried other 5 star wet foods that say chicken, but look like off-color mystery meat – this is FULL of chicken and you can tell immediately when you open it. Also if you have access to a military base-commissary, you can get these for HALF THE PRICE of the pet stores. Dr Mike, a 1-star downgrade for 1 reciepe having sugar out of 4 recipes is a bit much…. 4.5 stars? 4.75 stars?

    Anyway – probably the best wet food cups I have found, and I have tried a lot.

  • Guest

    ..

  • Guest

    Here is a full nutritional breakout of all four of Nature’s Recipe 2.75oz Cups from BigHeartPets. 1. Chicken Recipe; 2. Chicken & Salmon; 3. GF Chicken & Duck; 4. GF Chicken & Venison

  • Guest

    Here is a full nutritional breakout of all four of Nature’s Recipe 2.75oz Cups from BigHeartPets. 1. Chicken Recipe; 2. Chicken & Salmon Recipe; 3. GF Chicken & Duck; 4. GF Chicken & Venison

  • Thanks, Jennifer. I loved the video!

  • I hear you. Somehow, that ingredient got by us while we were preparing this report. So, thanks to your tip, we’ve now appropriately downgraded this product’s rating.

  • Jennifer Mackenzie

    http://www.spiritscienceandmetaphysics.com/a-little-girls-experiment-will-change-the-way-you-think-about-food/

    Is Kirkland make their food with certified organic veggies?
    I have 8 dogs on a kirkland sweet potato based food. arsenic or this????

  • Ch

    Betsy using tax payers mpney again to blog?

  • The Chicken and Duck recipe doesn’t contain sugar.

  • LabsRawesome

    OMG. Facepalm.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Sugar? Really? Why on Earth would a company go and add sugar to an otherwise really decent looking food? It’s not even like they tried to disguise it by using dextrose or molasses or something either – straight up sugar.