Honest Kitchen Dog Food : Brand Review 2023

This brand sells dehydrated human grade dog food that’s ideal for people who are interested in creating a homemade diet for their dog, but don’t want to deal with the mess and effort involved in combining all of the ingredients that go into a fresh, whole food diet.

The company was founded by Lucy Postins in 2002. At the time, her Rhodesian Ridgeback, Mosi, was suffering from ear infections and skin problems. This drove Lucy to begin preparing a fresh homemade diet for her dog. While this diet helped to improve Mosi’s health, it was messy and time-consuming. This lead Lucy to develop a cleaner, simpler way to feed your dog a nourishing, minimally processed diet.

Today, the company is still headquartered San Diego. While it’s no longer just Lucy and her dog developing and taste-testing recipes, The Honest Kitchen has remained committed to its original mission: providing fresh, nourishing, and 100% human grade foods for pets.

All of their foods are now manufactured in an Illinois human food production facility.

What types of food does The Honest Kitchen offer?

The Honest Kitchen foods are essentially homemade recipes for your dog.

Unlike a traditional homemade diet, however, their recipes come in a dehydrated format, requiring you to simply combine the prepared mixture of dehydrated fruits, vegetables, seeds, and meats with warm water. The rehydration process takes three to five minutes and results in a soft sludge with a consistency somewhere between soup and oatmeal.

All of the ingredients in The Honest Kitchen foods are minimally processed to ensure that  delicate enzymes and phytonutrients remain intact while eliminating pathogenic bacteria that could make you and your dog sick. That said, don’t mistake this for a raw food.

While it’s better than high-heat cooking, the dehydration process does alter the cellular structure of the ingredients.

The Honest Kitchen produces human grade food – a status that sets it apart from other pet foods, many of which are only certified as feed grade. This means that the food is produced under constant USDA inspection and is subject to more stringent regulations than those produced in a feed grade facility. Human grade facilities are subject to over 100 quality control standards and regulations.

What’s more, all of the ingredients used in The Honest Kitchen foods arrive at their facilities having already been certified as fit for human consumption, meaning that they cannot, for example, use meat from diseased animals, nor can they include meat by-products.

Every recipe is absolutely free of preservatives of any kind, along with artificial colors and flavors. They use only organic grains, non-GMO produce, and antibiotic/hormone-free meats. None of these ingredients come from China, but are sourced from around the world.

Both their grain free foods and the grain-inclusive recipes are ultimately plant-based, but unlike many lower-quality foods, you won’t find any cheap fillers like corn, wheat, and soy.

The Honest Kitchen gives you a lot of formulas to choose from – allowing you to select recipes based on your dog’s unique dietary needs, including food sensitivities, life stages, and weight loss goals.

They offer three diet lines, along with base mixes that allow you to mix in the meat of your choice. In addition to these meal offerings, The Honest Kitchen sells a selection of appetizing food toppers, supplements, broths, and treats.

Grain Free Dog Food

These are complete dehydrated meals made without grains.

  • Turkey (Embark®)
  • Chicken (Force®)
  • Beef (Love™)
  • Fish (Zeal®)
  • Turkey & Parsnip (Marvel®)
  • Fish & Coconut (Brave®)
  • Duck & Sweet Potato (Spruce®)
  • Beef & Chickpea (Hope)

Whole Grain Dog Food

Each of these grain-inclusive recipes incorporates 100% certified organic, non-GMO grains. These formulas use whole grains like oats, barley, and quinoa.

  • Duck (Halcyon®)
  • Turkey (Keen®)
  • Chicken (Revel™)
  • Chicken & Quinoa (Thrive®)
  • Beef (Verve®)

Minimalist Dog Food

The Honest Kitchen’s minimalist dog foods are made with only six ingredients and formulated for dogs with multiple food sensitivities.

  • Duck & Sweet Potato (Spruce™)
  • Beef & Chickpea (Hope™)
  • Turkey & Parsnip (Marvel™)
  • Fish & Coconut (Brave™)
  • Chicken & Quinoa (Thrive®)

Base Mixes

These base mixes give you more control over what goes into your dog’s body – simply mix in water plus the meat of your choice.

  • Kindly™
  • Preference®

Has The Honest Kitchen dog food ever been recalled?

In 2013, five lots of The Honest Kitchen Verve, Zeal and Thrive dog foods were recalled due to concerns about salmonella contamination. These lots were manufactured in the summer and autumn of 2012 and distributed throughout the United States and Canada.

The company voluntarily recalled these lots of dog food after learning that the parsley used in these recipes may have contained salmonella.

After recalling the potentially contaminated lots of dog food, The Honest Kitchen took action to prevent recurrence. They terminated their relationship with the parsley supplier and began steaming all leafy greens prior to dehydration. The company also began conducting additional testing of leafy greens upon arrival at their manufacturing facility.

Where can you buy The Honest Kitchen dog food?

The Honest Kitchen dog food is available through online and offline retailers in the United States and Canada.

Find a retailer here.

What do customers think about this food?

Overall, The Honest Kitchen is popular with customers and their dogs.

Happy reviewers talk about the quality of the ingredients and how much their dogs enjoy both the taste of the food and the drooling anticipation associated with the rehydration process.

The main complaint about this food is its price. After looking through reviews of specific products and the brand as a whole, it becomes obvious that the high cost of this food is a big problem for a large group of customers. It’s particularly problematic for those with multiple large dogs.

A 10lb box of the brand’s grain-free Force recipe costs around $86. Once it’s rehydrated, this box yields about 40lbs of real food, putting the cost per pound at about $3.44. Compare this to a comparable high-end grain-free kibble: Acana’s Heritage Meats formula costs about $2.40 per pound and delivers more highly-satiating meat and fewer carbohydrates, meaning that dogs will likely eat less of it.

All of this considered, the affordability of this food is determined by how much food your dog eats, how many dogs you have, and, of course, how much you’re willing to spend.

A second complaint that regularly pops up in customer reviews is the fact that The Honest Kitchen foods tend to contain a lot of plant matter, which leads to increased waste.

Let’s take a look at a handful of real customer reviews. The following were found on the Chewy listing for the brand’s popular Keen dehydrated dog food. Ninety-four percent of the 234 reviewers say they would recommend this formula.

Here’s what they have to say:


“Keen smells yummy! Good enough to eat yourself! I tried it. Mixes up like a chunky oatmeal. Dogs love it. All 7 no problem. It has a lot of carrots though for those who don’t like carrots. Easy to mix in salmon oil,probiotics,digestive enzymes,etc.. can be used with a raw meat diet. I give it 5 stars!” – Kimmy

“I have never left a review for anything before. I just love this product so much I felt like I needed to. I have a pitbull mix and she is extremely picky. I have tried probably 6 different foods including kibble and canned food. I’ve tried adding coconut oil and anything else I could think of to her food but nothing! Now She literally sits next to me the entire time I prepare the food and licks the bowl clean every time! I’m so happy with this product not only because my dog loves it so much but also because of the amazing quality of the food!!” – Kyliek46


“I had my dogs on this food for a little more then a year and this is what I noticed: While the dogs did like the food and I like that it’s made with human grade ingredient, they both lost weight right away which neither of them really needed. I had to feed a lot of this to keep their weight on. Also, right off the bat, they both started producing enormous amounts of huge stools. Not diarrhea, just a LOT of poop. This food has a LOT of roughage in it. I also noticed a lot of bits of the food in their stools that was passing right through undigested. When spring came around and they shed out their winter coats I noticed right away their summer coats were dull and dry whereas they’d always been slick, shiny dogs. At that point I decided enough and put them back on their kibble (Acana and Taste of the Wild Wetlands) with canned food added and I also feed some raw. My dogs are back to having super soft, shiny coats, bright eyes, high energy and great looking teeth. And I’m feeding them way less. And less poop to pick up too! So for me this food just did not work out, if I was to feed it again I’d only do so as part of the diet with plenty of other food mixed in. I just don’t think they were getting what they needed from this food.” – cafarmwife

“My 100 lb Staffy will not eat this formula. Takes 1 sniff and runs away, and he’s not choosy about his dinners. This mixture is mainly vegetables, very little meat and has the consistency of mush which tends to dry rock hard on the sides of a dog dish. Now this may be good for aging dogs that need soft food but not for Rocco. Now I am stuck with the remainder of the box.” – 1NiceDoggy

Read more reviews on Chewy.

The Honest Kitchen Keen Dehydrated Dog Food Review

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

First 5 Ingredients: Turkey, Organic Oats, Potatoes, Organic Flaxseed, Carrots

This popular grain-inclusive formula was designed with adult maintenance in mind.

Like all complete diets from The Honest Kitchen, Keen uses just one animal protein. In this case, that animal protein source is cage-free turkey. This protein-rich ingredient is a good fit for the top of the list – the amino acids in real meat are essential for your dog’s health.

While many other lower quality dog food brands use cheap, nutritionally void filler grains, this food incorporates organic oats, which are rich in iron, zinc, and B vitamins.

The next ingredient is potatoes – these don’t add much nutritional value to the food. These high-glycemic vegetables can lead to blood sugar spikes and aren’t very satiating in the long term, making them a poor choice for dogs at risk for obesity and those who need to lose weight.

The inclusion of organic flaxseed adds omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which contribute to skin and coat health.

The last of our first five ingredients is carrots, which are vitamin-rich and a nutritious choice for dogs.

Continuing down the list are nutritious fruits and vegetables: antioxidant-rich cabbage, mineral-packed kelp, apples, which contribute fiber and vitamins A and C, and garlic, which also contains plenty of vitamins and minerals. You’ll also find honey included on the ingredient list, which is a controversial ingredient. While it’s rich in vitamins and minerals, the health benefits of honey are balanced by the fact that it’s an additional sweetener – not something that your meat-eating dog needs.

This formula also includes vitamins and minerals that make is a complete and balanced diet for your dog.

Overall, this food is a plant-based product with approximately 40% carbohydrates, 21% protein, and 15.5% fat. It offers above-average calories with 470 calories per cup. This, combined with the moderate concentration of high-glycemic carbohydrates, makes the The Honest Kitchen Keen dog food a generally poor choice for dogs with weight concerns.

It’s one of the more affordable offerings from The Honest Kitchen – you can purchase a 10lb box for just over $64.

Keen is available in three different sizes: a 2lb box, 4lb box, and 10lb box.

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