Since I committed myself to the task of making dog food for my pooches almost five years ago, I have been asked many questions about not just my recipe and its vitamin formulations, but what kitchen tools and techiques I use. And while you can whip up any of the recipes we have written about with just the simplest of tools, if you plan to cook pet food on steady basis, it does help to have equipment that makes meal prep easier and foolproof. Obviously, all of my selections do double duty and are employed for making meals for the two-legged ones too.
Do keep in mind that you really don’t need any of these products—except, of course, the digital scale—to make delicious and nutritious dog food. The most important steps are to learn how to make complete and balanced meals for your dog and to set aside time to produce these meals for your dog.
Here is a list of utensils, tools and appliances that I have found to most helpful and reliable in that journey.
GET THE BARK IN YOUR INBOX!
Sign up for our newsletter and stay in the know.
Food Processor Breville BFP660SIL Sous Chef 12 Cup Food Processor
For the first step in making dog food, I roughly chop the raw vegetables, such as sweet potatoes and carrots and fruit like apples, into large chunks then pop them into the food processor to dice them further. This Breville model has a nice large chute feed making that step easier. For the other vegetables like green beans and brussels sprouts, etc. they can be put into the processor whole to be finely processed too. Having all these ingredients in small, fine-grade pieces makes blending all them together much easier, and for the dogs, that much more digestible.
I also use the food processor in the final dog food-making step when I combine the vegetables and grain ingredients with the meat protein, again to ensure that everything is mixed well together.
Meat Grinder Panasonic MK-G20NR
While this meat grinder is usually used for many raw food, a lightly-cooked feeders, it also comes in handy if you want to save money by purchasing larger cuts of meats, such as beef and lamb. Using ground meats also saves in prepping time, and since store bought ground meat can be highly suspect for food borne bacteria, etc., to play it safe you can grind the meat yourself. Meat surfaces are where most of the contamination reside, so it’s best to sear the meat first using a vegetable oil before grinding it. The interior muscle meat is virtually sterile, as it was explained to us by a food safety expert.
Mortar and Pestle Fox Run Marble Among the myriad uses for your kitchen, I rely on my mortar and pestle to grind up some of the vitamins, such as the multi-vitamins, found in the recipe.
Digital Scale Escali Primo A digital scale is not just for measuring out ingredients for meal preparation, but it can be invaluable in getting serving sizes spot-on each and every time. All kitchens need a digital scale!
Nutri-Bullet or a high-speed blender Nutri-Bullet 900 Hi-Speed Blender/Mixer
I use my Nutri-bullet when grinding seeds, such as pumpkin, sunflower and flax—and for making great smoothies for the dogs and myself.
Because I typically make 16 pounds of dog food at a time, I tend to use larger-sized appliances such as both an 8-quart electric pressure cooker and a 7-quart slow cooker (aka, crock pot). I mostly use the pressure cooker for its quicker cooking, and while it can also function as a slow cooker, I find that a large oval-shaped slow cooker to be more convenient, especially for stirring to mix up all the vegetable and grain ingredients together.
Electric Pressure Cooker Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus, 8 Qt.
Truly an invaluable kitchen appliance for everyday use. It can make oh so many recipes, including stock and bone broth, quickly and easily. And you can prep chicken breasts in only 12 minutes! This model has a “yogurt” making function as well.
Slow Cooker All Clad Slow Cooker 7 Qt Gourmet Slow Cooker with All-in-One Browning
One of the best features of this slow cooker is its versatility—the inside pot can be used for browning on the stovetop as well as within the cooker—and while this feature is not usually used for making dog food, it is invaluable when making other meals, like soups and stews. It also has a steamer function that is really handy. I use the “low” cooking function for light cooking the vegetables before blending that mix together with the meat protein during the final step (see Food Processor). The glass lid makes keeping tabs, easy.
Sous Vide Instant Accu Slim Sous Vide, by Instant Pot
I’ve done a “Kenji Lopez-Alt” kind of experiment comparing different cooking methods for shrinkages for skinless, boneless chicken breasts (one of the main proteins I use for my dog food). I found that using a sous vide results in far less shrinkage. A chicken breast, while producing wonderful stock (that is used in the recipe too) cooked in a pressure cooker can decrease in weight by 45% (or more), and 35% in a slow cooker, but only 20% (or less) with a sous vide. When the ingredient list requires 7 pounds of chicken (as my Chicken/Veggie recipe calls for) that means, depending on which method you use, that you might have to purchase more than 12 pounds of chicken (or more) to reach that goal. More chicken means higher cost per serving. The other main benefit of sous vide cooking is that it uses a much lower heat (albeit a longer cooking time) to cook food, so more of the vitamins and nutrients are retained. This sous vide immersion circulator is one of the least expensive, entry-level models and has performed well for me.
Silicone sous vide bags Platinum Pure – Large Reusable Sous Vide Bags
One of the environmental drawbacks to the sous vide method is that you cook the food inside a plastic bag (immersed in water), so you can go through a lot of bags in the process. Better to use reusable bags, like these silicone ones.
Jars Weck Glass Jars
These beautifully designed, wide-mouth jars are great for a variety of tasks like preserving food. But they can also be used for freezing items like leftover chicken stock or even the dog food itself. Their wide opening makes scooping the food in and out of the jar that much easier. It is recommended that when using the jars in a freezer that you use their plastic lids (purchased separately) and not the glass ones. I also use these lovely jars for making yogurt and for storing my sourdough starter and they even make a good flower vase too!
Vacuum Sealer FoodSaver FM2000 Vacuum Sealer
If freezer space is at a premium in your kitchen, you might want to store the food using this handy device. This vacuum sealer is simple and reliable and actually fun to use.
BPA free freezer containers Cubeware 15-Pack Snap-Seal Bento Box, Meal Prep Containers (28 oz, BPA Free) Or use a size that allows you to store 3 to 4 days worth of the dog food at a time.