Cesar Fresh Chef Dog Food Review

Cesar is a pet food brand that has been around for a while in the dog food space and is owned by Mars Petcare. Cesar mostly specializes in budget canned or trayed products – and as of December of 2021 they expanded into the fresh pet food space by creating a refrigerated budget-friendly fresh food product: Cesar Fresh Chef.

Thus far the Cesar Fresh Chef line of foods only contains two products a chicken recipe, and a chicken & beef recipe. Though both recipes are a fairly “meaty” texture – they are actually a moderate protein, high fat, moderate to low-carb dog food. Very similar in composition to much of the Cesar canned/trayed foods already on the market. The big difference here is that the Cesar Fresh Chef line is actually a human-grade product – meaning that the food has been sourced and manufactured to similar standards to that of the human food industry.

The typical composition of this food as being moderate protein, and high fat may make it a good choice for dogs who are picky that do best with a higher fat diet. The volume and caloric density is still high at 41 kcals per ounce – making a good choice for dogs looking to gain weight as well, however as this food is moisture-rich – even dogs looking to maintain their weight may find it more satisfying due to the increased volume in comparison to a dry food.


Company Responded to Questions Asked via Email: Yes. Information was gathered through their website and through conversations in their chat function December 2021.

Who formulated Cesar Fresh Chef Dog Food? Cesar Fresh Chef dog food was formulated by a team of over 80 pet nutrition formulation professionals at Mars Petcare including a phD animal nutritionist, along with others with degrees in food science, agriculture, and nutrition.

Where does Cesar Fresh Chef Refrigerated Dog Food source their Ingredients from? All ingredients are sourced within the human food chain and are USDA certified and fit for human consumption.

Where are Cesar Fresh Chef’s Human Grade Dog Food Recipes Manufactured? The Cesar Fresh Chef recipes are manufactured at Downs Food Group, which is a human co-packing and manufacturing facility that specializes in premade products.

What Quality Control Procedures does Cesar Fresh Chef Lightly Cooked Dog Food perform on their foods? Every batch of Cesar Fresh Chef dog food undergoes over a hundred different quality control checks along the production process. All foods are tested for pathogens prior to the release to the public.

Has Cesar Fresh Chef Invested in Digestibility or AAFCO Feeding Trials? No AAFCO Feeding Trials or Digestibility trials were mentioned on their website.

Are Full Nutritional Profiles Found Online for the Cesar Fresh Chef Recipes? Only guaranteed analysis is available for these products, it is unknown if full nutritional profiles were tested.

Has Cesar Fresh Chef Dog Food ever been Recalled? No. However the Cesar brand did have a recall back in October 2016 after consumers reported pieces of plastic and bugs in their trayed pet foods. Further FDA investigation found poor sanitary conditions and a cockroach infestation on site. The Fresh Chef line of products are not produced using the same ingredients or at the same facility as the product recalled.


Cesar Fresh Chef Refrigerated Chicken Recipe

Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Peas, Carrots, Egg, Potato Starch, Brown Rice Flour, Glycerin, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Citrate, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Dipotassium Phosphate, Dried Vinegar, Carrageenan, Magnesium Gluconate, Choline Chloride, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin A Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Niacin, Vitamin D Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Potassium Iodide, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplement

AAFCO Statement: Cesar Fresh Chef Chicken Recipe dog food formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for adult maintenance. 

Balanced for adult dogs.

Guaranteed Analysis:

  • Protein: 7.5%
  • Fat: 4.5%
  • Fiber: 1%
  • Moisture: 76%

Dry Matter:

  • Protein: 31%
  • Fat: 19%
  • Carbs: 46%

Percent Calorie:

  • Protein: 26%
  • Fat: 38%
  • Carbs: 35%

Cesar Fresh Chef Refrigerated Beef Recipe

Ingredients: Beef, Chicken, Beef Broth, Beef Liver, Peas, Carrots, Egg, Potato Starch, Brown Rice Flour, Glycerin, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Citrate, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Dipotassium Phosphate, Dried Vinegar, Carrageenan, Magnesium Gluconate, Choline Chloride, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin A Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Niacin, Vitamin D Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Potassium Iodide, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplement

AAFCO Statement: Cesar Fresh Chef Beef Recipe dog food formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for adult maintenance. 

Balanced for adult dogs.

Guaranteed Analysis:

  • Protein: 8.5%
  • Fat: 8.5%
  • Fiber: 1%
  • Moisture: 76%

Dry Matter:

  • Protein: 35%
  • Fat: 35%
  • Carbs: 26%

Percent Calorie:

  • Protein: 25%
  • Fat: 60%
  • Carbs: 15%


Where to buy Cesar Fresh Chef refrigerated Dog Food?

The Cesar Fresh Chef refrigerated Dog Food is sold exclusively through select Walmart locations in the USA. As Cesar Fresh Chef is a budget brand, if you have product questions I would not direct them towards the Walmart staff, but instead, ask the Cesar Fresh Chef customer service using their online chat function. The Cesar staff can direct you to how you can set up a meal plan for your dog and review their menu of products to find one that is best suited.

How do you store and feed Cesar Fresh Chef?

Cesar Fresh Chef is a refrigerated fresh food brand – this means that you do not have to defrost the recipes and all your dog’s food would live in your refrigerator. Depending on the size of your dog and how much they eat – this may be challenging – as a large breed dog may eat over a pound of food per day.

To serve you simply open the package and serve according to your dog’s size. This is usually about 1 slice per 10 lbs of body weight per day. Once opened the food will stay fresh for about 3-5 days. Always inspect food for mold prior to feeding as there have been reports of other refrigerated fresh food products having mold issues.

Since Cesar Fresh Chef is a moisture-rich diet you cannot leave food out all day. Instead, put food down for your dog to eat for about 15-30 minutes, then discard uneaten food. Dishes should be washed each feeding. If your dog doesn’t want to eat for whatever reason, pick-up food after 15-30 minutes then place in the fridge, covered in the food-safe container until the next meal.

Never heat up the Cesar Fresh Chef Products prior to serving – this will cause degradation of heat-sensitive vitamins and could lead to nutritional deficiencies if fed this way long-term.

Is Cesar Fresh Chef cooked Food Balanced for Puppies?

No, Cesar Fresh Chef Dog Food is not balanced for puppies – it is only balanced for adult dogs.

Cesar Fresh Chef vs. Kibble – how does it compare?

The main differences between a fresh refrigerated dog food and a kibbled product comes down to processing and preservation. Fresh refrigerated dog foods like Cesar Fresh Chef are cooked at lower temperatures for shorter periods of time in comparison to kibbled products which are cooked at higher high temperatures for short periods of time or lower temperatures for long periods of time. Kibbled products need to both cook and dehydrate in order to help with preservation and keeping their diets shelf-stable, whereas Cesar Fresh Chef does not dehydrate completely in order to preserve their product.

Preservation is actually fairly similar between these two products. The reason for this is because unlike most fresh dog foods which are frozen, which allows for companies to use less preservatives, Cesar Fresh Chef is a refrigerated dog food. This means, similar to kibbled dog foods they have to add in additional preservatives to maintain freshness. In the case of Cesar Fresh Chef they have added additional salt and vitamin E as a preservation method. In comparison to kibbled products which may use natural preservatives like vitamin E, rosemary extract, or synthetic antioxidants like BHA/BHT.

Another important difference between a fresh refrigerated product and a fresh frozen dog food is the use of texturizing agents. Cesar Fresh Chef uses two different ingredients to improve the texture and “mouth feel” of their products – Glycerin, and Carrageenan. Glycerin is a sugar alcohol that helps to retain moisture, adds sweetness and texture to a food item. Carrageenan is an extract from red seaweed that is used to thicken foods providing better texture. Both of these ingredients are approved for use in food and are considered safe, however dogs with sensitive stomachs may or may not tolerate these ingredients.

Is Cesar Fresh Chef a Raw Dog Food?

No, Cesar Fresh Chef is a lightly cooked refrigerated dog food. By lightly cooking the food this allows companies to remove any potential pathogens present in the meat, which is important as 20% of human-grade chicken found in local grocers contains salmonella, and over 40% of our ground beef products contain e-coli. Cooking meat products reduces the spread of these pathogenic bacteria and reduces food-borne illness for both our dogs and ourselves as we do have reports of both humans and pets becoming ill due to contaminated pet food.

Can Cesar Fresh Chef be Used as a Topper?

Cesar Fresh Chef can fairly easily be used as a topper, and it may be a great option for dogs who are picky, or that need to gain weight. You can also supplement your dog’s regular diet with the Cesar Fresh Chef dog food in order to keep within your monthly budget.

How much does Cesar Fresh Chef Cost?

Cesar Fresh Chef is one of the least-expensive fresh dog food brands on the market today – at almost a third of the cost of most other fresh food brands to feed. However, the overall price of feeding your dog Cesar Fresh Chef will highly depend on your dog’s weight, activity level, and individual metabolism.

For the average 50 lb dog, who is moderately active, they would need about 1000 calories per day. This means Cesar Fresh Chef would cost about $3.90 per day or $117.07 per month to feed a medium to large breed dog. This may be more or less than what you are currently feeding, but if you would like a quote of how much it would cost to feed your dog make sure to talk to the Cesar customer service for more information on pricing.

Are Cesar Fresh Chef Recipes Good for Dogs with Allergies?

Typically when we are looking for recipes for dogs with allergies we actually first need to know if it is a food or an environmental allergy. The nutritional management of these conditions is different even though the clinical signs like yeast infections, bacterial infections, ear infections, skin irritation and itching are very similar.

For food allergies, we first need to know what your dog is allergic to – to know this we have to do something called a food elimination trial. This trial is typically done through your veterinarian using a novel diet – or a diet that contains ingredients your dog has never been exposed to. Then you slowly re-introduce foods to see which foods your pup has allergies to, and which they don’t. Dogs can be allergic to ANY food that contains protein molecules – but the most common are chicken, beef, dairy, eggs, wheat and soy. As both the Cesar Fresh Chef recipes contain chicken – these recipes may not be a good choice for a dog with poultry allergies.

For environmental allergies we typically look for diets that contain all the building blocks that will help with skin and coat health – these are typically protein, omega 3 fatty acids, and antioxidants. As both of these recipes are moderate in protein, high in fat and do not contain omega 3 fatty acids, the Cesar Fresh Chef recipes may not be a good choice for dogs with environmental allergies as you would likely need to add additional omega 3s to these recipes to help with inflammation and since these recipes are already so high in fat, may dogs may not be able to tolerate that.

Are Cesar Fresh Chef Meals Good for Dogs with Loose Stools or Diarrhea?

Typically when we look for diets for dogs with a sensitive stomach we reach for foods that are both highly digestible and low fat. As all of the Cesar Fresh Chef recipes are over 37% fat on a caloric basis (and the beef recipe is over 60% fat) these would be considered high fat diets, and may not be tolerated by dogs with a sensitive stomach. These recipes are also not particularly high in fiber or contain novel ingredients were they may help with other gastrointestinal conditions like Colitis or IBD. If you have a pet with a known medical condition or sensitivity make sure to always speak to your veterinarian prior to choosing a dog food.

About the Author: Nikki is a Registered Veterinary Technician (Veterinary Nurse) and Dog Mom with over a decade of experience with dogs and cats. Since graduation from college (BS Biology, AS Animal Health -2013) she has adopted two mixed breed dogs – Ranger and Ash, and has focused her time learning about pet food and nutrition.

Nikki shares information on a range of dog nutrition topics: from how to create a homemade complete and balanced dog food recipes, to how to choose a dog food. Nikki strives to give dog parents the information they need in order to make the best nutrition decisions for their pup!

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5 thoughts on “Cesar Fresh Chef Dog Food Review

  1. My little rescue, 13 yr old poodle mix, loves Cesar fresh, but no way could he eat the whole thing within 3-5 days. It usually lasts about 9 days. I just read refrigerated 3-5. What is the answer? I am not going to purchase a whole roll and throw half away because of time limit on freshness.

    1. I would probably recommend when you bring the roll home cutting it into meals. Then freeze what you will not use in 3 days. Then each time your pup eats a meal, take one out of your freezer to thaw in your fridge. Oldest food should go in the front, newest (thawing) food in the back – and always pull from the front to feed your pup, and place foods from your freezer in the back. This will be a natural rotation so foods don’t go bad.

  2. My dog is a picky eater and loves when I treat him with Cesar’s. He weighs 30lbs. And I want him 20lbs. Not very active. What do you suggest. I would love to give him Cesar’s all the time.

    1. Hi Pat,

      Typically for weight loss we want to choose a diet that is high in protein, low in fat, and high in fiber to help with satiety and diet satisfaction. Unfortunely the Cesar’s recipes are moderate protein, high fat, and low fiber – thus not really ideal for weight loss. The other issue we have here is the amount of weight your pup needs to loose – your pup is about 40% overweight. Unless you are giving a large amount of treats or significantly overfeeding, caloric restriction will need to be rather large to achieve weight loss. In these situations most over the counter foods are not made for severe caloric restriction over long periods of time, and feeding them in this way can lead to nutrient deficiencies.

      I would probably recommended if you wanted to go with an over-the-counter fresh food – consider the Just Food For Dogs Fish or Venison recipes as their profile is better for satiety. If you’d like a fresh food weight loss diet, consider the Just Food For Dogs Metabolic (which is prescription). Alternatively you could also use a canned prescription diet as well if you prefer.

      For your own reference – your pup’s caloric needs are about 366 per day, with 330 coming from balanced foods, and 36 coming from treats, chews and other additions.

      Hope that helps!

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