The song's production was handled by Scoop DeVille, who has produced a number of songs for West Coast rappers, including Snoop Dogg's "I Wanna Rock"; a slow, West Coast hip hop inspired tune with heavy vocal samples. "The Recipe" features a constant, looping sample from the song "Meet the Frownies" by Twin Sister. The sample is backed up by various drums - most of them are very heavy and follow a medium-tempo pattern. The other drums are more miscellaneous and less apparent. The first verse is performed by Dr. Dre, with Lamar following him by singing the chorus (with minor aid by Dre) and rapping the second verse. After his verse, Lamar performs the chorus once more and Dr. Dre returns, with another verse. This time, Lamar picks up rapping immediately after Dre finishes his verse, without a chorus. The vocal portion of the song finishes with the last chorus and then proceeds into an instrumental section with minor scratching and a switch in the drum pattern.
The song has been well received by fans and critics alike, Carrie Battan of Pitchfork Media summarized the song as an "anthemic Californian pride cut". Nick Catucci of Rolling Stone jokingly wrote "You might get a contact high from this" and went on to write "Lamar’s wafting number has rolling boulders for a beat, lines about sunlight slanting through shades and Dre explaining, "How many ways am I killin' 'em? Shit, right around a billion."