The key to keeping your pet parakeet well-fed and healthy is providing varied options for them—ideally, emulating what they might naturally eat in the wild while foraging. Budgie owners should keep safe fruits, vegetables and other nutrient-rich snacks ready at hand for an energizing snack. Parakeets also benefit from cuttlebones—a bone-like aquatic shell that’s a fantastic source of calcium. However, it is also important to provide bird food that will act as a dietary staple, ensuring robust and well-balanced nutrition.
Our favorite parakeet food is ZuPreem’s FruitBlend Flavor Pellets, which provide a variety of flavors combined with a consistent load of protein, minerals, fatty acids, and everything else your budgie needs to thrive. However, there are several other snacks and foods that are also fantastic options for your bird.
ZuPreem FruitBlend Flavor Pellets Bird Food
Lower in fat than seeds, for cardiovascular health
Multiple shapes and colors for variety
A lot of artificial ingredients
Pellets are generally considered to be superior to seeds as a parakeet staple, since they are nutritionally balanced and protein-rich compared to high-fat, low-protein seeds. It is crucial to provide snacks and other ingredients as sides—usually fresh fruit and vegetables—but all of the essential nutritional needs your parakeet or budgie needs are in most organic pellet products.
Made from natural grains, these fruit-forward pellets cover all the major dietary requirements for your budgie to say well-fed and healthy. While it’s important to diversify your parakeet’s diet, these cost-effective and tasty pellets can account for at least 60% of their nutritional needs. The secret to this is not only its protein content, but also its spread of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
Its positive effects on your budgie extend beyond just diet and nutrition. ZuPreem’s pellets are lower in fat than many seed-based mixes, thus promoting cardiovascular health. The whole grain makeup also results in meals that are heavy on fiber, which is crucial for maintaining healthy digestion.
ZuPreem FruitBlend Flavor Pellets are a perennial favorite with parakeet owners, and also get a stamp of approval from veterinarians and bird specialists. Their shape and size are ideal for small and medium-sized birds, making them a flexible option for a wide range of pet bird species.
Price at time of publish: $12 (2-pound bag)
Main Ingredients: Ground corn, soybean meal, ground wheat, oranges, apples, grapes, bananas, more | Sizes: 2 lbs (pack of 1), 2 lbs (pack of 2), 10 lbs (pack of 1)
Best Natural Pellets
Lafeber Premium Daily Diet Parakeet Food
No artificial ingredients, flavors, or preservatives
Includes chelated minerals for calcium supplementation
Not as widely available
No flavor variety
A close second to ZuPreem, Lafeber’s pellet diet for parakeets can be a little harder to find, but is the ideal choice if you’d rather nix artificial preservatives or flavors from your parakeet’s diet. Lafeber Premium Daily Diet Parakeet Food is full of antioxidants, chelated minerals and omega fatty acids that have benefits for skin, feather, and immune system health.
Lafeber Company is a highly trusted brand, which released the first commercially available, nutritionally complete bird food pellets in the 1970s. Still manufactured in Cornell, Illinois, Lafeber’s bird seed uses domestic-grown grain in all its pellets. The care Lafeber puts into developing the product is evident in their directions and recommendations for use, which include advice about what fresh fruit and vegetables it should ideally be served with, and how to get your bird to transition comfortably to pellet-based meals.
Lafeber Premium Daily Diet Parakeet Food comes in a variety of sizes. You can even get a 25-pound box of Lafeber Premium Daily Diet.
Price at time of publish: $29 (5-pound tub)
Main Ingredients: Ground corn, wheat, oat groats, soybean meal, cane molasses, dried whole egg, corn gluten meal | Sizes: 1.25-pound, 5-pound, 25-pound, 85-pound tubs
Hagen Original Blend Budgie Seed
More nutrient-rich than other seed mixes
Seeds are air-cleaned, so there’s no dust
Bag is not resealable
Seeds on their own are not generally recommended as the main staple of a parakeet diet. They are usually low on amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. They are also high in fat content, which means the bird to which you feed a pure seed diet needs to be fairly active for it to not lead to potentially negative health effects.
However, a high-quality seed mix is excellent for pairing with other mineral-rich items, usually fresh fruits and vegetables. And as far as seed mixes go, you can’t find a much more nutrition-packed product than Hagen’s Bird Seed offering for parakeets and budgies. They are enriched with extra vitamins and minerals—including iodine—to push them above the levels of less hearty seed mixes, making it fortified enough to serve as your bird’s main diet if necessary.
Hagen Original Blend Budgie Seed is also a good pick because the seeds are thoroughly cleaned, which means you don’t have to worry about dust. It comes in a CO2 air-barrier bag to assure freshness and keep out air and dampness to prevent accelerated seed aging through oxidation.
Price at time of publish: $11 (6-pound bag)
Main Ingredients: white millet, canary grass seed, oats, red millet, canola oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), calcium carbonate, orange oil, ferrous carbonate, zinc oxide, manganous oxide, etc. | Sizes: 6-pound, 25-pound bags
Living World Premium Parakeet/Budgie Mix
Contains wide variety of seeds, vegetables, and fruits
Only available in one size
Combining the best of seed and pellet diets, this budget-friendly mix from Living World includes a variety of seeds, grains, dried fruits, vegetables, and nuts—a bit of all the options you might hope to put in front of your beloved bird at lunch or dinner time. Part of the secret to the full nutrient profile that Living World’s Premium Mix provides is its 10% Tropican makeup, a diet made up of eight types of grains and nuts that is heavy on essential nutrients.
The Canadian-based avian research organized Hagen Avicultural Research Institute (HARI)—which in part specializes in nutritional studies—has given the Premium Mix its official Seal of Approval. Tropican is all-natural, and generally regarded as having a variety of other health benefit for parakeets, budgies, parrots, and more. These include promoting weight regulation, healthy plumage, bone strength and high metabolism.
Price at time of publish: $8 (2-pound bag)
Main Ingredients: Papaya, pineapple, coconut, Canary seed, oat groats, white millet, flaxseed, rapeseed, hemp seed, niger seed, sesame seed, carrot, caraway seed, and more || Sizes: 2-pound bag
Lafeber’s Classic Nutri-Berries Parakeet Food
Hulled seeds are coated with vitamins and minerals
Includes ten percent pellets for nutritional balance
Not as protein-rich as other dietary options
The best snacks you can give your parakeet or budgie are usually considered to be fresh fruit and vegetables. But if you’re looking for a solid store-bought product that can provide the benefit and tasty appeal of those items, Lafeber’s Classic Nutri-Berries Parakeet Food provides a combination of hulled seeds, peanuts, cracked corn, and more.
The Nutri-Berries are all-natural and non-GMO, covered with stabilized vitamins, chelated minerals, and amino acids, plus it contains a variety of sweet and savory flavors that encourages foraging. Similar to Lafeber’s pellets, the Classic Nutri-berries are nutritionally complete, which makes this a potential alternative for parakeets that don’t respond to standardized pellets. But for most budges, this blend is a perfect periodic snack.
Price at time of publish: $36 (4-pound tub)
Main Ingredients: Hulled white proso millet, hulled canary grass seed, hulled oats, maltodextrin, peanuts, red millet, soybean meal, ground corn, wheat flour, corn syrup, glycerin, hydrolyzed soy protein, canola oil, ground limestone, ground rice, dicalcium phosphate, carrageenan, iodized salt | Sizes: 10-ounce, 4-pound, 14-pound
Best for Small Birds
Harrison Bird Food Adult Lifetime Super Fine
Certified organic and non-GMO
Only available in one size
Harrison’s Bird Food is a widely respected purveyor of nutritionally balanced, veterinarian-formulated bird diets. If you are looking for an ideal primary meal source for your small, growing parakeet, budgie, or parrotlet, Harrison’s Adult Lifetime Super Fine is a fine-grained mix which is meant to make up 75% of a healthy bird’s diet. Its ingredients are certified organic and non-GMO.
Price at time of publish: $26 (1-pound bag)
Main Ingredients: Corn, hull-less barley, hulled gray millet, toasted soybean meal, peas, lentils, peanut kernels, sunflower kernels, toasted oat groats, alfalfa, brown rice, chia, calcium carbonate, and more | Sizes: 1-pound
Our top pick for a central parakeet food is ZuPreem’s FruitBlend Flavor Pellets Bird Food. Made entirely from natural grains, FruitBlend pellets are high in nutrients, low in fat, and rich in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that are missing from most seed-based mixes. Recommendations differ, but higher fat seeds should constitute only a small portion of your parakeet’s diet. Our favorite seed mix is Hagen Original Blend Budgie Seed, which is enriched with iodine and other mineral micronutrients.
Seeds or Pellets?
Seeds are popular with parakeets, but are inadequate in their nutritional value. Specifically, they are lacking in certain amino acids, vitamins and minerals, which can often be provided through a combination of fruits, vegetables, nuts or pellets. Seeds are usually heavy in fat, which means that an all-seed diet can have negative effects for enclosed birds that do not have an opportunity to be active, or larger birds.
As a central dietary staple, then, pellets are generally considered preferable to seeds, because they are rich in vitamins and minerals. However, since diversity of sourcing is key to a truly superior parakeet diet, a varied seed mix along with a carefully selected collection of other safe fruit, vegetables, and nuts may be the ideal option for your bird.
Parakeets also usually have to be trained over time to accept pellets into their diet, which involves gradually integrating pieces of pellet into their meals. After about six weeks or so, they can move to a full pellet diet. Despite this bit of hassle, pellet products are generally the most nutritionally full-bodied options for a single-source diet.
What to Look For
How to Supplement with Fresh Foods
Whenever possible, it is great to supplement your favorite small bird’s meals with fresh human food sources: fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
Fruits are rich in vitamins and usually a hit with parakeets; most fruits are safe for birds to eat, including basics like bananas, oranges, berries, apples, and grapes. Grapefruits and mangos are two other top-tier options because they are high in potassium and vitamin D, respectively. However, fruit are rich in sugar and should only be included in roughly a few meals per week.
Don’t get anywhere near mushrooms, onions, potatoes, eggplant and avocados (these contain toxic ingredients for birds), but most options in the vegetable family will be a great option for a snack for your budgie. None are as beneficial as leafy green vegetables, especially kale and spinach. Tomatoes and carrots are also high in vitamin D and make for excellent snacks. It is great to include a mix of vegetable sources in your parakeet’s daily meals.
In regards to nuts, parakeets can be fed a spread of the most common varieties, from almonds to cashews to hazelnuts, but you should avoid serving them anything roasted, salted, or flavored.
It will take some trial and error to find the suitable blend of food sources for your parakeets. Part of finding the correct mixture is determining what daily portion size is the right one—one that is well-balanced but not too hearty for your bird’s size or level of activity. In addition to a primary dietary source—be it pellets or seeds—and side vegetables and fruits, it is crucial to make sure your budgie has access to fresh water at all times. In order to keep things sanitary and prevent illness, feed your budgie different food sources in separate dishes, and make sure to comprehensively clean food and water dishes daily.
What foods are best for parakeets?
Many kinds of foods are great for parakeets, and your birds can (and usually should) try several of them. This is not just to find the best nutritional mix, consisting of the best possible ingredients, but also to figure out which foods your budgie actually enjoys. Pellets, seeds, fruit, vegetables, and nuts are all options that are on the table, but it’s important to make sure the specific items that you select as staples for your parakeet’s daily meals are not too heavy on far and sugar. It is crucial to balance out the protein-rich food sources with a suitable amount of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.
Can parakeets eat cockatiel food?
In many cases, yes, but since cockatiels are larger than parakeets, it is important that your parakeet doesn’t bite off more than it can chew, literally. Some seeds will be hard for them to crack or chew, especially sunflower seeds, which should be avoided in budgie diets. Because they are larger, cockatiels also need and be able to consume more protein at once than parakeets, so it’s important to reduce the recommended serving size of cockatiel food if you are going to give some to your budgies.
What human foods can parakeets eat?
Many fruits, vegetables, and nuts are fair game for parakeets, and usually recommended as an addition to their diet. Parakeets enjoy a surprisingly wide range of recognizable foods.
- Mustard greens
- Sweet potatoes
- Cherries (no pits)
When contemplating other snacks, it is mostly important to not give your bird any human food that is high in calories, fat, and sugar. Make sure you research specific items before you introduce them as part of a meal to check if there are any toxic ingredients, such as persin, which is in avocados and can be deadly for birds.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Winston Cook-Wilson, a freelance writer and product tester for The Spruce. In order to determine this list, he spoke with avian veterinarians and experts to get a variety of opinions about the best ways to assure that parakeets are provided with a balanced diet. He then squared this data with popular products on the markets of different kinds, largely pellet and seed mixes, and determining which truly offer the most benefits to budgies and their owners.
The options prioritized on this list are pellet diets, because they have been shown to be the most nutritionally well-balanced. However, his research shows that these, like every item on the list, should be paired with side offerings of fruits, vegetables, and other non-toxic human foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals.