Background: Guidance based on a systematic assessment of the evidence base has become a fundamental tool in the cycle of evidence-based practice and policy internationally. The process of moving from the formal evidence base derived from research studies to the formation and agreement of recommendations is however acknowledged to be problematic, especially in public health; and the involvement of practitioners, service commissioners and service users in that process is both important and methodologically challenging. Aim: To test a structured process of developing evidence-based recommendations in public health while involving a broad constituency of practitioners, service commissioners and service user representatives. Methods: As part of the development of national public health recommendations to promote and support breastfeeding in England, the methodological challenges of involving stakeholders were examined and addressed. There were three main stages: (i) an assessment of the formal evidence base (210 studies graded); (ii) electronic and fieldwork-based consultation with practitioners, service commissioners and service user representatives (563 participants), and an in-depth analytical consultation in three 'diagonal slice' workshops (89 participants); (iii) synthesis of the previous two stages. Results and conclusions: The process resulted in widely agreed recommendations together with suggestions for implementation. It was very positively evaluated by participants and those likely to use the recommendations. Service users had a strong voice throughout and participated actively. This mix of methods allowed a transparent, accountable process for formulating recommendations based on scientific, theoretical, practical and expert evidence, with the added potential to enhance implementation.