I have a usb hard drive that I'm trying to create a windows recovery drive on, but the built in recover drive maker in windows (which I have to use for business reasons) only looks for flash drives. Is there any way around this?
Instead of going in circles with the windows recovery drive, use macrium reflect free.
If you read about it for 20 minutes you will understand how it works, and why it's many times better than any window tool available right now.
What kind of usb device are you using? I have an old m.2 1TB Samsung 970 evo plus stick which is mounted in a Sabrent EC-SNVE adaptor and connected with a usb C cable. Windows recognizes this drive for both recovery and backup operations. This seems to be a problem with your particular external drive or maybe its internal usb conversion chip. (Also is the drive empty?)