While reading our food dehydrator reviews article, you’ll be taking a look at the best food dehydrators shown in our awesome comparison table and review section. We’ve spent a lot of time testing and comparing food dehydrators to make this list.
Food dehydrators are awesome because they help people – whether they’re families, hunters, or just someone who likes to make their food – save money! The most popular food dehydrator recipes involve jerky and fruit leathers.
There are a lot of other options, but these are the two most popular. Demand for food dehydrators has skyrocketed in the past decade as more people turn to healthier food options. Food preservation awareness has also increased along with the world-wide sustainability effort.
There are several key factors to look for when shopping for a food dehydrator. In this article, you’ll find sections about the whole food dehydration process, the main benefits of dehydrating food, the best food dehydrator selection guide, and in-depth reviews of 8 popular food dehydrators.
Here are the best food dehydrator brands:
- Best Adjustable Food Dehydrator: TSM Products Stainless Steel Food Dehydrator
- Best Pro Food Dehydrator: Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator
- Best High Capacity Food Dehydrator: Excalibur Dehydrator EXC10EL
- Best Digital Food Dehydrator: Magic Mill Food Dehydrator Bundle
- Best Standard Food Dehydrator: Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator
We’ve also included a handy comparison table below the best food dehydrators on the market. We regularly update this article – so take comfort in knowing you’re getting the freshest information and latest products.
Best Food Dehydrator Review & Rating
|#1 - Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator||99%|
|#2 - Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator||98%|
|#3 - Magic Mill Food Dehydrator Bundle||96%|
|#4 - Excalibur 3926TB Food Dehydrator||94%|
|#5 - TSM Products Stainless Steel Food Dehydrator||92%|
|#6 - Excalibur Dehydrator EXC10EL||90%|
|#7 - Nesco FD-28JX Jerky Xpress Dehydrator Kit||88%|
|#8 - NutriChef Food Dehydrator Machine||86%|
You’ve made it to our in-depth food dehydrator reviews section. Below is a detailed look at the most popular units. Competition has increased in the food dehydrator arena as their popularity has increased. This benefits you, the consumer, as prices have substantially decreased!
Recommended Budget Food Dehydrators (Under $100)
This price category has many stackable dehydrators. Lower price means fewer features, but they’ll easily get the job done.
1. Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator
The Snackmaster by Nesco has been one of the most popular food dehydrators on the market for years. They’ve to upgrade it, and it is fantastic. I call it old-reliable because it never disappoints. While this is a stackable tray design, the performance is exceptional due to the top-mounted fan. Food is dried thoroughly and evenly. The fan is a powerful 700 watts, which is more than enough for this stacked design.
There are five drying trays on the Snackmaster. However, you can expand up to 12, yes, 12 trays. There are sold separately as “Add-A-Trays.” One of the things they’ve added is an adjustable thermostat that has a range of 95 – 160 degrees Fahrenheit. I like how this Nesco model comes with a reference labeling system, so you know the optimal drying temperature for foods when using this specific model. It’s a really nice touch.
If you’re a beginner or intermediate food dryer, this unit is perfect for you. It’s a great value, and you get a ton of bonus items like two mesh sheets, two solid sheets, three jerky spice packets, AND a recipe book. This is all you need to get started with your food drying!
- Dimensions: 13”H x 13”W x 10”D
- Weight: 6.8lbs
- Material: BPA-Free Plastic
- Trays: 5 (expandable to 12)
2. Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator
If you’re just starting with food dehydration and want to keep costs to a minimum, this is the dehydrator for you. Being a budget unit, you do get what you pay for, so this dehydrator lacks both a thermostat and a timer. Food drying with this dehydrator is set at a default 155 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll need to periodically check on it to make sure that certain foods aren’t left dry for too long.
But this unit does get the job done. You can easily dry vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices, and jerky with this equipment. Four trays are included, with the option to expand up to 8. The unit has a bottom-mounted fan that uses 600 watts. Finally, there’s a handy see-through cover at the top of the unit so you can see your food drying.
We like how this Presto has a lot of helpful expansion kits available. This is great if you get into food dehydration and want to expand down the line by adding more trays, nonstick mesh screens, and jerky kits.
- Dimensions: 15”H x 6.5”W x 14.8”D
- Weight: 7.5lbs
- Material: Plastic
- Trays: 4 (expandable to 8)
3. Magic Mill Food Dehydrator Bundle
Magic Mill has been a recognized name in food dehydration for many years. This unit is one of its value models. It’s not going to handle large loads like dehydrators with 12+ trays, but its nine tray design is more than enough for more peoples’ needs. It comes with nine shelf trays out of the box, has a giant 12 square foot drying chamber, and has the handy adjustable thermostat and built-in-timer. The trays can easily be removed and washed (really, really easily).
While this unit has a rear-mounted 600-watt fan, it’s more than enough for this size unit. By placing the fan at the back of the chamber, food will dry evenly and thoroughly. This unit can support up to 19.5 hours of drying time – which is more than enough for most meats, vegetables, and fruits. The automatic thermostat ranges from 95 – 158 degrees Fahrenheit and has an auto-shutoff mechanism if it gets too hot.
Included in this bundle is 1 fine mesh sheet, 2 fruit leather trays, 1 set of oven mitts (you can never have too many oven mitts), and a nice little recipe book. Oh, and this machine is BPA free!
- Dimensions: 18.7″H x 17.5″W x 14.8″D
- Weight: 21.9lbs
- Material: Stainless Steel
- Trays: 9
4. Excalibur 3926TB Food Dehydrator
Stop: If you’re still unsure about which food dehydrator you want to buy, get this one. It’s perfect for everyone. Here’s why:
You probably know about Excalibur Food Dehydrators if you have even the slightest bit of food drying experience. They are the Cadillac of the food dehydrator world. They claim that they manufacture “America’s best Dehydrator” and you know what, it’s hard to disagree with them. They’ve been manufacturing dehydrators for well over 30 years right here in the U.S.A.
The Excalibur 3926TB has nine trays! If you’re looking to do very large batches, this is an amazing solution for food dehydration. I like to call it the common person’s heavy-duty dehydration machine. It’s simple enough to use that anyone can use it easily but heavy-duty enough that it can handle anything you throw at it. Remember, we’re dealing with the best here. If you’re serious about food dehydrating, you should get an Excalibur.
Remember who we’re dealing with, Excalibur Dehydrators, the manufacturer of some of the best food dehydrators. They know what they’re doing. You’ll consistently have great drying results with this model. Need more proof? The Excalibur can dry 8 pounds of jerky in a mere 5 hours. Similar models from other manufacturers average, at best, 4 pounds per 4 hours. It’s almost twice as fast, and uses less energy!
Remember how we said Excalibur believes in their products? Well, this model has a very-lengthy 10-year warranty. The chamber is a massive 15 square feet and is a shelf tray design.
This model has Excalibur’s patented ‘Hyperwave Fluctuation Technology.’ Combined with their patented ‘Parallex Horizontal Airflow Design,’ food is heated evenly by keeping the food temperature low and the air temperature high. What’s this mean for you? Food enzymes will stay active, while harmful bacteria, mold, and yeast are going to die a cruel death.
There’s a built-in self-timer that can be set up to 26 hours. A model of this caliber will, of course, have an adjustable thermostat (in this case, the range is 105 – 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re serious about food dehydrating, or just want to make large batches of food for your large family, or are a hunter who wants to dry out their game, this model is for you.
- Dimensions: 12.5”H x 17”W x 19”D
- Weight: 22lbs
- Material: Plastic
- Trays: 9
5. TSM Products Stainless Steel Food Dehydrator
Want a unit that’s going to last forever (and look great in your stainless steel kitchen)? Then TSM’s Stainless Steel Food Dehydrator is right for you.
Stainless steel isn’t just rust-resistant; the whole product is also corrosion-resistant. This means that it’s really going to last, no matter what you do to it. When it comes to a food dehydrator, you pay an added premium for stainless steel. Why? Because every single rack in the unit is crafted from solid stainless steel.
The TSM Food Dehydrator has a whopping 800-watt heating element and fan. This is paired with an adjustable thermostat and five wide shelves. Everything is removable and super easy to clean. Even the inner chamber is very easy to clean because of the removable back panel. There are nine air vents on this unit, which easily allow moisture from the food to escape when dehydrating.
- Dimensions: 11.5”H x 16.75”W x 19.25”D
- Weight: 20lbs
- Material: Stainless Steel
- Trays: 5
6. Excalibur Dehydrator EXC10EL
If you’re a residential user, then Excalibur’s giant dehydrator is ridiculous for you. You really should not buy this model unless you’re a huge family or an avid hunter – if that’s the case, then a commercial-grade option is good for you. Is this the right food dehydrator model for most people? Not… but it’s still really, really cool.
This beast has 600 watts and four heating elements that can suck the moisture out of the beefiest of meat. This giant unit weighs 110 pounds, so you probably won’t be putting it on your kitchen counter. This dehydrator would be great in the garage or barn. With the commercial pricing come a very user-friendly digital touchscreen, 3-speed motor, stainless steel body and shelves, and beautiful craftsmanship. Add it all together, and you can see why Excalibur priced this model the way it is. For around a thousand dollars, this is out of the range of most residential families but is very well-priced for those who need commercial-grade dehydrated food production.
Best Dehydrators for Making Beef Jerky
Jerky is awesome. It’s the reason I even got into dehydrating foods in the first place. Because every model we’ve mentioned is slightly different, we recommend you start making your jerky in small batches to see what works best for you. Dehydrating beef jerky is harder than fruits and vegetables. But practice makes perfect, and it won’t be long until you’re making your own for a fraction of what you’d pay at the store.
I also recommend you try different kinds of meats. Elk and Deer are fantastic (and leaner and healthier) than the more popular Beef jerkies. These kinds of jerky will impress your friends and make great gifts. A meat dehydrator for jerky can easily handle most meat very quickly, allowing easy preservation and packaging.
Some dehydrators are specifically made for dehydrating beef jerky. Finding the beef jerky dehydrator and jerky maker that’s right for you might help you learn how to make multiple kinds of dried foods at once.
7. Nesco FD-28JX Jerky Xpress Dehydrator Kit
Want a package deal that includes both a beef jerky maker and a gun? Nesco has the perfect product for you. If you’re not familiar, Nesco is a huge name in the meat dehydrator business. They were the ones who created a dehydrator that is made specifically for making homemade beef jerky. Included in this are helpful spice and cure packets, along with their infamous jerky gun for ground meats. You’ll save money by not having to purchase these separately.
This particular model, Nesco dehydrator, doesn’t require tray rotation for your jerky to cook evenly. Since it’s a fixed-temperature unit, you’ll get consistent results every time. Make sure you use the included jerky-gun to ensure this.
8. NutriChef Food Dehydrator Machine
You’ll be able to quickly make some amazing snacks with this dehydrator for beef jerky. It’s been specifically made for meat dehydrating.
There are 5 high capacity rotating trays. Also, it has a two-vent system that’s great for home or camping use. Because of its small size, it works well with any kind of meat you can catch from hunting or fishing season.
It’s inexpensive, so it’s a great gift for jerky lovers.
We confidently say this is the best beef jerky dehydrator for beginners.
What is a Food Dehydrator? How Does it Work?
We should start by explaining the basics of food dehydrators to newcomers. For those of you that are experienced in dehydrating food, you may want to skip this section.
Food dehydration works by removing water content from food, thus drying the food out. Food dehydrators are handy tools that can help you get the job done much, much easier (and faster!). Because their popularity has increased, food dehydrators have gotten much more compact, and much more efficient.
We know counter-space is a premium – rest assured, you won’t use much with the models we recommend later on in this article. The average food dehydrator is roughly 11 inches in diameter (about the size of a rice cooker or small crockpot). Typical dehydrators have a chamber that has anywhere between 5 and 10 trays. There are two main categories of food dehydrators: stackable, rounder units that are made of plastic, and removable, which are trays constructed within a rigid box.
Food dehydrators work by using fans to slowly circulate hot, dry hair (think Arizona heat) through food items. The heated air flows throughout the various layers of food and dries out the food very evenly. This will provide you with much more consistent results than if you were to put the food on a flat rock in the sun.
The air is either circulated horizontally or vertically, depending on the model you have. Horizontal drying dehydrators often perform better than vertical, aka stackable food dehydrators. When there’s uneven heat distribution, the trays that are closest to the heating element will dry out much faster than the trays that are at the top. You can overcome this with diligent tray rotation.
This can be annoying and is also why horizontal dehydrators usually have a slightly higher price than stackable dehydrators.
This awesome specialty appliance is extremely efficient compared to using an oven – in time and in energy. Dehydrators use a comparatively low temperature to dry food. This keeps the enzymes of your raw food within the preserved food while removing additives and preservatives. This is why food dehydration is considered extremely healthy – it preserves nutrients.
Ovens are notorious for being difficult at controlling their temperature throughout the cooking process. A food dehydrator allows you to control the temperature with much greater precision than an oven. Most newer dehydrators have an adjustable thermostat that accurately controls the temperature. This is a super important factor if you want to ensure proper dehydrate at lower temperatures. Dehydrating food at lower temperatures is best because it has been scientifically proven to preserve more vitamins and minerals.
Top 8 Benefits of Food Dehydrators
Here are the top benefits of owning your food dehydrator.
You often hear that dehydrated food only lasts one year, but we’ve easily been able to keep food for well over two years. Sure, you don’t want to keep food that long, but in case it happens, you can rest assured that your food won’t be spoiled. Scientific studies have shown that some dehydrated food such as veggies, rice, and grains can be stored up to 25 years.
#2 Produce Healthy Food
This is probably the reason most people are attracted to food drying. Dehydrated fruits and vegetables don’t need any additional preservatives (or sugar and salt). Plus, you still retain the majority of vitamins and nutrients. You’ll save a ton of cash on healthy food!
#3 Food Transparency
Food transparency means that you will know what’s in your food. Yes, nutrition labels are becoming more robust. However, you never know what’s actually in your preserved food. Also, as opposed to canned food, you’ll know when your preserved food has spoiled simply by looking at it.
#4 Creating Delicious Food
With Pinterest and SeriousEats and other recipe sites, there are a plethora of delicious dehydrating recipes available online with your food dehydrator. Some of the more popular dehydrator possibilities are kale chips, veggie burgers, and cake! Remember, you can encourage your kids to consume healthier food if you dehydrate their favorite foods.
#5 Versatile Results
You can always re-hydrate your recently made dry vegetables, herbs, and fruits. There are so many creative ways to use your dehydrator!
You don’t need to be an expert in the kitchen to use a dehydrator. Food preparation is so easy with a food dehydrator that it’s virtually unlikely that you’ll over-dry your food.
For a specialty appliance, dehydrators aren’t overly priced – at all. The ones we recommend are usually in the $60 range, but there are options for professional models that are a bit more expensive. If you don’t know how much you’ll use it, start with an inexpensive option.
#8 Space Efficient
Shrinking food takes up less space. You’ll be able to have much more pantry space when you start drying your food.
Best Food Dehydrator Buying Guide
While functionality is pretty much the same with any food dehydrator, there are important features that you need to look for that separate one from another. The most important thing is their ability to evenly dry food. Here are some other features to look for:
Number of Trays: The majority of food dehydrator units have between 5 and 10 trays. If you plan on doing plenty of dehydrating, then you’re going to want to go bigger. We prefer ones that are dishwasher-safe.
Max Trays: Stackable dehydrators have the benefit of being expandable. An example is the Presto 06300, which comes with four trays but can expand up to 8 trays. This is a nice feature if you want to start small and then expand.
Design: As we mentioned earlier, it’s key whether or not the dehydrator you choose uses stack-able trays or the alternative shelf trays. We recommend shelf tray food dehydrators. You’ll have a much more even flow of heat with the horizontal airflow. With that said, there are plenty of excellent stack-able tray dehydrators that can easily dry food evenly. (Note: you don’t have to worry if you choose one of our recommendations below)
Power: Units range from 125 to 1100 watts. Typically, larger units are going to require more power to keep up even distribution of temperature. Your best bet is to go with a unit that can hit 160 degrees Fahrenheit, although you’d probably be fine with 130 degrees.
Extras: More expensive models come with more features. Some of these are digital thermometers, automatic timers, inside lighting, and specialty items like jerky guns and (awesome) non-stick mats. Dehydrator deals will sometimes include recipe books.
How to use your best food dehydrator?
Now that you’ve purchased your brand new food dehydrator, we’re going to tell you a few easy steps on how to best use it.
- Arrange raw material on the trays so that it doesn’t overlap
- Set the temperature to 104ºF, so your food dries out completely
- Rotate the trays every time you check on your food. We recommend doing this at irregular intervals of time. This way, you can also see how consistent your dehydrator’s temperature setting is. Remember that most fruits and veggies are going to take between 2 and 19 hours to dry out fully. You can easily check to see if it’s dried by cutting it into slices. If there’s no moisture drop, then you’re food is dry.
- Remove your food and let it cool
- Once fully cooled, store your dried food in an airtight container in a dark, dry place. If there’s any moisture appearing in the container, put your food back in the dehydrator for a couple of hours.
- The best dehydrators need proper air circulation and ventilation. Ensure that there’s nothing obstructing airflow.
- Do not overlap your food
- Keep sweet and sour foods separate. There sometimes is flavors transferred between foods when dehydrated together
- Do not place any food with mold on it into the dehydrator
- Rotate your trays while the food is drying for an enhanced effect
- There’s a big difference between commercial and home dehydrators. You won’t be able to make spices such as onion or garlic powder in a small home food dehydrator.
- If you’re going to be drying stinky food like garlic or ginger, place the dehydrator somewhere where it’s isolated, like the garage or basement. (Here are some great garlic presses for you!)
- Try and avoid drying out food high in fats if you’re looking to store the food afterward. High-fat foods generally have a low shelf life.
- Slow and steady is better. Do not raise the temperature to shorten the drying process
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