Natural, healthy snacks at home

Best Food Dehydrator – Our Top 3 Picks

Dried fruits and vegetables are a delicious, healthy snack, but buying them from the store can be expensive. On top of that, many of these products are riddled with added sugar and preservatives. You care about what you put into your body. That means avoiding food products with ingredients you can’t pronounce.

  • 4.5 Stars
  • Dimensions
    13” x 13” x 10”
  • Weight
    6 pounds
  • Features
    • Top-mounted fan; 700 watts of power
    • Adjustable thermostat; 95F to 160F
    • 5 trays; can expand to 12 trays
    • Includes 2 fruit roll sheets, 2 clean-a-screens, 3 jerky spice packets and 52-page recipe book
  • Price
    Sale Price:$39.63
  • 4.7 Stars
  • Dimensions
    12-1/2" x 17" x 19"
  • Weight
    22 pounds
  • Features
    • 9 trays; 15 square feet of drying space
    • On/off switch included
    • Adjustable thermostat; 95F – 155F
    • Built-in 26-hour timer
    • 600 watts of power
    • Flexible poly-screen tray included
    • Parallex Horizontal Airflow system
  • Price
    Sale Price:$235.00
  • 4.5 Stars
  • Dimensions
    14.5" x 15" x 6.2"
  • Weight
    7.5 pounds
  • Features
    • 4 drying trays; expands up to 8
    • Bottom-mounted heating element and fan
    • See-through cover
    • Compact storage with nesting trays and easy cord storage
  • Price
    List Price:$59.99
    Sale Price:$33.50
    You Save:$26.49 (44%)

Is there anything you can do to avoid the expense and questionable ingredients in commercially dried foods? Yes!

Invest in a good food dehydrator.

excalibur 3926tb used

All you want is dried fruits and vegetables. Nothing more. Nothing less. With a dehydrator, you can dry any food you want right in your own kitchen at a fraction of the cost – and without any added ingredients.

As a concerned and smart shopper, you want to invest in the best food dehydrator you can buy. That’s where we come in. We’ve reviewed dozens of dehydrators, and rounded up our top three picks to help you find the right one for your budget and needs.

But before we get to that, let’s take a moment to explain what a dehydrator does and why you need one.

What Does a Food Dehydrator Do?

To put it simply, a food dehydrator is a small appliance that removes moisture from foods. You can use it to dry fruits, vegetables, herbs and even meats. You’ll find dried fruits, like strawberries, raisins, bananas and oranges, in popular snack mixes. Lots of processed foods, like instant soups, include dried vegetables. Even sundried tomatoes count as a dried food. And of course, dried meats come in the form of jerky.

Dehydrators use a simple heating element and airflow to reduce the water content of foods. Why would you want to do that? Because moisture creates the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and food spoilage, dehydrating foods extends their shelf life greatly.

Drying is one of the oldest forms of food preservation, and at one time, people dried foods out in the sun. As you can imagine, this was a lengthy process, and oftentimes, animals and insects would eat some (or all) of the drying foods.

Food dehydrators are a modern way to dry foods in the comfort of your own home. Most allow for foods to be dried at temperatures ranging from 95F (ideal for delicate foods, like herbs) to 165F (ideal for jerky).

Dehydrating foods takes several hours, but is much quicker than drying in the sun, which can take several days.

The Benefits of a Dehydrator

Why buy a dehydrator anyway? Can’t you just buy dried foods and jerky at the store? Yes, but there are so many benefits to having your very own dehydrator.

Cost-Effective

Did you know that it can cost as much as $10.99 for a pound of conventional dried berries? Organic dried berries cost even more. It’s easy to go through a pound of fruit each week. Do you really want to spend $40 a month on dried fruit? We didn’t think so.

With your own dehydrator, you can purchase fresh fruits and vegetables and dehydrate them yourself for a fraction of the cost. Buy in bulk while they’re on sale, and you’ll save even more.

And because dried foods have a long shelf life, you can dehydrate several pounds without worrying about spoilage.

Plus, most dehydrators are affordably priced, so you won’t have to break the bank just to purchase one.

A Healthier Option

Have you ever taken the time to look at the ingredients in most dried foods? You may be surprised to find things like citric acid, safflower oil, “natural” flavors, food coloring, and potassium sorbate on the ingredient list.

And you thought you were just buying dried strawberries.

When you dry your own foods in your own kitchen, you have complete control over what goes into your snacks. You don’t need additional flavors and sugars. Without these unnecessary additives, you create healthier snacks that you and your family will love.

Versatile

Dehydrators can be used for more than just dried fruit.

  • Slice up a pound of tomatoes to create sundried tomatoes.
  • Throw in a mix of your favorite herbs to create your own blend of dried seasonings.
  • Dry vegetables and reconstitute them later in your favorite recipes.
  • Puree fruits and dry to create delicious and healthy fruit leather (a.k.a. Fruit Roll-Ups).
  • Dry plants and flowers to create your own potpourri.

The possibilities are endless. You’ll never know that you needed a dehydrator until you have one. It’s one of the most useful and versatile tools you can have in your kitchen.

dried herbs

Preserve Your Harvest

Do you have your own garden? Maybe you know someone who does. A dehydrator will ensure that your harvest never goes to waste. Dry any excess herbs or produce you might have to safely extend their shelf life and enjoy all throughout the winter season.

Foolproof

Unlike canning, drying is a foolproof way to preserve foods. Evidence of spoilage is clear (your foods will eventually develop mold), and it’s nearly impossible to over-dry foods – especially if your unit has a timer and thermostat.

Dehydrating is one of simplest ways to preserve food. Anyone can do it.

Okay, I’m sold! Now, which dehydrator should I buy?

Good question. We’ve rounded up our top picks below based on customer satisfaction, price and performance to help you make an informed decision.

The Top 3 Food Dehydrator Reviews

1.      Nesco FD-75A Review

The Nesco FD-75A is the #1 best-seller in dehydrators. Affordably priced, easy to use and highly efficient, this is our favorite dehydrator – hands down.

Sale Price:$39.63

Features

  • Top-mounted fan; 700 watts of power
  • Adjustable thermostat; 95F to 160F
  • 5 trays; can expand to 12 trays
  • Includes 2 fruit roll sheets, 2 clean-a-screens, 3 jerky spice packets and 52-page recipe book
  • Dimensions: 13” x 13” x 10”

With a top-mounted fan, 700 watts of drying power and the patented Converga-Flow system, foods dry surprisingly quickly and evenly. Foods take hours to dry instead of days.

The adjustable thermostat makes this unit ideal for drying a variety of foods, including herbs, bread crumbs and jerky. Temperatures range from 95F to 160F for the ultimate in flexibility. Nesco even includes temperature recommendations for different foods right on the front of the machine, so there’s no guesswork involved.

Five trays are included, but the FD-75A can be expanded to 12 trays. Because of its unique design, flavors never mix, and you never have to rotate trays.

Did we mention the unit is just 13” x 13” x 10”? The FD-75A offers plenty of drying room, but won’t take up all of your counter space.

Pros

  • Quick, even drying
  • Adjustable thermostat
  • Affordably priced
  • Easy to use
  • Expandable to 12 trays
  • Fruit roll sheets are included

Cons

  • No timer

A timer is the only thing this dehydrator doesn’t have. And in our opinion, this is not a deal-breaker by any means. In this price range, you’d be hard-pressed to find another dehydrator that offers this level of functionality and performance.

Whether you’re new to dehydrating or a seasoned pro, the FD-75A is a smart choice for any buyer.

Click here to read our detailed review of the Nesco FD-75A.

2.      Excalibur 3926TB Review

Excalibur is a leader in the high-end dehydrator market, and the 3926TB is one of the best dehydrators you can buy. This model comes at a much higher price, which is why it didn’t make our #1 spot, but its quality construction and priceless features make it worth the cost.

Sale Price:$235.00

Features

  • 9 trays; 15 square feet of drying space
  • On/off switch included
  • Adjustable thermostat; 95F – 155F
  • Built-in 26-hour timer
  • 600 watts of power
  • Flexible poly-screen tray included
  • Parallex Horizontal Airflow system

Excalibur takes a unique approach to dehydrator design. Rather than using a top-mounted fan and heating element, both of these components are placed in the back of the unit. As part of the Parallex Horizontal Airflow system, the fan draws cool air in, heats it up and distributes it evenly. With this design, foods dry quickly and evenly.

And you never have to rotate the trays or the food.

The adjustable temperature allows you to dry just about anything from herbs to jerky, fruit rolls, vegetables, pet treats and potpourri. The convenient timer ensures that you never over-dry foods. Just set it and forget it.

When you’re all done, toss the trays in the dishwasher for easy clean-up.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Convenient timer prevents over-drying
  • Adjustable thermostat
  • Lots of drying space
  • Convenient on/off switch built in

Cons

  • Price
  • No fruit roll sheets included

The 3926TB is one of the best dehydrators on the market, so we were surprised to find that Excalibur didn’t throw in at least one fruit roll sheet. Considering the price of this unit, we expected a little more in the accessories department. The high price tag of this unit may be tough to swallow, but ultimately, its efficient performance outweighs the costs.

Click here to read more about the Excalibur 3926TB.

3.      Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator Review

If you’re on a tighter budget, the Presto 06300 is the best option for you. Priced under $40, this four-tray system dehydrates foods quickly and easily. A bottom-mounted fan keeps air circulating consistently, and the see-through cover allows you to easily keep an eye on the drying progress.

List Price:$59.99
Sale Price:$33.50
You Save:$26.49 (44%)

Features

  • 4 drying trays; expands up to 8
  • Bottom-mounted heating element and fan
  • See-through cover
  • Compact storage with nesting trays and easy cord storage

If you’re looking for a basic dehydrator, the Presto 06300 is the right choice. Although it lacks temperature control and a timer, it’s extremely affordable, efficient in the performance department and can expand to up to 8 trays.

Storage is compact and convenient, too. Just flip every other tray to nest them and save 36% on space.

It may not have all of the bells and whistles that the other units on our list have, but it gets the job done – and it does it well.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Affordable
  • See-through cover allows you to monitor foods
  • Nesting trays saves on storage space
  • Can expand to 8 trays
  • Quick, even drying
  • Convenient cord storage on the bottom of the unit

Cons

  • No timer
  • No thermostat
  • No accessories

You won’t get a timer or a thermostat with this model, so you’ll need to keep a very close eye on foods (especially delicate ones) to prevent over-drying. No fruit roll sheets or other accessories are included, but they can be purchased separately.

For the price, the Presto 06300 is the best dehydrator for casual users and families on a tight budget.

Click here to learn more about the Presto 06300.