Dehydration was an early form of food preservation because all it required was a safe place to maintain the food while it was drying out. Now, electric dehydrators, thanks to precise temperature controls and good air circulation, make the cycle almost foolproof.
A variety of factors, such as uneven slicing, differences in fruit or vegetable size, or varying amounts of moisture can affect drying time, even if the circulation of air is perfect. If you’re trying to save home-grown produce, create home-made fruit rollups, or make fun jerky flavors, food dehydration is a fun, nutritious alternative to store-bought snacks.
Here are the best food dehydrators in the comfort of your kitchen to help you make tasty dried snacks.
Nesco Professional 600W 5-Tray Food Dehydrator
This model is perfect for dried food batches of average size. It comes with five trays but if you want to work in larger batches you can handle up to 12. The thermostat on this dehydrator can be changed from 95 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit and has a top-mounted fan built to push the air downwards and then horizontally over the food trays to dry even further.
It also contains, along with the dehydrator, two solid liner sheets for making fruit rollups or drying sauces or other liquid-like items, two mesh sheets for other products, and three jerky spice packets to get you started making your own jerky. The outside is grey-speckled. Our tester made both the dried fruit and the beef jerky turned out to be as flavourful as she hoped.
The only downside is that this dehydrate does not have a timer, so when the food is ready you’ll have to be nearby to turn it off.
- Intuitive dial controls setting temperature.
- Comes with a lot of extras
- Easily store in a kitchen wardrobe
- Needs to be turned off manually
Excalibur 3926TW 9-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator
This dehydrates offers plenty of drying space — with nine trays to be precise, measuring 15 square feet. Indeed it is so spacious that one reviewer was able to make 7 pounds of jerky (before dehydration) with spare space. Each tray has a non-stick screen which is suitable for most drying applications. But the trays do have many types of dehydrator sheets available that are suitable for making fruit leather or drying other thick liquids such as sauces.
The thermostat is adjustable from 105 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit and is fitted with a 26-hour timer to enable you to leave the food drying while working or sleeping. A fan at the back of the unit evenly circulates throughout the air.
If you have larger foods that you want to dry, some of the trays can be removed to make more room. This device may also be used to prove dough during baking, or before serving to warm rolls or bread. You can also use this pattern to cultivate homemade yogurt, with almost all the trays removed. It is available in either black or white if color matters. The drawback of this model is it’s quite large, and it takes a lot of storage space.
- Large drying space
- Easy to clean
- Used to proof dough
- Large footprint
Premium Pack 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator
The perfect starting unit and ideal for small batches, this dehydrator come with four trays, but to double your drying space you can add another four trays. The fan is at the unit ‘s bottom, which means that food juices can drip down to it. So keep that in mind when fresh produce is dehydrated.
This dehydrator can be fitted with fruit roller sheets and mesh sheets. The temperature is not adjustable; at around 165 degrees Fahrenheit, it operates consistently. For our tester, the positive side of this is that the dehydrator couldn’t be easier to use, so there was no way she could set it to the wrong temperature. The trays nest for more convenient storage and store the cord in the base out of the way. The dehydrator has a white exterior with a transparent top cover that helps you to track the drying process. Sadly, there is no timer, so when the food is done, you’ll have to be close by to turn it off. But that is also the perfect time to taste test.
- Easy monitoring
- No extra settings to figure out
- Can not change drying temperature
- No time Setting
Nesco Gardenmaster Food dehydrator
This dehydrator comes with just four trays, but you can purchase additional trays and use up to 20 at a time to give you plenty of drying space. The drying pressure adjusts for the number of trays being used, no matter how much food you have, for even drying more. The temperature control is digital and sets between 90 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
This machine has a top-mounted fan and it is possible to set the timer to dry for up to 48 hours. However, thanks to the 1000 watts of power of the model, our tester did not need nearly this much dehydration time: “just six to 10 hours for fruit and 10 hours for jerky,” she says.
This model has a white exterior and comes with one fruit roll sheet and one screen. If you want to start with more drying space, this model is also available with six trays instead of four at a higher price, as well as three fruit roll sheets, three displays, six jerky spice packets, and a jerky pistol.
- Easy to use
- Whisper-quiet 1000-watt motor
- Customizable temperature settings
- Large footprint
Tribest Sedona Express SDE-S6780-B Digital Food Dehydrator
If you have a large garden and want to dehydrate your food to a professional level, then this machine is the one you need. The temperature can be changed from 77 to 167 degrees Fahrenheit and this high temperature ensures that in this machine you can cook jerky from the beginning to the end without having to cook it for health. Plus, for faster drying without overcooking, it can turn automatically from an initial high temperature to a lower one.
This unit has 11 stainless steel trays, a glass door, and an interior LED light so the drying process can be checked more easily. There are several cooking modes (fast, raw, combined, and continuous) and the timer can be set to a maximum of 99 hours per mode or a total of up to 120 hours — more than you’ll need. The exterior is black and the fan is mounted at the back of the machine, with a filter to keep out dust. The unit can not be expanded. This top-of-the-line dehydrator can do it all, which is seen in its price tag. You can go for plastic trays instead of stainless steel if you want to save a little bit of money, but the stainless steel ones will last longer. You ‘re going to have to dry a lot of kale chips to recover the cost, but as it comes with a 10-year warranty, you ‘re likely to get a lot of use out of it.
- Adjustable temperature up to 167 degrees Fahrenität
- 10-year warranty
NutriChef Food Dehydrator Machine
If food dehydration is something you will sometimes do instead of feeding yourself over a long, harsh winter, you ‘re probably looking for a budget-friendly dryer like this. It does what you need but with no extra features breaking the bank.
This works with just one click to turn it on to start the process of dehydration. The temperature can be adjusted up to 180 degrees so a variety of herbs, fruits, and vegetables can be dried. It contains five easy to clean removable and stackable trays. Our tester enjoyed the machine’s simple, plug-and – play style which she believes will make it a great choice to dehydrate for anyone new. Features that might have been included, she notes, are a timer and automatic shut-off.
This can be used to make jerky, the manufacturer claims, but food safety pages have warnings about using simple meat dehydrators, so read the details carefully before continuing.
- Easy to use
- Modern and compact design
- Zero noise
- No automatic shut-off
What to Look for in a Food Dehydrator?
Capacity: Dehydration is not a fast process, so if you have a lot of food to dry, a larger-capacity machine can save you time — though they take up more space too. In comparison, smaller units work well for smaller batches and small kitchens.
Consistent drying: If you dehydrate a batch of food, you want to make sure that your system uniformly dries it down. Search for a layout with more trays to maintain this quality, so you can stretch out your meals as much as possible.
Jerky: Because meat is more prone to spoil than vegetables, it is not safe to dry by all food dehydrators. If jerky-making is high on your priority list, it is prudent to make sure the computer you are buying is up to the challenge.
Our top spot is at the Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator. For an intuitive temperature-setting dial, it’s not only reliable but also affordable. Plus, the jerky and dried fruit from our tester turned out to be as flavourful as their counterparts bought from the store. If you’re new to dehydration, go to the NutriChef Alimentary Dehydrator Machine. The cycle begins with only one click, and the temperature is adjustable to 180 degrees (Amazon view).