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 in order 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 own 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. We’ve also included a handy comparison table below of 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.
Table of Contents
- 1 13 Best Food Dehydrators of 2018
- 2 A Brief History of Food Dehydration
- 3 What is a Food Dehydrator? How Does it Work?
- 4 The Food Dehydrator: A Multipurpose Appliance
- 5 Top 8 Benefits of Food Dehydrators
- 6 Popular Dehydrated Foods: What You Can Make With A Food Dehydrator
- 7 Things to Consider Before Buying a Food Dehydrator
- 8 Food Dehydrator Reviews Section: 5 Best Dehydrators of 2018
13 Best Food Dehydrators of 2018
Here are the 13 most popular food dehydrators. We’ve sorted the products by price ascending. This is our comparison table of the best food dehydrators. For mobile users, you’ll see a compact price ascending list instead of the full table. No worries – you’ll still get all the information you need.
|#1 - Presto 06300 Dehydro||Check Price||99%||135-145ºF; 600 watt|
|#2 - NutriChef Food Preserver||Check Price||98.6%||Up to 180ºF; 250 watt|
|#3 - Gourmia GFD1550 Food Dehydrator||Check Price||98.2%||105-158ºF; 80 watt|
|#4 - Cuisinart DHR-20 Dehydrator||Check Price||97%||110-175ºF; 620 watt|
|#5 - Nesco Snackmaster Pro||Check Price||96.8%||95-153ºF; 500 watt|
|#6 - L'Equipe 528||Check Price||96.1%||93-153ºF; 500 watt|
|#7 - Nesco Gardenmaster||Check Price||94%||90-160ºF; 1000 watt|
|#8 - Magic Mill Pro||Check Price||93.7%||95-158ºF; 400 watt|
|#9 - Aroma Housewares Pro Dehydrator||Check Price||93%||95-165ºF; 400 watt|
|#10 - Excalibur 3926TB||Check Price||91%||105-165ºF; 600 watt|
|#11 - STX International Dehydrator||Check Price||89%||95-155ºF; 1200 watt|
|#12 - TSM Products Stainless Steel Dehydrator||Check Price||88.5%||90-165ºF; 800 watt|
|#13 - Excalibur Dehydrator EXC10EL||Check Price||87.8%||95-165ºF; 600 watt|
A Brief History of Food Dehydration
Dehydrating food is a wonderful technique that has been around for thousands of years. When this technique was first discovered, food was laid on top of a flat rock, and dried using the warm heat of the sun. All across the world this method of preserving food was used. Native Americans would preserve fruits, vegetables, and meat. Eastern Europeans and Asians would preserve food for their long winters. Romans would preserve their food for their special celebrations towards the Gods.
As food preservation methods improved, flat rocks turned into hanging food from trees or man-made wooden structures. These were very primitive form of racks. Food could then be stored for much longer, without fear of it becoming spoiled. Remember, food was a commodity back then – there were no supermarkets. If food when bad, people would starve and die.
While the sun is still an effective way of drying out food, it’s not nearly the best method today. Unfortunately, the sun isn’t always shining and when it does, clouds block the view. That’s where a food dehydrator comes in handy. We want to give a special shout-out to France for inventing the first dehydrator in 1795.
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 crock pot). 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.
The Food Dehydrator: A Multipurpose Appliance
Food dehydrators are awesome multi-tasking appliances. Yes, it’s a specialty appliance- but it’s also a super useful one that is hard to replace with a common appliance. In addition to drying meats, veggies, and fruits, you can also easily dehydrate flowers and herbs, dehydrate pasta, re-crisp stale popcorn and crackers, and create some awesome arts and crafts!
If you’ve ever been to Whole Foods or a specialty market, you’ll notice that companies just love to increase the markup on commercially dehydrated foods. By marketing the benefits of zero preserves or additives, companies justify their premium price tag. Also – home dehydrating helps keep out those terrible toxins and chemicals that always infiltrate commercially dried veggies, fruits, and meat. You can make these items at a fraction of the cost. In fact, there are so many delicious creations that dehydrators are making nowadays!
Top 8 Benefits of Food Dehydrators
Here are the top benefits of owning your own food dehydrator.
You often here that dehydrated food only lasts one year, but we’ve easily been able to keep food for well over 2 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. In fact, 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 retail 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 is 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.
Popular Dehydrated Foods: What You Can Make With A Food Dehydrator
Remember: dehydration is complete when the majority of water is removed from the food. By drying food, you’ll prevent growth of bacteria and other harmful microorganisms. This ultimately helps in preserving food, which lets you store it much longer.
Dehydrated Assorted Fruits:
Dehydrated Grapes (Raisins):
Dehydrated Banana Chips:
Dehydrated Bell Peppers:
Things to Consider Before Buying a Food Dehydrator
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. Obviously, 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 4 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 really, really recommend shelf tray food dehydrators. You’ll have a much more even flow of heat with the horizontal air flow. 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 in order 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.
Food Dehydrator Reviews Section: 5 Best Dehydrators of 2018
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 really 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. Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator
If you’re just starting out 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 drying for too long.
But this unit does get the job done. You can easily dry vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices, and jerky with this equipment. 4 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 you food drying.
We really like how this Presto has a lot of helpful expansion kits available. This is great if you really 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)
#2. 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 continues 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 5 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 really 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 2 mesh sheets, 2 solid sheets, 3 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)
Recommended Mid-Range Food Dehydrators ($100 – $300)
These horizontal drying units have been well-designed with the perfect balance of size, price, and features in mind.
#3. Magic Mill Food Dehydrator Bundle
Magic Mill has been a recognized name in food dehydration for many years. This unit is one of their value models. It’s not going to handle large loads like dehydrators with 12+ trays, but its 9 tray design is more than enough for more peoples’ needs. It comes with 9 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 9 trays! If you’re looking to do very large batches, this is an amazing solution for food dehydration. In fact, 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 really 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
Recommended High-End Food Dehydrator ($300+)
Dehydrators mentioned here have hefty price tags, but come with everything you could possibly need.
#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 5 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 9 air vents on this unit, which easily allows 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
Recommended Commercial Grade Food Dehydrator
Commercial dehydrator models can easily handle high volumes, while lasting a very long time.
#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? Absolutely not… but it’s still really, really cool.
This beast has 600 watts and 4 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 Excalubur 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 really impress your friends and make great gifts. A meat dehydrator for jerky can easily handle most meat very quickly, allowing easy preserving 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 with Jerky Gun
Want a package deal that includes both a beef jerky maker and 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 PKFD06
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.
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