Although many people have been using them for years, food dehydrators seem to be in vogue at the moment. The benefits are plentiful and through dehydrating your food you can preserve the likes of fruit for a long time and still get a lot of the benefits. A quality food dehydrator makes sure that food is still 100% natural and allows you to buy the likes of fruit in bulk, great for when they are in season.
The better products should be easy to use and make storing foods simple but not every product is as good as it sounds. This is why we have created our list of the best food dehydrators. Although they vary in size and features, each product on our list has something to offer.
Quick Summary of the Best Food Dehydrators
- Editor’s Choice: NESCO FD-75A, Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator, Gray (Amazon) – Review
- Best For Stacking: Nesco FD-1040 Gardenmaster Food dehydrator, White (Amazon) – Review
- Best Value: Samson Brands Dehydrator545 Dehydrator (Amazon) – Review
- Most Powerful Fan: Excalibur 3926TW 9-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator (Amazon) – Review
- Best Affordable: Hamilton Beach 32100A Digital Food Dehydrator (Amazon) – Review
- Most Versatile: COSORI Premium Food Dehydrator Machine (Amazon) – Review
Editor’s Choice: NESCO FD-75A, Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator, Gray
This is easily one of the most popular food dehydrators on the market and features a powerful fan at the top to give you 600 watts of power for drying a variety of foods. You get 5 trays included in your purchase although you can buy more separately and it can hold up to 12 and because of the adjustable thermostat, you can preserve food at their optimal temperatures (it ranges from 95 – 160 degrees F).
It blocks harmful lights that can damage the nutrients and benefits that usually come with dehydrating food and works fast to keep food fresh without mixing flavors when using different foods at the same time. It’s compact and easy to carry thanks to the sturdy handle but doesn’t include a timer.
Best For Stacking: Nesco FD-1040 Gardenmaster Food dehydrator, White
Another product from Nesco, the gardenmaster is a small yet powerful food dehydrator that offers a wide range of uses. Working with 1,000 watts it has the drying power to offer an even distribution of heat so everything works in harmony inside.
The trays are stackable and you can use up to 20 at a time but you only get 4 to get started with. This seems like more than enough for most households as each BPA-free tray gives you a square ft of space. The adjustable temperature ranges from 90 – 160 degrees F and allows you to make jerky, fruit rolls, and plenty of other dehydrated foods. You can buy it with six trays for a little more but this represents an affordable way of getting your hands on a high-quality product.
Best Value: Samson Brands Dehydrator545 Dehydrator
This is a simple food dehydrator but an effective one. In the roomy six trays, there is plenty of space for fruit, jerky, onions, and whatever else you want to put inside. There are lots of added features including an adjustable timer and easy to use digital controls and another benefit is the automatic shut off that saves on energy bills. Because the trays are easily removed you can use it to dehydrate larger items and it has even been used with flowers.
The trays themselves are made from BPA-free materials and can be seen through the transparent door so you can easily check on the progress of everything inside. With 400 watts of power, it might not be as powerful as some of the other models but it represents good value.
Most Powerful Fan: Excalibur 3926TW 9-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator
With a name like Excalibur, you expect their products to be good and this food dehydrator is among the best in the business. It didn’t make it into our top 3 because it is on the expensive side but if you want an elite product then this is worth considering. You get 15 sq ft of space in the 9 trays that come included and with plenty of scope in the adjustable temperature settings that range between 105 to 165 degree F.
There is also a 26-hour timer and comes with a poly screen insert to make sure trays don’t stick to the food. Combining a 7-inch fan with 600 watts of drying power it is sturdily built and can be adjusted so you can make bread or use it to make yogurt.
Best Affordable: Hamilton Beach 32100A Digital Food Dehydrator
Aside from the eye-catching design of this convenient food dehydrator, it has the features to make it a quality product and worthy of its growing reputation. The clear lid allows you to keep an eye on everything inside and a 48-hour timer gives the ability to choose when it will automatically shut-off to save you money on energy bills.
It gives you plenty of drying options and adjustable temperatures of 100 – 160 degrees F via the continuous airflow, this is what ensures it dries evenly. It comes with 5 stackable trays and a fine mesh sheet that you can use to dry herbs and store them for a long time. Whether you want to use it for making banana chips or fruit rolls it is hard to find a better value product for dehydrating food.
Most Versatile: COSORI Premium Food Dehydrator Machine
It might look more like a portable oven but the sturdy materials give it a bit of stability. It comes with six stainless steel trays among the other accessories that include a fruit roll sheet, a mesh screen, recipe ideas and a manual. The glass front door adds to the quality of the build and makes it easy for you to keep an eye on everything inside.
You can set a timer of up to 48 hours and in 30-minute increments and has a range of adjustable temperatures between 95 – 165 degrees F. With 600 watts of drying power and an auto shut off if it overheats it is a well-built and looks great.
Food Dehydrator Guide
Anyone who likes their food seasonal will appreciate being able to dehydrate their fruit and veg and if you grow your own then it offers you the chance to keep the goodness locked in and keep the fruits of your labor edible for a long time.
Although there are plenty of products out there offering you plenty of features and drying space it can be hard to tell which ones are worth purchasing. To clear a few of the ins and outs of what makes the best food dehydrators so good, we have created the following guide.
What To Look For In A Food Dehydrator
Before anything else you need to make sure the food dehydrator you have your eye on can keep up with your needs. If you only get a small capacity then you’re going to have to spend time refilling it where a larger product will get everything done in one go.
The greater the drying space the more you can fit in and the less cramped the food will be.
You want to have enough shelves to dry different foods but they should also be adjustable. This means you can move a few out to preserve bread or make yogurt and it opens up your options. Adjustable shelves can also mean you can add plenty more and stack them on the others. This is only if the brand you are considering is built in such a way but some can accommodate up to 20 shelves at a time.
The more powerful the wattage the faster it can work to dry your food. Most products in the compact range tend to hover around the 600 watts mark although some push 1,000 watts to give you more drying power. The larger the capacity the more power you will want.
Easy To Clean
Although a food dehydrator is convenient to use, food can leave its mark on the trays when you peel them off. This can be awkward to get off depending on the type of food you are drying. The stickier fruits might be a little stubborn which is why it is good to buy a product with dishwasher-proof trays.
When you use a food dehydrator a lot of its quality will come down to the consistency of its drying. If it uses a reliable fan it shouldn’t find it hard to dry all the food on a large tray. The last thing you want is to open it up after a long cycle only to find the food on the outside is not ready yet.
This is important as not all food will dry at the same temperature. A lot of foods such as fruits and vegetables can be dehydrated at around 130 degrees F but the likes of jerky will need higher temperatures of around 155 degrees F.
Giving yourself enough room to play with should mean you buy a product with adjustable temperatures between 100 – 160 degrees F.
This isn’t always as important as when you get used to using a food dehydrator you will know how long it takes to dry certain foods but a see-through door allows you to check on the progress whilst the product is working its magic.
These can be a good way of getting a bit of value from a food dehydrator but even the more affordable products can come with a few extras. These can include extra trays and a digital display and a timer or even something like extra safety features like automatic shut off.
Not every food dehydrator is going to be whisper quiet when it is in use but consider the fact that some foods take way over half a day to dry. This makes it important to find a product that you won’t hear in another room and one you can leave on overnight if necessary. Some products say they are quiet when the reviews suggest otherwise so be mindful and do your research.
Can A Food Dehydrator Make Jerky?
Although there are plenty of models that do give you this option, not all of them come with the right style tray that makes it easy to make perfect jerky and some even come with a jerky gun.
If this is one of your intended uses then it is best to check with the spec of the product before buying.
Different Types of Food Dehydrators
There are two main types of food dehydrators for home use and are as follows:
As the name suggests the trays stack on top of one another allowing for vertical airflow. The fan will usually be at the base although they are sometimes found at the top of the device. They are often the more affordable option and some products allow you to buy multiple trays to stack although you are limited by the thickness of the tray in this case.
If the trays are not the stackable kind then a lot of models will allow you to remove a couple to dry larger foods.
These tend to look and work like an oven with a fan at the back of the unit and trays that slide in and out. they are easier to adjust and often give you plenty of space to use with larger items. They look impressive, are generally built a little better but also come with a larger price tag.
Why Do People Dehydrate Food?
As we have suggested throughout, there are plenty of benefits to using a food dehydrated and they include the following:
- It allows you to make seasonal fruit last
- It preserves the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables
- Saves on storage space
- Saves money
- Reduces food waste
- Preserves without chemicals
It’s easy to see why they are such a popular option and with everything from yogurt, sauces, jerky, fruit, herbs and beyond being great foods to use, anyone can get good use out of one.