7 Best Food Dehydrators of 2019
- Ships with 5 racks
- Opaque shell prevents UV damage
- Works quickly
- 26-hour drying period
- Works well with delicate fruits
- Automatic shutdown feature
A Healthier Alternative To Your Favorite Snacks
Food dehydrators offer a healthier way to enjoy your favorite dried snacks, and they’re easy to use. They allow you to make different types of jerky, dried fruit, fruit leather, and even some more less-conventional dried foods.
When you dehydrate your food at home, you know exactly what ingredients are going into your favorite snacks. You don’t have to worry about preservatives, fillers, or any unnatural flavors being added in, and you can feel better about munching down on a handful of beef jerky.
In our food dehydrator reviews, we’ve highlighted all of the features of the best food dehydrators available. We’ve covered several different brands and models, and we’ve picked options that cover a wide range of purposes. At the end, you’ll find a buyer’s guide that we’ve put together to help you decide what type of dehydrator will suit you best.
- The Best Food Dehydrators
- Food Dehydrators Buyer’s Guide
The Best Food Dehydrators
1. NESCO FD-75A Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator
The NESCO Snackmaster is a flexible and fast dehydrator. It allows you to adjust the temperature between 96 and 165 degrees for different foods, and it channels its heat more efficiently than other food dehydrators. It does this by pressurizing the interior of the machine, and then it blasts hot air across the surface of each drying rack. This prevents your food from being dried unevenly, and it keeps flavors from transferring between different foods. With the Snackmaster, you don't have to worry about sunlight damaging your food during the drying process, either. The shell is made from an opaque plastic, and it blocks out all harmful UV rays. While the unit ships with 5 drying racks, you can easily expand it to hold 12 trays.
- Ships with 5 racks
- Opaque shell prevents UV damage
- Works quickly
- Rotating food is not necessary
- Flavors will not mix
2. Excalibur 3926TB Electric Food Dehydrator
This Excalibur model is great for making jerky and other conventional dried foods, but it also works exceptionally well for drying fruit due to its large temperature range. It looks similar to a small oven, and it has 9 racks inside of it. It doesn't feature a pressurized chamber, but it does have a large fan that circulates the hot air inside of the unit. This food dryer is also a pretty quick unit. It has a 26-hour shut off feature to prevent you from leaving your food in it for too long, and it can dry most items within that amount of time. When compared to the long drying times of other units, that's extremely fast.
- 26-hour drying period
- Works well with delicate fruits
- Automatic shutdown feature
- Holds 9 racks
- A fan circulates air evenly
3. Presto 06300 Dehydro – Food Dehydrator
The Presto Dehydro is a great budget option if you're just starting to get into dehydrators. It can be purchased for about $40, and it comes with the basic features you'll really need. It has 4 trays, and it's designed to easily fit on a counter or shelf. The lid of the unit is transparent. So, you'll be able to monitor the progress of your food without letting any heat out. While a preset temperature isn't great for advanced users, it is good for beginners. The Presto Dehydro runs at 165 degrees at all times. That's a good temperature for most foods, but you'll want to upgrade if you decide to get into more complicated drying projects.
- Low price
- Easy for beginners to use
- Expands to 8 trays
- Small enough for any kitchen
- Heats evenly
4. Excalibur 3900B Food Dehydrator
The Excalibur 3900B is extremely similar to the last Excalibur we covered, but it has a different heating element and warranty policy. Like the previous Excalibur, the 3900B looks like a miniature oven, and it holds 9 trays. It's also about the same weight and size as the other one. Unlike the previous Excalibur, the 3900B has Excalibur's patented HyperWave heating element. The HyperWave system shoots waves of heat across each individual rack, and a 7-inch fan circulates the heat evenly. This reduces the time it takes to dry food, and it ensures that each piece is properly dried. If you like to dry a large variety of foods, you'll be happy to know that the Excalibur has a large range of drying temperatures to choose from. It's also protected by a 10-year warranty.
- 10-year warranty
- HyperWave heating element
- 9 racks with poly-film trays
- Large temperature range
- Dries evenly
5. Gourmia GFD1950 Premium Countertop Food Dehydrator
The Gourmia GFD1950 is a premium offer from Gourmia. The Gourmia is certified by the ETL, and it comes with a couple bonuses. It comes with 9 non-stick fruit pads. That's one pad for each of its 9 non-stick racks. The interface is completely digital, and that makes it very easy to adjust to your liking. If you like to dehydrate multiple types of foods, it can be set as low as 105 degrees, and it can be set as high as 158 degrees. That's cool enough for fruits and veggies, but it's high enough to safely dry meat products. The door on the Gourmia is made from tempered glass, and that allows you to view your food as it dries.
- Glass door allows for easy monitoring
- Large temperature range
- 9 non-stick rack
- 9 non-stick fruit pads
- Digital interface
6. Chefman Food Dehydrator Machine
The Chefman dehydrator is a 480-watt unit with enough room for multiple types of food. It has a large temperature range, and its completely digital interface is easy to use. The Chefman only has 6 drying racks, but each rack is over 13 inches in length, and it provides more room per rack than most of the other units we've reviewed. It features a glass viewing window, and it is BPA-free for your safety. If you like to know that your appliances were inspected by qualified professionals, you'll be happy to know that the Chefman is certified by the CETL.
- CETL certified
- Large drying racks
- 6-rack capacity
- 1-year warranty
- 480 watts
7. Ronco EZ Store Turbo 5 Tray Food Dehydrator
Ronco has been a big name for a long time. The Ronco EZ Store Turbo is a balanced option, and it lives up to Ronco's reputation. It's fairly priced, and it can be picked up for less than %50. For that modest price, you get 5 drying racks, a patented twin-turbo heat element, and an easily adjustable thermostat. Since this is a Ronco product, it's made to satisfy the average user. It has a transparent drying system to make it easy to monitor, and it's made to heat your food consistently. It also works several times faster than other models. This is one of the best food dehydrators out there for the average person, and it's a good starter unit.
- Great for beginners
- Twin-turbo heating
- Transparent drying compartment
- Consistent heating
Food Dehydrators Buyer’s Guide
You shouldn’t just guess when you pick out a dehydrator. Different features will make certain parts of the dehydration process easier, and different models are aimed at different consumers.
In this section, we have outlined the different features of the best dehydrators and what they’re good for.
The heating element in a dehydrator is one of its most important parts. It’s what actually dries out the food. You use dehydrators for food preservation, and food safety should always be factored into your decision to use one. After all, if you dehydrate foods improperly, you can get very sick. It’s important to pay for a unit that has a high-quality heating element.
There are a few types of heat sources that are commonly used in the best dehydrators. The cheapest is a basic series of heating coils with a series of fans to circulate hot air. That type of heating element can suffice, but it often requires you to rotate racks, and it can produce inconsistent results for beginners.
You can also find a lot of different units that use horizontal blasts of heat. These heating elements can be named just about anything by whatever company you’re buying from, but they all do the same thing. They provide consistent results, and they tend to work a lot faster than older systems. Some of these heating elements might be accompanied by a fan to circulate their heat better.
The third type of heating element is similar to the previous one, but it uses pressure to further concentrate its heat blasts. This type of heat can dry food very quickly, and it’s typically found on more expensive units.
Transparent Drying Systems And Doors
The majority of food dehydrators have transparent parts. Their base might be opaque, but the racks and drying chambers are usually transparent. They’re like that for a couple of reasons.
First, it allows you to keep an eye on your food without opening the machine. Since dehydrators work by constantly exposing food to heat, you don’t want to open them up and release that heat. By having transparent parts, you can get a rough idea of how done your food is by simply glancing at it. We recommend using proper cooking times and properly inspecting your food instead of just looking at it, but it’s still a useful feature.
They’re also cheaper to produce. These transparent racks and drying systems are typically found on the cheaper cylindrical units, and they’re usually made out of food-grade plastic. As you can probably imagine, plastic parts are a lot cheaper to make than steel and aluminum.
Transparent doors are also commonly found on good dehydrators. These combine the benefits of an opaque shell with the benefits of transparent parts. You’ll see these transparent doors on oven-style machines.
The doors are usually made out of tempered glass, and that gives them better heat retention. The smaller viewing window within a larger opaque shell also prevents UV rays from destroying the nutrients in your food.
You can also buy fully opaque units, but they’re not as desirable. An opaque dehydrator will prevent sunlight from breaking down your foods while they dry, but it will also prevent you from seeing what’s happening inside of the unit. You’ll be stuck relying on timers to ensure that your food dries properly.
The number of racks a dryer has directly affects the amount of food you can dry in a single batch. Most racks have a single square-foot of space that you can use, and the majority of machines can hold between 4 and 9 racks.
Having more racks is obviously a great benefit, but it can also be detrimental. It all depends on how much food you plan on drying at a single time. If you frequently make large batches of dried fruits or jerky, you’ll want a unit with 9 or more racks. If you don’t have one with that high level of capacity, you’ll have your dehydrator running for ridiculously long periods of time to make several batches of food. Having more racks also makes it easier to make fruit leather. Fruit leather is essentially the generic term for the Fruit Roll-Ups that you probably ate as a kid. They take up more space than thin slices of kiwis or oranges, and you won’t be able to make as many at a time.
However, units with a lot of racks tend to cost more. They also require more advanced heating elements to evenly dry out the large amount of food that they can store. It’s not a good idea to buy a large unit with a cheap heating element. You’ll end up with food that is dehydrated in some places and raw in others. With meat products, that can potentially have deadly consequences. Even with fruits and veggies it can be dangerous. If you’re going to buy a large unit, you’ll want to buy the best one that you can afford.
It is worth noting that most of the cylindrical drying models can be expanded. They may only come with 4 or 5 racks, but because they stack on top of each other, you can usually add as many as 6 or 8 additional racks. That greatly increases the amount of food that you can dry at one time.
Having a wide range of temperatures to choose from is extremely important for more advanced users. If you plan on experimenting with several different types of foods, you’ll want one that can be easily adjusted along a wide range of temperatures.
The best range to have is between 95 and 170 degrees. That’ll make it possible for you to properly dry everything from fruit to meat, and you’ll get the most use out of your dehydrator.
The lower end of the temperature spectrum is best for fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables contain a lot of delicate enzymes and nutrients, and higher temperatures will destroy those during the drying process.
You can use higher temperatures for fruits and vegetables, but they won’t be nearly as healthy as properly dried versions. They won’t be unhealthy, either. They just won’t have the nutrients that make them worth eating. If you’re using your dehydrator for health reasons, it’s worth getting a machine that can work on lower temperatures. If you just want to prepare tasty treats, and you care very little about nutrients, then you can buy a machine that is preset to cook at high temperatures.
The higher end of the temperature spectrum is there for meat products. As you probably know, it is unsafe to eat certain meats when they’re not fully cooked. That safety risk is more of a concern when you’re talking about preserved foods.
Foods like jerky are made to last for extended periods of time without refrigeration. However, they have to be made properly to prevent developing botulism and other dangerous bacteria. Drying them at higher temperatures ensures that all of the bacteria on them are destroyed, and it also makes sure that they are dried all the way through to prevent new bacteria from growing.
The best food dehydrator for jerky will be able to run at 165 degrees. Luckily, most preset machines are made to run at that temperature. So, you don’t have to buy one with a range of temperatures available if all you want to do is make jerky. It’s still worth purchasing a machine with an adjustable thermostat, though. You never know when you’ll decide to make something else.
Buying a commercial food dehydrator may sound like a great idea until you realize how large they are. The average person probably doesn’t have the room for a massive unit. Luckily, there are plenty of dehydrators that are designed to fit on your kitchen counter.
Some of these units can still be fairly large, though. 9-rack, oven-style dehydrators can often weigh more than 20 pounds, and they usually take up several feet of counter space. If you have a small kitchen, that can be a major problem. It can also create issues for people who aren’t capable of lifting relatively heavy objects.
The majority of these machines don’t take up nearly that much room, though. If you buy a cylindrical drying unit, you’ll probably only have to dedicate a foot of counter space to dehydrating food. They also tend to breakdown fairly easy for storage purposes. There are also a lot of different variants of cylindrical dryers and they do tend to cost less than oven-style machines. So, we recommend them to the majority of people.
The shell of a dehydrator is an important component. You want one that is durable, and you want one that protects your food from UV rays.
Opaque shells with glass viewing windows are usually found on the best food dehydrator machines, but they also cost a lot. A cheap alternative to those is often found on cylindrical models.
While the racks are usually clear on cylindrical models, you can get some with opaque bases that extend over the racks a little bit. That design isn’t as effective as the one used for oven-style dryers, but it does help keep some UV rays out, and it still allows you to view your food from the top of the unit.
You don’t have to get a machine with an opaque shell, but we highly recommend it. One of the major draws of buying a food dehydrator is the fact that they produce healthy foods. If UV rays breakdown your food’s nutrients before it’s ready to eat, you lose one of the major benefits of drying food in the first place. If you can afford it, you can get the best results from oven-style dehydrators.
Anytime you mess with preserved foods, you have to worry about food safety. You’re making foods that are designed to last for weeks or months at a time without being refrigerated or frozen, and if you do it improperly, you’ll end up creating havens for dangerous or deadly bacteria.
To ensure that your dried food is safe, you want buy the best food dehydrator you can, and you want to make sure that it has a few special features included with it.
BPA plastics are used for tons of everyday objects, and they’re nothing to worry about usually, but they’re not good for food storage and cooking. That’s especially true for food dehydrators. Heat is constantly being circulated inside of a food dehydrator, and that heat can release toxic BPA chemicals into your food.
The models that we covered in our dehydrator reviews are BPA-free. That means that their plastic components were made with materials that don’t contain or produce BPA chemicals. In fact, most prominent models are. It’s great for marketing, and reputable companies take the safety of their products seriously.
We already touched on the importance of having a decent temperature range, but it’s important enough to cover it in a more comprehensive way here.
If you dry meats at a low temperature, you risk essentially creating a botulism farm. The results of eating food prepared in that manner are not pretty. If you plan on making any dehydrated meats, you’ll want a unit that can reach a minimum of 165 degrees. At that temperature, all dangerous bacteria will be killed, and your meat is more likely to dry fully. If your machine can’t reach 165 degrees, it’s best to use it as a fruit dehydrator.
Fruit can also produce dangerous bacteria when it’s improperly dried. However, you don’t need nearly as much heat to dry it. In fact, you don’t want to use high amounts of heat. It’ll ruin the fruit’s nutritional value.
A good starting point for fruit is 95 degrees. You can turn up the heat to about 110 or 120 degrees without causing too much damage, but anything more will breakdown the enzymes present in your favorite fruits. You don’t have to worry about bacteria as much with fruits, either. The lower temperatures are more than enough to kill the most common forms of bacteria on fruit.
You want to use dehydrators with foods that are prepared properly. You can dry just about anything with your dehydrator, but you’ll want to ensure that you prepare it properly.
Meat should be sliced very thinly. If you think about the jerky that you buy in stores, it’s never more than a quarter of an inch thick. That’s because thicker cuts of meat will take much longer to dry all of the way through, and the risk of bacteria forming in the center of thick cuts is much higher.
You also want to use relatively lean cuts of meat. There are a lot of examples of fatty meats being used with dehydrators, but the methods used are better left to more advanced users. Fat typically takes a lot longer to dry, and you’ll likely end up with a sub-par or unsafe product.
Fruits offer a little more wiggle room. You can properly dry whole slices of oranges or apples without worrying. it’ll just take longer than drying diced bits or thin slices. However, you don’t want to throw an entire kiwi in your dehydrator. You always want to break your fruit down into appropriate pieces.
If you’re interested in making things like dried pasta, you can do that without worrying very much. The majority of pastas are traditionally much thinner than you actually need them to be, and you shouldn’t have any problems drying them out in a safe manner.
Let’s face it; You’re probably not going to dehydrate food every single day. You’re going to use your machine to make a decent amount of snacks, and you’ll probably forget about it for a week or two. Do you really want a unit that takes up counter space all of the time?
If you’re an average user, you’ll want something that can easily be stowed away in a cupboard or closet. The smaller units are obviously better for that reason, but you also need to look at two main features.
These features are most commonly found on smaller cylindrical units, and that makes those units perfect for the average person. If you’re planning on using your dehydrator very often, you’ll be happier with an oven-style unit that doesn’t need to be stowed away.
Having racks that you can nest inside of each other is important for storage reasons. If you have a unit that has twelve racks stacked on top of each other, it’ll take up a lot of room when you store it. Having nesting racks will allow you to store the racks inside of each other, and that can make them nearly twice as compact as they would be otherwise.
You don’t want a power cord flopping around every time you move your dehydrator out of the way. Luckily, a lot of the cylindrical models have built-in cord storage. This typically means that they have a small compartment in their base, but some units have retractable cords that you push inside of the unit. Both are equally good options, and they make storing your machine a lot easier.
Finding a good unit that matches your budget is actually pretty easy. You need to decide if you’re willing to spend a lot, or if you’re willing to spend a little. Then, you have two main options.
The plastic cylinder designs are typically pretty cheap. You can usually buy the best models for less than $100, and they’ll serve you pretty well. If you’re on a budget, they’re definitely your best option.
If you have a bit more money to spend, or if you plan on using your dehydrator very often, you might want to consider spending a bit extra on an oven-style model. They tend to work faster, and they preserve a lot of the nutrients in your food. They also tend to have more room inside of them. However, you’ll have to spend about $200 to get one that’s worth using.
The best food dehydrator produces consistent results, and it has a large temperature range. In this guide, we’ve highlighted the best models available, and we’ve written a comprehensive guide to help you along the way.