Dehydrating foods is a great way to introduce new healthy eating habits into your life. Need a natural, healthy snack for yourself or your kids? A homemade, dehydrated apricot, apple or mango are all yummy choices. Do you often make stews and soups? Dehydrate veggies like carrots, celery, pumpkin and beets for quick and easy recipes. Have 100 pounds of venison on your hands and no place to store it? Turn that fresh meat into shelf-stable jerky and enjoy it for months to come. With a good dehydrating machine, the options are endless.
To help you find the best food dehydrator, we’ve spent days reading through dehydrator reviews and searching for the right ones. The result? A list of 15 good-quality machines that can help you dehydrate a variety of foods easily and quickly.
The Best Food Dehydrator
Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator
Affordable, compact and versatile, the Nesco Snackmaster is the perfect solution to dehydrating multiple batches of food simply and quickly. This dehydrator machine comes with five trays but is expandable to 12 if you want to work with larger batches. Its thermostat is adjustable from 95º-160º F, so you can dry different foods at proper temperatures. The machine also boasts a patented Converga-Flow drying system which sends air down the pressurized chamber first and then horizontally across all five (or 12) trays. This ensures the food is thoroughly and quickly dried, without flavor mixing.
The Nesco food dehydrator has an opaque shell which blocks harmful light, helping preserve the nutritional value of the food you’re dehydrating. Among many accessories included, this machine comes with two solid liner sheets for making fruit rolls and drying liquids like soups and sauces. There are also two mesh sheets for drying herbs and spices, as well as three jerky spice and cure packets to get you started making your own jerky.
Comes with 5 trays, expandable to 12
Top-mounted, powerful fan, Converga-Flow drying system
Opaque exterior stops harmful light
Accessories include 2 fruit roll sheets, 2 clean-a-screens, 3 jerky spice, 3 cure packs, recipe book
- Weight7.05 pounds
Excalibur 9-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator
Sturdy, spacey and easy to use, the Excalibur 3926TB is a top-shelf food dehydrator model that allows for quick drying of various foods. With 9 trays and a total of 15 sq.ft. of drying space, this machine can dehydrate quite a bit of food, including vegetables, fruits and some herbs. Drying meat to jerky is also a piece of cake, and you can even raise bread if you wan to. The Excalibur food dehydrator has an adjustable thermostat (105°F to 165°F), so you can dry all kinds of food items safely. Most conveniently, the machine also has a 26-hour timer.
The heating element, thermostat and fan are all located in the back of the unit, so cool air is drawn in, heated and then distributed evenly across each tray of food. The machine uses the patented Parallex Horizontal Airflow which helps dehydrate food faster while preserving more nutrients.
9 food trays
Parallex Horizontal Airflow
Hyperwave Fluctuation Technology
- Weight22 pounds
Gourmia Premium Countertop Food Dehydrator
If you’re looking for a quality, beautiful food dehydrator for your kitchen countertop, check out Gourmia GFD1950. With 9 trays, adjustable thermostat (95°F- 158°F) and drying timer, as well as a sleek, dark outer shell, this machine is not only highly convenient, but great-looking too. Whether you want to dry fruits and veggies or meat and herbs, the Gourmia dehydrator is a great choice as it’s easy and quick to use. Why? The unit has a Select-and-Set LCD panel which allows you to set up the drying time up to 19.5 hours, as well as to adjust temperature settings (there are 8 preset settings).
The Gourmia uses Circusmart 360˚ Air-Flow Circulation System which promotes even dehydration across all trays. The accessories include micro-mesh trays, fruit leather sheet and drip tray, as well as a recipe book with 12 easy to follow recipes.
LCD panel, countdown timer and auto shut-off feature
Circusmart 360˚ Air-Flow Circulation System
Comes with fruit leather sheet, drip tray and recipe book
- Weight13.94 pounds
Presto Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator
If you’re just starting with food dehydration, the Presto 06300 is the perfect unit. Compact, simple to use and ideal for small batches, this electric machine is the starter unit that most beginners swear by. There are 4 trays for dehydrating food which come with the machine, but the unit is expandable up to 8 for added capacity (the extra 4 are sold separately). The bottom fan and heater provide consistent airflow for even drying, so no tray rotation is necessary. Speaking of temperature, the machine operates consistently at about 165° F, meaning it’s not adjustable.
The Presto doesn’t have a timer, so you’ll have to be nearby to turn it off when done. If you need extra accessories, fruit roll sheets, jerky gun, jerky kits and non-stick mesh screens are available.
Operates at a preset temperature of around 165°
4 trays, extra 4 sold separately
Bottom fan and heating element for consistent drying
Excellent for jerky meat
- Weight7.5 pounds
Nesco Square-Shaped Dehydrator
Square, with a top-mounted fan and a budget-friendly price, the Nesco FD-80A is somewhat of a rarity in the dehydrator world. Indeed, this medium-sized machine has a stacking design that is super-easy to use, doesn’t take much space, yet manages to dry quite a bit of food at once. With an adjustable thermostat, you can customize the temperature settings between 95 to 160º F and properly dehydrate various foods, including fruits, vegetables, herbs, meat and fish. The machine comes with 4 trays, but is expandable up to 8 trays if you want to work with larger batches.
The Nesco FD-80A uses the patented Converga-Flow drying system for consistent and even drying of foods. The 700-watt motor helps ensure fast drying time, so you get proper dehydration that is also super-fast. The unit comes with two jerky spice and cure packets, as well as one clean-a-screen.
4 trays, expandable up to 8 trays
Converga-Flow drying system
Accessories include 2 jerky spice and cure packets and 1 clean-a-screen
- Weight9.9 pounds
Hamilton Beach 32100A
The Hamilton Beach 32100A features an adjustable thermostat (100-160° F), a 48-hour timer and an auto-shutoff feature, making it one of the best affordable food dehydrators on the market. The thermostat is digital so you can easily set the proper drying temperature for a variety of foods, including vegetables, fruits, meat and herbs. There are 5 stackable trays, so the unit is perfect for drying smaller batches of food. With 500 watts of power and continuous airflow feature, the drying is consistent and even, meaning there’s no need to rotate the trays at all.
The Hamilton Beach machine comes with two specialty sheets for added versatility. So, besides regular drying of fruit, veggies and meat, you can also puree fruits, make fruit rolls and dry certain herbs.
5 stackable trays
Continuous airflow for even drying
Accessories include fine mesh sheet for drying herbs and solid sheet for fruit rolls
- BrandHamilton Beach
- Weight8 pounds
Nesco Snackmaster Express Food Dehydrator
Another excellent food dehydrator by Nesco, the Snackmaster FD-60 is the perfect choice for folks on a budget. Versatile, easy to use, quick to dry, this unit has it all at a modest price. Like the previous square-shaped model, this round unit too has a top-mounted fan, as well as an adjustable thermostat from 95 to 155 º F. Thanks to a 500 watts of drying power, the food is dried very quickly, including all kinds of fruit, veggies and meat. This is a 4-tray food dehydrator that can be expanded up 12 trays, although you do need to purchase the extra ones separately.
Using the Nesco’s patented Converga-Flow drying system, the food is dried consistently and evenly, without flavor-mixing. The unit comes with one fruit roll sheet, and two original-flavor jerky spice and cure packets.
4 trays, expandable to 12 trays
Converga-Flow drying system
Comes with 1 fruit roll sheet, 2 original-flavor jerky spice, and cure packets.
- Weight6.85 pounds
Magic Mill Professional Food Dehydrator
Looking for ultra-durable, versatile, easy to use food dehydrator? You can’t go wrong with Magic Mill, the professional 9-tray unit that comes with everything both professionals and beginners need for proper food drying. This machine has a digital thermostat that you can adjust from 95º F to 158º F, as well as a 19.5-hour timer with countdown feature. The fan is rear-mounted to promote even drying without overheating, but the overheating safety feature already provides maximum safety. The trays are made of stainless steel, so they’re guaranteed to last a long time. Plus, they can be used for drying any food item, including dried fruit slices, beef jerky, dried herbs and many, many more.
The Magic Mill dehydrator’s 600 watts drying power ensures the job is done quickly, and equally important, evenly across all trays. For extra versatility, various accessories are included: 2 non-stick fruit leather sheets, a fine mesh sheet, hanging rack and oven mitts
9 drying trays
Rear-mounted fan promotes even drying
Overheating safety feature
Comes with various accessories, including 2 fruit leather sheets and a fine mesh sheet
- BrandMagic Mill
- Weight21.4 pounds
Nesco White Speckled Food Dehydrator
Cheap but durable, the Nesco FD-37A is the perfect starter dehydrator for absolute beginners. There is no adjustable thermostat as the machine runs at consistent 160 degrees to dry everything from fruits and jerky meats, to vegetables and certain spices. The unit features Fan Flow Radial Air system which ensures each tray is dried evenly and consistently. Speaking of trays, there are 4 included with the unit, although you can fit 7 if working with bigger batches (the 3 extra trays are sold separately).
Although simple in its design and features, the Nesco FD-37A does a great job at drying a variety of foods, as the process is quick and food always thoroughly dehydrated.
Operates at a consistent temperature of 160 degrees
Fan Flow Radial Air system ensures even drying
4 drying trays, expandable to 7 trays
Dries a variety of foods
- Weight4.7 pounds
Ivation Countertop Digital Food Drying Machine
Versatile, durable and simple to use, the Ivation food dehydrator is one of the best mid-priced machines on the market. The unit has a digital thermostat that can be adjusted from 95 to 158º F, as well as a digital timer with automatic shutoff feature. The fan is 480 watts and rear-mounted for even drying without overheating (but there is also overheating safety protection). And with 6 height adjustable racks, you can dry a variety of foods, including fruits, nuts, seeds, veggies, meat and herbs.
This model has a drip tray to collect any residue from the drying process, so cleaning is a piece of cake. The accessories include one nonstick fine-mesh sheet for drying herbs and spices, and one solid sheet for making fruit rolls.
6 height-adjustable dry trays
Drip tray collects residue
Comes with 1 fine-mesh sheet and 1 solid sheet
- Weight13.6 pounds
Aroma Housewares Professional Food Dehydrator
With 6 large drying trays and precise temperature control, the Aroma Housewares food dehydrator offers the option of drying larger batches of foods properly, easily and quickly. Its thermostat has 7 preset temperature programs, so you can dehydrate a variety of options the right way, including the trickiest of foods. The rear-mounted fan promotes even drying and optimal crispiness, so you can dehydrate pretty much anything you can think of – from vegetables and fruits, to herbs, nuts and jerky meats, this machine really does it all.
The Aroma Housewares dehydrator circulates air all on its own, so there is no need to rate the trays ever. And importantly for some, it’s super-quiet too.
Adjustable thermostat (7 programs)
6 drying trays
Dries a variety of foods
- BrandAroma Housewares
- Weight11.68 pounds
Nesco Jerky Xpress Dehydrator Kit
Looking for a quality, affordable jerky dehydrator? Check out Nesco’s Jerky Xpress Dehydrator kit that comes with a jerky gun. Using Fan-Flow Technology, this unit dries food faster and more consistently with no tray rotation necessary. Since it works with a fixed temperature, it’s perfect for beginners, although even seasoned professionals would like this convenient little machine. There are 4 trays (plus the base tray), but the unit is expandable up to 7 trays. If you use all 7 trays with over 7 sq.ft. of drying space, you’ll get about 7 pounds of jerky in just one batch!
This beef jerky dehydrator is a simple machine and as a result, very easy to use. To help you get started, it comes with a jerky gun with 3 tip attachments and spice and cure packs
Works at a fixed temperature
4 trays, but expandable to 7
Jerky gun included
Accessories include 3 different tip attachments for the gun, spice and cure packets
- Weight5.5 pounds
STX Dehydra 1200W-XLS
If you’re looking for a quality, super-durable but easy to use food dehydrator, you’ve found it. The STX International’s unit is not only made of stainless steel, but comes with several useful features that make food dehydration quick and easy. The machine features 1200 watts of power and an adjustable thermostat from 95 to 165 degrees. There are 12 stainless steel trays so the unit fits quite large batches of food with no issues. For even and consistent drying, the STX International model uses a 7-inch rear-mounted Horizontal Air Flow fan system.
To provide maximum convenience, the unit has a stainless steel drip tray which catches any residue from drying. Even more importantly, there is a 12-hour automatic shut off timer, making this one of the best, if not the best dehydrator in the higher price range.
1200 watts of power for super-fast drying
10 stainless steel trays + drip tray
Rear-mounted Horizontal Air Flow fan system
Dries a variety of foods
- BrandSTX International
- Weight38.5 pounds
NutriChef Small Countertop Dehydrator
Small, convenient and very reasonably priced, the Nutrichef’s dehydrator is the perfect option if you dehydrate food occasionally or only for yourself/small family. This little unit is a multi-tier electric dehydrator that can dry a variety of food items, including veggies and fruits, meat and fish. It’s simple to use too – with only one operational button and consistent running temperature of 180°F, all you have to do is place your food, click the button and let the machine do its thing.
The Nutrichef PKFD12 has 5 stackable trays and heat circulation that travels through each of that tray quickly and evenly. It also comes in two colors – white and black – so it’s easy to pick the unit that best complements your kitchen.
Operates at a consistent temperature of around 180°F
5 stackable trays
Heat circulation evenly dehydrates food
Great for making jerky
- Weight6.9 pounds
Tribest Sedona Express SDE-S6780-B
Last, but certainly not the least on our list, is the Tribest’s Sedona Express food dehydrator. This high-quality, durable and elegant looking dehydrator is one of the most advanced machines on the market. This doesn’t mean it’s complicated to use though – on the contrary, this unit has a brightly lit LED digital display on the front panel that is super-simple to use. The Tribest boasts 11 stainless steel trays with an advanced TST feature that speeds up the dehydration process significantly. With an adjustable thermostat from 75 to 167°F, this fruit, veggie, herb and meat dehydrator allows you to properly dry pretty much any food item that exists.
The unit has a powerful central fan and overheat protection, ensuring maximum efficiency and safety. Importantly, it also has a continuous operation mode feature which allows you to dehydrate for up to 99 hours at a time! But that’s not all – the Tribest model comes with a washable and reusable air filter so you never have to worry about flavor mixing.
11 stainless steel trays
User-friendly LED digital display
TST feature, overheat protection
Washable, reusable air filter
Powerful central fan
- Weight20.4 pounds
Food Dehydrator Buying Guide & FAQ
Having your own food dehydrator is amazing – not only can you make your own healthy snacks (hello, dried mango), you can also make your pet some healthy treats too, plus save a lot of money in the process. But finding the best food dehydrator is no easy task. There is durability to think about, safety, price, and of course, how well and how fast the machine is actually able to dehydrate your food. To help you find the right unit for your needs, we’ve put together this buying guide. Here, we talk about the things you should look for in a quality food dehydrator, types of different machines, as well as benefits of using a dehydrator on a regular basis.
What to Look for in a Food Dehydrator
To purchase a great dehydrator, look at the features the machine has and compare them to your needs. For example, some people cannot live without an adjustable thermostat, while others not only can, but prefer a unit that works at a constant temperature all on its own. So while we can list various features and technologies it’s good to have in a dehydrator, what’s really important is to get a machine that fits your needs first and foremost.
In nay case, it’s best to focus on the basic design elements and features.
- Size and Capacity
Preparing and then drying your own food is usually a lengthy process, so larger-capacity dehydrators can save you precious time if you have a lot of food to dry. That said, larger-capacity machines take up more space than smaller-capacity ones. The trick is to find a unit that is compact enough to fit on your countertop (or wherever else you plan to place it) but that still can dry quite a lot of food. Look for smart designs – machines that are on the smaller side but can hold several trays and be expanded if necessary. Of course, if you plan on drying smaller batches of food, it’s more than okay to purchase smaller-capacity dehydrators.
- Consistent Drying
To dehydrate a batch of food properly, you need a machine that dries consistently and evenly across all trays. The good ones will do that all on its own, without you having to rearrange the trays. Look for units with powerful fans (where they’re placed doesn’t seem to matter that much) and good drying systems – systems that evenly dry food items no matter which tray they’re placed on. Do bear in mind that sometimes, even the greatest units won’t be able to dry foods in the corners well, meaning you may have to actually rearrange the trays from time to time. This depends on the model you buy, though.
- Extra Features
While some folks want to dry the most conventional foods only (such as apples and peppers), others want to dehydrate everything they can get their hands on. Look for simple or highly versatile dehydrators depending on which group you fall into. If you plan to make lots of jerky meats, definitely check out the features of the unit and whether or not it’s suitable for drying meat (meat requires higher drying temperature). Likewise, if you want to dry small food items such as herbs, make sure the unit you like has optimal drying temperature, as well as a fine-mesh mat (alternatively, you can use small pieces of baking paper).
Benefits of Food Dehydrators
Dehydrating your own food comes with a host of benefits, including:
- Healthier snacks
Whether you want some quick and healthy snacks for yourself when working, or for your kids while in school, dried fruit such as apricots, plums and mango are great options.
- Food portability
Dehydrated foods are not only healthy and tasty, they’re also lightweight. As a result, they’re perfect for traveling, hiking, camping, etc. They’re also ideal for packing in school lunch boxes.
- Cost savings
Not only are homemade dehydrated foods cheaper than store-bought, with a proper dehydrator, youcan buy lots of foods on sale or in bulk and preserve them for later.
- Efficient storing
Because dried foods are more lightweight, they take about one-sixth of their original storage shape. The reduction in size means that you can store a lot more food in much smaller areas – perfect for smaller apartments or houses.
Types of Food Dehydrators
There are two main types of food dehydrators: those with vertical airflow and those with horizontal airflow. To help you decide which is better suited for your needs, let’s talk about each type in detail.
- Vertical Airflow Dehydrators
These machines have stackable trays which create a heating chamber. Here, a fan is mounted either on the top or base of the unit, circulating the air throughout the chamber. These types of dehydrators typically cost a little less than horizontal airflow types, and they also have a smaller footprint. Many models are expandable, but you can’t dry any food item that is thicker than the depth of the tray. For drying sliced fruits and veggies and thin meat stripes, this is not a problem, but it is something to keep in mind if you want to dry bulkier food items.
- Horizontal Airflow Dehydrators
Dehydrators with horizontal airflow have slide-in trays and typically look like small convection ovens. The fan is mounted in the back of the machine, blowing hot air over the drying trays. These type of dehydrators offer more versatility because you can remove some of the trays (or all) to place bigger food items. As a result, they’re usually bigger and more expensive than vertical airflow units.
How to Use a Dehydrator
To properly dehydrate your food, whether you’re drying veggies or fruits of meat, it’s important to closely follow the instructions that come with your machine. That said, there are some basic dehydrating tips and tricks that work/should be followed no matter the model you use.
- Prepare the food properly
Before you start dehydrating your food, make sure it's thoroughly washed, peeled, cut and/or sliced. Some food items, such as low-acid veggies, should be steamed for about 10 minutes before dehydrating; others, such as bananas, are best spritzed with a little bit of lemon juice before drying.
- Make sure you’re drying at the right temperature
Different food items require different temperatures to dry properly. However, the ideal drying temperature also depends on the unit itself – always check the owner’s manual for the recommended drying time for each food item.
- Always dehydrate foods at least 95%
To be stored properly and for a long time, all foods need to be at least 95% dehydrated. In practice, this means your food items should be dry, hard and crunchy, not soft, spongy or sticky.
- Don’t dehydrate the food too quickly
While different food items will need to dehydrate for different amounts of time, it’s safe to say that most will require between 8 to 12 hours. Generally, there’s no need to worry about over-drying your food, but there is about under-drying it.
Food Dehydrators FAQ:
Q: What is a food dehydrator and how does it work?
A: A food dehydrator is a small appliance that dries or dehydrates a variety of foods by using a built-in fan and circulating hot air. The flow of heated air reduces the water content found in food, making it shelf stable for much longer.
Q: What temperature should I dry my food at?
A: This depends on the food items you plan to dry, as well as the model you’re using. That said, most foods should be dried at 130°F, although meat and fish require a higher temperature - around 155°F. A (very) rough guide:
- Meat and fish 155°F
- Fruits 135°F
- Vegetables 125°F
- Herbs 95°F.
Q: Why can't I just use my oven?
A: Because ovens don’t offer precise temperature control at lower temperatures, dehydrating foods this way can be a hit and miss. Also, even and consistent air flow is important for proper dehydration of food, so if your oven doesn’t circulate air sufficiently, you won’t be able to thoroughly and safely dry your foods. This is especially a problem when using low temperatures.
Q: What is the best way to store the food once it is dry?
A: To keep your dry food fresh and safe for as long as possible, let it cool first and then place it in an airtight container or a freezer bag. You can also use vacuum-sealing, as this gives the best shelf life possible. As a bonus, vacuum-sealed bags take up less space!
Our Top Pick
While all units featured in our Top List are good-quality products, our No.1 choice is the Nesco Snackmaster, Pro Food Dehydrator FD-75A. This versatile little dehydrator has an adjustable thermostat between 95º - 160º F, so you can dry all kinds of food items with ease, including fruits and veggies, meat, fish and herbs. With 5 drying trays, the unit is compact and easy to place and store – perfect for drying smaller batches. And if you need more space? No problem, the Nesco Snackmaster is expandable up to 12 trays. Importantly, the machine is also very reasonably priced, making it one of the best food dehydrators around.
- How to Use a Food Dehydrator - WikiHow
- How Does a Food Dehydrator Work? - Live Strong