Best food dehydrator
Are you tired of wasting money on dehydrated food you buy from the store? Then it’s time to invest in a food dehydrator! Since the convenience of such an appliance cannot be questioned if you love dehydrated foods, why not look for the best food dehydrator?
The market is filled with options and you can find a unit that is perfect for you. To make your job easier, in this article, we reviewed only the top-rated ones.
Keep reading the buying guide and find the best food dehydrator today!
Overview of Best Foodf Dehydrators
Why Dehydrate Foods?
Dehydrating foods offers many advantages and benefits. This includes:
Food Tastes Great
Dehydrators remove moisture from foods like vegetables, meats, and fruits. As a result, the food you create is delicious, rich, and concentrated. Since you’re drying the food yourself, you know the freshness and quality of the ingredients. This is not the case when you buy dehydrated foods from the grocery store.
Extend Food Shelf Life
Food dehydrators drastically reduce food waste. The leftover vegetables and fruits you have in your house can be dried. In this way, you will extend shelf life by up to 2 years, if you properly store them after dehydration. At the same time, you save money because you no longer throw away such foods.
The drying process works great for many types of vegetables including beetroot, sweet potatoes, green beans, carrots, turnips, and kale. You can buy bulk quantities during their peak season and then dehydrate them to save money. In addition, you will be able to enjoy the flavors of your favorite vegetables and fruits year-round.
Whenever you have too many foods and not enough time to eat them prior to getting bad, you can get your dehydrator out and dry fruits and vegetables before they spoil.
Create Very Healthy Foods
When you dehydrate foods, you need just one ingredient – the food you plan to dry. The drying process is 100% natural. Furthermore, during the drying process, you don’ lose any essential fibers or minerals. With steaming, cooking, and preservation methods, you involuntarily reduce the nutritional content of your foods. But zero nutritional content is lost during dehydration.
Most people associate dried fruits and vegetables with healthy snacks. Homemade dried fruits and veggies are indeed healthy and nutritious because you have full control over the ingredients you use. You don’t have to add preservatives or additives so you control everything that goes into the food you consume. However, dehydrating is not limited to the use of fruits and vegetables. You can also use your dehydrator for meats, fish, and herbs.
Store-bought processed snacks are expensive. The same thing goes for organic dehydrated foods, as they are oftentimes overpriced. When you have a good dehydrator at home, you get to save a lot of money because you get to make your own dehydrated foods.
In addition, food dehydrators are highly efficient. For instance, with a standard six trays dehydrator, the process costs under $1 for 8 hours of drying time. This is typically the average price you pay for a small bag of veggie or fruit chips. It goes without saying that you can make a whole lot more snacks with dehydrators.
You can buy in bulk from the grocery store to save even more money or visit the farmer’s market for discounted prices. Having dried snacks available is perfect for family outings like trekking or camping and is great for a large family as a whole.
Very Efficient Storing
When you dry foods, they end up taking under one-sixth of the original storage space. They do not need to be frozen or refrigerated; all you need to do is pack the dried foods in clean insect-proof containers or even in plastic containers that have tight lids. Some people prefer vacuum seal bags for a more thorough portion size control. All dried foods can easily be stored inside a pantry. The size reduction is important because it allows you to preserve food without worrying about storage space.
How Do Food Dehydrators Work?
Home food dehydrators are usually small appliances you use to dry fruits, seeds, vegetables, meats, fish, and herbs. They are perfect when you have fruit trees in your garden, berry bushes, you grow fresh vegetables or you simply love dehydrated foods.
Dehydrators come in different sizes and can include a varying number of trays or shelves. To make dried foods, you place the fresh fruits or veggies on the designated drying space. The appliance uses heated air flow to dry them. Usually, the dehydrator generates very gentle heat to dry foods at an even and slow rate. The big benefit of this process is that organic matter is preserved and the fruit or vegetable case does not harden during the process.
Case hardening happens in meats, vegetables, and fruits when they are heated very fast. Simply put, a seal forms on the outside of the food and traps moisture in. This can be really dangerous because the environment created inside the food is suitable for the growth of dangerous mold and bacteria. Thus, when you dehydrate, you want to remove as much water as possible.
Every single food dehydrator on the market works a little differently when it comes to the dehydration rate. This tends to vary a lot because there are many things that can influence the process. However, as a general rule, thicker, denser foods take longer to dry and softer foods like fruit, easily break down and can be dehydrated fast.
Food dehydrators are generally very reliable, however, the most important thing to remember when you work with a brand new food dehydrating machine is that there is always a learning curve. You need to familiarize yourself with appropriate sizes to use for drying different meats, vegetables, and fruits. This takes some time but, after you get used to the machine’s settings, you will always get a good result.
How To Choose The Best Dehydrator For You
Not all dehydrators are equipped with the same tools and features. You should always buy the food dehydrator that is the very best for you. In order to do that, consider the following factors:
Total Drying Space
How much will you dehydrate in one go? The answer to this question allows you to choose a food dehydrator of an appropriate size. Some people need large capacity dehydrators while others need compact units.
What foods will you dehydrate? The unit you choose needs to be able to accommodate your dried food needs. Each food requires a different temperature range so check the temperature settings before buying a dehydrator. For instance, when you make jerky, the temperature has to be over 145 degrees Fahrenheit and you’ll need a machine that can produce this air temperature.
There are many different sizes to choose from. To make the correct choice, look at the available table or counter space. Do you have enough space for a large capacity dehydrator? If not, look at smaller models. Also, do not forget about storage space for the dried food and the appliance.
If you only now started dehydrating food, you most likely need a small unit. If you have been doing this for a long time, there is a good possibility you want something larger. In both cases, you can opt for a stackable dehydrator.
A disadvantage of the stackable food dehydrator design is that drying is not as even as with the shelf and box-type design. However, the best designs are always more expensive.
Always analyze the warranty offered by the manufacturer. Usually, the best options are offered by companies that have a good customer service reputation. This is particularly important when you buy an expensive model.
When you browse through the countless food dehydrators on the market, you see numerous features and accessories. They can vary a lot from one model to the next. As expected, extras increase the price tag of the appliance. To make the best choice, set a budget and think about what is vital for you.
Simple Tips For using Dehydrators Successfully
Buying a food dehydrator is not enough if you want to make the best-dehydrated foods at home. The appliance can only do so much, thus, it is important to know how to use it properly. At the same time, there are things you need to be aware of if you want to simplify the process.
• Food needs to have the same size. If it doesn’t, it is impossible to achieve even drying. With a kitchen knife, it’s nearly impossible to cut uniform pieces, therefore, it is better to utilize a food processor or a mandolin slicer to properly cut food.
• Always be aware of the foods you dry. Some foods do not give out a pleasant smell during the drying process. Onions and mushrooms, for example. The best thing you can do if you want to dehydrate such foods is to put the food dehydrator in an enclosed space. Just make sure that the air is not too humid as this can spoil the process.
• The mounted fan can get loud. If the noise bothers you, place the dehydrator in an enclosed space and run it during the night.
• Check if the food is dried after the dehydrator finished its programmed time. All food needs to be fully dried before you store it. Let the food cool and try to break it. If the food does not snap, it means it is not fully dried yet. You will need to dehydrate more if you want to be able to store it safely.
• When you notice that fruits turn brown during dehydration, mix water and lemon juice in a container and use the solution to spray the fruits. This is not a mandatory step but lemon juice will keep fruits from browning.
• If the trays of the dehydrator are not non-stick, add a light coat of cooking oil to the tray before you add foods. This oftentimes happens with plastic trays.
• When you make jerky, you need to be very careful when you select the meat. Always choose really lean cuts for making jerky. This prevents having fat from turning rancid during the process.
• Every food dehydrator includes a user’s manual. Before you use the machine, read the entire manual to know exactly what steps you need to follow to obtain the best results with the dehydrator.
Food Dehydrator FAQ
Before deciding what’s the best food dehydrator for you, here are some very common questions people ask before buying. The questions and answers will help you better understand how dehydrators work and what you can expect from one.
Is the dehydrator better than an oven?
Yes, because successful dehydration can only happen when you fully control air flow and air temperature. The dehydrator has much more precise control over temperature and air flow than any oven. In addition, the optimal dehydrating temperature is between 90 and 165 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the food that is dehydrated. Most ovens will not reach the low temperature and, with some ovens, there is no way to circulate air. Therefore, it is impossible for food to evenly dry.
What foods can be dehydrated?
The truth is there are way too many foods that can be dehydrated to list all of them. However, the most common ones are fruits like mangos, apples, and bananas, vegetables like mushrooms, onions, and peppers, nuts, herbs, pureed juices, meats, spaghetti sauces, granola, and eggs.
How are dehydrated foods used?
They can be eaten as they are or they can be reconstituted with the use of water for cooking purposes. When you make dishes that have high moisture, like soups, you can simply throw in dried foods without worrying the taste won’t be great.
How should dehydrated food be stored?
Any airtight container works well for storage, this includes glass jars and plastic containers. As long as the containers have airtight lids, they work great for storing dried foods. You can also use Ziploc bags but make sure you remove the air from the bag before sealing it. If you own a vacuum sealer, you can use it to remove all the air from the bag. For storage space, choose a cool and dark place. Oxygen absorbers can be added inside the container to increase shelf life even further. When dehydrated foods are properly stored, they can last for years.
Is there a difference between freeze-dried and dehydrated food?
When you freeze-dry food, you remove up to 99% of moisture. Dehydration removes up to 95%. This means that the shelf life of freeze-dried foods is longer, usually up to 30 years. You can freeze the dry foods at home but you would need very expensive machines and most people cannot afford them.
Dehydrated foods have a shelf life of around 2 years. This is usually more than enough for the average family and the costs of food dehydrators are much lower, with most machines being budget-friendly.
How is food nutritional value affected by dehydrating?
After dehydration, most minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates, calories, and fibers remain intact. The only exception is Vitamin C because it is highly sensitive to heat and air exposure. Even so, when compared to extreme temperatures utilized for freezing and canning, food dehydration has a minimal nutritional value effect.
Are food dehydrators only good for drying food?
No. The dehydrator can be used for many other purposes but this depends on the design. Some units are very versatile since all shelves can be removed and you get a lot of empty space to use while others have limited space available since just a shelf can be removed without affecting the overall structure of the unit. When possible, the dehydrator can be used to make potpourri, paper, dry flowers, yogurt, croutons, and garden seeds, among many other possible things.
The Best Food Dehydrators
Below you can read about the best food dehydrators you can use at home. Look at the features, pros, and cons before deciding which of these best food dehydrators is suitable for your needs.
Excalibur 3926TB 9-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator
The Excalibur 3926TB 9-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator features Hyperwave Fluctuation Technology. This helps keep food temperature low so that enzymes can remain active. At the same time, air temperature is high enough to overcome yeast, mold, spoilage, and, of course, dry the food. Most other dehydrators use unchanging, constant heat. This causes “case hardening”, which means that the surface is dry and moisture is trapped inside the food. Hyperwave Fluctuation Technology guarantees this is not the case so you never have to worry about bacteria, mold, and yeast growth.
Another interesting feature that is unique to Excalibur dehydrators is Parallex Horizontal Airflow. It offers even, fast dehydration. Basically, the thermostat, heating element, and fan are located in the back of the unit. The machine draws in cool air, heats it and then evenly distributes it over trays.
Overall, the food dehydrator is very easy to use and highly convenient. The adjustable thermostat allows control of temperatures between 105 and 165 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use it to make beef jerky, dry other meats, vegetables, and even fresh flowers for potpourri.
- Hyperwave Fluctuation Technology – Offers increased food drying security.
- 10-year Limited Coverage.
- Complete control over the temperature range and a 26-hour timer. Even strict jerky dehydrating safety standards are respected.
- Unique Patent – Parallex Horizontal Airflow.
- Very Easy To Use – The food dehydrator is perfect for sportsmen, large families, and even gardeners. Use it to dehydrate meat for jerky, vegetables, fruits, nuts, raise bread, and even make fully-natural pet treats. Some even use the dehydrator to make tasty homemade yogurt.
- Extra Accessories – Poly-screen tray inserts are included to prevent dehydrating foods from sticking.
- 9 Trays offering 15 square feet of space.
- 7-inch fan of 600 W.
- Dimensions – 12-1/2 x 17 x 19 inches.
- Fully made in the US.
- Unique patented technology
- Easy to use
- Large drying space
- Long warranty
- Slower dehydrating than other units
- While trays are BPA-free, the other plastic used is not
- Requires rotating trays from time to time for even drying
Excalibur 3900B 9-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator
The Excalibur 3900B 9-Tray dehydrator has adjustable thermostat temperature control that goes as high as 165 degrees so you can use this machine to safely dehydrate meat and make beef jerky. All the important elements are incorporated in the back. This includes the thermostat, heating element and the fan (7 inches). Just like the model analyzed before, the 3900B features Horizontal Parallexx Airflow and Hyperwave Technology to help dehydrate faster and retain more nutrients and the same time.
The unit features nine trays that offer 15 square feet you can use to dry. Case hardening is avoided and moisture will not be trapped inside because temperature constantly fluctuates to prevent the appearance of mold and bacteria. Food temperature is always low and never goes over 118 degrees to preserve enzymes and nutrients. You can go as high as 165 but only if you do this manually. However, this is not recommended unless you’re making jerky.
The poly-screen trays that come with the dehydrator are very easy to clean. Also, when you buy the food dehydrator you receive a limited 10-year warranty you can use if the dehydrator sops working due to manufacturing problems.
- Hyperwave Technology
- Horizontal Parallex Drying
- The dehydrator works slow to preserve as many enzymes and nutrients as possible
- Trays are made out of a very easy to clean material
- 10-year limited coverage warranty
- Dimensions 19 x 17 x 12.5 inches with a weight of 22 pounds
- Dehydrator uses 110 voltage and 600 W
- Automated temperature control for optimum dehydrating
- Long warranty
- Patented technology
- Adjustable thermostat
- Easy to clean poly-screen trays
- While the trays are easy to clean, this is not the case with the electronics and fans as they cannot be removed.
- No timer included so you have to check how the process goes manually.
- Turning needed.
COSORI Premium Food Dehydrator Machine
The COSORI Premium Food Dehydrator Machine was designed in California for home use. The machine has a sleek and modern design that features a glass door. This COSORI dehydrator comes with six stainless steel trays. The stainless steel utilized for making the trays is food-grade. Also, all tray liners are BPA-FREE certified.
You can use the dehydrator to make snacks, beef jerky, bread crumbs, and dog treats, and many other foods. You can even use it to preserve flowers and herbs.
The appliance is very easy to use. All you have to do is set the time and the temperature with the digital control panel. You can let the unit work for up to 48 hours, with the time set in 30-minute increments.
When used, the machine is quiet, under 48dB. This is actually the noise level that is usually recorded in a library. Safety is increased thanks to the auto-shutoff that turns off the machine when the processing the timer ends.
Easy cleanup is possible because both the trays and tray liners are dishwasher safe.
- Designed in California and includes 1 manual, 1 fruit roll sheet, 1 mesh screen and 6 trays made out of stainless steel.
- Dimensions: 13.4 x 17.8 x 12.4 inches and a weight of 23.4 lbs.
- Can hold up to 5 lbs of food to dehydrate at the same time.
- Digital control panel to control the timer and temperature.
- Very quiet while running.
- Increased safety features.
- Easy to clean and store.
- FDA compliant.
- Overheat protection.
- Very simple and intuitive use
- 30-minute increments for the timer
- Auto shut-off
- Reasonable price
- 50 free recipes booklet
- Not compatible with European voltage and plugs
- Due to overheating protection, the food dehydrator rarely goes over 140 degrees Fahrenheit
NESCO Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator FD-75A
The NESCO Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator FD-75A can easily dry numerous foods in just a few hours. It utilizes Converga-Flow drying, which involves air being forced up and then across dehydrating trays. The air converges in the middle and offers an even, nutritious, and quick drying. The fan is mounted on the top so that liquids cannot drip into the middle. The model includes 2 Clean-A-Screens, 2 Fruit Roll Sheets, an instruction book, and a recipe book.
The use of the Converga-Flow System allows an even heat distribution. This is advantageous and convenient as you no longer need to rotate the trays, which is a concern with other models. You can just let the machine work while you can do other things in the kitchen or around the house.
Those who are environmentally-conscious and who are particularly interested in health should be happy to learn that all drying trays are made out of reusable and certified BPA-free plastic. One tray offers 0.8 square feet of available drying space. If the food dehydrator is small for you, it can be expanded by up to 12 trays. This appliance is made in the US, with the exception of the powerhead, which is imported from China.
- Adjustable thermostat to control the temperature
- Powerful fan (top-mounted) of 600 W.
- 5 trays included but you can expand the dehydrator up to 12. One tray has a diameter of 13 ½ inches.
- Dimensions: 13.8 x 22.1 x 13.9 inches and a weight of 7.75 pounds.
- Opaque Vita-Save exterior – useful to block light that can destroy nutritional content as you dry food.
- Converga-Flow (patented) drying system that forces air to go horizontally for even drying and to avoid flavor mixing.
- BPA-Free trays
- Expandable when you need more dehydrating space
- Unique dehydration design
- Mostly made in the US
- Very affordable
- Dehydrating takes a longer time than advertised.
- Trays are made out of plastic so you need to be especially careful when handling them.
Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator
The Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator is a very good and affordable food dehydrator that is perfect for first-time users. As you try to see if you like dehydrating foods at home, the unit gives you access to all you need for a perfect beginner experience. All you have to do is add the foods and let the machine work.
The machine accommodates four trays to help you dehydrate foods at home for just a fraction of the cost of commercially dehydrated foods. Also, you do not need to add preservatives or additives. The cover allows you to monitor the drying progress of the top tray and the fan is mounted at the bottom. Consistent airflow is offered all throughout the dehydrator.
All the drying trays nest so compact storage is possible. The cord can be stored inside the base so when you are done with the dehydrator, you can just put it in a storage area and it will occupy a very small space. The cover and the drying trays can be washed in the dishwasher.
- See-through cover to allow you to monitor the dehydration process.
- Dimensions: 14.5 x 15 x 6.2 inches and a weight of 7.5 lbs.
- Bottom-mounted heating element and fan.
- Four-tray system.
- Easy to clean because of construction materials.
- Very easy to store because of the nesting design.
- The food dehydrator always operates at the same temperature.
- Very affordable
- Designed for first-timers
- Easy cleaning
- Instruction booklet included
- The device cannot be shut off as it continuously works when plugged in.
- Temperature is always around 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Hamilton Beach 32100A Digital Food Dehydrator
The Hamilton Beach 32100A Digital Food Dehydrator offers continuous air flow to guarantee even drying. You do not have to rotate your trays with this machine. All you have to do is line the trays and then adjust the timer and temperature. The unit will take care of everything else. The 32100A has a clear lid at the top so you can easily monitor the dehydration process.
You can use this food dehydrator to prepare all your favorite vegetables and fruits. Buy them, wash them, slice them, and put them inside the unit. For a consistent result, make sure to cut foods at the exact same thickness. Having the same shape and size allows you to get completely even dehydration.
If desired, the unit can also be utilized to dehydrate garden herbs like rosemary and basil. There is a special mesh screen included for herbs to prevent leaves from dropping through the trays.
- 48-hour timer.
- Auto shutoff – the food dehydrator shuts off as soon as the timer is over.
- 4 stackable trays included plus a fine-mess sheet for the smaller foods, like herbs. An extra solid sheet is included for fruit rolls.
- Adjustable digital thermostat allows you to adjust the drying temperature between 100 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Dimensions: 10.5 x 13 x 11 inches, with a weight of 8 lbs.
- The food dehydrator is very light and compact
- Perfect for first-time users
- Auto shutoff
- Extra mesh sheets added for specific foods
- Temperature reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit
- Dehydrating takes longer than with larger models because of the 500 watts heat source
- Can be difficult to clean due to several small parts
Right now, food dehydrators enjoy gaining popularity among health-conscious communities and it is very simple to understand why. besides allowing people to make healthy dried foods, these appliances tend to be very compact and budget-friendly. You can easily find one of a suitable size. Furthermore, the process of dehydration is a very simple one and it doesn’t require constant check-ups.
Consider the food dehydrators presented and see which one is best for you. Some people want a larger unit that can accommodate more foods at the same time while others just want something very simple and small for a few lbs of fruit drying during the season. No matter the case, there is a unit that is perfect for you.