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A food dehydrator can quickly turn into one of the most used kitchen appliances in your home. You can create snacks for a road trip, make your own beef jerky, or create great tasting fruit chips that everyone will love as a healthier snack alternative. In other words, having a dehydrator at home can transform your snacking habits into healthy treats filled with nutrients and enzymes.
However, there are a lot of questions that come up when thinking about buying a food dehydrator. Does it consume a lot of power? How much food can you dehydrate at once? Are all food dehydrators safe? How much money should you invest? Considering how many models with a diverse price range are available on the market today, it’s completely understandable if you’re confused.
This is why we scoured the market and brought you the best food dehydrators in several categories. We composed a detailed review of each product and designed our buying guide at the end of this article as a way to share with you the most important factors you need to consider when shopping for the best food dehydrator. Keep reading to learn how to make a smart buying decision!
The Best Food Dehydrators
Best Overall: NESCO Food Dehydrator and Jerky Maker
We chose the famous NESCO FD-80A as the best food dehydrator overall because we believe it is the right product for most people. The device is an amazing combination of a powerful motor, decent space with the ability to add more if you want, and a more than fair price. The NESCO FD-80A is the best food dehydrator for both beginners and experienced cooks who enjoy dehydrating food at home.
One of the best features of this unit is the powerful top-mounted fan that has a patented Converga-Flow drying system. The system forces air to travel horizontally across each individual tray, guaranteeing evenly dried food without the need to rotate trays.
Additionally, the unit has a solid finish exterior that helps block harmful light. Light can destroy the nutritional content of food that’s being dehydrated, so the NESCO model has covered this pretty well.
Although the NESCO FD-80A comes with 4 trays, you can buy more additionally and expend the device up to 8 trays. The best thing about this expandable feature is that you can buy as many trays as you need. If you only need one additional tray, you can buy just the one. Plus, you can start with the four trays that are included and upgrade the device later, when you know exactly how much more space you need.
If you’re a beginner and this is your first food dehydrator, then you’ll find the instruction booklet that comes with the product very beneficial. You’ll find information on how to dry different foods and even recipes on how to create delicious dried food meals.
The trays are dishwasher-safe for the top shelf only, but need to be removed before the drying cycle begins. In reality, this means it’s probably easier to wash them by hand with warm water and soap.
Another drawback of this model is that the fan is positioned on top. You can’t take out a tray while the device is still running, which you can with some higher-end models like Sedona Express and Excalibur 3926TB.
Also, the warranty is only 1 year, as opposed to Sedona Express and Excalibur 3926TB, which have 10-year warranties.
The NESCO FD-80A food dehydrator offers the best market value, which might be one of the reasons why it’s a bestseller among food dehydrators. We chose it as it’s a great fit for most kitchens. Regardless of your experience with drying food, the NESCO FD-80A can dry fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs, species, and even semi-liquid foods.
Best Quality: Tribest Sedona Express
We recommend the Tribest Sedona Express model for anyone who’s looking for the best quality food dehydrator available on the market today. It’s a very high-end food dehydrator with a sturdy construction, stainless steel trays, and a variety of advanced features. Made to last, the Sedona Express comes with a 10-years limited warranty that completely justifies its high price.
As we already mentioned, one of the most impressive features of Sedona Express is the 10-years warranty, which guarantees you’ll be drying food for at least the next 10 years with this device.
When it comes to the unit itself, the Sedona Express is made of non-flammable and BPA-free plastic body and stainless steel trays. The trays allow for more airflow because the wires are thinner than plastic, and there’s more spacing in between.
The Sedona Express has a functional design with a glass door on the front that enables you to insert or extract trays while the device is still running. This is especially beneficial for when you’re drying foods with different drying times.
The 11 stainless steel mesh trays are quite wide, and you have an impressive 9.9 square feet drying space. You can easily satisfy the snacking needs of your whole family in one batch.
Best of all, all digital controls and the display for temperature and time are located in front of the unit. This makes the whole unit very easy to operate.
It’s very hard to find any disadvantages to this model, however, some people have noticed that the green indicator light is dim and hard to see.
The Sedona Express SDE-S6780-B is our top pick as the highest quality food dehydrator because of the way it’s constructed, the stainless steel trays, the large space, and the 10-year warranty. It’s a lot pricier than the other models, but if you’re looking for a durable and multi-use device, the SDE-S6780-B model is well worth it.
Best on a Budget: Presto Dehydro
The Presto 06300 Dehydro electric food dehydrator is one of the simplest, basic food processors that are still able to efficiently dehydrate a variety of food ingredients. It’s our top pick for anyone that’s on a budget or buying a food dehydrator for the first time.
The Presto 06300 Dehydro is very easy-to-use. Simply prepare the food, line it on the trays, close the device, and plug it in. There are no complex settings that you can get wrong.
Another advantage for people who like simplicity is that the unit is very easy to clean and can be washed in a dishwasher.
Considering its price, the Presto 06300 Dehydro comes with a powerful fan and heater of 600 watts. This is almost the same power as our best overall model, the NESCO FD-80A.
The unit also has an expandable feature, which means that although it comes with only four trays, you can buy up to four more and expand the drying space.
The Presto 06300 Dehydro doesn’t have temperature control, which means you’ll have to babysit the process every once in a while to make sure the food doesn’t overdry.
Also, you need to rotate the trays approximately every two hours to make sure that the food is dried evenly.
The Presto 06300 Dehydro food dehydrator is a decent model with all the basic functionalities you need so you can easily dehydrate a variety of foods. It’s a great choice for beginners or people who dehydrate food every once in a while.
If you want to find out more about the Presto Dehydro, check out our detailed product review.
Best Large Capacity: Excalibur 3926TB
For some people, dehydrating food is a big part of their cooking habits. Therefore, if you’re an enthusiast who’s regularly dehydrating herbs, fruits, and vegetables as snacks, meat, fish, and even pet treats, we recommend Excalibur 3926TB as it’s one of the best food dehydrators out there with a large drying space capacity.
The Excalibur 3926TB comes with nine trays that allow up to 15 square feet of drying space. It’s more than enough for an upcoming party, a special event, or simply a week’s supplies of your favorite snacks.
The Excalibur has a patented Parallex Horizontal Airflow that helps food dehydrate faster, yet still retain more nutrients.
Additionally, the unit features a 26-hour timer and an adjustable thermostat (105 to 165°F). The range of the temperature is low enough so it can preserve active enzymes in fruits and vegetables, but it’s also high enough to meet safety standards for dehydrating meat for jerky.
Just like the Sedona Express, the Excalibur 3926TB comes with a 10-year warranty, which is probably the longest warranty in the industry. You can dehydrate foods while knowing that you’ll use this product for at least a decade.
Many customers were unsatisfied with the shipping, so be careful when choosing a seller when ordering online. The manufacturer probably won’t reimburse defects caused by shipping, so it’s a good idea to ask for insurance that the product will be delivered as promised.
The Excalibur 3926TB is a well-known model that’s proven to fit the needs of many families for years. It’s the perfect device for large families, pet lovers, or gardeners. The unit comes with a large drying space capacity, adjustable temperature, and a 10-year warranty to make sure customers feel confident when making this purchase.
Check out our product review about the Excalibur 3926TB to make sure you don’t miss out on any detail.
The best food dehydrator overall is the NESCO FD-80A. We chose it due to it being a high-quality product that offers a variety of functionalities for a fair price.
The unit is safe, practical, and can be left alone while dehydrating without any need for you to concern yourself with re-ordering the trays like in other models within the same price range. It comes with a thermostat for adjusting the temperature, and even has an expandable feature which compensates for the smaller dehydrating space capacity.
The best quality food dehydrator is the Tribest Sedona Express SDE-S6780-B as it outshines other models with its sturdy BPA-free construction and stainless steel trays. Plus, it comes with a large dehydrating space capacity, and a glass door for monitoring, inserting, and extracting trays while the device is still running. If you’re willing to pay the higher price, the Tribest Sedona Express SDE-S6780-B is worth every cent.
However, if you’re on a tight budget, don’t worry, because the Presto 06300 Dehydro has proved to be an amazing device for the money. It’s very simple and has only the basic functionalities. However, if you’re dehydrating food every once in a while or this is your first time buying a food dehydrator, it’s hard to imagine that you’ll need anything more.
Finally, our top pick for people who use food dehydrators very frequently or they’re used to dehydrating a large amount of food, is the Excalibur 3926TB. It’s a very high-quality device, and the model itself is very reputable among food dehydrating enthusiasts. You can easily insert or remove trays while the device is still running. Plus, the exclusive airflow system ensures equally dried food on all trays.
In case you still think you’re missing something, we also reviewed the STX International Dehydra food dehydrator, so make sure to check it out.
Tips For Dehydrating Different Food Ingredients
Food dehydrators can seem as complicated devices at first, and even intimidating for people who’ve never dehydrated food before. However, you’ll see that once you’re familiar with the rules for dehydrating different foods, you’ll feel confident to start dehydrating on your own.
The first thing we should mention are the multiple trays that can be utilized so you can dehydrate foods in bulk. How food dehydrators are designed and how the trays are inserted or removed from the food dehydrator’s body is one of the most important factors that separate cheaper from higher-end models. The main reason for this is that different foods require different dehydrating time. If you’re dehydrating a large amount of food in bulk, it’s very beneficial to be able to remove one tray while the others keep dehydrating.
3 Basic Rules for Selecting the Foods You Can Dehydrate
Food dehydrators can help you to quickly preserve savory foods that you might use for cooking as well. One of the most commonly dehydrated foods in this category is the mushroom. Many mushrooms are small enough that they don’t have to be sliced in order to fit on the appliance’s tray. This allows for a concentration of flavor that will create tasty dishes once you begin to rehydrate them for cooking. You can eat them when they’re dehydrated too, if you wish!
The reality is that you can dehydrate just about anything. It’s a lot of fun to experiment with different foods to see what you like, what you don’t like, and what ends up being too much of a mess to be worthwhile. In general, you’ll want to follow three basic rules when it comes to selecting the foods you’ll want to dehydrate:
- High-quality products dehydrate better because the moisture content is often better, so select fresh items that are fairly ripe.
- Because the dehydration process enhances the flavors of the food, avoid items that have blemishes or bruises on them.
- You’ll want to utilize food items that can dry fairly well, like apples or bananas, without much difficulty so that you can enhance the productivity of your machine.
Because almost anything can be dried, it often comes down to the amount of time that you have for food dehydration. Foods like grapes or cherries can be dried as whole fruits, but this takes a lot of extra time. Sliced fruit, on the other hand, dries a lot faster.
If you’re thinking about dehydrating meat to make your own jerky, the good news is that every type of animal protein can be used to create homemade treats. The first step is to partially freeze the meat because this makes it easier to slice. You’ll want to make sure the meat is lean, without a lot of fat, because the fat won’t dehydrate much and can make the jerky go bad quickly.
You’ll also want to follow these hints for jerky success.
- If you’re using pork or wild game proteins, such as elk or venison, then you’ll need to have this meat prepared before dehydrating it to prevent disease formation.
- Lean beef is the best meat for dehydrating.
- Use slices that are ¼ inch thin or less to experience the best results.
- Consider marinating the animal protein before dehydrating it, so you can get better flavor.
- Cut against the grain for tender jerky.
Once you start utilizing a food dehydrator, you’ll find that it can be quite addicting! Whether you want to dehydrate veggies, fruits, or meat, your imagination is the only real limit there is to what this appliance can do for your healthy eating habits!
What Are the Advantages of a Good Food Dehydrator?
Why should you consider dehydrating food? For many households, it’s all about convenience. This appliance can create natural snacks that don’t require refrigeration in order to maintain their quality. Once you’ve completed a full water extraction cycle, you simply need to store the food in your preferred container, and that’s all there is to it. That means you can throw some jerky in with lunch, fruit chips for an after-school snack, or just always have something on hand for a grab-and-go bite to eat.
The second advantage that you’ll receive with the purchase of a good food dehydrator is that you’ll be able to save a lot of money on your snacking needs. With the prices of pre-packaged snacks increasing, you’ll be able to start making your own fruit or veggie chips, beef jerky, or your preferred snacks that you eat every day from fresh ingredients.
The third advantage concerns your health. Food dehydrators won’t destroy the nutrients and enzymes in foods, plus, you won’t add refined sugar or additives to your ingredients – so automatically, you’re getting much healthier snacks. If you use the food dehydrator regularly and you stop buying snacks from the store, you might even lose weight (if that’s one of your goals). Sugary foods with preservatives have a lot of calories and won’t fill you up. A food dehydrator will help you eat better, lower-calorie foods that have good nutrition content.
The final advantage is food preservation. The water in food is mainly responsible for spoiled food because it encourages the development of mold and rot. When the water is extracted by a food dehydrator, you’re starting a natural preservation process that enhances flavors as a side effect. For many, that’s the best advantage of all!
How To Find the Best Food Dehydrator?
To enjoy the advantages of a good dehydrator, you need to make sure you’re buying a high-quality product that meets your specific needs. However, this task can be tricky sometimes, which is why we’re sharing the most important factors you need to consider before making a buying decision.
Fan And Heater
The fan and the heating element are the two most important factors you should consider when looking for a food dehydrator. Most devices use 300 to 1,000 watts of power for the fan and heater, but this depends on the dehydrator model. The power itself is not as important as the airflow system though. In other words, you should look for a device that has an even airflow system, guaranteeing that ingredients on all shelves will be dried evenly. The heater should come with an adjustable thermostat, so you can control the temperature, as the temperature varies for different foods.
How big of an appliance do you need? Larger families typically need larger food dehydrators to meet their needs. Think about the amount of dehydrated food you’ll eat throughout the week and then choose an appliance that can easily dehydrate that food quantity at once. Larger food dehydrators cost more, but using a small dehydrator very frequently can bump up the electricity bill significantly, which can end up costing you more in the long run.
Some food dehydrators only allow you to extract water from one type of food at a time. The best appliances will allow you to dehydrate multiple foods at once without causing the flavors to mix during the drying process. Keep this in mind, as you might end up with a dehydrator with a very limited function. All of our recommendations are food dehydrators that can be used with a variety of ingredients in one batch.
To dehydrate food, many of these appliances need to run for several hours at a time (some dehydrators will process food for 24 or even 48 hours). You’ll want to look for devices that are energy-saving or Energy Star appliances so that it won’t cost a lot to receive all of the benefits of a food dehydrator.
Before You Go
Take your time when deciding on the best food dehydrator for your home, and don’t settle for anything that doesn’t satisfy your current needs. We hope that with our recommendations in four different categories, we showed you there’s something for everyone. However, if you’re still undecided, don’t hesitate to follow the links for each product, and check out their in-depth specifications, specific prices, and customer reviews.
Also, while you’re here, you might be interested in other product reviews and buying guides we’ve written so you can find the best kitchen appliances you need, or check our delicious recipes you use for inspiration while using the food dehydrator.
Want to see our favorite food dehydrators one more time before you go? Here they are!
Amazon product information last updated on January 24, 2021. Images, prices and links from Amazon Product Advertising API.