The best food dehydrator allows you to dry your own foods to make kale chips, beef jerky, fruit leather, and more. You control the heat settings and drying time to get the results you desire.
Finding healthy alternatives to store-bought snacks can be expensive and options are limited. If you want nutrient rich snacks without added ingredients, then purchasing one makes sense.
Food dehydrators remove moisture from foods to preserve them using a heating element and an airflow system. They’re also designed to help retain the nutrients of foods during the drying process.
Removing moisture from fruits, vegetables, and meats also helps eliminate bacteria growth. The end result is healthy, dried foods that are long-lasting without added preservatives.
- Food & Fruit Dehydrator Comparison Table
- Our Reviews of the 7 Top Food Dehydrators
- 1. Best Overall Pick-Excalibur 9-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator
- 2. Best Comprehensive Pick-Presto 06301 Dehydro Digital Electric Food Dehydrator
- 3. Best User-Friendly Pick-NESCO Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator
- 4. Best Small Pick-Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator
- 5. Best Budget Pick- NutriChef Electric Food Dehydrator Machine
- 6. Best Expandable Pick-Nesco Gardenmaster Food Dehydrator
- 7. Best Shelf-Style Pick-Aroma Housewares Professional 6 Tray Food Dehydrator
- Food Dehydrator Buying Guide
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Q: What are the best foods to dehydrate?
- Q: What are live foods?
- Q: How do you know when food is completely dehydrated?
- Q: Is dehydrated food healthy?
- Q: How do you store dehydrated food?
- Q: How long does dehydrated food last?
- Q: Is it possible to over-dehydrate food?
- Q: How do you keep food from sticking in a dehydrator?
Food & Fruit Dehydrator Comparison Table
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Our Reviews of the 7 Top Food Dehydrators
We conducted thorough research to choose the best food dehydrators using the following criteria: overall product design, value, heat/airflow system, temperature range, dehydration time, product maintenance, and warranties. Our in-depth review can help you decide which brand is ideal for you.
1. Best Overall Pick-Excalibur 9-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator
This 9-tray electric food dehydrator by Excalibur is a popular model that’s easy to use and packed with great features. The fan and heating element are located on the back of this square dehydrator.
This design emits heat and air evenly over each individual tray. You can easily remove trays if you need to dehydrate large/bulky items.
Excalibur also uses unique Hyperwave Fluctuation technology. This technology keeps the food temperature low enough to ensure food enzymes stay active.
The Parallex Horizontal Airflow is a patented Excalibur design. It ensures that heat and air evenly flow over every tray. This exclusive design reduces dehydration time, retains more food nutrients, and produces great results without the need for tray rotation.
Other easy-to-use features include an adjustable thermostat and 26-hour timer, a built-in on/off switch, a 26-hour timer, a non-stick tray insert, and more. Additionally, this food dehydrator can be used for raising bread dough, drying flowers, and even for arts and crafts projects. The user guide covers even more unique uses for this product.
This model measures 12.5 x 17 x 19 inches and weighs 22 lbs. The fan measures 7 inches, which offers great air circulation for drying.
The nine tray design offers more than 15 square feet of drying space. At the same time, the air temperature gets high enough to thoroughly dry food to eliminate the risks of mold or spoilage.
This Excalibur is priced higher than others on our list. While it may not suit every budget, it’s a great investment if you have the budget.
The trays and mesh sheets are not dishwasher safe. You’ll need to clean them by hand with mild dish soap and warm water. This isn’t a huge issue but it’s worth noting.
You’re also protected by a five-year manufacturer warranty. Defects in product parts or overall workmanship are covered. This solid warranty certainly adds to the value of this pick.
- Parallex Horizontal Airflow design for fast drying with even results.
- Hyperwave Fluctuation technology protects active food enzymes.
- 15 square feet of drying space ideal for bulk dehydration.
- Five-year manufacturer warranty.
- Priced higher than other options.
- Trays and mesh sheets not dishwasher-safe.
2. Best Comprehensive Pick-Presto 06301 Dehydro Digital Electric Food Dehydrator
This food dehydrator features a six-tray system that’s expandable up to 12 trays. The digital thermostat and timer allow for precise drying time and temperature.
A see-through cover allows you to monitor the drying process, too. In addition, the consistent airflow design eliminates the need for tray rotation.
This model has the widest temperature range and lowest temperature setting out of all Presto food dehydrator models. It makes it easy to adjust the temperature to suit the specific food you’re dehydrating. Additionally, this model features a space-saving storage design for even more convenience.
The six-tray design of this food dehydrator provides approximately six square feet of drying space. It expands up to 12 trays, so you can easily preserve large quantities of food. You also get two fruit roll sheets and two nonstick mesh screen trays for more versatility.
The bottom-mounted fan and heating element provide consistent airflow for even and quick drying. Therefore, you don’t have to rotate the trays to get the results you want.
The digital timer lets you select any drying time up to 48 hours. This offers a lot of flexibility if you plan to dehydrate foods that require different drying times. Also, the timer has an automatic shut-off feature so you don’t have to constantly monitor.
This model measures 14.5 x 15 x 7.25 inches and weighs 8.5 lbs. The digital thermostat features a temperature range of 90 to 165 degree Fahrenheit. Temperatures are set at five-degree increments. This is another feature that adds to the versatility of this food dehydrator.
Unique storage features also add to the convenience of this food dehydrator. The drying trays nest when they’re not in use, and this, reduces vertical storage space by 43%. Additionally, the power cord stores inside the base. You may easily find space for this appliance in your kitchen.
There are two minor cons though. The extra trays for expansion are not included, but they can be purchased separately in packs of two. This isn’t ideal but may not be an issue for some users.
This model has a short electrical cord and may require the use of an extension cord. It is somewhat inconvenient for users, but the short cord design is safer in the kitchen and reduces clutter on your counter.
Cleanup is simple because the drying trays and cover are fully immersible in warm water and are dishwasher safe. Other brands don’t have dishwasher-safe accessories, so this is a great convenient feature.
The manufacturer covers this product with a one-year limited warranty for defects only if the product is used in a household setting. You can choose to have your food dehydrator replaced or repaired.
- Digital thermostat and timer for precise settings.
- Automatic shut-off so food doesn’t overdry.
- Dishwasher safe trays/accessories for convenient cleaning.
- One-year limited manufacturer warranty.
- Short cord may require use of extension cord.
- Trays for expansion not included.
3. Best User-Friendly Pick-NESCO Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator
The NESCO Snackmaster offers essential features and much more for a competitive price. Its exterior stops light from depleting nutritional content during dehydration.
The top mounted fan is powerful enough to dehydrate food in hours versus days. You can dry different foods at the recommended/ideal temperature for each one since the thermostat is adjustable.
We like that this food dehydrator goes above and beyond must-have features. It has an expandable tray design, and the drying pressure adjusts according to the number of trays used.
You get numerous useful accessories and a recipe booklet with your purchase. So this pick really offers great value.
The NESCO uses the Converga-Flow drying system. Its a patented design that forces air into an exterior pressurized chamber.
This process forces hot air to flow horizontally across each tray individually. The design speeds up drying time and produces even results. It also eliminates the need for tray rotation.
The top mounted fan uses 600 watts of power for 2,100 rotations per minute (RPM). This leads to faster drying times. Additionally, the adjustable thermostat offers a temperature range of 95 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. This range ensures that you dehydrate foods at ideal temperatures.
This model measures 13.75 x 22.13 x 13.87 inches and weighs 7.75 pounds. The exterior is made from dense opaque plastic.
This prevents light from depleting the nutrients in the food you’re dehydrating. So you don’t have to worry about fruits, vegetables, and other food losing their nutritional content.
The expandable design features five BPA-free plastic trays, but it is expandable to 12 trays. If you expand to 12 trays, you get approximately 12 square feet of drying space.
You get several helpful accessories with this product. It comes with two fruit roll sheets, two Clean-A-Screen screens, three unique jerky spice packets, and a 52-page recipe booklet. The Clean-A-Screens are flexible and designed for use when drying small foods like spices and herbs.
One feature that the NESCO lacks is an on/off switch. It powers on and off when it’s plugged in and unplugged. This isn’t a major downside but still noteworthy.
It doesn’t have an automatic shutoff feature. You’ll have to set your own timer for monitoring progress. Again, this isn’t too big of an issue overall.
In addition, the trays are dishwasher safe on the top rack. However, they must be removed before the heating cycle starts.
This model is backed by a one-year limited warranty. The warranty covers defects in product material and operation when it’s used in a household setting.
- Converga-Flow drying system produces fast, even results.
- Expandable design offers plenty of space.
- Opaque exterior stops light from depleting nutrients.
- One-year limited manufacturer warranty.
- No on/off switch.
- No automatic shutoff feature.
4. Best Small Pick-Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator
This food dehydrator is another option from Presto. This version is more compact and has a simpler design.
The four-tray system is expandable up to eight trays, so it offers flexibility. Meanwhile, the top has a see-through cover so you can easily monitor the drying process. The space-saving storage design makes it perfect for small kitchens.
The Presto features a bottom-mounted fan and heating element. This design provides consistent heat and airflow for quality food dehydration.
It also eliminates the need for you to rotate trays during the drying process. Additionally, the heating element operates at approximately 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
The four-tray system provides approximately four square feet of drying space overall. You can add up to four additional trays for a total of eight.
If you plan to use more than four trays, you’ll have to purchase them separately in two-packs. The extra cost isn’t ideal but you may need the extra trays.
This model measures 14.5 x 15 x 6.25 inches and weighs 7.5 lbs. Its lightweight and compact dimensions aren’t the only great storage features.
The drying trays nest together to reduce storage space by 35% while the power cord stores neatly in the base. It also has a short power cord that may require you to use an extension cord.
Unfortunately, this model only operates at the preset temperature. So if the food you plan to dehydrate is not ideally dried at 165 degrees Fahrenheit, this option may not suit you.
Each tray is made from BPA-free plastic and they are dishwasher-safe. The plastic cover is also dishwasher-safe, so cleanup is very easy.
Presto provides a one-year limited manufacturer warranty for this product. They will replace or repair your food dehydrator if there are defects in workmanship or materials.
- Expandable up to eight trays for ample drying space.
- Dishwasher safe parts for easy cleaning.
- One-year limited manufacturer warranty.
- Trays for expansion must be purchased separately.
- Only operates at a preset temperature.
- Short power cord.
5. Best Budget Pick- NutriChef Electric Food Dehydrator Machine
This NutriChef dehydrator is an affordable, quality option. Its five-tray design offers plenty of space for drying, and the trays are made from quality BPA-free plastic.
This model has a bottom-mounted fan and heating unit. It emits enhanced airflow for high heat circulation, so your food dries evenly.
The dehydrator operates at a maximum temperature of 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Its see-through trays and lid allow you to monitor drying to help you get the best results.
The NutriChef itself is made from durable stainless steel that’s easy to wipe down. Additionally, it operates using a simple one-press button design. We like that you get the quality essentials you need for a low price.
This food dehydrator is one of the most affordable options compared to others on the list. It includes many essential features. Our Best Small Pick (Presto 06300) is slightly less expensive, but this food dehydrator offers a bit more value.
However, there are a few features that this food dehydrator doesn’t have like an automatic shutoff timer. Therefore, you’ll have to use your own timer.
This model measures 12 x 7.5 x 13 inches and weighs 6.9 lbs. Each tray offers about 12 inches of drying space. So you get a total of approximately five square feet of drying space.
The NutriChef doesn’t feature adjustable heat settings. It reaches a maximum temperature of up to 180 degrees Fahrenheit once it’s powered on. Some buyers need more flexible temperature controls, but others may find this setting ideal.
The stainless steel base is stain resistant and easy to clean. You simply wipe it down with a warm damp cloth when it’s turned off and cooled down. Its five translucent trays and lid are made from BPA-free plastic.
Additionally, the trays are dishwasher-safe as long as you use the top rack. Therefore, the entire cleanup process is fairly simple.
Lastly, NutriChef provides a one-year limited warranty which covers any potential manufacturing defects.
- High heat circulation offers even drying.
- Transparent trays and lid make food easy to monitor.
- Dishwasher-safe trays and lid for convenient cleanup.
- One-year manufacturer warranty.
- No adjustable thermostat/temperature.
- No timer.
- No automatic shutoff feature.
6. Best Expandable Pick-Nesco Gardenmaster Food Dehydrator
This Nesco food dehydrator is ideal for anyone who wants to dehydrate large quantities of food. It has a four-tray design, but it’s expandable to 20 trays. This provides about 20 square feet for drying.
Like our Best Overall Pick from Nesco, this model features the Vita-Save Exterior that stops light from reaching the trays. This helps retain the vitamins and nutrients of food while it’s dehydrating. It also comes with some of the same great accessories – the No-Spill Fruit Roll Sheet, Clean-A-Screen and jerky spice packets.
In addition, it uses the same Converga-Flow design as our Best Overall pick. Therefore, hot air flows over each individual tray. The adjustable temperature controls and the programmable digital timer also help you get ideal results when drying large batches.
This food dehydrator features a top-mounted fan and a bottom heating source. The Converga-Flow forces hot air down into the pressurized chamber. Then, it moves horizontally over each tray individually.
This process ensures you get even results without the need to rotate trays. It also prevents flavor mixing, so you can dry multiple foods at the same time.
The system uses 1000 watts of drying power and a 4.5-inch fan operates at 2,400 RPM. Combined with the patented airflow design, food is dried within mere hours. For instance, it only takes four hours to make beef jerky. Therefore, you get rapid results even if you expand to 20 trays.
The digital temperature controls let you adjust anywhere from 90 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. The digital timer is also programmable for up to 48 hours. You can easily choose the settings that are ideal for the foods you make.
This model measures 15.5 x 15.5 x 9.5 inches and weighs 8.95 lbs. The trays are 15.5 inches in diameter and offer about 12 inches of drying space.
It’s important to know that you must purchase additional trays separately. The trays are sold in packs of two, so you’d need to purchase eight packs to use the entire 20-tray design. This may be pretty costly for some buyers.
The opaque design prevents you from monitoring the drying process. The lid and trays have no translucent areas at all.
This may be inconvenient when you’re drying large batches of food. If you’re content with the adjustable temperature and timer, then this may not be a problem.
The BPA-free plastic trays and base are dishwasher-safe on the top rack. However, you’ll need to remove them before the heating cycle starts. This prevents the trays and base from warping due to high temperatures.
Nesco covers this product with their one-year limited warranty. You’re protected against defects in workmanship and materials if it’s used in a household setting.
- Expandable up to 20 trays for 20 square feet of drying space.
- Converga-Flow design for even drying.
- Adjustable temperature and timer for custom control.
- One-year limited warranty.
- Extra trays must be purchased separately.
- Opaque design prevents monitoring.
7. Best Shelf-Style Pick-Aroma Housewares Professional 6 Tray Food Dehydrator
This food dehydrator provides the benefits of shelf-style dehydrators for a competitive price. The six shelf design offers ample room for drying food. Each level can support up to one pound of food. The trays are height adjustable for your convenience, and they come with non-stick mesh screens.
There’s also a removable drip tray to help with easy cleanup. The rear-mounted fan is ideal for air circulation. It flows evenly over each tray to eliminate the need for rotation. Combined with the adjustable thermostat, you can easily dry foods to suit your needs.
This four-quart capacity food dehydrator is ideal for drying large quantities of food. Each tray measures 13 x 12 inches and can support up to one pound of food.
The trays are made from durable BPA-free plastic. You also get mesh inserts for each tray; these inserts help prevent sticking and are ideal for drying herbs and spices.
The trays are removable and height is adjustable, so this food dehydrator offers a ton of flexibility. But this is just one of the many convenient design features.
The adjustable thermostat ranges from 95 to 155 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, recommended temperatures for different foods are listed next to the thermostat.
This model measures 17.72 x 13.58 x 12.4 inches and weighs 11.68 lbs. The door is fully transparent and located on the front of the appliance.
You can fully view each tray during the drying process. The power switch and adjustable thermostat are on the top of the appliance. Both features are very simple and easy to use.
This model is pretty affordable compared to many other shelf-style dehydrators. Some cost 2-3 times more than our pick with the same design and features.
Unfortunately, it does not have a timer. It’s a small inconvenience so you’ll need to use your own timer. It also lacks an automatic shutoff feature. Therefore, you’ll need to monitor progress to prevent over-drying.
A one-year limited manufacturer warranty ensures it will be free of workmanship and material defects.
- Six-tray design for ample drying space.
- Adjustable tray height for convenience.
- Back-mounted fan helps with even drying.
- One-year limited manufacturer warranty.
- No automatic shutoff feature.
- No timer.
Food Dehydrator Buying Guide
Many food dehydrators look similar and offer the same essential features. But each one is fairly unique and designed to meet different needs. If you are new to using food dehydrators, they can seem complicated. However, they are very simple to use. Take a look at how to use one in this video:
The food dehydrator you purchase needs to match all of your food drying preferences from the quantity of food you want to dry to the temperature range for the foods you plan to use, and more. It’s important to make sure you get good value for your money, too. Consider every feature below before buying one.
Size is one crucial feature to consider. You want one that comfortably fits on your kitchen counter.
Also, you need enough counter space to open the lid of the food dehydrator and to remove and insert food/trays. Additionally, you need to make sure that you have enough cabinet space to store it as well.
Before you make your choice, check the dimensions of your kitchen work area and storage space. We’ve listed the dimensions for every food dehydrator on our list to help you find your best fit. You’ll also notice that some of our picks have space-saving storage designs for user convenience.
The amount of drying space you need depends on how much food you want to dehydrate at once. If you plan to dehydrate large batches of food, you’ll want to choose one that has plenty of space. However, you won’t need as much drying space for small batches or single servings.
The total drying space of a dehydrator is based on the number of trays used and the diameter of each tray. The brands on our list are diverse, so you have plenty of options. We’ve listed the approximate drying space for each brand.
You need to consider the types of food you plan to dehydrate. Different foods have specific temperatures for ideal drying. You can find these ranges as stated by the National Center For Home Food Preservation.
Additionally, you need to choose a model that offers a temperature range that meets your needs. Our Best Budget pick (NutriChef Electric Food Dehydrator Machine PKFD12) only operates at 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
This may be perfectly suitable for some buyers, but others may need more flexibility. Several brands on our list offer adjustable thermostats that range from about 90 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
Food dehydrators typically feature one of two basic designs: Box-style (also called shelf-style) and stackable style. Shelf-style food dehydrators resemble small ovens.
They’re box-shaped, open/close on the front side, and trays are inserted on each shelf through that side. Stackable food dehydrators open and close on the top, and each tray is stacked from bottom to top.
Shelf-style dehydrators are known to heat more evenly and require less drying time. This is because of the way the heat and air flow through the box design. However, they’re also considerably more expensive than alternatives. They also have a set amount of trays without the ability to expand.
Stackable ones may require you to rotate trays to ensure even heat distribution. The heat flow design makes them incompatible with solid tray liners.
However, they’re much more affordable across the board. They are usually expandable, so you can add additional trays if needed.
Overall, there are pros and cons to both designs. Consider the benefits and limitations, and pick the style that matches your personal preference and needs.
When you invest money in a product, you want to make sure it works as described. A manufacturer warranty or guarantee ensures that your purchase is protected. In general, warranties and guarantees offer to refund or exchange your product if it has defects.
The specific details of each warranty/guarantee varies. For example, most food dehydrators must be used for household use only. Commercial use voids the warranty or guarantee. When you read each individual review, we mention if there is a warranty or guarantee for each brand.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the best foods to dehydrate?
A: There are dozens of different foods that are great for dehydration. Fruit is one of the best foods to dehydrate. Apples, strawberries, pineapples, bananas, and grapes are all good examples.
Vegetables that are often dehydrated include: kale, carrots, onions, peppers, and mushrooms. Beef is frequently dehydrated to make beef jerky. In addition, herbs and plant roots are dehydrated to make spices that you can grind with a spice grinder into your favorite recipes and then store in your spice rack.
Q: What are live foods?
A: Live foods are fresh, typically uncooked foods that are as close as possible to their natural state. Living foods are rich in nutrients and antioxidants. Cooking live foods drastically reduces their nutrients.
Therefore, food dehydrators can dry living food while maintaining a high amount of nutrients. So if you’re trying to eat healthy, dried fruits are great to keep in your meal bag so you always have them on hand.
Q: How do you know when food is completely dehydrated?
A: When food is completely dried to the touch, it’s considered fully dehydrated. Follow guidelines for food dehydration times and temperatures. The links in our buying guide are great resources for dehydration temperatures. You should also refer to the user manual of your food dehydrator for ideal drying times, too.
Q: Is dehydrated food healthy?
A: Yes, dehydrated food is considered very healthy. The reason is that dehydrated foods are simply fruits, vegetables, and meats that have been dried for preservation. There are no chemical preservatives, added sugars, fillers, or other ingredients.
Q: How do you store dehydrated food?
A: Dehydrated foods must be stored in airtight containers, vacuum sealed bags, or freezer bags. It’s crucial to remove all air before storage if you use freezer bags. You should also inspect any storage containers or bags for holes or punctures to help prevent food spoilage.
Q: How long does dehydrated food last?
A: The shelf life of dehydrated food varies. Many dehydrated foods can last for several years if they are stored properly. Some fruits and vegetables may last 8-10 years.
Q: Is it possible to over-dehydrate food?
A: Yes, it is possible to over-dehydrate food. Over-dehydrating can result in food that is inedible.
Q: How do you keep food from sticking in a dehydrator?
A: There are a few ways to keep food from sticking in a dehydrator. Mesh trays or mesh tray inserts are often included with food dehydrators or they can be purchased separately. In addition, parchment paper or cooking spray may be used with some food dehydrators. Lastly, always check the user manual to see if these options are safe.
Food dehydrators are ideal for making healthy, nutrient-rich snacks that have a long shelf life. You don’t have to worry about chemical preservatives or processed ingredients anymore. In addition, you also get the benefit of creating customized natural snacks without paying high prices at health food stores.
Purchasing a food dehydrator is a great decision if you want to start making dried snacks from fresh foods. You no longer have to choose from costly packaged snacks or ones with tons of artificial ingredients. Our top seven picks will suit many unique user preferences and budgets.
We hope that after reading our detailed reviews and comprehensive buying guide, you’ll have all the information you need to select the best food dehydrator that is perfect for your needs.
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