Having a food dehydrator at home is amazing — you get to make your own delicious snacks (hello, dried apricots) and save a bunch of money while you're at it. The best food dehydrators will be durable, spacious and easy to use.
When you're assessing the different options out there, first think about what types of foods you plan to dehydrate, so you know what temperature range you'll need. Fruits like apples and bananas only need about 130 to 140 degrees of heat, while beef and poultry need to first be heated to 160 and 165 degrees respectively in order to kill off bacteria before you begin the dehydration process (though you can do that step in an oven if your dehydrator doesn't go high enough).
After that, think about the size and capacity. How much counter space do you have? And how much food do you want to dry at one time? The answers to these questions will help determine how big of a dehydrator you want and how much drying space it should have. For reference, a smaller dehydrator will have around six trays for drying, while a larger one may have as many as 11.
In addition to these factors, you may want to look for extra features like timers and automatic shutoff for extra convenience. To help you make a decision, I've researched the best food dehydrators out there and compiled them below. Take a look to find the one that best fits your needs.
1. The Overall Best Dehydrator
Capacity: 9 trays
Temperature range: 105 to 165 degrees
Dimensions: 19 by 17 by 12.5 inches
What makes it great: Made with nine poly-screen trays that offer 15 square feet of drying space in total, this popular food dehydrator has more than 900 reviews on Amazon, with fans calling it "fast and efficient." The machine uses a food drying technology called Hyperwave that fluctuates the temperature, allowing moisture to evaporate as the heat increases. The thermostat ranges from 105 to 165 degrees, while a 7-inch fan provides excellent air circulation, making this model perfect for jerky. The only drawback to this dehydrator is that it doesn't have a timer.
What fans say: "If I could give this product 1000 stars I would. What an amazing dehydrator! It's so simple to use and holds a remarkable amount of fruits and vegetables. Very easy to clean up. I dehydrated tomatoes and onions and they were amazing!"
2. The Best Budget Option
Capacity: 6 trays
Temperature range: 95 to 158 degrees
Dimensions: 17.75 by 12.51 by 13.5 inches
What makes it great: If you're on a smaller budget and don't want to spend a lot of money, this affordable food dehydrator offers a great combination of quality and value. With six trays and 6.5 square feet of drying space, it's smaller than the first pick yet still provides ample space to dry a variety of foods.
This one doesn't get quite as hot as my previous pick — its maximum temperature is only 158 degrees — which means if you're making jerky you'll need to heat the meats in your oven first to kill bacteria. However, this one does have a timer, which the previous selection lacks. Reviewers say it's super quiet and dries food quickly and evenly.
What fans say: "Works perfectly and is very quiet. We have had it running every day for the past week and have dehydrated apples, pineapple, strawberries and a full load of beef jerky. All of these came out perfectly in less than 10 hours. Some of the jerky took about 12 hours but that's much faster than my old dehydrator. I did not miss the extra wattage or fan power."
3. The Best Splurge
Capacity: 11 trays
Temperature range: 75 to 167 degrees
Dimensions: 17.5 by 12 by 14 inches
What makes it great: For folks who spend a lot of time drying their own foods and don't mind splurging on a nicer machine, this top-grade food dehydrator is the perfect choice. Named the "Best High-End" pick in Spruce Eats' Best Food Dehydrators of 2019, it boasts a sleek, glass door and 11 high-quality stainless steel trays that total almost 10 square feet of drying space. Though it offers less overall drying space than the Excalibur, it's smaller and takes up less room, making it more space-efficient.
The temperature range for this one is among the widest you'll find, spanning from 75 to 167 degrees. On top of that, it features extra controls and functions, such as a timer that lets you change the temperature at preset times (which is especially helpful for making jerky) and overheat protection (which helps to prevent enzyme degradation).
What fans say: "This was a major upgrade over Excalibur we were using. Hands down a better machine - compact size, same volume as the Excalibur, more efficient and it is QUIET to boot!"
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