There's almost nothing more delicious than savory beef jerky — except perhaps homemade beef jerky. If you want to experiment with your own recipes, you'll need one of the best food dehydrators for jerky. But before you make a purchase, there are several things to consider.
One of the most important factors is temperature range. The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline recommends that you heat meat to 160 degrees and poultry to 165 degrees Fahrenheit before dehydrating, which is the necessary temperature to kill harmful bacteria. For this reason, it's helpful if your dehydrator goes to at least 160 (and 165 if you're considering chicken or turkey jerky). As an alternative, you can always heat the meat or chicken in the oven first if your dehydratordoesn't go that high, but it's nice to be able to do everything in one place.
After temperature range, think about airflow. Food dehydrators typically use either vertical or horizontal airflow to circulate heat. Vertical designs are more affordable and save space in the kitchen, however, the quality of the final product won't be as high. Horizontal airflow models, on the other hand, will circulate heat more evenly and get your meat dried faster.
Also, you may want to consider how much jerky you'll be making at a time so you can make sure the dehydrator has enough trays for your needs.
To help you out, I've gathered a list of the best food dehydrators for jerky. They're organized by price, so you can find the one that best fits your budget. Take a look — and let the jerky-making begin.