Find our food dehydrator reviews, comparison charts and buying guides to help you buy the best food dehydrator for long-lasting foods.
Best Food Dehydrators for Home Use
Tribest Sedona Express: The Tribest Sedona Express is our top overall pick and is as feature-laden a dehydrator as you’re likely to get among the units currently available on the market. Though this dehydrator comes at a premium, its eleven stainless steel trays, powerful central fan, all digital controls, and other fancy frills and thrills make it a dehydrator to watch out for.
Nesco FD-75PR: However, if you’re on a budget the Nesco FD-75PR is our top value for money pick but its low price isn’t just the only selling factor. With a temperature range of 95-160-degrees F and a total of 5 trays its more than what most cheap food dehydrators have to offer.
- Food Dehydrator Comparison Chart
- Best Food Dehydrator 2018
- Budget Food Dehydrator
- Food Dehydrator Buying Guide
A food dehydrator preserves your food and dramatically extends its shelf life. It works by reducing the water content of foods with the use of a heat source and hot air flow in a closed container. Food usually has a water content of 50-75% for meats and 80-90% for veggies and fruits. If you get rid of moisture, you’re taking away the natural medium for bacterial growth, so your food won’t spoil, and as an added bonus, it will weigh a lot less.
In this roundup, we take a look at seven of the best available food dehydrators at different price ranges and with different feature sets and pick out the best among them, including the best overall value-for-money appliances and best budget models.
Food dehydrators are useful to families that want to save money by preparing their own delicious non-perishable food items from fresh stock. It’s especially interesting to people with gardens or orchards and for hunters, who want to make jerky, fruit rolls, bacon bits, apple chips, herbs, spices, pet treats, and a lot more.
Best Food Dehydrator for 2018
In-Depth Food Dehydrator Reviews
This top-end Tribest Sedona Express dehydrator is as fully featured as you’re going to get from any of the food dehydrators available and has a great compact design that means it’s not going to take up a lot of room on your counter.
It’s the most expensive unit in our roundup and is our top choice, as well as the best performing of all the appliances we’ve looked at. It has a whopping eleven stainless steel trays, a powerful central fan, all digital controls, and a whole lot more features that make this a decidedly excellent pick.
Its central single-fan design increases and evens out airflow to reduce dehydration times. It comes equipped with easy-to-use digital controls from which you can do some precision dehydration that’s just not possible with other units.
A two-stage sequential temperature timer (TST) lets you kick-start the dehydration process with a ‘FAST mode’ that starts the process at a higher temperature for the first few hours and then switches automatically to ‘RAW mode’, which finishes the process at a lower temperature.
The eleven stainless steel trays are housed in a side hinge configuration, allowing for easy insertion and extraction, and you get nearly ten square feet of drying space, which is outstanding given the unit’s small footprint design.
The Tribest Sedona’s maximum temperature of 167-degrees F lets you make beef jerky without any need to pre-heat in an oven and conforms with the USDA Beef Jerky Preparation Guideline.
Other great features are its quiet operation, which means you’ll have a noise-free environment while operating the unit, a convenient air filter that’s washable and reusable, and a glass-hinged door equipped with an internal LED lamp so you can easily monitor your trays and the whole dehydration process while it’s happening.
To top it all off, Tribest Sedona stands squarely behind the Express SDE-S6780-B with a ten-year warranty, which is the longest in the industry, as well as a toll-free customer service hot-line.
The STX Dehydra is for those of us who want to dehydrate a lot of food at a time and is the unit with the largest available drying area of the dehydrators in this roundup. It’s an excellent choice if you have loads of food to dehydrate, but is also a quality unit in its own right, and at a decidedly economic price point given its high-end features.
This unit ships with ten large surface area, high-grade stainless steel racks, which are not chrome plated like some competing models.
You can slip out the stainless steel removable drip tray, which fits on the bottom of the unit, so it can be cleaned very easily. The front door is mounted with a convenient lift up-lift off mechanism and has 24 louvers, which makes for outstanding flow-through dehydration.
The 100% digitally controlled control panel features a 12-hour shut-off timer and temperatures can be adjusted between 95 and 165 degrees F.
The STX model’s large 16 square ft. capacity drying space and control features, its adjustable thermostat, rugged construction and powerful 1,200-watt drying unit, makes it ideal for larger families or small businesses. It’s also great for people with a garden with a vegetable plot or fruit trees, and hunters.
#3 Pick: Nesco FD-75PR Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator (Value for Money pick)
The Nesco FD-75PR is a compact circular tub, stacking-type dehydrator with a top-notch airflow system that’s aimed at users with modest dehydration needs. It’s our top budget pick and a unit that’s well made and will prepare any of the dehydrated foods you can ask for, although it will do it in small batches.
The price is far and away the lowest of any of the units reviewed in this roundup, and you wouldn’t go wrong buying one unless you’re more interested in large capacity.
It’s part of Nesco’s Snackmaster Pro product line and has a stylish, low footprint, contemporary design that will look good on your counter. The unit has a 600-watt dehydration unit and a top-mounted fan that will dehydrate foods fast and with first-rate overall results.
The unit consists of five stackable trays that can be expanded to twelve. The trays are 13.5-inch in diameter. An adjustable thermostat lets you adjust to different food types, with a temperature range of 95-160-degrees F. The opaque exterior blocks light which can damage your foods nutritional content while it’s being dehydrated.
A patented ‘Converga-Flow’ drying system pressurized air through an exterior chamber instead of through the trays, forcing the air horizontally across each individual tray to converge on the core. This means, there’s no flavor mixing, no need to rotate trays and you get even drying with delicious and nutritious food.
#4 Pick: Excalibur 3926TB Food Dehydrator
This mid-range dehydrator from well-regarded manufacturer Excalibur comes with an abundant 15 square-foot drying space and 9 trays, it’s an excellent pick for large families that have big volume needs. The unit has easy to use controls and an adjustable thermostat and timer that make this a good choice for folks who don’t want to spend a fortune on a high-end, big capacity dehydrator and still want to have good size and features.
Excalibur’s patented ‘Parallex Horizontal Airflow System’ consists of a fan and heating element located in the rear of the unit that draws in cool air, heats it and distributes it evenly over the interior’s trays. It accelerates dehydration times and keeps the nutrients locked in, resulting in better tasting food.
Its ‘Hyperware Fluctuation’ technology gets rid of the case hardening common in other dehydrators, by minimizing temperature fluctuation. Case hardening happens when surface moisture evaporates and the outside hardens while keeping the inside of the food moist, which is a perfect medium for mold and yeast and ultimately spoilage.
Since the heating element and the fan are both in the back of the unit, air gets distributed evenly throughout the interior of the unit. The mesh liner on the big square trays is great for finely chopped foods, like herbs and spices.
This Excalibur model comes with a one year manufacturer’s warranty but you can optionally extend it to a 10-year limited warranty. It’s solidly built and US-made, so you can depend on its sturdiness and reliability.
This is a mid-range box and shelf-type dehydrator that’s a good pick for those of us that want to take the next step above budget kettle units without breaking the bank. The heat distribution inside the machine is even and well distributed, with its rear-mounted fan. Air moves horizontally, from back to front, so you won’t have aver-dried food and there’s no need for rotating trays.
The Magic Mill has an adjustable digital thermostat with a delayed start timer and automatic shutoff so that you can set it at the desired 95-158-degree F range and forget it. So you can leave it set when you go to sleep at night and wake up with your freshly dehydrated food ready for eating, or when you go to work and the food will be ready for dinner.
A transparent door lets you monitor the progress and get a visual feel for how the food is looking. Its large ten stainless steel tray capacity means you can load the unit up with up to 13 pounds of food that you can dehydrate in one go.
Other interesting aspects of the unit are a powerful, yet quiet 1,000-watt heating unit, an overheating safety protection feature, so your food won’t ever get over dry, and a useful removable, easy to clean drip tray that will collect residue from the drying process.
The eight preset cooking functions that you can choose from lets you fine-tune your dehydration process and adapt it to to the particular needs of different foods. The control panel is digital, intuitive, user-friendly, and has easy access from the front of the unit.
The unit also ships with ten fine mesh steel sheets to make it easier to dehydrate finely cut food items, five non-stick fruit leather sheets and a set of silicone oven mitts.
#6 Pick: Excalibur 3900B Deluxe Dehydrator
The Excalibur 3900B is an excellent dehydrator with a large polycarbonate nine-tray capacity and a full set of features, like an adjustable thermostat, horizontal airflow using a heavy duty 7-inch rear-mounted fan, which results in great, even airflow. The foods dehydrated with this unit is consistent and evenly dehydrated, with excellent taste, thanks to Excalibur’s patented ‘Hyperwave Fluctuation’ technology.
Like the 3926TB, which we also review, the 3900B also comes with Excalibur’s patented ‘Parallex Horizontal Airflow System’, which is made up of a fan and heating element located in the rear of the unit that draws in cool air, heats it and distributes it evenly over the interior of the unit and its trays.
It speeds up dehydration times and keeps the nutrients locked in, resulting in consistently better tasting food. The ‘Hyperware Fluctuation’ tech gets rid of the case hardening common in other dehydrators, by way of minimizing temperature fluctuation.
Case hardening happens when surface moisture evaporates and the outside hardens while keeping the inside of the food moist, which is the medium in which mold and yeast thrive, resulting ultimately in spoilage.
Since the heating element and the fan are both in the back of the unit, air gets distributed evenly throughout the interior. The mesh liner on the big square trays accommodate finely chopped foods, like spices and herbs.
The 3900B 9 model has a one year manufacturer’s warranty but you can optionally extend it to a 10-year limited warranty. It’s solidly built and US-made, in Sacrament, California, so you can be sure of its fine workmanship, sturdiness, and reliability.
# 7 Pick: Chefman Food Dehydrator Machine
This relatively low-priced dehydrator is spacious with its nine BPA-free plastic trays and Chefman is a well-known maker of small appliances like this economic, large, box/shelf-type unit, that’s a great pick for any budget. It’s full of professional-grade features, such as digital, computer-controlled, preset temperature settings, an automated preset timer, a powerful heat source with a rear mounted fan for optimum heat circulation, and low noise operation.
It’s equipped with a modern touchscreen with digital touch settings with a temperature range of 95-158-degrees F. Coupled with a programmable countdown timer, with a set and forget feature, you’ll get accurate drying temperatures and times, ensuring consistently delicious dehydration runs for your family. The 600-watt heating unit maximizes airflow resulting in even, homogeneous drying throughout the heating chamber.
The nine spacious, food-grade BPA-free plastic trays are 13×12-inches, which gives you a large surface area for dehydrating large batches of meats, fruits, veggies, etc. It’s one of the most spacious dehydrators available at its price point, and bigger than many of the more costlier units.
You can see what’s going on inside the unit while the dehydration process is going on thanks to a
front-facing transparent door, that you can keep closed throughout the whole drying run. The unit is shipped with a free membership to Club Chefman, including help from a chef, recipes, and videos, as well as a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.
Food Dehydrator Buying Guide
Before we start showing you our picks we’ll explain how these dehydrator appliances work and what you should take into consideration when you try to choose among what’s available. These dehydrators consist of an electric heating element, a fan (or two), air vents that help to circulate the air, and trays that you lay the food on. All these elements working together combine to remove moisture from the food.
Electric Heating Element
First, the heating element heats up the food that’s on the racks to release moisture. The fan then blows the warm moist air out of the appliance through the air vents. This process can last for hours until the moisture content of the food is considerably lower than when we started, which can be lower than 20%. The temperature used for dehydrating food depends on whether it’s meat, like beef jerky, which will be at around 155-degrees F, or other types of foods, which will typically have temperatures of 155-degrees F.
A good dehydrator will keep a constant temperature and good airflow throughout the process. Excessive temperatures will cause food to harden on the outside and leave it moist and prone to spoilage on the inside, which is not good. A lot of interest has sprung up lately about better, healthier food options and eating habits. This has led many people to pay more attention to food preservation methods.
Type of Food Dehydrator
Two major categories of food dehydrators are available. On the lower end are the more compact and movable appliances with vertical stacking units. These are usually limited in the number of trays that will fit, although some are expandable, and have less powerful heating units, and lower operating temperatures. The mid to higher range units typically stack their more numerous trays horizontally and can be equipped with stainless steel trays, sophisticated thermostats, timers, and some are programmable.
Besides what we just discussed, a number of additional features should be taken into consideration when buying a food dehydrator, like the tray material and number of trays available. Another important thing is whether these trays are stacked or are placed on the shelves. Shelved trays are better for airflow, but you’ll have to pay a premium for them. Other interesting extras are interior lighting, non-stick mats, and recipe books, CD-ROM or online content to help guide you.
Finally, we should mention the some of the kinds of dehydrated food items you’ll get from these babies:
- Banana chips
- Beef and beef jerky
- Chicken Jerky
- Bacon chips and pork rinds
- Bell peppers
- Fruit rolls or dehydrated fruit: peaches, kiwi, fig, pineapple, apple, orange, papaya…
- Blueberries, raspberries…
- Herbs and spices
- Pet treats
Best Food Dehydrator
Need the absolute best food dehydrator? It doesn’t get any better than the Tribest Sedona Express. Though it comes at a premium, it’s top of the line features mean its worth every penny spent.
No, we haven’t forgotten the budget buyers and the Nesco FD-75PR is our top value for money pick. Its portable, compact and perfect dehydrator for occassional use.