Dehydrating food is a fun way to avoid buying processed snacks, whether you’re trying to keep an abundance of homegrown produce, consume more raw produce, make fruit rollups, dog treats, or jerky with your own unique flavor profile.
In the days before refrigeration, dehydration was a common method of food preservation; all that was needed was a cool, dry area to store the food. Fruits and herbs taste sweeter and more flavorful after being dehydrated than they do when they are still fresh. Certain nutrients that are broken down by cooking with heat are maintained when dehydrated at ordinary temperatures.
Electric dehydrators make the drying process practically flawless, thanks to precise temperature controls and sufficient air circulation. Elizabeth L. Andress, PhD, is a professor emerita and extension food safety specialist at the University of Georgia. She recommends using a dehydrator because of its “efficient design to dry foods fast at 140 F,” the most common recommended temperature. Most dehydrators allow you to stack many trays to increase the available drying space, and they come equipped with a heating element and fan. Depending on how much food you need to dehydrate all at once, you can choose from compact to jumbo sizes.
To find the best dehydrators, we put 22 models through rigorous testing in our lab, evaluating them based on a range of criteria, including how simple they are to use, how quickly they dry food, how loud they are, etc.
Top 10 Food Dehydrator: Editor Recommended
The 10 Best Food Dehydrator Consumer Reports Review:
1. COSORI Food Dehydrator (50 Recipes) for Jerky
- DESIGNED IN CALIFORNIA: Dehydrated foods keep all their flavor and can be stored...
- STAINLESS STEEL: Made with food-grade stainless steel and glass front door. This...
- INSTEAD OF FREEZE DRYER MACHINE: Hot air circulation makes it possible to make...
- EASY TO USE: Use the digital control panel to set the timer in 30-minute...
- QUIET TO USE: Simply press the start button to dehydrate your food and go to...
One of the sleekest dehydrators you’ll find, this Cosori model is black and stainless steel with a glass door that helps you keep an eye on the drying process. It’s has a digital control panel that is easy and intuitive to operate and arrives completely constructed. You can control the temperature and time for up to 48 hours at a range of 95 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit by simply setting the appropriate values.
Our Lab and at-home testers loved the automatic shutoff feature, the whisper-quiet operation, and the machine’s stellar performance; everything our testers made came out very evenly dehydrated with no cracking and peeled off the trays nicely. Our in-house taster agreed, saying that dehydrating meals to achieve various textures was simple.
You’ll get a fruit roll sheet, a cookbook, a mesh screen for dehydrating small fruit, and six stainless steel drying pans. Cleanup is easy since all the food trays are dishwasher safe.
- Fully assembled
- Digital control panel with timer and temperature settings
- Automatic shutoff for peace of mind
- Drying trays are dishwasher safe
2. Magic Mill Food Dehydrator Machine – Easy Setup
- REAR MOUNT FAN FOR SUPPER HEAT DISTRIBUTION – DRIES FOOD EVENLY The electric...
- DIGITAL THERMOSTAT AND TIMER- AUTOMATIC SHUT OFF WHEN TIMER DONE - KEEP WARM...
- SPECIOSE ADJUSTABLE STAINLESS STEEL TRAYS – INCLUDED FRUIT ROLL TRAYS Use the...
- EASY TO USE AND CLEAN - DISHWASHER SAFE TRAYS You want to dry Jerky, beef, herb,...
- SAFETY FEATURE / BPA FREE Overheat protection will activate if the dehydrator...
Magic Mill Food Dehydrator Machine is our top pick for drying food. It’s a durable and easy-to-use dehydrator that will turn your favorite fruits and veggies into a snack that you can feel good about. As an added bonus, the machine also doubles as a great way to keep meats or cheeses fresh without going bad!
We recommend this for jerky, fruit rolls, herbs, meat, and cheese because it’ll get rid of the moisture while still preserving all of its nutritional value. And with seven trays and two mesh trays to help with larger items like potatoes or carrots, you’ll be able to make enough snacks for an army.
- Seven trays to store your ingredients
- Two mesh trays for small items like grapes or raisins
- Two nonstick trays for fruit rolls and so on
3. Nesco FD-1040 Gardenmaster Digital Pro dehydrator
- EVEN HEAT DISTRIBUTION: 1000 watts of drying power provides even heat...
- ADJUSTABLE THERMOSTAT: Allows you to dry different foods at proper time (up to...
- EXPANDABLE TO 20 TRAYS: Comes with 4 BPA Free trays with 1 sq. ft. of drying...
- MADE IN THE USA: Proudly made in the USA of global and domestic components
- ACCESSORIES INCLUDED: Includes 1 Fruit Roll Sheet, 1 Clean-A-Screen, a sample of...
Although only four trays are included, this dehydrator supports up to twenty additional trays, so there’s plenty of room to dry whatever you need to. However much food you have to dry, the pressure will adjust based on the amount of trays you’re using. The digital thermostat has a range of 90 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
The top-mounted fan and adjustable timer allow for drying sessions lasting up to 48 hours. Our at-home guinea pig needed only six to ten hours to dry fruit, and the same amount of time to dry jerky. Fruit leather was dried in 3 hours and readily peeled off the sheet in our lab tests, however drying times varied depending on the rack location (the bottom rack dried faster than the middle and top). Although the machine passes muster in just 10 minutes and comes fully constructed, the opaque plastic construction left our lab testers wondering how things were heating up within.
You get one screen, one sheet of fruit roll, a taste of Jerky Seasoning & Cure, and a recipe book along with this model. The dishwasher can clean the trays and the base, but you’ll need to take them out before the drying cycle begins.
- Four trays
- Adjustable drying pressure
- Temperature control from 90 to 160 F
- Top mounted fan
4. Tribest Sedona SDE-S6780-B Express Electric Food Dehydrator
- DIGITAL FOOD DEHYDRATOR: Featuring all-digital controls and display with a...
- COMPACT DESIGN: Get all the dehydrating features without sacrificing all the...
- TEMPERATURE CONTROL: This food dehydrator machine prevents enzyme/nutrient loss...
- EASY TO CLEAN: The dehydrator trays are easy to extract and insert, making it...
- LIVE TRIBEST LIFE: At Tribrest, we provide you with quality products that will...
This dehydrator is ideal if you’re in the market for a large capacity appliance that doesn’t take up too much room in your kitchen. The adjustable temperature ranges from 77 to 167 degrees Fahrenheit, making it possible to manufacture jerky without first having to cook it to a safe temperature. 6 For more efficient drying without overcooking, the dehydrator may convert from a high starting temperature to a lower one automatically.
This device has a glass door, an inside LED light, and 11 stainless steel trays that can go in the dishwasher, making it simple to monitor the drying process. There are more settings than you’ll ever use, including “quick,” “raw,” “combination,” and “continuous” cooking modes, and a timer that can be set for up to 99 hours in a single setting or up to 120 hours overall. It has a silent operation and is ready to use. Our laboratory testing showed that the machine heated up rapidly and produced fruit leather in record time (but did take much longer to dry herbs).
This high-end dehydrator’s high price tag is indicative of its versatility. Plastic trays are less expensive than their stainless steel counterparts, but they won’t hold up as long before breaking. While you’ll have to make quite a few batches of kale chips in order to break even, the 10-year warranty ensures that you’ll get your money’s worth out of it.
- Dehydrator that can operate from 77 to 167 F
- 11 dishwasher-safe stainless steel trays
- Glass door
- Interior LED light
5. Elite Gourmet EFD319 Food Dehydrator
- ADJUSTABLE TEMPERATURE from 95ºF to 158ºF that foods are dehydrated at their...
- HEALTHY SNACKS: Prepare 100% all-natural dehydrated foods and snacks with no...
- FUN AND CRAFTS: Perfect for hobbyists to dry flowers, potpourri or dough crafts...
- EVEN HEAT DISTRIBUTION: using a base mounted fan promotes even drying and air...
- SAFETY TESTED: ETL Listed at 350W of power / 120V is perfect for home use. Do...
Although it takes up less space on your counter than some other compact models, this one actually has a greater perceived capacity. Very simple controls (one knob with multiple settings) make it difficult to get a desired temperature. The fact that it came completely assembled and was so simple to operate is a bonus. The trays fold flat for easy storage and can be cleaned in the dishwasher.
Researchers in our testing lab found that the lowest rack dried the fruit leather in just 2.5 hours, whereas the middle and top racks required 5 hours. It took 6 hours to dry the herbs, and the herbs on the middle and lower racks were not dried as thoroughly. The machine was slower than others to reach operating temperature, but it usually did so within 20 minutes. When compared to other small, low-priced machines, this one dehydrated more uniformly and silently.
- Compact countertop footprint
- Basic controls and temperature range
- Collapsible trays for storage
6. Gourmia GFD1950 Premium Electric Food Dehydrator Machine
- 9 TRAY: Six trays provide plenty of room to get creative drying anything from...
- 360º CIRCULATION: Simple, precise, digital controls activate 360º airflow...
- TRANSPARENT DOOR: Door is clear for easy at a glance monitoring of all sheets.
- FRESH & HEALTHY: Forget store bought processed junk. Now you can make a more...
- ETL CERTIFIED: We, at Gourmia, take the quality of our products seriously. This...
This nine-tray dehydrator is ideal for processing big quantities at once, and its LED control panel allows for fine-grained temperature regulation. The machine is big and tall without being cumbersome, and our QA team loved using it in the lab. A fruit leather tray, a herb tray, a drip tray, and a cookbook are included.
Although drying periods were longer than those of the other dehydrators on this list, our lab tests showed that all trays dried at the same rate and to the same degree of doneness.
The trays, which our reviewers found annoying due to its numerous crevices, can only be cleaned by hand. However, if you’re willing to put in the time, this appliance can quickly dehydrate a lot of food.
- Nine trays for drying food
- LED temperature control panel
- Comes fully assembled
- Fruit leather tray, herb tray, drip tray, and recipe book included
7. Hamilton Beach Digital Food Dehydrator for Fruit and Jerky
- 48 hour timer with auto shutoff and clear lid so you can easily check food
- Adjustable digital thermostat lets you adjust drying temperature (100-160° F)
- Continuous airflow provides even drying
- Five stackable drying trays and powerful 500 watts
- Includes one fine-mesh sheet for drying small food like herbs and one solid...
Food dehydrators are a great way to preserve fruits and vegetables without spoiling them by allowing them to retain their nutritional value, texture, and flavor. In addition, they’re also a helpful tool in managing your household’s food budget – by using it you’ll be able to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables that are still in their prime condition.
Hamilton Beach Digital Food Dehydrator for Fruit and Jerky, Vegetables and More is an affordable way to start drying your favorite foods at home. With 5 trays that can hold up to 12 cups of food each, this unit has plenty of capacity for even the largest families! Plus its adjustable temperature control allows for precise control over the moisture level of your food as it dries. Plus with the included 48-hour timer + auto shutoff function you have complete peace of mind that your food is being dried safely and effectively. Order yours today!
- 5-tray capacity
- Adjustable temperature control
- 48 hour timer
- Auto shut off feature
8. SAHARA Folding Food Dehydrator
- Folds in seconds to 1/3 its size. Enjoy healthy and delicious benefits of food...
- Over 1 square meter (11 square feet) of drying area, stainless steel shelving,...
- Automated dual time/temperature controls: Run at higher temperature for fast...
- Fresh filtered air: A washable and re-useable air filter ensures that dirt and...
- Products with a Purpose | We are proud to support the World Central Kitchen...
This dehydrator lives up to Hamilton Beach’s reputation for producing high-quality goods at reasonable prices. The simplicity of its use and maintenance particularly struck our professional testers.
Unlike competing models, both the trays and the lid may be cleaned in the dishwasher without any worry (or no dishwasher-safe components at all). Its moderate size and capacity make it a practical option for homes with limited prep space. Some of our reviewers wished it was transparent like other options. And while the food is drying, you might wish to switch it around between the trays: The lower trays dry out a little bit more rapidly than the upper ones.
- Dehydrates food quickly and easily
- All dishwasher-safe trays and lid
- Medium footprint and capacity
9. Samson 6 STAINLESS STEEL Trays and Digital Timer and Temperature Control for Fruit
- Very quiet compared to other dehydrators, Easy to reach controls TOP FRONT of...
- Push button digital control panel with LCD; is located in top front for easy...
- 120VAC,, 60 hZ, 400 WATT - Instruction and Care Manual
- Trays - 6 STAINLESS STEEL Trays with total drying space of 6.5 sq feet, Tray...
- Manufacturer's Limited 5 Year Warranty, Longest in the Industry, UL Approved
When you go crazy at the farmer’s market or the grocery store’s produce section, you end up with more fresh food than you know what to do with. You can always use your dehydrator to pull yourself out of your funk. Dried fruits and vegetables have a long shelf life, may be used in a wide variety of seasoning blends and garnishes, and are a perfect addition to risotto and stews.
The Samson was highly regarded by our panel of experts for its design, use, and silent operation. However, we discovered that it produced delectable, snackable treats from any fruit or vegetable we threw at it, while being a little more difficult to clean than competing models. Its low profile makes it easy to store away in a cupboard, and one reviewer said that the metal trays “feel like they might be more lasting than the plastic trays in other models.” The metal racks include ridges and crevices that make cleaning them more of a hassle than with some of our other top picks.
- Dry fruits and vegetables
- Ease of use
- Quiet operation
10. LEM Products 1154 Stainless Steel Professional 10-Tray Digital Dehydrator
- Durable Stainless Steel Constructions; 1 Year Warranty
- Digital control panel for temperature and timer with 3 “quick set” buttons...
- Sliding door allows access to trays with minimal heat loss
- 10 Chrome-plated Trays for over 16 sq. f.t of drying space
- heating element and fan are mounted in the rear of the unit for faster, more...
Many dehydrators have their own proprietary drying system, but the LEM Big Bite uses a common
brand of racks and trays for drying. This allows you to use any commercial food dehydrator with it and
ensures that you get consistent results every time. We also love the fact that this model has 10 side-by-side trays, which means that you can easily dry large volumes of food at once.
Don’t let your creativity or production limits hold you back – with the LEM Big Bite, there are no limits!
- Dehydrator with digital timer and control panel
- 6″ x 9.25″ drying area
- Ports for connecting to a electricity outlet and dehydrator fan
- Removable door for easy loading
Buying Guide: What to Thing When Select a Food Dehydrator
Air can move in a horizontal or vertical direction in a dehydrator. The heating element and fan with horizontal airflow designs are located on the dehydrators’ sides or rears. To maximize airflow, the heating element and fan in vertical airflow versions can be located at either the base or the summit of the dehydrator.
The advantages of a horizontal flow model include “reduced flavor mixture so that several different foods can be dried at the same time,” “equal heat exposure for all trays,” and “juices or liquids do not drip down into the heating element,” as stated by Elizabeth L. Andress, PhD, professor emerita and extension food safety specialist at the University of Georgia.
The bottom-mounted heating components in vertical airflow versions are more prone to become dirty as a result of spills and food particles. Using mesh tray liners in your dehydrators can help keep bits of food from sinking to the bottom.
Dehydrating isn’t a speedy process, so a larger-capacity machine might save you time if you have a lot of food to dry—though they also take up more room. Smaller units, on the other hand, work well for small amounts and kitchens.
c) Number of Trays
When dehydrating a batch of food, you want to make sure your equipment dries it all evenly. To maintain uniformity, seek for a model with several trays so you may space out your meals as much as possible. Overlapping bits of food or crowding the trays with too much food will result in inconsistent outcomes.
Some dehydrators may fit only a handful of drying trays, while others allow you to stack up to 20 or more.
d) Temperature Range
Some dehydrators operate at a single temperature, while others have an adjustable temperature dial. Adjustable temperatures typically range from 80 F up to 160 to 180 F.
Being able to control the temperature may be desirable if you plan to dehydrate several different types of food and want more precision over the process. However, if you’re just getting started dehydrating your own snacks or only plan to dehydrate one or two types of food, a set temperature model makes the process even easier.
Andress says, “Dehydrators are efficiently designed to dry foods fast at 140 F, the most commonly recommended temperature. You don’t want too high of a temperature for dehydrating because the outside of food pieces cannot dry too much before moisture is pulled out of the interior of pieces.”
e) Timers and Auto-Shutoffs
“Often the completed drying time may occur during the night and a timer could turn the dehydrator off and prevent scorching,” says Andress. Depending on what you’re making and how often, you may want to pick a dehydrator with an auto-shutoff function.
Because meat is more prone to spoiling than vegetables, not all food dehydrators are capable of drying it safely. If jerky-making is high on your list of priorities, it’s wise to make sure the machine you buy has a temperature range appropriate for drying meat.
Q: What are the benefits of using a food dehydrator?
A: Dehydrating food helps to reduce moisture, which prevents spoilage, thus preserving your food. “Other benefits are ease of storage and transportation,” says Ward. Some foods, like dried peas or mushrooms, are not necessarily meant to be eaten as-is but rather to be used as ingredients. In these cases, added to a soup or another dish and rehydrated. “Finally, there are end-use foods that can be prepared with dehydration. Jerky, of course, but the very popular with kids fruit roll-ups are easily made at home. And with less added sugars and no chemical preservatives,” says Ward.
Q: What foods can you make in a dehydrator?
A: Ward has dozens of ideas to share when it comes to dehydrators: “Dehydrators are fantastic for making fruit leathers and jerkies (as finished, edible foods) and dehydrated fruits into ‘chips’ (bananas, pineapples, apples, strawberries, pears, etc.). Fruits and vegetables can also be chopped and dehydrated together for specific uses. Mixed berries can all be done together, then stored, then added by the handful to yogurt, cereals, whatever! One of the more useful things to make is dehydrated mirepoix. You can make a batch that will last for an entire soup season without having to chop vegetables each time,” she says.
“Vegetables like green beans, shucked peas, shucked corn, and sliced or cubed potatoes can also be dehydrated and stored for future reconstitution. Keep in mind that the reconstituted vegetables will not have the same mouthfeel as fresh ones, so dehydrated and reconstituted items are best used as an ingredient for a recipe that will be cooked or baked, like soups, stews, and casseroles,” says Ward.
“Dried herbs, of course. There again, you can make spice blends with dehydrated leaves or take it a step further and grind the dehydrated leaves into a powder. Also useful is dehydrating a fruit or vegetable completely, then grinding it into a powder. A great way to add a ka-pow of extra flavor to whatever. Add powdered tomato to red sauce and powdered apple to pie. And my favorite work-around for canning pumpkin butter: dehydrate pumpkin, grind it to powder, add spices as wished, then add to apple sauce and cook,” says Ward.
Q: How long do dehydrated foods last?
A: “The key to keeping dehydrated foods is storing the item in an air-tight container. The longer you keep out the air and moisture, the longer the food lasts. Dried foods should also be kept in a cool-ish (meaning temperature consistent) dark space. The official recommendation from the Center for Home Food Preservation is one year,” says Ward says.
“One technical thing you may want to note is that storage length is also determined by how much moisture is left in the food item. We don’t tend to dry beef jerky until 100% moisture is gone – enough to keep it safe but enough moisture remaining to transmit flavors and make it chewy. Everyone is a little different as to what kind of mouthfeel they like. The general rule: the more moisture the food has, the shorter the shelf life,” she says.
Some storage ideas include canning jars with any type of screw-on lid, double-row zip-top plastic bags, and tight-fitting lidded plastic or glass containers.
During our tests, the Cosori Original Food Dehydrator consistently performed at the top of the class in terms of how quickly, quietly, and evenly it dried out various foods. The Tribest Sedona Express Food Dehydrator is an excellent investment if you’re looking for a high-quality commercial machine. It’s pricey, but it offers precise temperature regulation (from 77 to 167 degrees Fahrenheit) and near-silent operation.