The Best Food Dehydrator


Last updated: April 21, 2019




We've rounded up the best food dehydrators available on the market and tested them.

Jump down to our food dehydrator buying guide if you want to know more about what to look out for when choosing.We've also added some frequently asked questions (and answers!).





Food dehydrator buying guide 2019

It seems like we're told all the time now that we should be eating natural foods more often and avoiding processed products. A food dehydrator allows you to preserve fresh fruit and vegetables (and raw meat), locking the flavour, taste and nutrients in, while making it easier to store and letting you preserve it for longer. And unlike some commercially produced dried food, when home dehydrating you can be sure that no preservatives are added.

Home dehydration is an excellent way to preserve large quantities of raw produce, but it's not for everyone. You need to wash, chop, and then lay out your produce, and once it's dehydrated you need to store it. But if you're aware of what needs to be done, the trade off is worth it, especially when you consider that you are 100% in control of the quality of ingredients you are using. Below we've listed some of the key points to consider when looking for the best dehydrator.

Types of food dehydrator

Dehydrators come in two main types, horizontal airflow and vertical airflow.

Horizontal airflow

A model with horizontal airflow has its heating element placed at the rear of the unit, and hot air is convected to all trays more or less equally. A key benefit with horizontal airflow models is that they almost always feature sliding trays, meaning you can move trays in or out as you like. It's also possible to remove trays completely, leaving space for larger items if needed.

Vertical airflow

With vertical airflow models the heating element is situated at the base of the unit, and hot air moves up through each tray, which are stacked directly on top of each other. These models usually have a smaller footprint that horizontal airflow models, but the downside is you can't remove trays while you're dehydrating (at least, you can't easily). Some models allow you to add extra trays that you can purchase separately, allowing you to upgrade your dehydrator if your needs change.

From our tested we prefer horizontal airflow models - sliding drawers beats upgrade potential which you might not ever need.

Other key features

Tiers

The more tiers (or trays) a dehydrator has, the more food you can dehydrate at the same time. As mentioned above, some dehydrators allow you to increase the number of tiers. It's worth remembering that the more you add the lower the temperature will be in the higher trays.

Temperature control

At the ultra-budget end of the market you can find models that lack a temperature control. These models will dehydrate at one temperature, and one temperature only. We don't consider this viable long-term, as it limits the foods you can dehydrate. But, if you only want to dehydrate one thing, and the model dehydrates at that fixed temperature, it could be right for you.

Countdown timer

A countdown timer allows you to set when the dehydrator will turn itself off. Models without this functionality must be manually turned off, meaning you need to set an alarm to remind you to do this.


Frequently Asked Questions

What temperature should I dehydrate different foods at?

As a general guide, the following temperatures are recommended, but it's always worth checking the user guide that came with your dehydrator:

  • Fruit: 57 °C/135 °F
  • Vegetables: 52 °C/125 °F
  • Meat: 68 °C/155 °F

How long does it take to dehydrate different foods?

It can take from a few hours all the way up to 40 hours. It all comes down to how much water is in the food. For example if you want to dehydrate banana slices you're looking at eight hours, whereas for plums you're looking at around 24 hours. You do have some control over the time - a high temperature will dehydrate your food faster, but at the expense of losing some of the nutritional value of the food.

Is dried food and dehydrated food the same thing?

No, there is a difference. Dehydrated food has had much more moisture removed that dried food, to the point where dehydrated food loses much of it's ability to flex and becomes crispy. Dried food, as it contains more of it's water content, is softer and more flexible. Dehydrated food is able to be store for much longer than dried food.

How do I make beef jerky in a dehydrator?

Making jerky in a dehydrator is becoming more and more popular. It's easy and quick to do. Here's a quick guide:

  1. Use a lean cut of meat, and cut off as much fat as you can. You want as little fat as possible.
  2. Slice the meat into thin strips. This can be easier if you put the meat in the freezer for an hour or so beforehand.
  3. Optionally marinate your beef strips. If you choose to marinate, make sure you pat dry the beef so no excess marinade remains.
  4. Lay out the beef strips on your dehydrators trays. Make sure they aren't overlapping.
  5. Turn your dehydrator to 70 °C/158 °F, or if doesn't go that high, to as high a setting as possible.
  6. Your jerky should be ready after 4-6 hours. Check on it from time to time to ensure it isn't drying out too much.

Is a food dehydrator expensive to run?

No, a dehydrator is not expensive to run. Most models cost only a few cents (or pennies) to run per hour.


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Kristine Fuller's profile picture
This article was written and researched by Kristine Fuller.
I'm Kristine, writer and researcher for Expertly Tested. I usually review products of all types for the home and kitchen, and I'm the go-to person for these on the team!