No one likes to throw food away, but sometimes it’s hard to know what to do with excess produce. Enter the food dehydrator. It makes preserving fruits and vegetables easy and keeps food waste down.
My family has a huge vegetable garden (over 6,000 square feet). Yearly, that equals thousands of pounds of tomatoes, squash, green beans, broccoli, peppers, and on and on. We preserve that produce in a variety of ways (canning, freezing, juicing), but one of my favorite ways is dehydrating. It requires much less hands-on time than canning and still yields delicious food. Additionally, dehydrated food takes up less space than its canned or frozen counterparts.
- Studies have shown dehydrated foods retain more nutritional value than canned or frozen foods.
- Dehydrating is much easier and less labor-intensive than canning or freezing.
- Dehydrated foods require much less storage space than canned or frozen foods.
- Purchasing dehydrated foods is expensive. When you dehydrate your own food, you can buy food on sale.
- Dehydrating is an easy way to preserve food you would otherwise throw away.
What to Look for in a Dehydrator
There are a few things to look for in a dehydrator.
- Size. How large of a machine do you need? Will you be drying large quantities at once or would a smaller machine be sufficient?
- Good quality parts. You want a machine with a high quality motor and good, BPA-free trays that won’t melt during dehydrating.
- Ease of cleaning. Look for a machine that is easy to wipe down and has dishwasher safe trays.
- Noise level. Depending on where you are planning to use your machine, the noise level may or may not be important to you. If you plan to use it in your kitchen, you will likely want a quieter machine.
- Temperature control. This is important if you are going to be dehydrating meat. Temperature control will reduce the risk of food poisoning with meat. If you are only dehydrating produce or herbs, a temperature control is not necessary.
10 Good Food Dehydrators for Fruit and Jerky Meat in 2020
|Presto Dehydro 06301|
|Nesco Snackmaster Pro|
|National Presto Dehydro|
|Chefman Food Dehydrator|
1. Presto Dehydro 06301
If you are looking for a powerful machine that can dry a large amount of food at once, check out this fantastic dehydrator from Presto. It is more expensive than some of the other options on this list, but it does have some significant upgrades and works great with vegetables, fruit, and jerky.
With a powerful motor, excellent quality trays, a timer, and a thermostat control, there isn’t a better home food dehydrator available.
- Stores easily, with trays nesting and cord storing in the base
- BPA-free and dishwasher-safe
- Comes with two nonstick screen trays and six drying racks (can fit up to 12)
- Thermostat goes from 90° to 165° F
- Comes with jerky spice packets
- 750 watts
- Noisier than some dehydrators (about as loud as a bathroom fan)
- Bottom trays tend to dry faster than top trays
This is a great machine. It works well and has a thermostat, which ensures jerky is safely processed. You do have to watch to see if trays need to be rotated, but that is the case with most of the dehydrators on our list.
2. Nesco Gardenmaster
The Nesco Gardenmaster is another good choice for a dehydrator. It not only has a timer, but it also has a temperature range. This is a powerful machine and is good quality. With only 4 trays included, you will likely want to purchase some additional trays if you want to do more than a small amount at once.
- Comes with four trays (can fit up to twenty)
- Fruit roll-up sheet included
- 1000 watts
- Adjustable thermostat (95° to 160° F)
- Can be a bit noisy with that much power
- Can be a little inefficient
Overall, this is a good machine. It has a few different temperature settings to help reduce drying time.
3. Nesco Snackmaster Pro
The Nesco Snackmaster Pro has a lot of bells and whistles that make a great dehydrator. It comes with a top mounted fan. The temperature can be adjusted to 7 different temperature levels from 95°-155° F.
- Comes with 5 trays (can fit up to 12 trays) which are BPA-free
- Comes with 2 fruit roll trays, 2 mesh screens, and 2 jerky seasoning packets
- Top mounted fan means food doesn’t drip down to the fan
- Adjustable thermostat (95° -155° F)
- 600 watts
- Quieter than many dehydrators
- Dishwasher can warp trays
This machine does a good job dehydrating food, but it does require more time and effort on your part. With trays that need to be hand-washed, you will spend more time on this dehydrator than on others. However, the finished product is good and well worth the extra time.
4. National Presto Dehydro
If you want a good machine at a reasonable price, this Presto might be the one for you. It has an adjustable thermostat as well as automatic shutoff. It includes 6 regular trays, 2 fruit trays, and 2 non-stick mesh screens to allow you to dehydrate almost anything.
- Comes with 6 trays (can fit up to 12)
- 2 fruit roll-up sheets included
- 2 non-stick mesh screens included
- 750 watts
- Adjustable thermostat (90° to 165° F)
- Takes longer than other machines
Overall, this is machine is pretty good, but it does take longer to dry foods than those listed above.
5. Hamilton Beach Food Dehydrator
The Hamilton Beach dehydrator offers a good bang for your buck. It has an digital adjustable thermostat that goes from 100°-160° F. Included are 5 trays, a mesh sheet, and a fruit roll sheet. Another great feature is the 48 hour timer with automatic shutoff. Just set the timer for whatever time you desire, and the machine will shut off when the timer runs out.
- 48 hour timer with auto shutoff
- 5 trays
- Includes mesh sheet and fruit roll sheet
- Adjustable digital thermostat (100°-160° F)
- BPA free
- Louder than other options
- Difficult to clean
While this is a good option, be aware that it is considerably louder than other food dryers on this list. It is also harder to clean, which means it will require more of your time and attention.
6. Elechomes Dehydrator
The Elechomes dehydrator not only dries food, it also looks great on your countertop. This sleek machine comes with 6 dishwasher safe trays and a fruit roll sheet. Each tray has 2 adjustable heights to accommodate different types of foods. The digital control panel allows you to adjust the temperature between 95°-158° F. A timer helps you keep track of how long your food has remaining.
- 6 dishwasher safe trays
- Easy to clean
- Digital control panel
- Includes fruit roll sheet
- Smaller trays than other options
- Takes longer than other machines
Since the trays on the Elechomes are smaller than on other machines, if you are looking to do larger quantities of food, another choice might be better.
7. NutriChef PKFD12
This NutriChef dehydrator is another good choice. It is available in black or white and comes with five dishwasher safe trays. It has a temperature control knob so you can adjust the temperature according to what food you are drying.
- Comes in black or white
- Trays are dishwasher safe
- Comes with five trays
- BPA free
- Temperature control knob
- Trays have to be rotated for even drying
- No fruit roll tray
- Takes longer to dry than the manual states
While this is a pretty good unit, it is just average in comparison to those listed above. With no fruit roll tray included (or even available for purchase) as well as the long drying times, I would go with one of those listed above.
8. Chefman Food Dehydrator
The Chefman dehydrator is a pretty good machine at a decent price. It looks more sophisticated than most of the other options. With 6 trays included, this unit has a transparent viewing window as well as a countdown timer. A timer with automatic shutoff as well as 14 temperature presets make it easy to customize to the foods you want to dry.
- 6 BPA free trays
- Automatic shutoff (with timer)
- 14 temperature presets from 95°-158° F
- Transparent viewing window
- Countdown timer
- 1-year warranty
- Poor instructions
- Longer dry time than claims
Unfortunately, the cons on this machine make it not as good as its competitors. The poor instructions mean you have a lot of trial and error to get a good result. Most other machines of this size have more power.
9. Rosewill Dehydrator
If you want a budget food dehydrator that you won’t be using often, the Rosewill might be a good choice for you. It comes with 5 dishwasher safe trays as well as 2 fruit roll trays and 2 herb trays. It has an adjustable thermostat and is easy to clean.
- 5 trays
- 2 fruit roll trays
- 2 herb trays
- 7 temp settings from 95°-158° F
- Longer dry time
- Trays crack after a while
Overall, this is a pretty good unit, but the trays do tend to crack over time and will need to be replaced. The small size and limited power of this machine would lead me personally to choose a different product.
10. NutriChef PKFD06
If you want a smaller option, check out the NutriChef PKFD06. This machine comes with 5 dishwasher safe trays. One of the biggest positives about this option is that it is relatively quiet compared to other units. The temperature is adjustable from low to high (with high being 180° F).
- 5 trays
- Adjustable temperature control
- Dishwasher safe trays
- BPA free
- Relatively quiet fan
- Long dry time
Although this is a very small unit, it does take longer to dry food than some of its larger counterparts. Its 250W capacity makes it hard to compete with the bigger machines.
Our Favorite Food Dehydrators
Any of these dehydrators would be a good choice. However, after comparing the features, costs, and results of each machine, I most highly recommend the Presto Dehydro machines. They both have BPA-free trays which are dishwasher safe. Both these machines are affordable and produce great results. Happy dehydrating! Herbs from a home herb garden work great in these dehydrators.
How does a food dehydrator work?
A food dehydrator blows warm or hot air through trays stacked in the dehydrating machine. The air dries the food. Dehydrators have the fan either on the bottom or the top of the unit.
What are the important features in a food dehydrator?
An adjustable temperature is important because it allows you to customize each cycle to the food you are dehydrating. Other good features are extra trays and fruit trays if you want to dry fruit leather. Dishwasher safe trays are also a plus.
How long does dehydrated food last?
It depends on the food and how it is stored. If vacuum sealed and stored in a cool, dark area with low humidity, dehydrated foods can last up to 5 years.
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