The NESCO FD-75A Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator can dry your fresh food in just hours! The unit's patented Converga-Flow drying system forces air down the exterior pressurized chamber and then horizontally across each individual tray, resulting in even drying with no flavor mixing or need to rotate trays. The top mounted fan prevents liquids from dripping into the center of the unit, and the adjustable thermostat ranges from 95°F to 160°F.
At 600 watts, this is one of the more powerful units on our list. There are 5 trays included, but this dehydrator can expand to fit 12 trays for drying even more food at one time. We love that it comes with 2 fruit roll sheets, great for drying out more liquidius items, and 2 smaller screens which allow you to dry smaller items like herbs, spices, and potpourri.
This unit is easy to get started with and even includes a 52-page recipe booklet and a sample of jerky seasoning to get you started!
The Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator can help you preserve foods at a fraction of the cost of commercially dehydrated foods. Make your own jerky, dried fruits and veggies, dog treats, and so much more with this simple to use machine--simply plug it in and it's ready to go. While the temperature can't be adjusted, it is suitable for many use cases, but be sure this will work for your intended use.
This unit comes with 4 trays, but can stack up to 8 trays if desired. The see-through lid conveniently allows you to peer into the unit to monitor the drying process, which is quite handy. The bottom-mounted fan and heating element allows for consistent airflow and drying without the need for tray rotation, another feature we love.
Cleanup couldn't be simpler thanks to the drying trays and cover that are fully immersible and dishwasher safe. Plus, the trays are super easy to store and nest inside the unit for compact storage.
For a more professional model, the Excalibur 2400 Electric 4-Tray Food Dehydrator provides you with 4 square feet of drying space! The patented hyper wave technology and horizontal parallax drying system removes water from food with a continuous circulation of temperature controlled warm air. We love that this unit is equipped with square poly-screen trays that do not need to be moved or rotated during use, and also help to prevent food from sticking.
An easy to use adjustable thermostat can go as low as 95°F, which is great for drying out herbs, and as high as 165°F, which is better suited for items such as jerky. The accompanying on/off switch might be a plus for some.
The machine is a little larger than other options, but it its constructed of quality materials that gets the job done right, and quickly, faster than some more economical options.
This unit is hard to pass up, as it comes with a limited 10-year warranty and a guide to dehydration to get you started right away.
The Hamilton Beach Food Dehydrator makes it easy to create wholesome, homemade snacks deemed too difficult to make in the past. With five stackable drying trays and 500 watts of power, it's easy to dry a variety of fruits and vegetables and even make beef jerky. The continuous airflow feature provides even drying, eliminating the need to rotate trays. This unit includes a mesh sheet to dry herbs or other smaller items, and a solid sheet for homemade fruit rolls or drying out sauces or soups.
We love that this dehydrator includes an adjustable thermometer for better performance and a timer with automatic shut-off, so you can set and forget. Clean up is simple as the square design makes placing trays in the dishwasher a breeze. The compact design is a definite plus if you're limited on counter or pantry space.
The Cuisinart Food Dehydrator makes it easy to preserve foods naturally without any preservatives. At 620 watts, this unit is the most powerful in our list. The motorized fan at the top has a vent that allows air to circulate evenly and efficiently.
This dehydrator includes 5 interlocking trays that stack on top of one another for easy placement, with the ability to expand up to 9. It also includes a temperature control knob, that, while better than nothing, is a bit limited at only having settings at fan only, low, medium, and high. For reference, low is around 110°F, medium around 140°F, and high around 175°. We do like that this temperature knob also functions as the off switch as well, and having the fan only option is a unique feature for greater versatility.
Like our other picks, easy cleanup is a must, which can be done by hand or in the dishwasher.
A food dehydrator is a great way to preserve food and make healthy homemade snacks for you and your family, but they can potentially seem intimidating if you're new to using them. Most products come with a handy instructional guide to assist you in the process, some even include inspirational recipe books, but we break down a few useful tips for purchasing and operating your new dehydrator.
For most users, a food dehydrator will not be a mainstay on their kitchen counter. However, do note that most dehydrators will need to run for up to 12 hours depending on your model, number and types of items, and temperature setting. Make sure you have enough counter space and somewhere to store your unit when not using.
Also consider also how much room the unit has to dry your food. If you plan on making large batches of dried food, or multiple types of dried food, think about how much space and how many trays will be ideal. For most of the dehydrators in our list, additional trays can be purchased so the unit can be expanded.
Most units have adjustable temperature controls which is great if you plan on using for a variety of items. Herbs, living foods, and yogurt is recommended at lower temps in the 95°F to 115°F range. Fruits and veggies fall in the 125°F to 135°F range, while meats are recommended using 155°F or higher. Similar to your oven, allow your dehydrator time to heat up before use. Be sure to reference the guide included for proper settings on your model.
Make sure all fruits and veggies are thoroughly washed before dehydrating. Aim for even cuts to ensure even drying. For fruits than brown after cutting, such as apples and bananas, spritz with lemon juice prior to help maintain its color. You can steam, boil, or blanch items before dehydrating, such as onions to help reduce flavor and scent transfer. When cutting meat to make jerky, you'll want to ensure slices aren't too thick or thin for optimal drying and texture, and cutting meat while partially frozen makes this process easier. Be sure to follow your model's instruction manual or desired recipe closely!
There are a number of variables to consider, including your particular model, the heat setting, and the item being dehydrated. As a general rule of thumb, you want to ensure food is at least 95% dehydrated for optimal storage--if it feels soft or sticky, leave in for additional time. Also avoid increasing the heat to speed up the process as this can seal the exterior while trapping moisture inside, which again will affect its shelf life. Again, also be sure to reference the included user's manual for drying guidelines.
There is a large possibilities of items that can be dehydrating beyond veggies, fruits, herbs, and jerky. You can make your own dog treats, dehydrate soups and sauces for later use or seasoning purposes, even eggs for future baking!
All models and use cases will not be the same, so there might be some trial and error initially. Keeping notes will be handy as you learn to become a master dehydrator!