It’s no surprise that food dehydrators are becoming increasingly popular. They’ve become one of the healthiest ways to consume food and avoid the harmful toxins that are packed in consumer bought foods.
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Recent studies have shown that dehydrating foods hold a high percentage of retaining the important vitamins and minerals in the food with the added benefit of preservation. Thus, owning a food dehydrator can help you create these delicious and healthy snacks in the comfort of your own home, and save money in the process (no longer need to purchase store-bought dried snacks).
These best food dehydrator reviews will give you an excellent outlook on which products to look out for, which appliances fit your budget and which ones to avoid.
Many people are still unfamiliar with these fancy cooking gadgets and it can seem quite a daunting process. Due to the high demand, many brands have made their way on to the market with their own designs and features. Unfortunately for you, it can make choosing a dehydrator quite complicated and create the fear of buying an appliance that isn’t right for you; so it’s always important to look at dehydrator reviews.
It’s absolutely vital that you properly research all of the products thoroughly and read all of the reviews available to you. The last thing you want to do is spend lots of money on an appliance that is surplus to your requirements or doesn’t fit your daily need. Luckily for you, we have assembled the ultimate guide to buying the best food dehydrator on the market. We will cover the best products by price range, by brands and by features.
To summarise a dehydrator, it essentially removes moisture from the food for long preservation but retains most of the vitamins and minerals. According to the Energise of Life, dehydration retains almost 100% of vitamins while completely minmizing the growth of bacteria.
Today’s appliances remover around 75%-95% of moisture from the food. The Department of Nutrition states that properly dehydrated foods have a shelf life of up to 30 years. Which is pretty incredible considering the nutritional content that is preserved in the process. Remember, it’s always better to over-dry your produce than to under-dry. That’s why it’s important to have the best dehydrator.
Dehydrating foods goes way back to Ancient times, in those days it was essential to dry foods out in the sun to preserve them; dried foods were a staple of their diets. Dried sprouts and vegetables are packed full of fibre and low cholesterol fats which are great for people wanting to lose weight or brighten up their life.
Vitamin A and C are almost completely retained in the dehydration process, as are the minerals potassium, magnesium and selenium. Consuming these vitamins and minerals on a daily basis are absolutely vital to maintaining ones health. One of the biggest advantages to owning a dehydrator are those who are on a diet. Instead of divulging on unhealthy chips, candy and soda, one can entertain themselves buy creating healthy, delicious dried banana chips, dried strawberries or even homemade yogurt.
Another huge advantage of owning a food dehydrator is the possibility of introducing your children to more healthy foods. They are a great way to bring the 5-a-day in to a childs diet. Best of all, you can allow your child to take part in the dehydration process and selection of foods to try – it’s a fun way to bring extra healthy activities in to the family life.
Reputable Brands To Look Out For
Understandably, picking out a new purchase can be extremely difficult when there’s so many options. After a quick dehydrator search, you’ll discover tons of products and tons of brands. The last thing you want, is to buy a low quality product that doesn’t meet your standards or over pay. On our website we will cover some honest reviews on reputable brands that are in the dehydration market. They are:
- Nesco. They are part of the Metal Ware corporation that was founded in 1920. Their products are known for durability and budget-friendly nature. They often have emphatic reviews and are proud to say that their products are made in the USA. Some are their best products include the Snackmaster Pro and the Nesco American Harvest.
- Excalibur. All products are made in Sacramento, California. This company specializes in premium products at affordable prices. They’re usually big in size and often absolute top quality products. They use the box design and the special horizontal heating systems. With Excalibur, you know you’re always buying a quality product made in the USA. Some of their best products include the Excalibur 3926TB and the Excalibur 9 Tray Stainless Steel.
- Presto. One of the most reliable brands in the industry. They specialize is affordable products that are of highest quality. Their products are optimized for dehydrating fruit, vegetables, spices, herbs and jerky. Their products are often very small in size and low-budget. Presto’s most popular appliance is the Presto Dehydro.
- Waring. They are an extremely reputable brand across the kitchen appliance industry. They’re known for introducing the first Blender in to the American market. Founded by Fred Waring in the 1930’s, they specialise in very durable and high quality products. Their dehydrators are of premium quality and always have excellent dehydrator reviews. Their most popular dehydrator in the market is the Waring Pro DHR30.
Best Dehydrator Features
You’ll be glad to know, that if you’re on a tight budget, there are plenty of options available. Dehydrators come in every price range. Starting at around $40 all the way to over $400. Like any market, you get what you pay for and the price reflects the amount of features and quality of product. Luckily for you, we’ve compiled this list by price range and hopefully, you can find the best dehydrator.
It’s worth knowing that you should look out for three features when looking for the best dehydrator. You should look for:
- Heat distribution. How effective is the machine and dry foods? How long will it take? The cheaper models use vertical heating system which works quite well. The more expensive models use horizontal heating which is optimal for dehydration. Horizontal heating is recommended if you can afford the extra cost.
- Capacity. How many trays can the machine hold? The best machines have expandable features, which will allow you to insert more trays if you desire. Look out for large capacities if you want to make lots of tasty food at once for future storing.
- Extra Features. Does the dehydrator come with an adjustable thermostat or timer? Most of the cheaper models don’t come with a timer – so you’ll have to use your own. Again, the cheaper models don’t often don’t come with adjustable thermostats but do have very good temperature ranges. Opt for an expensive model if you want complete control over your food.
Our Food Dehydrator Reviews
Price Range: Under $70
Editors Pick: Presto 06301 Dehydro
The Presto 6301 is considered the ultimate low-budget dehydrator that is packed full of positive reviews. You’ll see plenty of positive dehydrator reviews on Amazon. Delivered in frustration-free packaging and comes with 4 plastic trays. The trays are perfectly dishwasher safe and very easy to clean. You won’t need to be scrubbing them for hours – that’s for sure. It comes equipped with a vertical heat system that distributes the heat centrally and upwards. Vertical heat systems aren’t recommended for those who are serious about dehydrating but it will do the job. As you can image, foods placed on the bottom will be dried quicker than those on top.
It has an expandable feature that allows up to 8 trays in total – which is a great feature to have on such a cheap appliance. It comes with a transparent lid which is brilliant for checking on your food, you won’t have to keep pulling off the lid to check on your food which leads to some serious heat loss.
It costs under $100 and is the perfect machine for beginners or those on a strict budget. It’s efficient, low in noise and very easy to clean.
Price Range: $50 to $100
Editors Pick: Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator FD-75A
It costs under $100 and is a great all-rounder. Its small in size and comes in a sleek white design; which makes it easy for storage. The top section has a mounted fan that is powered by a 700 Watt motor which is perfect for drying fruits, vegetables and jerky. It even comes with some brilliant extra features like a detailed 52-page instruction and recipe book, along with spice packets and mesh sheets.
It comes equipped with an expandable feature that allows users to insert up to 12 trays in total. This is a great feature for people who hold parties or people who like to make large batches of food at once for future storing purposes. It’s no wonder that this dehydrator has obtained thousands of positive reviews. Its great for people on a budget that want to make some delicious dried foods that take very little time to create. For this price range, it is the best dehydrator.
Price Range: $100 to $130
Editors Pick: Magic Mill Pro Dehydrator
The recommended machine for people who are wanting to spend less than $200. It did very well in many dehydrator reviews across the internet. The Magic Mill Pro is known for its incredible drying power and large capacity. It’s often the chosen appliance for making large batches of food at once or to hold large parties. It comes with 6 spacious trays that are strong and should last you the lifetime of the machine.
The front door is an excellent feature that protects food while drying from harmful light. The last thing you want is your dried foods to lose their vitamins and minerals, but with its opaque lid, you’ll no longer need to worry.
Unlike many cheaper dehydrators on the market, this comes with a fully adjustable thermostat and timer. The thermostat can be altered from 95 to 158 degrees F. This temperature range is considered to be optimal by food experts. The ultimate selling point for this machine is its timer. Once you’ve set the time and the time runs out, the machine will turn its self off. You’ll no longer need to get up at 3 am!
Price Range: $130 to $200
Editors Pick: Chefman Food Dehydrator
It comes with nine plastic BPA free trays, which makes it great for big batches or working in a large kitchen. The dehydrator has a temperature range of 95 to 158 degrees Fahrenheit. The timer is accurate and can be used from 19 hours downwards. A timer is absolutely necessary if you’re trying to perfect jerky.
It’s 600 Watts and utilizes a horizontal heating system that ensures heat is distributed effectively. It’s a solid dehydrator that should last much longer than the 1-year warranty provided. Chefman is a reputable brand that gives customers access to their vast library of recipes and cooking videos.
Price Range: Over $200
Editors Pick: Excalibur 3926TB
If you’ve done much research already, you’ll know that this product dominates the market and is considered the best food dehydrator by many experts. Its a professional machine that is not recommended for beginners. Its large in size which means its great for many large quantities of produce at once or if you host gatherings. It uses the much acclaimed Parallex Horizontal Airflow technology which allows heat to flow through the machine evenly and smoothly. The horizontal systems mean all of your food will be dried evenly, unlike some cheaper products.
The adjustable thermostat is perfect for getting it right and ranges from 105 to 165 F making it the optimal temperature range. The Hyperwave technology uses the perfect temperature to dry out your food, while removing any factor of yeast or mould forming. Some reviewers did find this machine to be quite large and chunky. If you have a small kitchen or if you’re a beginner, this appliance probably isn’t for you. But, if you’re serious about dehydrating and can accommodate the space it could turn out to be one of your best purchases yet.
Editors pick: Nesco American Harvest FD-61WHC
The Nesco American Harvest FD-61WHC Food Dehydrator is in the medium budget category and comes in an all-in-one kit. It comes with 5 trays and the excellent jerky gun. It’s a great machine for making delicious dried snacks like banana chips, dried herbs and the all-important beef jerky.
At under $100, it’s hard to fault this appliance which is a brilliant all-round dehydrator. Which is why we included it in the honorable mentions list. It’s packed full of features, unlike similarly priced products on the market. It’s perfect for those on a diet who are trying to eat much healthier or those who are simply interested in dehydrating food.
Its lack of on/off switch might be an issue for some people, it is recommended to turn the switch at the mains socket or pull out the plug. However, it more than makes up for it in other areas.
The plastic trays are BPA free and dishwasher safe. It comes with an Opaque Vita cover which protects the drying foods from harmful light. Which ensures all the important nutrients and goodness are kept in the food. It’s a fantastic appliance to get the 5-a-day into your diet.
As stated above, the dehydrator is an all-in-one kit that comes with a super handy jerky gun. It’s very similar to a cake decorator in use and in appearance. It also comes with an excellent recipe book which covers everything from fruit, vegetables, herbs, spices and jerky. An added bonus is the packets of seasoning and cures.
You’ll be pleased to know that the dehydrator is extremely quiet. Many of our users reported that the noise is a similar level to that of a fan.
Editors pick: Waring Pro DHR30
The Waring Pro DHR30 Professional Dehydrator is at an affordable price which is packed full of features. It comes with 5 interlocking trays that can be stacked with ease and 620 watts of heating power. It’s perfect for making your own dried fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices and jerky.
This is a great product to have gorgeous summer fruits, in the cold winter months. It’s also a great way for children to get their 5-a-day by tricking them into eating delicious fruit chips, also by letting them take part in the drying process.
Unlike some other budget-dehydrators in the market, this one comes with an accurate thermostat which be adjusted to high, medium and low accordingly. This feature allows drying of different types of foods with absolute ease. The thermostat settings can be changed from 110 – 170 F which is generally the optimal temperaturefor dehydrating foods.
Some users complained that appliance is a little on the noisy side. However, compared some other models, the sound isn’t too bad. It’s not hair dryer loud but a little louder than a ceiling fan. It shouldn’t be a problem for most people.
The Waring Dehydrator doesn’t come with a timer. So make sure to use a standard timer or whatever device you prefer, to ensure your food is timed to perfection. Fortunately, the entire case for the appliance is transparent which removes the factor of lifting up the lid to check on food. Which is definitely not recommended due to heat loss.
Food Dehydrators Frequently Asked Questions
We have compiled a list of the most commonly asked questions in regards to buying a new food dehydrator.
How important is heat and air flow?
Perhaps the most critical property of your machine is its ability to distribute heat and air evenly. Buying a food dehydrator which is not efficient in this will mean that a portion of your food batch, closer to the source of heat and air, will be more drier than the other – and when it will happen, you will learn that there is nothing more annoying than this.
You will find yourself with two options, namely vertical and horizontal, concerning the air distribution system. Both the systems have their own advantages and disadvantages, which depend on how and what you are going to use it for. Usually the horizontal version is more expensive than the vertical one.
In a horizontal dehydrator, the drying fan is placed behind the trays. This means that the food batches will not be evenly heated and you would need to make sure about it. However, the horizontal version also means that the flavors of your food will never get mixed up even if you place them all at the same time. So now you can insert batches of fish and veggies, fruits and chicken, etc. and not worry about the nuisance of assorted savor and smell at all. Moreover, these apparatus are larger in size compared to their vertical version and allow large batches to be desiccated at the same time.
In a vertical machine, the fan is placed on the top or bottom of the chamber allowing a fair spread of heat and air, across all the flat trays. This lets the food dry faster. However, vertical dehydrators require greater cleaning, especially if you get one with a fan on the bottom.
What size should I choose?
Size is a major decider of which dehydrator will go to your kitchen.
The appliance can be stackable or non-stackable. A stackable device will allow you to dry a large batch or several batch of different foods at the same time, by allowing you to put the trays on top of each other. This also lets you save the precious kitchen counter space.
In contrast, a non-stackable counterpart will only let you dry a batch individually, which will naturally require more time.
Ease of access is also an important factor and is usually a result of the capacity of a dehydrator. It is preferable if you need to check on your food while it is or preparing or drying. With an expandable or stackable dehydrator you are kind of limited with checking your food, as if for example you want to access a tray placed in the midlevel you would have to remove all the above portions as well. This can be tiring as well as annoying, especially when you have a large stackable dehydrator.
Constant checking on the food will also make the batch take more time to dry.
This is not the case with a horizontal version as you can simply pull out the tray, as if you were pulling out a tray from the oven. Therefore if the ease of use is significant to you then non expanding dehydrator is the way to go.
How important is a built-in timer?
Not really a super important feature to have, but having a timer on your machine is incredibly convenient. While you can always time your heating using the conventional watch on your hand, the timer will make sure the food is heated to exactly the duration you want it to be. Plus you will have no worries on your head regarding over heating as the timer will itself close the heating once the time runs out.
How much should I spend?
The price of the product will be the deciding factor for most of the buyers. If you are new to dehydrators it is advised to go with a small budget appliance, which will fulfil your light demands. However, if you are planning to use a dehydrator for heavy duty or commercial purposes, you should really spend the cash and get a quality built, which will last long.
Cheap machines sometimes do not have a thermostat, which is an extremely essential feature. If you are a newbie and think that a thermostat is not necessary, you are wrong! The thermostat will allow you to control the temperature in the chamber and adjust it according to your food type.
Ensure that whatever the price you are paying for your machine, you are being given a warranty and an FDA approval proof for the product. A lot of cheap seemingly-good products will betray you by not offering warranty and crashing down a month or two after purchase.
Low quality products can also release fumes and chemicals which can affect your health. Don’t go for the cheap unknown brands as investing in a good dehydrator means you won’t have to worry about another one for years to come.
Do I need a dehydrator with fancy features?
You usually want your dehydrator to be as versatile as possible given your budget. The non-stacking dehydrator has a lot of room above its trays, which can allow you to dry even tall stuff. This is a very practical feature as you can even dry designs and crafts like dough/clay art in it without any issue.
On the other hand, stackable dehydrators allow you with the facility of expandable capacity. This means you will mostly never have a problem with running out of space. Having a non-expanding appliance would mean you would have to buy a totally new unit to increase the capacity.