A food dehydrator allows you to dry fruits, veggies, and meats and much more so that they can be used at a later time in recipes throughout the year. This way, you won’t have to worry about wasting food or rushing to eat your fruits and veggies before they spoil. And the best part? After they’ve been dried out, the food is still able to maintain the same level of vitamin and minerals as their fresh counterparts. Dehydrated food feature concentrated flavors, enzymes, and nutrients. The process will retain almost a hundred percent of the nutritional content and actually works to prevent the growth of bacteria.
But choosing a food dehydrator can be difficult, especially considering many new models have recently flooded the market as more and more people strive to make healthier food choices.
Finding the best food dehydrator doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, we’ve reviewed the top three models on the market to learn which units have the best features to offer, which food dehydrator is the easiest to use, and which model is perfect for the family on a tight budget.
You’ll also find a food dehydrator buying guide which will point out some of the basic features to look for when shopping online for the right food dehydrator for you and your family.
1. Magic Mill Pro Food Dehydrator Review-Best Food Dehydrator 2017
The Magic Mill Pro food dehydrator features a timer and digital thermostat so you can choose the right temperature and set a timer, so you don’t have to keep a close eye on your food during the drying process.
The dehydrator is equipped with a rear mounted fan that promotes even drying. The unit also offers an automatic shutoff feature, which switches the machine off once the drying process is complete.
Inside you’ll find a total of six plastic drying racks, allowing you to dry larger quantities of food.
This model is perfect for drying fruits, meats, and herbs. The unit’s door is clear, allowing you to periodically peek in on your food to monitor the drying process. This Pro model has a reputation for precise airflow, so you know your food will be dried evenly.
It also features mesh dehydrating trays that measure in at twelve inches by thirteen inches, allowing you to dry up to six pounds of food per cycle. The Pro’s large capacity is perfect if you need to dry bigger batches of food.
You’ll find a total of eight preset drying functions, enabling you to select the perfect temperature for certain popular dried foods. All you’ll have to do is press a button and the drying process will begin.
This model also comes with a one-year limited warranty.
Some consumers felt that the dehydrator’s fan was too loud, comparing it to the noise level of a large box fan.
Affordably priced, spacious, and perfect for beginners, this easy to use food dehydrator can handle a wide variety of foods and focuses on even airflow distribution that ensures your food is dried to perfection each and every time.
2. Nesco FD75A Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator Review-Best Value
The Nesco FD75A Snackmaster Pro food dehydrator is perfect for beginners. It features a top mounted fan and measures in at thirteen inches by thirteen inches by ten inches. This package includes three spice jerky packets, two mesh sheets, and two solid sheets.
This model comes with Nesco’s patented Converga Flow airflow system. The fan used forces air down the sides of the drying chamber. The air then travels horizontally over the individual trays. The result is a faster, even drying process. This airflow design also helps to prevent flavors from mixing, so there’s no need to rotate the trays.
The adjustable temperature control is another must-have feature that allows you to use lower temperatures for fruits and veggies and use higher temperatures for meats.
This is a very basic model and one that doesn’t come with any bells and whistles. The simple operation and temperature adjustments allow you to effortlessly dry your favorite foods, thanks to the easy to use drying options.
This model comes with a one-year limited warranty.
This dehydrator does not come equipped with a timer, which means you’ll have to closely monitor your food throughout the drying process in order to prevent over-drying.
There’s also no on and off switch. To turn the machine off, simply unplug it.
The capacity size if decent, making this machine perfect for smaller batches of food. The simple design is reflected in the price. The lack of a timer is a big drawback for some consumers, however, the ability to control the temperature is a big plus, giving you more versatility in terms of which types of foods you dry and basically speeding up the dehydration process. Foods such as meats will require a much higher temp than fruits and veggies. Overall, we felt that for the price this dehydrator is a steal and the perfect choice for the beginner.
3. Excalibur 3926TB Food Dehydrator Review-Feature Packed
The Excalibur 3926TB food dehydrator comes equipped with a rear mounted fan, a twenty-six-hour timer, nine large trays and an impressive fifteen square feet of drying space.
If you’re searching for a large capacity dehydrator that’s packed with features, then your search is over.
This package comes with the food dehydrator, user’s manual and nine trays. The trays feature a small lip that allows you to cook non-solid foods such as yogurt or fruit leather.
When you’re dehydrating food, the temperature used is crucial. For many foods, such as fruits and veggies, it’s important to use lower temperatures in order to avoid destroying enzymes. With meats, high temperatures are required to process the food safely. This model features an adjustable thermostat, which allows you to easily control dehydrating temperatures based on the type of food you’re processing.
This dehydrator offers a unique drying system that’s designed to provide even airflow and heat for the best results when processing a wide variety of foods. The temperature controlled drying system forces hot air horizontally across the food with the rear mounted fan, providing even heat distribution across all nine of the drying trays.
This large amount of drying space is perfect for hunting season or harvest time.
The machine’s door is removable for easier cleaning, maintenance, and loading or unloading.
This model comes with a ten-year warranty.
If you have limited kitchen or storage space, then this model may not be for you.
While for some, the higher price tag is a major downside, this model’s larger capacity, thermostat controls, and the built-in timer make it well worth the price.
Food Dehydrator Buying Guide
Have you ever wanted to make your own dried fruits, veggie chips or dried herbs? The best food dehydrator removes the moisture from food without cooking it. This is done with the use of a heating element, which provides warm, uniform temperatures with a small fan that draws the air through the back or bottom of the device and up across the trays of food stored inside. By removing the moisture, a dehydrator can help to maintain a food’s high nutritional value and the flavor. This allows you to use nutrient-packed foods that are rich in flavor in all your recipes.
What Can I Put in a Food Dehydrator?
When it comes to the types of foods you can dehydrate, the options can seem almost limitless. Depending on the type of dehydrator you purchase, you can dry flowers, meats, grains, veggies, and fruits.
A dehydrator is also perfect for making fruit leather or granola. Dehydrators are very versatile and simple to use. When you’re shopping online for a new model, keep in mind that round dehydrators are only useful for drying solid items such as meats, herbs, and fruits, but they don’t do well with liquid products such as fruit leather or yogurt.
How to Pick Out a Food Dehydrator That’s Right for You
If you’re searching for the perfect model, pay special attention to the different features available including wattage, whether or not the device is stackable, space and size, and the dehydrator’s capacity.
A stackable dehydrator if perfect if you want a unit with a larger capacity, but you don’t have the floor space for a full-size unit. Countertop dehydrators are stackable, so if you have big plans for your next dehydrator project, you can use more than one unit and stack them together, which will save you a ton of space in high traffic areas.
The wattage is the amount of power that’s released. The higher the wattage, the faster a device will heat up and the faster the dehydration process is. With lower wattage models it can take longer for the unit to heat up and do its job. You should also make sure you pick a unit that’s going to fit in the dedicated space you have available.
A dehydrator’s capacity is also important. Since drying food can take a long time, you’ll need to make sure that model you choose is able to keep up with the demands of your operation. If you’re only drying some herbs for cooking, then a small model should be perfect. If you want to dry a wide variety of foods to use throughout the winter for seasonal fruits and veggies you may need a bigger, more powerful model.
Most models feature a basic design with a simple on and off switch, but if you want to load up your dehydrator and forget about it until it’s done, then you need a unit with an automatic timer. Some models even have an automatic shut-off feature, which will switch the machine off once the drying process is complete. Not only is this a great safety feature, but it also prevents the foods from over-drying.
Virtually all food dehydrators will take the same amount of time to dry the same types of foods. So, when you’re shopping for the best model you don’t have to bother with determining which unit has the fastest dry time. However, there are other important factors to consider, such as design.
There are a couple of basic design options to choose from-stackable dehydrators or shelf tray dehydrators. Each style has its own advantages and disadvantages.
The airflow and heat in a shelf tray style dehydrators are generally considered very even because of the nature of the design. The trays in this unit easily slide out and work just like trays in large convection ovens. The heating element and fan are located in the back of the unit, while the warm air flows horizontally over the processing food.
With a lower priced stackable unit, uneven airflow and heat can be a problem. Typically, in stackable units the heating element is mounted on the bottom, so the trays placed on the bottom will enjoy the most airflow and heat. Higher priced stackable units are designed to provide better airflow and heat compared to a more budget-friendly model.
The food you plan to dry should be cut no more than a quarter of an inch thick. It must also be spread into a single layer on a tray, which allows it to dry more efficiently.
The dehydration process is a long one. Even foods that take the shortest amount of time to dry out will still take at least two or three hours.
Tips on Using Your New Food Dehydrator
Different types of foods will dry at a different rate. As an example, peaches will dry at a much slower rate compared to herbs. Dehydrating foods with a similar dry time will make the entire dehydration process more efficient.
If your unit has one, make sure you set the timer in order to prevent over-drying. If it doesn’t come equipped with a timer you must keep a close eye on the drying process so foods don’t become overly hard.
When you’re loading up the unit, you might be tempted to load up the dehydrator with as much food as possible, but if the foods overlap or the trays are overloaded, the food will not dry properly. This can result in food that’s dried unevenly.