When it comes to cooking, every technique imparts a unique flavor and quality to the food that you prepare. There are so many different ways to cook, with origins from all around the world, and there are even more appliances and kitchen implements that we use to make the job easier.
The things we use in our kitchens range from the humble pot to items as complicated as a sous-vide machine, though some relatively simple appliances are quite versatile. The food dehydrator falls into this category since it's so simple to use, and it can prepare many different recipes.
Most people think of beef jerky when they hear about dehydrated food, but you can dehydrate nearly anything, ranging from meats, all the way to fruits and nuts. There are also plenty of advantages to drying food, like having it last longer when you head out camping or hiking.
Unfortunately, picking the best food dehydrator can often be a challenge, especially since many of the models seem so similar. A lot of the key differences between top food dryer candidates are things that you can only really notice once you have your hands on them, so we’ve decided to help out a little.
In today’s article, we’ll present you five of our top food dehydrator reviews, spanning two different categories. First off, we’ll present the best models on the market, regardless of price point, and then the second category will cover two of the best rated dehydrators when it comes to value for money.
This way, we can make sure that every one of our readers can find a product that looks like it will work for them. We’ve also tailored this guide to help out first-time buyers as much as people who are looking for their third or fourth food dehydrator, so we’ve included a buying advice section.
Once we’re done reviewing our picks for the top rated food dehydrator, we’ll go over some of the most crucial features and aspects that you should look for when shopping for one of these products. Knowing what to look for can be the difference between picking up the best dehydrator and on that is merely okay.
If you’re wondering what is the best food dehydrator, then we’re strongly tempted to say that it’s this one from Gourmia. The GFD1950 combines a more affordable price point than its nearest competitors with a list of capabilities that are similar, if not more impressive than the opposition’s.
This food dehydrator comes with nine food trays, allowing you to dry several different kinds of food at the same time. It can be used to dehydrate nearly anything, ranging from fruits to meat for jerkies, and it even comes with a fruit leather sheet and a drip tray to simplify more specialized recipes.
The digital display at the top of this food dehydrator provides you with access to all of the relevant functions, and it makes the appliance a lot easier to use. The small LCD screen can display both the timer and the temperature, allowing you to see how the drying is progressing at a glance.
The timer works in 30-minute increments, and it features a max limit of 19.5 hours, which is one of the only areas in which the competition has it beat out. Regardless, 19.5 hours of drying time should be more than enough for all but the most long-term recipes, and you can always extend the timer half-way through.
You can adjust the temperature between 95 and 158 degrees Fahrenheit, though you’re restricted to eight temperature presets instead of being able to choose freely. Being able to change the temperature still gives you a lot more control over how you dry your food using this appliance.
We were also highly impressed by the CircuSmart 360 Air-Flow Circulation System, which consists of a back-mounted fan that keeps the air running through the machine. This makes sure that the food gets dried uniformly, and it also prevents you from having to rotate the ingredients manually.
To ensure that it dries your food safely, this Gourmia food dehydrator automatically shuts down when the timer runs down to zero, and it will ding loudly to alert you. Overall, this food dehydrator combines a reasonable price point with a list of useful features.
While it may be a little more expensive than our winner, the Magic Mill dehydrator is still an excellent option for customers who don’t mind spending that bit of extra money. In return for the higher price tag, the Magic Mill dehydrator comes included with additional accessories and a few extra features.
This model is equipped with a rear-mounted fan that helps ensure that air flows smoothly through the whole dehydration chamber. This means that you won’t have to rotate the food so that it gets dried thoroughly, and it has the added bonus of preventing the machine from overheating.
There is also a transparent door so that you can watch your food as it dries and you can perhaps take it out sooner if you see that it's done. There are nine trays so that you can dry a lot of food at a time, and all of them are made out of stainless steel to help improve their durability and resistance to corrosion.
Much like the previous dehydrator, this one is equipped with an LCD that can be used to see the status of either the timer or the thermostat. The adjustable temperature on this food dehydrator ranges from 95 to 158 degrees Fahrenheit, allowing you to dry things quicker or more gradually, depending on the recipe.
The inclusion of a few different extras means that you can use this dehydrator for various recipes right out of the box instead of having to get them separately. The extras that come with this model include a jerky hanging rack, a couple of mesh sheets, and two trays for fruit leather.
There are also two essential safety features that are implemented in this food dehydrator. The first of them is the auto shutoff that shuts down the machine when the timer runs out. The second feature is the overheat protection system that will cut it off if it starts getting too hot.
Another more expensive option is the COSORI Food Dehydrator Machine, which is the best-looking option on this list, in our opinion. This food dehydrator features a sleek, stainless steel exterior that would look at home in any kitchen, and it’s also more compact than a lot of the competition.
Due to its smaller size, this food dehydrator can fit in your kitchen without taking up too much space, and when the time comes to store it away, you shouldn’t have any trouble with it. Unfortunately, this cuts down on its capacity, and this model can only fit six trays of food in it.
The COSORI food dehydrator is equipped with a glass front that allows you to see inside of it while it’s running, making it easier to keep track of the food that’s being dried. As with the previous two models, you can also adjust the temperature, and it ranges between 95 and 165 degrees F.
One of the more impressive things about this machine is that you can set the timer to a max duration of 48 hours, allowing you to dry ingredients for a lot longer than some other models. The large display on the front of the machine also lets you see the timer's length without having to get close to it.
Build quality is one of this appliance’s greatest advantages, and it helps improve its value for money, despite its steep price and its smaller size. The COSORI food dehydrator is well-constructed, and it even comes included with a two-year warranty that shows you just how much faith the manufacturer has in it.
This model also comes with some helpful extras that will let you make all sorts of recipes, like a mesh screen, a fruit roll sheet, and even a recipe guide. We’d also argue that this is the best food dehydrator for jerky, provided you aren’t making too much of it at once.
Best for the Money
Our next food dehydrator comparison is between budget models, and the best of the two is the Presto 06300 Dehydro. This model features an affordable price tag of about 40 dollars, which is between half and a third of the price of the dehydrators that we’ve covered in our list so far.
Despite being so much more affordable than the other models, the Presto Dehydro is equipped with four trays that give it plenty of room to dry your food. Each of these trays is also relatively deep, so you’ll be able to fit larger pieces of food in there without having trouble stacking them on top of each other.
The stackable design of this food dehydrator also helps make it more compact, and it's also easier to take apart and clean when you're done using it. This model features a fully dishwasher-safe design, so you won't even have to clean it off by hand, saving you precious time.
The top cover of this food dehydrator is transparent, and this allows you to watch the progress of your food, making it easier to take it out at the right time. This is helpful since the machine doesn’t come equipped with a timer of its own, which makes it a little more challenging to get the drying duration right.
This dehydrator features a pre-set temperature of 165 degrees F, allowing you to dry nearly anything, though longer recipes that call for a lower temperature will be impossible. One of the best things about the Presto dehydrator is that it’s a lot more reliable than other budget products.
While many affordable appliances feature inferior build quality and longevity, the Presto Dehydro is clearly built to last you a long time. This was the deciding factor in us picking it as our winner, as a long-lasting food dehydrator will provide you with a lot more bang for your buck.
The final product that we'll be covering on this list is the FD-37A food dehydrator from NESCO. This model is even more affordable than the Presto model that we just reviewed, and it features many of the same functions. With 400-watts of drying power, this machine can get the job done quickly and efficiently.
The FD-37A comes included with four trays into which you can load your food, much like the Presto dehydrator. Unfortunately, the trays are a little more cramped in this product, making it harder to fit in larger slices of fruits or similarly-shaped ingredients.
Thankfully, the NESCO food dehydrator makes up for this by being expandable, and you can raise the total number of trays up to seven with an optional expansion kit. To make it easier for you to see when your food has completely dried, the FD-37A also comes equipped with a transparent cover.
This product uses fan forced radial air flow to get the air through each rack and keep it circulating. This means that you don’t have to rotate anything to ensure that it gets evenly dried. Everything except for the element can also be washed in the dishwasher, so cleaning this dehydrator is relatively straightforward.
Much like in the previous product, one of the main reasons why we selected this one is because it’s reasonably durable for its price point. Unfortunately, it feels a little flimsier than the Presto dehydrator, and that’s the main reason why we didn’t rate it as highly as the previous model.
The temperature on this model is locked to 160 degrees, so you won’t be able to use it for more complicated recipes. Overall, this food dehydrator is affordable and easy to use, which makes it an excellent first choice for customers who have never used one of these appliances before.
What to Pay Attention to When Choosing Your Food Dehydrator
The first thing to account for when you need the best food dehydrator for the money is the size of the model that you’re purchasing. The dimensions of a food dehydrator can impact nearly every other feature, so size is a great place to start when you start looking for the right appliance.
You’ll want to consider where you’ll be keeping your food dehydrator and whether you’ll keep out somewhere or store it away when it isn’t in use. Take a look at the places where you’ll expect to position your food dehydrator when it arrives and find out their measurements so that you’ll know the max size.
A smaller food dehydrator will also be more portable, so you can bring it along to family events or even on short vacations. Since it will be more portable, a smaller dehydrator will also be easier to clean up and put away when you’ve finished using it.
Next up, you'll also have to account for the capacity of your food dehydrator, and this is directly linked to its size, as a larger dehydrator will have more space for food inside of it. The volume of a dehydrator is typically measured in the number of trays worth of food that it can hold at once.
Keep in mind that this can be relatively deceptive, as every dehydrator has a different shape, which will result in trays that have more or less surface area. You’ll even have to account for how deep each of the trays is and how apart they are from each other to make sure that you can fit ingredients in each of them.
This aspect is relatively self-explanatory, as a more voluminous dehydrator will be the best choice for someone who tends to dry a lot of food at a time. If you live alone or you're the only one in your household that tends to dry their food, then you can opt for a smaller dehydrator.
The type of dehydrator that you get your hands on can determine how easy it is to use and whether or not it will be versatile enough for a wide range of recipes. Stackable food dehydrators are some of the most popular ones on the market, and they’re often a lot more affordable than the other variety.
A stackable dehydrator will be a lot more compact than a box-type model, and you can often store it with ease after you’re done using it. Unfortunately, stackable models have the drawback of less uniform airflow when compared to box-type dehydrators, meaning the food won’t be dried as evenly.
On the other hand, box dehydrators tend to be a lot larger than their stackable counterparts, and they’re also a lot less portable than them. Their main advantage is that they often feature superior drying performance when compared to stackable models, as they’re more powerful and they have more room for airflow.
The build quality of your food dehydrator will often determine how long it lasts, affecting how much value you get for your money. Not having to replace your dehydrator every so often can save you quite a bit of money in the long run.
A quality dehydrator will often also be more enjoyable to use since the controls will have tighter tolerances, and the features will usually be more rounded-out.
The final thing to consider when you’re looking for the best food dehydrator around is the price tag. When you first start shopping for one, you should set a solid budget so that you can have a good idea of what you’re looking for.
The most affordable dehydrators are stackable models, and they’re in the range of 50 dollars. On the other hand, you can expect to pay over 100 dollars for a box-type model, and much more for a larger, commercial-sized dehydrator.
We hope that we've been able to help you find the best food dehydrator for your needs. If you have any comments or questions about the products that we have chosen, feel free to leave them down below, and we'll try to get back to you.
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