As you start to grow more and more of your own fruit, vegetables and herbs, there are times that you’ll end up with an overabundance of certain varieties. One of the best ways to preserve your fresh produce is to dehydrate your fruit and vegetables. That’s why I’ve decided to talk about the top 10 best food dehydrators.
With the right dehydrator, you can even make jerky, dry flowers and herbs and make your own dog treats.
I must admit, I purchased my dehydrator quite a few years ago but didn’t start using it until last year. My first attempt was to dry some pears from the old pear trees that are growing in my backyard. For my first attempt at dehydrating, they turned out fine, although they were mostly semi-dried. However, they were great as chewy snacks or to use in baking.
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I got more heavily into dehydrating this year because I had an overabundance of cherry tomatoes. I experimented with different temperature settings and drying times and ended up with some totally dried pieces of tomato and also a lot of semi-dried ones.
This is perfect because I love using semi-dried tomatoes in various pasta and rice dishes.
The one thing I learnt was that you have to rotate the trays from bottom to top to get more even drying. I also discovered that it does take a really long time for fruits like tomatoes to dry completely. But, on the other hand, it’s quite fun experimenting to get the final result just right.
If you want to try your hand at food dehydration, I’ve researched a number of electric dehydrators to find the best models, all at reasonable prices.
My Top Picks
My number one pick for beginners would be the Vivohome Electric Food Dehydrator as it’s very similar to the one I have. It’s so easy to use. You just add your food to the trays, select the temperature and the amount of time and it starts. It shuts off once the timer is finished but you can reset it if the food needs more drying.
On the other hand, if you’re more experienced, I would suggest upgrading to the Magic Mill Food dehydrator with 10 trays. This machine has a rear-mounted fan for more even drying and 10 stainless steel trays. It also includes a hanging rack for making beef jerky.
For my Australian readers, Catch has this Sunbeam Food Dehydrator which is great value. It has 6 drying racks and one mesh tray. The machine also has an LCD screen and 8 pre-set temperatures to make it easier to set. You can set the timer for a maximum of 19.5 hours and it will shut off once the time is up.
Don’t forget to check out my buying guide below to see what you should look out for when purchasing your own food dehydrator.
Following are my detailed reviews of the top 10 best food dehydrators.
The Top 10 Best Food Dehydrators
This electric food dehydrator is very similar to the one I’m currently using at home. It’s very easy to use. You just fill the trays with the food slices you want to dehydrate, select the correct temperature and then set the timer. You can look at the food during the drying process and adjust the settings if you want to. Plus, clean-up is quick and easy
- Features 400W of drying power
- Drying temperature can be set from 95 to 158 degrees Fahrenheit (35 to 70 degrees Celsius)
- Timer can be set from 0 to 72 hours
- Includes 8 food trays which means you can fill them all or just the ones you need
- The base is stainless steel and the trays are BPA-free premium plastic
- The food does tend to dry unevenly in the topmost trays. When this happens, I remove the bottom trays with the dried produce and put the remaining trays on for a longer period.
- It may not be powerful enough to dry meat but is great for fruit such as tomatoes. Especially, if you want some of them semi-dried as will happen in the top trays unless you run the machine for longer or rotate the trays.
Why I Like It: This food dehydrator is very easy to use. You just have to select the temperature and the timer. The plastic trays are dishwasher safe making cleanup quick and easy. You can choose to use all 8 trays at once or just the number you need for the food that you want to dry.
This is a nice compact food dehydrator. It’s perfect if you only have a small kitchen or live in an apartment. It’s also ideal if this is your first foray into food dehydration. The 5 trays are adjustable to accommodate different food sizes and they’re dishwasher safe.
- Provides 280 watts of drying power
- Drying temperature can be set from 104 to 158 degrees Fahrenheit
- Includes 5 adjustable plastic trays
- Also includes a drying guide for novices
- The unit measures 9.92 inches x 9.43 inches x 7.01 inches
- It doesn’t have a timer so you have to keep an eye on the food during drying
- It’s not super powerful so may take a while to dry your food
Why I Like It: This is a nice little compact machine which is perfect if you don’t have a lot of space. It’s ideal for drying small batches of fruit and vegetables. However, it might be a little limiting if you have a lot of produce that you want to dry.
This is a simple-to-use dehydrator for those just starting out. All you have to do is slice up your food, place it on the 5 trays and turn it on. There are no settings to adjust. It has an adjustable vent in the lid for better air circulation.
- Comes with 5 plastic trays
- Perfect for beginners
- Features a quiet convection fan
- The lid and the trays are dishwasher safe for easy cleanup
- You can’t control the temperature
- It has no timer so you have to keep an eye on the food dehydration process
Why I Like It: This is the ideal food dehydrator for beginners. You don’t have to worry about temperature settings. Just fill the trays with food and turn it on. During the drying process, it’s a good idea to rotate the trays for even drying.
This Hamilton Beach food dehydrator has 5 stackable drying trays and uses 500 watts of power. This means that your food will dry faster and more evenly. The unit features a continuous airflow. This eliminates the need to constantly rotate the drying trays. Plus, the auto-shutoff feature means that the unit will turn off once the drying time is complete.
- Features a 48-hour timer
- Drying temperatures range from 100 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit
- Provides 500 watts of drying power
- The included fine-mesh drying sheet is excellent for small foods
- Also includes a solid sheet for making fruit roll-ups
- The trays are not see-through so you can’t watch the drying process
Why I Like It: This is one of the most versatile food dehydrators. It’s powerful enough to dry most foods well and evenly. You can even dry things like herbs with the mesh tray. Plus, the solid sheet allows you to dry pureed fruit for making dried fruit roll-ups.
The Elite Gourmet food dehydrator has five BPA-free plastic trays. This is more than enough to dry all the fruits and vegetables that you want. This unit is easy to use. You can dry fruits and vegetables, meat, herbs and even flowers.
- Temperature can be adjusted from 95 to 158 degrees Fahrenheit
- Base-mounted fan ensures even drying and good air circulation
- The trays are see-through so you can easily watch the drying process
- The trays are also dishwasher safe for easy clean-up
- You might have to rotate the trays to get even drying
- The top temperature of 158 degrees Fahrenheit might mean that your produce will take longer to dry than expected.
Why I Like It: This dehydrator is easy to use and great for beginners. It has a total of 5 trays which should be enough for most people.
This is a nice, simple dehydrator without too many settings to worry about. Plus, it includes 5 trays and you can buy additional trays if you need them. All up, the unit can handle a total of 9 trays at once.
- Features a powerful 620-watt motorized fan
- Has a top vent to allow steam to escape
- Adjustable thermostat
- The fan can be a little noisy
Why I Like It: It’s a simple dehydrator that works. The unit includes 5 BPA-free trays that are dishwasher safe. You can even purchase more trays if you need them.
This is a powerful food dehydrator for everyone who wants to dry their own home-grown produce. It has a total of 10 stainless steel trays. This gives you plenty of drying space no matter how large your harvest is. The rear-mount fan allows for even air circulation. This means that food will dry faster and more evenly.
- Features adjustable temperature and timer settings
- Has a keep warm function that will continue to process for another 24 hours at 95 degrees Fahrenheit
- Has a Fast drying mode to dry at 165 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 hours
- Also has Raw mode to dry at 115 degrees Fahrenheit for 24 hours
- Includes 10 trays, 1 fine mesh sheet, 1 hanging rack, 2 non-stick trays and 2 silicone gloves
- The outer casing is made from plastic so it may warp a little over time
Why I Like It: Dehydrating your own home-grown produce can turn into a passion when you upgrade to this powerful food dehydrator. There are so many things you can dehydrate with this machine including fruits, vegetables, herbs and jerky, You can even make fruit roll-ups for the kids.
If you like the look of the Magic Mill food dehydrator but don’t think you’ll need a 10-tray unit, then this is a smaller version with only 7 trays. It’s still a powerful dehydrator with the same rear-mounted fan for even drying.
- Has adjustable temperature and timer settings
- There’s a keep warm function which will keep processing your food for 24 hours at 95 degrees Fahrenheit
- Choose either “Fast” or “Raw” automatic modes
- The trays are dishwasher-safe
- Also includes 2 fine mesh trays for herbs and 2 solid trays for fruit roll-ups
- A few customers have reported the glass on the door coming loose after some use
Why I Like It: This Magic Mill food dehydrator is a more compact model than the one with 10 trays. It’s powerful enough to dry anything you want to dehydrate. The temperature and timer are fully adjustable or you can just select one of the automatic modes.
This compact food dehydrator is easy to use and has 5 stackable trays. It utilises a simple push button to start the machine. The trays are reversible so this dehydrator can accommodate foods of different sizes.
- Adjustable temperature control up to 180 degrees Fahrenheit
- Includes 5 stackable trays and a clear plastic lid
- Simple, one-button operation
- Runs super quiet
- Trays can be stacked in different ways to give you more or less space depending on what size of food you’re drying
- You might have to rotate the trays to get even drying
- This unit doesn’t include a timer that you can set so you have to turn it off manually at the right time
Why I Like It: This is a nice, compact dehydrator that’s super easy to use. There are no complicated settings to worry about. Just select the temperature and turn it on. However, there’s no timer so you have to remember to turn it off once the drying is finished.
This food dehydrator from MasterChef has 5 trays and digital temperature controls. It has a timer that you can set and overheating protection. There’s also a free recipe guide to give you some inspiration.
- Features overheating protection
- Includes adjustable temperature and timer settings
- LCD display
- Includes a free recipe guide
- The drying trays have large mesh holes so they’re not suitable for smaller foods
Why I Like It: This is a nice simple food dehydrator with large plastic trays. You can adjust the temperature and set the timer. This allows you to individualise the settings to suit the type of foods that you’re drying.
Top 10 Best Food Dehydrator Buying Guide
Food dehydrators are, in general, very simple machines. They use both heat and circulating air to draw the moisture out of the food. The main variant between the different models is the temperature settings, whether there’s a timer and whether the unit has a fan at the bottom or at the back of the machine.
So, here are a few factors to consider before you make your final buying decision.
Vertical Flow Or Horizontal Flow
There are basically two types of food dehydrators. Vertical flow dehydrators have the fan at the bottom and therefore the warm air circulates upwards. These are usually the more affordable machines and tend to be more compact.
The downside of these units is that you have to circulate the trays from bottom to top if you want to achieve more even drying of all trays. Also, these do not work as well with meats.
On the other hand, horizontal flow dehydrators have a fan at the back. So the warm air is blown forward toward the door and then moves up through the food and out through the vent at the top. These tend to dehydrate food more evenly and can be left to do their thing without you having any further input.
Horizontal flow dehydrators tend to be a little more expensive and are usually larger in size than vertical flow ones.
The Size And Capacity Of The Food Dehydrator
The size of the food dehydrator that you settle on entirely depends on your personal needs. Here are some questions to consider:
- How much produce will you have to dry each season?
- How much counter space do you have?
- Will you be drying meat or making dried dog treats?
If you only have a small kitchen and not a very large volume of food to dry, then a vertical flow dehydrator might be best for you. These generally take up less space and are easier to store away when not in use.
On the other hand, if you want to get really serious about dehydrating and can afford the space, a horizontal flow dehydrator is definitely better. You can dry high volumes of food with these and they will dry the produce more efficiently.
Nice Features To Have
There are a few features that are nice to have but may not be totally necessary for your needs. These include:
- Adjustable temperature control. This is especially important if you want to dry different types of food. Especially, if you want to make jerky which requires quite a high temperature for drying and eliminating bacteria.
- A timer. This is extremely convenient if you’re busy and may tend to forget to turn the unit off once the food is dry. And, even if the food is not done when the timer goes off, you can always reset it to dry for another set time.
- Accessories. If you plan to dry small food items such as herbs, you might like to consider a dehydrator that has a mesh sheet with very small holes. The same applies if you want to make fruit roll-ups or fruit leather. In this instance, you’ll want solid trays that have no holes at all.
Frequently Asked Questions
Food dehydrators are excellent if you grow your own fresh fruit and vegetables and you end up with more than you can use once your produce is ready to harvest. Dehydrating your produce is easy and the dried foods can be stored in airtight containers in your pantry for a really long time.
If you store your dehydrated foods in airtight containers in a cool, dry spot, like in your pantry or store cupboards, they can last for longer than 12 months.
Because dehydrating removes all the moisture from the foods that you’re drying, bacteria cannot grow.
No, dehydrators don’t use a lot of electricity and are one of the best ways of preserving your home-grown produce.
This will depend on if your unit has a fan at the base or at the back. In general, because air rises, the trays at the bottom will be hotter than the ones at the top. That’s why it is sometimes useful to move the trays around during the drying time.
I do hope that you find my reviews of the top 10 best food dehydrators useful. I’ve tried to include different models with different types of airflow and various capacities.
If you’re just starting out, you might want to consider a smaller vertical airflow unit that’s also easy to use. Then, once you’re comfortable with dehydrating your own home-grown produce, you might want to consider upgrading to a more substantial model that has a horizontal airflow unit.
Either way, I’m quite sure that you’ll enjoy making your own dehydrated snacks as much as I do.