How To Choose The Best Dehydrator For Your Home

How To Choose The Best Dehydrator For Your Home

A food dehydrator can be a fantastic appliance you could add to your kitchen. Over time, they can save you a bunch of money, and they can help you leave a healthier lifestyle because instead of reaching for those processed dried snacks, you can munch on homemade dehydrated fruit, jerky, and so much more.

In fact, with the best dehydrator, you can dry your food and keep about 90% of its original nutritional value. How sweet is that?

Food dehydrator.

source: vonshef.com

Of course, when it comes to looking for a unit, you might be wondering which of the numerous units that claim to be the best food dehydrator, actually lives up to their claims and will work for your family. That would explain why you are here reading our little guide here.

In this guide, we are going to talk about what to look for when choosing the best dehydrator for your needs and we are also going to review 8 of the most popular dehydrators on the market right now. With this information, we hope to that you’ll feel more confident about dehydrators, how to use them, and which one is going to be the best unit for you.

The Best Food Dehydrators Under $100

If you’re looking for the best dehydrator that is reasonably priced, we have compiled a list of the top six dehydrators that are priced at under $100 (although two of them are regularly priced over $100, fortunately they are on sale on Amazon at the time this guide was written).

Ronco Electric Food Dehydrator

The Ronco brand is well known for their kitchen gadgets like countertop rotisseries, pasta makers, and their dehydrators. With this particular unit, some notable features include:

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    125-watt power
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    133-degree internal temperature
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    Electric heating coil drying
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    Instructional recipe book included
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    1-year warranty

When looking at user testimonials for this product, a great number of people left amazing reviews. Of these reviews, they preferred this unit over previous Ronco models. They also said they were able to make dried fruit snacks easily and the price was definitely an appealing selling point. 

Ronco 5-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator

source: ronco.com

On the other hand, the rest of the customers left lesser reviews. Of these reviews, the most common (and alarming) complaint of this product was that the trays melted because the heating element was far too hot.  Yikes!


Hamilton Beach Food Dehydrator 32100A

If you’re looking for a device that you can use to make delicious snacks that are packed with nutrition but not chemicals or calories, then you may be interested in this dehydrator. Some notable features of the device include:

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    48-hour timer with auto shutoff and a clear lid so you can easily check food.
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    Adjustable digital thermostat lets you adjust drying temperature (100-160° F).
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    Continuous airflow provides even drying.
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    Five stackable drying trays and powerful 500 watts.
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    One fine-mesh sheet for drying small food like herbs
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    One solid sheet for making fruit rolls.

When looking at user testimonials for this product, most of them left great reviews. Of these reviews, customers feel that the unit is a great dehydrator, although it isn’t perfect. They are pleased by how versatile the dehydrator is, as it can make delicious jerky one day, and preserve their favorite herbs the next.

Hamilton Beach 32100A food dehydrator.

source: hamiltonbeach.com

On the other hand, the remaining customers left a somewhat bad review. Of these reviews, the most common complaint is that the lid didn’t fit properly on several of the reviewer’s units.

Others said the fan was defective, meaning it stopped working or it began making really loud noises shortly after purchase. Another complaint was that when the temperature gauge was set to 140 degrees, it began smelling like burning plastic.


NutriChef Kitchen Electric Food Dehydrator 

When you dehydrate your food, you are enhancing the flavor, preserving the nutritional value, and prolonging the longevity of the food. Some notable features of the NutriChef dehydrator include:

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    Dehydrates Food For Enhanced Preservation
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    Healthier Choice Alternative Than Canning Or Freezing
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    5 Tier Trays For Enhanced Airflow
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    Simple 1-press, Button Operation
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    Reaches Maximum Temperature Of 180 degrees F

When looking at user experiences with this product, a majority of people left excellent reviews. Of these reviews, they were happy with how easy it was to operate the dehydrator and how affordable it was. They also enjoyed the fact that the small food dehydrator was able to fit under cabinets for easy storage. 

NutriChef Food Dehydrator Machine

source: groupon.com

On the other hand, the remainder of the customers left a lesser review. Of these reviews, the most common complaint was the trays didn’t feel all that sturdy. Also, some customers felt that there wasn’t enough space to dry large quantities of food or even larger pieces of food.


Presto Food Dehydrator 06301

The Presto dehydrator is another affordable option on this list. However, don’t be mistaken that this low price point equates to minimal features. Notable features of this unit include:

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    Digital thermostat and timer; 90F – 165F temperature range
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    Bottom-mounted heating element and fan
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    Six-trays included; expands up to 12 trays
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    Includes two fruit leather sheets, two non-stick mesh screens, starter jerky spice and cure
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    See-through cover for food monitoring
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    Nesting tray storage to save on space

When looking at user testimonials for this product, of the positive reviews, people enjoyed how easy the product was to use. Also, they enjoyed the ability to add more drying trays as they needed them.

Presto 06301 Dehydro Digital Electric Food Dehydrator

source: foodal.com

On the other hand, of the bad reviews, the most common complaint was that the extra trays are a bit pricey and when the dehydrator was working, it ebbed on the noisy side.


Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator FD-75a

This dehydrator is listed as the top selling dehydrator on Amazon, which speaks very highly about the product! Some notable features of this unit include:

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    Top mounted fan for even heating
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    95 – 160-degree temperature options
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    2 solid sheets
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    2 mesh sheets
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    3 jerky packets
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    13” x 13” x 10” dimensions
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    5 total drying trays
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    Expandable to 12 trays

If we look at the user testimonials, of the positive reviews, people were pleasantly surprised by how easily it can dry fruits and vegetables, but meat products as well for delicious jerky. Other customers were happy to have received the free cookbook that was included with the unit.

Nesco FD-75A Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator

source: nesco.com

On the other hand, the most common complaint was that there wasn’t an on/off switch. This means that when you are done using it, you have to unplug the unit. Also, there isn’t a timer on the unit, so you have to periodically check on the food to make sure it doesn’t dry out or even get burnt.


Gourmia Food Dehydrator GFD1650B

With this stackable dehydrator, you can make an assortment of food, not just dried fruits, vegetables, herbs, and jerky! Notable features of this dehydrator include:

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    Easy, Healthy and economical way to make delicious fruit snacks, vegetables, herbs and beef jerky at home. Also, a perfect way to preserve foods, with no additives or preservatives.
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    Digital thermostat and timer for precise drying time and temperature. Up to 19.5 dry times in precision 30 minutes increments. Choose drying temperatures from 95º F (35C) To 158º F (70C).
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    Cuircusmart 360 Air Flow Circulation Technology dries all trays evenly without noisy & the need to rotate the shelves.
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    8 capacious 6.5 square feet are drying space (13" X 12") Adjustable Drying Shelves to contain Meat, Fish, Poultry, Beef, Fruits and Vegetables, Herbs and Spices, Trail mix, Snacks and more. Supports up to 1lb of food on each level.
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    Includes 1 mesh sheet, 1 solid sheet, and a user guide. Colors: Black, White. 400 Watt.

Out of the good reviews,  people were impressed by how simple it was to use the machine, not to mention how quietly it operates. Others feel that the dehydrator made excellent jerky and the clean-up wasn’t too bad either.

Gourmia GFD1650 Premium Countertop Food Dehydrator

source: gourmia.com

Bad reviews, on the other hand, had the most common complaint was that the product stopped working after using it twice. They did contact customer support and received a new one. Another customer said their unit didn’t come with a user manual.


Maxkare Food Dehydrator Machine

If you want an effective food dehydrator at an affordable price, the Maxkare Food Dehydrator system is for you. But in all seriousness, Maxkare knocked this appliance out of the park. With its long list of high-tech features and endless positive user reviews, this machine easily made our list of top rated food dehydrators under $100 (and this one is just over $20… now that’s affordable!). 


Here are some of the best features this food dehydrator has to offer:
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    Top power between 210-260 Watts (on the higher end when compared to other units on the market)
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    LCD display screen featuring adjustable time and temperature settings of between 95 and 158 degrees Fahrenheit
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    Continuous airflow with 180 degree rotation for even distribution of power 
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    5 detachable and stackable trays (rectangle) 
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    BPA-free for healthy and safe results 
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    Limited full-replacement warranty 

Reading customer and user reviews, it’s apparent that just about every single buyer of this machine seemed to be more-than-satisfied with their purchase. Among the reviews, the high-quality structure and efficiency of this food dehydrator really stood out. Customers were happy with how versatile the dehydrator is, and that they use it to not only dehydrate jerky, fruit, and nuts, but also make natural dog treats, dry flowers, and make their own paper for crafts.

Maxkare food dehydrator review amazon


It was nearly impossible for us to find any negative reviews surrounding the Maxkare Food Dehydrator. And for the low price of just $29.99 on Amazon, plus free 2-day shipping, we have nothing but good things to say about this machine. If you’re on a budget, but still want to try our a dehydrator, whether for snacks or crafts, this is the unit for you! It’s worth giving food dehydration a chance.


The Best Food Dehydrators Over $100

For those who don’t mind spending a bit more money, or they are looking for something that is on par with the best commercial food dehydrators, check out these two options.

Magic Mill Food Dehydrator

This unit features a 400-watt Rear-mounted drying fan and air flow circulation technology that promotes even dehydration without overheating your food. Some other notable features of this product include:

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    Automatic shut off when timer is done
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    See through cover allow you to monitor progress
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    Large capacity with the 6 trays, you can have more than 6 LB of food dehydrate at once
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    Overheating safety protection
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    Drip tray collects any residue from drying process
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    6 mesh sheets
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    3 nonstick sheets
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    1 set of oven mitts
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    1 year limited warranty

Customers said they were completely satisfied with this product and had no regrets—especially at the affordable price point.

MAGIC MILL Professional Food Dehydrator Machine

source: dehydratorlab.com

However, there were a few complaints. The most common complaint was that the temperature doesn’t reach 160 degrees, it only reaches 140 degrees, which can be dangerous for curing jerky. Other customers said that their unit smelled too much like plastic while it was being used for their comfort.


Excalibur Food Dehydrator 3926TB

If you are looking for a dehydrator that is comparable to commercial dehydrators, then perhaps the Excalibur food dehydrator is the best dehydrator for your needs. Some notable features of this device include:

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    15 square feet of drying space
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    Parallex Horizontal Airflow
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    9 trays
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    On/off switch
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    Adjustable thermostat; 95F-155F temperature range
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    26-hour timer
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    Non-stick, poly-screen tray insert
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    Two colors: black and white
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    Weight: 22 pounds

People were very happy that this unit included a timer and a thermostat that could be adjusted to suit your needs. Not only have people dubbed this machine the “Holy Grail of Dehydrators,” but that 10-year warranty doesn’t hurt either.

Excalibur 3926TB 9-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator

source: excaliburdehydrator.com

However,the most common complaint was that the product was damaged upon arrival. However, they did get a replacement thanks to that warranty.


Gourmia GFD1950 Food Dehydrator Review

The Gourmia GFD1950 Food Dehydrator is truly a “premium appliance”. This unit has earned the ownership of “premium”, due to the fact that it is, quite literally, a top-of-the-line machine. As one of the most powerful wattages, highest temperature levels, nine full trays, and a sleek design, this food dehydrator is for those who take dehydrating seriously. 

Below, you’ll find a list of some of the most prominent features the Gourmia GFD1950 Food Dehydrator has to offer:

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    Built-in digital thermostat and temperature settings for precise control over the dehydrating process
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    Transparent door, which lifts up for easy removable/additional dehydrator trays
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    Interior is large enough to handle the 9 large BPA-free trays this unit comes with - Allowing users to dry up to 2 pounds of fruit, vegetables, jerky, nuts, etc.
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    Includes a solid drip tray for simple cleaning
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    Digital display enables users to program the dehydrator at one of eight different temperature settings, ranging from 95F-158F degrees Fahrenheit - as well as an automatic timer
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    Incredibly quiet food dehydrator while in operation
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    1-Year warranty

There are hundreds of user reviews surrounding the Gourmia GFD1950 Food Dehydrator on Amazon, 95% of which are incredibly positive. Customers mentioned their satisfaction with how well this machine evenly dehydrates their snacks, and that it is made of durable, quality materials. Oh, and it’s eco-friendly, just another plus!

The truth is - you get what you pay for. This is entirely true with the Gourmia GFD1950 Food Dehydrator.

Gourmia GFD1950 Food Dehydrator Review


Although this unit isn’t the cheapest on our list of the best food dehydrators, we would absolutely recommend it to anyone who’s an avid believer in eating healthy. The nine drying trays, stable internal temperature, precision timer, back-fan for thorough dehydrating, and so many more features make this unit one of the best on the market today.


What To Look For When Choosing The Best Dehydrator?

When you’re looking at dehydrators, there are several things you’ll want to think about before purchasing just any old device. Sure, all dehydrators will maintain temperature and have some sort of airflow, heck, they all even take about the same amount of time to dry things.

When you’re shopping for a dehydrator, you don’t want to fall for the products that claim to dry foods quicker than other dehydrators, because that isn’t correct.

With that said, the things you should take into consideration when picking the right dehydrator are:

  • Airflow and heat
  • Accessibility
  • Versatility
  • Materials and Quality

When you’re looking at dehydrators, you’ll notice that there are two basic designs of dehydrators on the market:

  • Stackable Tray Dehydrators
  • Shelf Tray Dehydrators
Presto 06301 Dehydro Digital Electric Food Dehydrator

source: foodal.com

Both of these dehydrators have their own unique set of advantages and disadvantages. We’ll discuss each of these designs when reviewing the factors.

Airflow And Heat

Perhaps the most important thing you’re going to want to pay attention to when purchasing the best-rated food dehydrator. You don’t want to be in a position where you’re excited to test out your new recipe for homemade venison jerky only to have it become incredibly dry and brittle in some places and barely dehydrated in others.

When you have a dehydrator that has uneven airflow and heating, it can cause the food that’s closest to the source of airflow and heat to become drier quicker than food further from the source.

Airflow And Heat For Shelf Tray Dehydrators 

The airflow and heat for shelf dehydrators tend to be even because of the very design of the unit. The trays of these dehydrators can slide out and work much like the shelves in your oven. With this type of dehydrator, the heating element and fan are mounted on the back of the dehydrator. The fan pushes the warm air horizontally and evenly across the trays and the food.

Airflow And Heat For Economic Stackable Tray Dehydrators

The stackable dehydrators will have their heating element and fan (if your particular device even has a fan.

Many economic dehydrators do not have a fan) located on the bottom of the device, and because the air flows upward, the bottom racks will get dehydrated sooner than the food on the top. To prevent your food from over-drying, you’ll probably have to rotate the shelves periodically—which can be a pain.

Airflow And Heat For Quality Stackable Tray Dehydrators

Stackable food dehydrators that are newer and of a higher quality tend to be engineered in a way that produces more even heat and airflow than cheaper products you might find in department stores.

These newer models are designed in a way that the fan and heating element are away from the trays, preventing the bottom trays from getting too much of the heat. Instead, the warm air is circulated through ducts in the center of the unit and then distributed in a way that almost resembles your HVAC system in the home.

Access

The second factor you should consider when trying to decide what is the best food dehydrator for your home is how easy it is to get to the trays.

Opened food dehydrator.

source: vitality4life.co.nz

You’re going to need to be able to get to the trays while you’re preparing and setting up your food that is going to be dehydrated. But you’re also going to need a way to check the food’s progress during the drying process and removing the finished product.

This whole process is incredibly easy when you use a shelf dehydrator because each tray can be removed individually and you don’t have to worry about messing with the other trays until you’re ready to do so.

With stackable dehydrators, well, that’s a different story. These devices can be quite cumbersome, especially if you want to get on a tray in the middle of the stack because you’ll have to move the other trays that are on top.

Doing this can cause some headaches because there is the risk of the trays toppling over—especially if you have a unit that has as many as 20 trays! Also, just imagine how time-consuming it can be re-stacking all those trays!

Versatility

When you are going to be purchasing a piece of equipment like a dehydrator, you’re going to want to get as much use out of it as you can. This is another area where shelf and stack Dehydrators differ.

Shelf dehydrators can give you clearance between trays, allowing you to dry things that aren’t necessarily flat or they are larger. All you have to do is remove as many trays as needed so you can stick the larger item in the unit. Heck, with shelf dehydrators, you can even stick jars on the shelves to make your own yogurt!

With that said, stackable dehydrators aren’t necessarily useless either. Although you cannot have a lot of clearance between the trays, you can expand the unit to be as low or as high as you need—just purchase more shelves as necessary. Stackable units have enough airflow and heating capacity to comfortably dry twice as much as the original product came with.

For example, if you purchased a six tray unity, it actually has the ability to dry 12 trays worth of food. With a shelf dehydrator, if you need more space, you can’t expand it, you’ll have to purchase a whole new unit.

Materials And Quality

Of course, when you are looking at the best food dehydrators, you are going to want to make sure you purchase an item that is going to last.

You’ll find that the majority of top-quality dehydrators are going to have some kind of manufacture warranty, which is always a good sign.

But you also want to make sure the device is made of food-grade, durable FDA approved plastic.

Nesco FD-75A Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator

source: cproducts.com

Of course, if you are hesitant about essentially cooking with plastic, you can find stainless steel models as well.

Our Recommendation

There’s no denying that every kitchen could benefit from having the best dehydrator among the rest of their appliances. However, because there are so many available on the market, it’s hard to decide which product is going to be the right one for your needs.

However, when you take into consideration factors like airflow and heat, versatility, accessibility, and material and quality, you can have a better idea of what to stay away from. With that said, we’ve reviewed some of the best food dehydrators listed on Amazon, and if you don’t mind spending almost $250, you cannot go wrong with the Excalibur dehydrator.

Of course, not everyone is willing to shell out that kind of money, especially if they aren’t going to be using the unit that often. In that case, the more affordable Gourmia or Nesco dehydrators are the next best thing that won’t cost an arm and a leg!

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