A food dehydrator does exactly what its title suggests. It eliminates moisture from different kinds of foods including meat, fruits and vegetables!
In simple terms, this machine removes water from various food items. This drying process ensures that the food is preserved for a longer period of time.
Utilizing a heat source and a fan for increased airflow, a dehydrator has the potential to do wonders for your family. Let me elaborate on this!
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Regardless of age, most children struggle to obtain the essential nutrients that are abundant in fruits and vegetables. This means that most of them aren’t getting their 5-a-day!
A food dryer machine aims to turn things around by turning the fruits into healthy snacks that children and adults can munch on throughout the day.
As a matter of fact, some of the ingredients that you often see in your favorite cereals have been dried up. You’ll notice that the texture of these ingredients is far more appealing when compared to the same ingredient following harvest.
This process is also utilized to make Beef jerky, a very popular snack! Some of the above reasons might be sufficient to convince you to buy such a machine. However, it’s imperative that you carry out the research thoroughly before making the purchase.
The aim of this guide is to build on our extensive research and provide you with the top picks that would be ideal for your home. Focusing tightly on the price-performance value, this guide and incorporated food dehydrator reviews will enable you to pick the best food dehydrator for your needs.
The 8 Best Food Dehydrator Wirecutter Review:
1. Excalibur 3926TB 9-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator
If you’re literally looking for the best food dehydrator for jerky (or pretty much everything!) then the Excalibur 3926TB would be the most obvious pick.
Available in two colors (black and white), the Excalibur 3926TB will also satisfy our expectations of aesthetics. This product is quite visually appealing due to its no-nonsense simplistic design!
It also feels like a heavy-duty unit due to the utilization of high quality material. If you’re someone who’s normally concerned about the build quality of such appliances then you’ll be pleased to know that this Excalibur dehydrator comes with a 10-year warranty.
While this might not be a good idea for someone getting his or her first machine, the 3926TB would be perfect for an experienced individual.
Boasting a large 9-tray design, this model will be able to provide around 15 square feet of space. This is the highest from amongst several high-end products and indicates perfect suitability for large families! The 3926TB will also be appropriate for heavy users.
Another impressive aspect of this machine is the fact that the trays can be removed. This’ll provide you with added flexibility in case you need to create a bit more space for bulky food items.
When it comes to the usability, the thermostat is adjustable so you can change the temperature as appropriate to the type of food! You’ll also get the opportunity to use a timer for up to 26 hours.
In addition to this, the auto shut off feature can be very useful in case you’re busy/tired and aren’t up for supervising the process! When it comes to the drying process, we found the 3926TB to perform brilliantly.
As mentioned previously, this is a high-grade vegetable, fruit and meat dehydrator. It certainly is a powerful machine that carries out the entire process highly efficiently.
In fact, the Excalibur exclusive Parallex Horizontal drying technology combines perfectly with other features to allow this dehydrator to dry pretty much any food item!
In all honestly, this is a terrific product and probably the best food dehydrator available to buy in 2016. However, one of the main drawbacks of the Excalibur 3926TB is the high cost.
Despite this, if you’re looking for a product that’ll perform on a similar level then you won’t find many cheaper models. However, if you’re willing to make a slight compromise on the quality then you can find plenty of smaller affordable units.
For this reason, you should only buy this if you’re not willing to settle for a lower quality food dehydrator machine and a large drying space is absolutely essential for you!
2. Excalibur 3900B Electric Food Dehydrator
The Excalibur 3900W Deluxe is another premium meat and fruit dehydrator though it is a little bit cheaper than the 3926TB.
Despite the lower price, the specs aren’t much lower. You’ll still get a large 9-tray dehydration machine that’ll be perfect for most people. In fact, the 3900W Deluxe would be suitable for everyone regardless of whether they’re experienced or just starting out!
When it comes to performance, we have a dehydrator that performs very similarly to the more expensive Excalibur 3926TB. As mentioned above, there will be 9 trays built into the design and this will provide you with 15 square feet of space.
Like the 3926TB, the trays have been designed in a way that’ll prevent any food from sticking to them. These are polyscreen trays that have to be inserted into the machine. This means that can easily be cleaned too!
When drying meat for jerky or turning fruits into delicious treats, you’ll find that the drying process is highly efficient and we’re sure that the performance of this model will exceed your expectations!
However, there are two main differences from the Excalibur 3926TB. Firstly, we don’t have a timer function in this dehydration machine. This means that you’ll have to supervise the entire process in order to ensure that everything goes smoothly.
As a consequence of the lack of a timer, there isn’t an auto shut off feature either. This might be highly inconvenient for some people.
While the price of the 3900W Deluxe is lower than the 3926TB, this isn’t that much lower that you’d ignore some of the important weaknesses of the 3900W Deluxe. Following our research, we felt that it’d be worthwhile spending an extra little bit on obtaining a model that has a timer and an auto shut off feature!
Because of the size of this particular product, you can be certain that it will be suitable for large families. It also means that you can easily use them to cater for picnics and garden parties.
In other areas, the 3900W Deluxe also comes with a lower 5-year warranty. Again, this might be important for some of us more than other! In overview, you’re looking at possibly the best food dehydrator at this price and a product that’ll do exactly what it says on the tin.
3. Excalibur 9-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator
The 2900ECB is a lower albeit more economical food dehydrator when compared to the previous two that we’ve discussed.
It actually has quite a few similar features as the 3926TB and 3900W Deluxe. For example, this is another model that’ll be suitable for large families due to the inclusion of 9 trays and 15 square feet drying area!
However, when compared to the 3926TB, the 5-year warranty is considerably less while components such as the thermostat, motor and heating elements are of lesser quality. Furthermore, the plastic material is also of lesser quality when compared to the material utilized to build the 3900W.
But you need to be aware that while the overall quality cannot beat that of the 3926TB or 3900W, it will still be excellent when compared to most other models. It’s worth noting that there isn’t that big of a price difference between the 3900W and 2900ECB.
For this reason, it’d make sense to go for the higher spec model instead! Other than this, the Excalibur 2900ECB dehydrator performed quite well during our tests.
The drying time was quite efficient and the entire process was very easy to carry out! The machine is very easy to clean as well! However, exhaust can be a little loud and cause disturbance when you’re carrying out the process!
In my opinion, most people would consider this to be a top of the line product. It comes in a great size that is easily suitable for large families and the whole ease of usability is there to see very clearly.
The one complain that I would mention is probably the loudness of the fan. I guess some people might not consider it to be too loud but I just feel that it can get a bit annoying when you’re exposed to it if the machine is on all the time.
In general though, this is a good model but the associated price-performance value is far lower than that of the Excalibur 3900W Deluxe. It meets the requirements to be in our list of food dehydrator reviews but we personally preferred some of the other options on this list.
4. Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator FD-75A
While most people will be tempted to go for premium quality, some of us will aim to find a product with a good price-performance value. This would be advisable if you’re planning on buying your first dehydrator!
When it comes to providing a superb value for money, it’s difficult to look past the Nesco Snackmaster Pro FD-75A. Priced significantly lower than the previous high quality Excalibur models, the FD-75A is a good quality product.
It’s understandable that this will be associated with lesser quality than Excalibur but it’ll be more suitable for people who have never used such a machine before!
The FD-75A is actually the best-selling machine within the dehydrators category on Amazon.com. This is mostly due to the excellent value provided, an aspect that we were very impressed with!
The FD-75A is very easy to set up and extremely simple to use. It has an adjustable temperature control with 5 trays for food drying! This is considerably less than the 9 trays belonging to the Excalibur models.
In terms of the components, the fan is built at the top of the machine. While we found the drying process to be impressively uniform, this will depend on what you’re working with. For example, this would be perfect if you’re using it as a jerky dehydrator.
However, when drying more delicate food items of kitchen, the process may not be as uniform! The size of this model is also a major positive point as this won’t be too bulky to be stored on a kitchen counter for regular use.
However, there are some drawbacks associated with the FD-75A too! Firstly, there isn’t a timer built into the system. This will force you to supervise the machine at all times!
Secondly, there isn’t a physical on and off button either. This means that you’ll have to remove the plug in order to switch this machine off!
While these are some serious disadvantages and will be a major cause of inconvenience for some people, the overall quality of this Nesco model cannot be questioned.
It performs very well, is easy to use and can be easily afforded! This is why it features in our list of the top food dehydrator reviews.
5. NESCO FD-61WHCK, Food Dehydrator with Jerky Gun
The Nesco FD-61WHC is a similarly priced unit to the previous Nesco machine we’ve just discussed. While it might not be as powerful as the FD-75A, the FD-61WHC includes an all-in-one kit alongside a jerky gun.
Some extra accessories that come with this product include things like a roll sheet for fruits and also a clean-a-screen for things like herbs. In addition to this, we will also get a recipe guide that will definitely prove to be useful.
In my opinion, these accessories ensure that we get fantastic value for money in our purchase! Coming with 5 trays of drying space, this is another unit where the fan has been mounted to the top!
This means that you might need to rotate the top tray to the bottom after a few hours!
When it comes to overall quality, this is a good dehydrator. It’s well designed and performs wonderfully in most scenarios. It’s also simple to use! The FD-61WHC is made from BPA-free plastic but the materials seem to be of good quality!
In terms of the cleaning aspect, this machine is extremely easy to handle. Everything with the exception of the powerhead can be cleaned in the dishwasher and this is certainly going to make everything a lot easier for the user.
In terms of the performance and other features, the FD-61WHC isn’t too far behind the FD-75A. Obviously, we can’t ignore the fact that it will be less powerful, which may make it difficult to dry thick foods such as turkey!
The most important thing is that the drying process takes a few hours rather than days so it’s not really a big deal if the machine doesn’t have that much power when compared to more expensive products.
Overall, this is a good product and makes our list of food dehydrator reviews! It seems to be perfect for making jerky and drying fruits and vegetables! Perhaps the best aspect of the FD-61WHC is the affordable price!
6. Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator
If you’re on the hunt for a cheap dehydrator that will perform quite well then your best bet will probably be this Presto food dehydrator. This is the most affordable good quality machine available on the market and will provide you with 4 trays of drying space though this can be expanded to 8 trays!
In terms of the build quality, you’re looking at a relatively sturdy unit that should last you quite a few years. The machine is simple to use and quite easy to clean. Additionally, this is quite a small model and so will be quite convenient to keep to the side in the kitchen!
However, there are some major disadvantages that will make the Presto 06300 completely unsuitable for heavy use!
First of all, there isn’t a timer function on this dehydrator but this is something we expected due to the low cost. However, the temperature can’t be adjusted either!
When dehydrating food, the temperature is perhaps the most important factor that needs to be controlled according to the food type! This means that you’ll have to settle for one temperature to dry every food type.
Furthermore, the fan has been built into the bottom of the machine. This means that you’ll probably need to rotate the trays to prevent over drying! In addition to this, there have been some complaints that the fan can be quite loud.
I didn’t experience this to a great extent but I’d imagine that it could be a problem in the long run. If you’ve set an extremely low budget then you should be able to ignore some of the drawbacks we’ve discussed.
The truth is that despite some clear limitations and modest cost, the Presto 06300 still performs quite well especially if you’re only buying it to make jerky!
It is a relatively robust machine that is also extremely light. The best part is that it works relatively well and this is important considering it doesn’t cost too much.
All you’ll need to do is keep a close eye on the contents when the drying process is underway! The see-through cover will allow you to monitor this quite easily!
7. Nesco FD-37 Food Dehydrator
If you’ve just come across a high quality food dehydrator and feel that you must have one too then I’m sure you’ve already written shortlist. However, I’m sure if you’ve never tried something like this before, then you’d want to invest in something that is quite simple and has a low price tag.
After all, what’s the point of buying the very best food dehydrator for a lot of money and then having no idea how to use it properly. If you are looking for a cheap product that is simple to use then the Nesco FD-37A could be your perfect option.
By getting this, you’ll still be able to carry out the drying process of all kinds of things and at the end of the day after using it for a few months, you could always upgrade when you’re sure that it is the right time to do so.
If you take a closer look at this product, you’ll easily be able to notice that it is an entry-level model and one that doesn’t have too much features. It is basically an entry-level product that will just about do the job.
The heat distribution system integrated into this product works quite well and will definitely impress you. This is because the fan is located at the top and will flow through all of the trays thereby ensuring adequate heat distribution.
On top of this, the radial airflow will ensure that you don’t even need to rotate any of your trays for an even drying process. This does add to the convenience aspect a little bit because even some of the more costly products require their trays to be rotated every once in a while.
The capacity associated with this dehydrator isn’t too bad either and this is simply because the machine can be expanded to accommodate 7 trays.
This means that you’ll easily be able to store more fruits and items and dry them in one go rather than dry them separately. The capacity is also impressive because it might be more than the capacity of some of the other similar priced products.
The machine is very basic in terms of functionality and this means that it will be easier to use when compared to most similar products. In addition to this, most parts, with the exception of the powerhead, are safe to be washed in the dishwasher.
In general, this is a decent dehydrator that’s bound to get you a good value for money. However, the fan is on the loud side and if you think that you’re going to be carrying out the process a lot then it would be advisable to go for a high-grade model.
8. NutriChef Electric Food Dehydrator Machine
The NutriChef Kitchen PKFD12 is another budget model and one that would be suitable for those that have never used a food dehydrator before.
The initial impressions about this machine were that it’s quite appealing in terms of the appearance. It is quite small but looks good enough to remain on your kitchen counter.
The trays are stackable so you’ll definitely be able to arrange them in a way that is most suitable to the task on hand. This means that you should definitely experiment and get used to how everything works.
Due to the stacking options, you can even place heavier and bulkier meats with ease. The trays also have perforations on them and this basically means that the airflow will be able to spread through quite easily.
This will directly impact on the heat distribution, which will ultimately decide how well the drying process is conducted. When it comes to the heat distribution, there have been some problems reported.
These basically relate to uneven distribution in the sense that some trays receive more airflow than others and thus, lead to uneven drying. To tell you the truth, I did experience this to a certain extent but it wasn’t too much of an issue.
As a result of this, you will probably need to rotate the trays. Usually, when it comes to drying foods to make things like jerky, you can also use an oven though this takes a long time in getting the job done.
In terms of the temperatures, we found that the machine did reach the temperatures that have been promised by the company. This means that you can easily get the job done quickly and easily without the use of an oven.
The best part is that you’ll have something like jerky ready within hours rather than days. There are problems with this machine that I’d like to point out.
Firstly, it is a cheap dehydrator so you’re bound to question the durability. In my opinion, the build quality doesn’t seem to be great and you shouldn’t be overloading the trays too much. If you take this into account then you should be fine.
In overview, this is a good product and one that provides a good value for money. It looks quite good, which is something that some people prioritize. However, it isn’t the most durable model out there though that can be true for almost every product at this price range.
However, in my opinion, if you’re just buying an entry-level product and aren’t willing to spend too much on premium products then this will definitely get the job done. You might even find that once you’ve used it for a few days that you might get fed up and go for a more expensive one!
Buying Guide: What to Consider When Choose Best Food Dehydrator
We tend to buy a lot of dried food from supermarkets these days. Items like dried apricots, banana chips and prunes are considered to be healthy snacks. We assume that consuming these will allow us to obtain the essential vitamins and minerals abundant in fruits and vegetables.
However, we often forget that just as other processed foods, these dried food items can also hold many toxins and harmful substances! In order to avoid this, the best solution is to purchase a dehydrator and carry out the entire process at home.
You see dehydration can actually be an extremely easy and healthy way to preserve various different types of food. It’s also very economical!
If you buy a dryer for home use then all you’ll need to do is place the items on the trays, set the temperature and wait for the food to be dried! This leads to the creation of healthy snacks that are not only free of harmful chemical preservatives, but also are extremely tasty!
Perhaps the most important factor you need to consider when buying such a machine is the cost. To tackle this, you’ll need to set a strict budget and aim to get the best food dehydrator without having to go over this limit.
Your budget will also depend on how experienced you are. A first-time buyer will be more likely to ignore features such as the lack of a timer or an adjustable thermostat.
However, a heavy user who’s looking to make an upgrade will want all the best features and a machine that is very powerful. They’ll also want complete control over the entire process! An example of this is drying herbs at 85 degrees and making jerky at 155 degrees!
So, taking these points into perspective, which unit would be suitable for both groups of people.
From the above food dehydrator reviews, we can easily see how well the reviewed products performed. All eight models really impressed us but we viewed these performances from different angles.
For those looking for a premium dehydrator, any of the Excalibur models will be well worth a buy! The 3926TB was the one that particularly impressed us!
The Excalibur brand is general has a very positive image amongst consumers. While their products are expensive, they’re also fantastic in every way.
They have excellent drying space, an adjustable thermostat and a fan located at the rear. The location of the fan in particular is a huge advantage as the heat is blown across the trays rather than over or below them!
In comparison, other brands locate the fan at the top or bottom of the machine and this may be a hindrance in the drying process due to a possibility of lower uniformity!
Nesco is another brand that is very well known though their products would be more suitable for those of us with a budget. The FD-61WHC is an affordable dehydrator that performed well during our tests and also comes with a complete starting kit and jerky gun!
However, if you’re a first timer buyer who wants to spend as little as possible then the Presto 06300 would probably be the best food dehydrator though this will only have the basic features for dehydrating!