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5 Best Food Dehydrators for Drying Fruits, Vegetables, and More

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Food dehydrators are an essential kitchen tool for people following whole-food, plant-based and raw diets.

But even if you don’t fit into one of those categories, a food dehydrator could be a great addition to your kitchen!

Dehydrating fruits and vegetables is the perfect way to prepare them without putting them through processing or cooking off any nutritional value, which is a benefit no matter what type of diet you follow.

A food dehydrator is a machine which utilizes low heat to remove the moisture from food to help preserve it.

There are many dehydrators available today, so we’re going to walk you through some of the factors which will help you decide which one is best for you and some of the best models currently on the market.

When dehydrated properly, dried foods take much longer to spoil and occupy less space, making them perfect travel sustenance.

They’re also a great way to add some crunch and nutrition to your daily routine. The right dehydrator can help you up your food game in a big way!

In a Hurry? Here’s Our Quick List of Top Picks

The History of Food Drying

Drying food is a method of preservation which has been used since ancient times, with records dating back to 12,000 B.C. in the Middle East and Asia.

When food drying first began, the sun and wind took care of the work. During the Middle Ages, people built “still houses” where a fire could create the heat needed for drying out food items.

In the mid-1800s, Frenchmen Chollet and Masson developed a method of drying vegetables by heating the air around them to 105º F and then compressing them.

This was the earliest recorded use of mechanized dehydration and one of the first steps toward the food dehydrators we use today.

Electric food dehydrators hit the American market in full force the 1970s. As seen in this New York Times article from 1978, there was some skepticism about these machines at the time. But the usefulness of an easy in-home method for drying food could not be denied.

Because food dehydrators remove the water content from foods during the drying process, the risk of bacteria growth or spoiling in the final product is very low.

Benefits of a Dehydrator Machine

If you often buy dehydrated fruit at the grocery store, you have to watch out for extra sugars and preservatives which are often added to these naturally delicious treats.

Plus, you’ll spend a lot more money buying dehydrated fruits and veggies than you would spend buying fresh produce and dehydrating it yourself.

Though you can try to find other ways to dehydrate these foods at home, a food dehydrator is the best way to go.

Many ovens do not have temperature settings low enough to keep foods raw, and you probably don’t want to keep your oven on for 24 hours at a time anyway.

And hanging produce out to dry is not going to be feasible for most of us, especially apartment and city dwellers.

Plus, you can do more with a dehydrator than make fruit and veggie chips! You can activate seeds and nuts, dry your own herbs, prepare raw crackers and breads, make fruit leather, and experiment with even more.

Types of Electric Dehydrators

There are two main types of electric food dehydrators on the market today: box-and-shelf, or horizontal flow, and stackable, or vertical flow.

Box-and-shelf dehydrators are almost like small ovens with removable shelves, while stackable dehydrators are comprised of trays which stack on top of each other with no outer container.

Some of the differences between these two types are apparent, but the most important difference is the type of air flow used to dry foods in these appliances.

Box-and-shelf dehydrators have a heating source and fan in the back for horizontal air flow, while the heat in stackable dehydrators comes from the bottom of the appliance and works its way through the other layers vertically.

Box-and-shelf dehydrators are typically more expensive than stackable models, but they are also dry food more evenly and consistently. We have four box-and-shelf dehydrators on this list and one stackable option.

How to Choose the Best Food Dehydrator for You

All food dehydrators hope to achieve the same end result, but there are plenty of factors to help you decide which one is the best option for you.

As mentioned above, one major distinction between different dehydrators is whether they’re box-and-shelf or stackable models.

Effort

If you don’t mind doing some extra work if trays need to be rotated, the more affordable stackable option might be better for you.

Price

If you would rather pay a little more for convenience, you might want to go with a box-and-shelf dehydrator as it takes care of all the work itself.

Size

Another factor to consider is size. Food dehydrators are on the larger end when it comes to kitchen appliances, but some models will be easier to fit on your counters or store when not in use.

If you want a large dehydrator, but don’t have the kitchen counter space for it, you may want to consider placing your dehydrator in another room.

Food Quantity

Do you plan to dehydrate food in bulk, and do so often? A large model with more square footage of drying space will be better suited to your needs. If you have smaller batches in mind, a model with four or five trays will probably be enough.

Adequate Controls

Finally, make sure you choose a model with controls which work for you. Most food dehydrators allow you to set the temperature in increments, while others will have low-to-high settings.

Many have timers, but some do not. If you have a preference about these features, you’ll want to pick a model that suits your needs.

5 Top Picks for Food Dehydrators

Now that you know the basics about food drying and electric dehydrator machines, it’s time to dive into our list of the best food dehydrators!

Magic Mill 10-Tray Food Dehydrator Machine

Magic Mill Food Dehydrator Machine - Digital Adjustable Timer | Temperature Control | Keep Warm Function | Dryer for Jerky, Herb, Meat, Beef, Fruit and To Dry Vegetables | 10 Stainless Steel trays

The Magic Mill 10-Tray Food Dehydrator Machine is a box-and-shelf option with a great capacity and user-friendly digital controls.

This dehydrator can fit nine trays for 9.75 square feet of drying space at a time but comes with a total of 10 stainless steel drying trays, two plastic mesh trays, and two plastic non-stick trays. The unit is 18 x 14 x 17 inches and weighs about 19 pounds.

Magic Mill dehydrators use rear-mounted drying fans and air flow circulation technology to promote even drying, so you do not need to rotate trays or worry about the number of trays you are using for each batch.

The digital thermostat and timer allow you to select a temperature between 95° and 165°F and set for 30 minutes to 24 hours of dry time.

This model is made in China and comes with a 1-year limited warranty. The Instruction Manual includes cook times for common fruits and vegetables and a recipe for basic fruit leather.

What We Like

  • Stainless steel trays
  • Large capacity
  • Digital timer

What We Don’t Like

  • Strong plastic smell with first uses
  • Too tall to fit under some cabinets

Ivation IV-FD90RB 9-Tray Food Dehydrator Machine

Ivation 9 Tray Countertop Digital Food Dehydrator Drying Machine 600w with Preset Temperature Settings, Auto Shutoff Timer and Even Heat Circulation for Beef Jerky, Fruits, Vegetables & Nuts

The Ivation IV-FD90RB 9-Tray Food Dehydrator Machine is a larger model which allows you to dry considerable amounts of different fruits and vegetables at once with a good price for its size.

This dehydrator comes with nine drying racks, a drip tray, one mesh sheet and one solid sheet. The unit is 17.7 x 13.5 x 16.3 inches and weighs about 17 pounds.

The digital thermostat adjusts from 95º to 158º F in 9º increments. The digital timer with automatic shutoff can be set for up to 19.5 hours of drying in 30-minute intervals.

This model is made in China and has an extended warranty available with purchase. The User Guide is available online.

What We Like

  • Large capacity
  • Reasonable price

What We Don’t Like

  • Door gets stuck
  • Longer drying times
  • Often comes without user guide

Gourmia GFD1650 6-Tray Premium Electric Food Dehydrator Machine

Gourmia GFD1650 Premium Electric Food Dehydrator Machine - Digital Timer and Temperature Control - 6 Drying Trays - Perfect for Beef Jerky, Herbs, Fruit Leather - BPA Free - Black

The Gourmia GFD1650 6-Tray Premium Electric Food Dehydrator Machine is the least expensive box-and-shelf model on this list, making it a great starter option for people who are new to food drying.

This Cut + Dry Dehydrator comes with six plastic drying trays, a protective sheet for fruit leathers, and a drip tray. This unit is 14 x 17.75 x 12 inches and weighs 13.6 pounds.

Gourmia’s CircuSmart 360 Air-Flowº Circulation System keeps air running through the machine from a back-mounted fan, and the transparent door makes it easy to check on your food as it is drying without disrupting the temperature inside.

The Gourmia GFD1650 offers temperature settings from 95º and 158º F in 9º increments. The digital timer defaults to 10 hours of drying time and can be set for up to 19.5 hours in 30-minute intervals.

This model is made in China and comes with a one-year limited warranty. The User Manual contains helpful a food dehydrating guide with helpful hints, tips, and recipes.

For a demonstration using the GFD1650 Premium Countertop Food Dehydrator, check out this video from Gourmia:

What We Like

  • Great price
  • User-friendly controls
  • Good size for any household
  • 360º Air-Flow Circulation

What We Don’t Like

  • Louder fan than some models
  • Timer sound can’t be turned off

NutriChef 5-Tray Food Dehydrator Machine

NutriChef Food Dehydrator Machine - Professional Electric Multi-Tier Food Preserver, Meat or Beef Jerky Maker, Fruit & Vegetable Dryer with 5 Stackable Trays, High-Heat Circulation - PKFD06

The NutriChef 5-Tray Food Dehydrator Machine could be the right option for you if you are looking for a stackable dehydrator that can be put away easily when not in use.

With five adjustable stackable trays, it can be configured with thin or thick spacing between layers, this dehydrator offers more than four square feet of drying space. This unit is 13.19 x 13.19 x 7.87 inches when set up with thin spacing and weighs only three pounds.

The temperature settings are Low, Medium, and High, with a maximum drying temperature of 180º F. Because the whole unit is transparent, it is easy to keep an eye on your food as it dries.

Because the warm air is all circulating from the bottom, it may be necessary to rotate trays when dehydrating items with long dry times.

This model is made in China and does not come with a warranty or manual, though the NutriChef Food Dehydrator User Manual is available online.

What We Like

  • Affordable option
  • Lightweight

What We Don’t Like

  • No timer
  • Imprecise temperature settings
  • May need to rotate trays for even drying

Excalibur 2400 4-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator

Excalibur 2400 Electric Food Dehydrator with Adjustable Thermostat Accurate Temperature Control Faster & Efficient Drying, 4-Tray, Black

The Excalibur 2400 4-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator is a budget-friendly option from one of the leading manufacturers in this field.

This four-tray model has fewer shelves than the other box-and-shelf dehydrators on our list, but still offers four square feet of drying space. The unit is 16.25 x 13 x 6.5 inches and weighs eight pounds.

The Excalibur 2400 includes four plastic trays which have BPA-free mesh screens to prevent foods from sticking.

The adjustable thermostat ranges from 95º to 165º F, with indicators for which types of food should be dried at each temperature. The four-inch fan helps increase air circulation for more evenly dehydrated foods.

Excalibur has been manufacturing food dehydrators since 1973 and is known for its Hyperwave™ Fluctuation Technology and Parallexx® Horizontal Airflow.

With these technologies, cool air is taken in, warmed, and distributed evenly over each tray, making sure the food stays cool enough to keep enzymes alive while the air is hot enough to dry out moisture.

This model is made in the United States and comes with a limited 5-year warranty. Excalibur also includes their Guide to Dehydration.

To see a demonstration using the 2400 4-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator, check out this video from Excalibur Dehydrators:

What We Like

  • Popular model from leading manufacturer
  • Even airflow for consistent drying
  • 5-year warranty
  • Made in USA

What We Don’t Like

  • No timer
  • Takes up a lot of counter space compared to drying space
  • Can’t see food as it dries

Top Choice for the Best Food Dehydrator

Gourmia GFD1650 Premium Electric Food Dehydrator Machine - Digital Timer and Temperature Control - 6 Drying Trays - Perfect for Beef Jerky, Herbs, Fruit Leather - BPA Free - Black

Each of these food dehydrators is a great option, and the one which is best for you will depend on your budget, space, and planned usage.

But our top choice for best overall capability, features, and value is the Gourmia GFD1650 6-Tray Premium Electric Food Dehydrator Machine.

This affordable box-and-shelf dehydrator is user-friendly and comes with everything you need to start drying food like a pro!

Nine precise temperature settings and a long-range timer with automatic shutoff make it easy to get the dehydrating process started and let it continue overnight without worrying about overdrying.

The powerful rear-mounted fan ensures even drying for all six trays, which are easy to remove and clean. This model is shorter and lighter than many other box-and-shelf dehydrators, which makes it easier to store.

All in all, we think the Gourmia GFD1650 is a great option for beginners and long-time dried food enthusiasts alike!

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Joy Lindsay

Writing, cooking, and compassionate living have always been some of my favorite things, and have become even more important to me since I went vegan. I'm excited about this opportunity to bring these passions together and share them with the VegByte community!

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