We've been evaluating what makes a great dehydrator since 2014 and have found the Nesco Snackmaster Pro is a standout in many ways. This multitasking machine is compact and easy to use, even if you don't have a ton of counter space. It can help you get the healthy dried fruit and veggies that offer valuable nutrition at home. This one can also help you make jerky in just a few hours. The price is very reasonable for what you get.
The Nesco Snackmaster Pro is a great dehydrator. It is just the right size for those who are new to dehydrators, but it has the sophisticated features to please those with more experience.
A top-mounted fan helps create an environment you can set anywhere from 95 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. The fan also keeps liquids from dripping into the heat chamber. It sends air down a central chamber and then across each tray so the flavors from different trays don't mix. You don't ever have to rotate the trays either, so you can basically set and forget this machine. The shell is opaque to block harmful sunlight.
You can optimize temperatures on the Snackmaster Pro that will work best for meats like beef jerky, turkey jerky and fish jerky. You can also dry fruits like cantaloupe, mangos, bananas, papaya and watermelon. This machine can help you make things you would not expect, including yogurt, potpourri, spices and more. But it’s probably not the ideal machine if you’re hoping to do very large quantities of any of those. Its compact 13 x 13-inch design is nice for fitting into even small kitchens though.
Customer reviews of this product are almost always positive. It is the perfect entry-level appliance and has some great features that you would expect to pay more for. It comes with four drying trays, but you can add more to expand its capacity. This machine can make everything the more expensive units can – jerky, fruit, herbs, spices and so on.
Even with the extra trays put in to expand capacity, this is still one of the smaller units. The trays also nest for storage so it takes very little space in any direction. That's great for conserving counter space in a smaller kitchen, but if you want to do large quantities of dried fruit you may want to look at a different machine. There is no built-in timer with this one, so you need to keep an eye on things. The temperature is not adjustable on this unit; it stays at 165 Fahrenheit, which is great for most things. The option to adjust is nice, though, and more expensive units have it.
The Open Country 51542 evenly and thoroughly dries all kinds of foods. It comes with four trays, but you can expand that to an impressive 30 trays if you choose – that gives you about 30 square feet of drying space.
This well-equipped food dehydrator has 1,000 watts of drying power and a special fan that blows warm air in a pressurized chamber outside the device. After going through the chamber, the air flows across the trays to dehydrate all types of foods without intermingling and contaminating their flavors. Also, the opaque exterior helps preserve vitamins by blocking out light, and you don’t need to rotate trays, which saves time. The Open Country 51542 comes with an excellent instruction booklet, but you might have to tinker with drying times to get the results you want. You can also buy accessories like a jerky gun and cookbooks.
Quietest Food Dehydrator
The spacious 10-tray Weston 75-0201-W food dehydrator is a real boon for gardening fans or anyone who snags grocery bargains and wants to preserve lots of food. Also, our tests showed it is the quietest dehydrator we reviewed – the fan creates just 52 decibels of sound. As such, you can run it every day and evening without disrupting your household.
You don’t need to rotate the Weston 75-0201-W’s trays because the rear-mounted drying system circulates air from the back to the front to promote even drying. The trays are not dishwasher-safe, but since food dries so thoroughly, it comes off easily. This dehydrator works well with all kinds of foods, including produce, meat and fish.
Why Trust Us?
We've been seeking out the best dehydrators since 2014 and have spent more than 100 hours determining what matters most for this type of appliance. We purposely looked for the most well-regarded and popular machines in order to evaluate what you might find if you start shopping for one.
How We Tested
We dehydrated banana slices cut between 1/8 and 1/4 inches thick in our lab test kitchen to evaluate how each machine worked. We looked for even drying for all slices as well as good texture and taste in the results. We checked exterior heat levels with an infrared thermometer and tested the noise level in decibels to find out which dehydrators would work well in a kitchen and which would be a nuisance. All the food dehydrators we tested over a period of three days did a good job, but some, naturally, performed better than others.
Of course, we considered whether each dehydrator was worth its price tag. We also looked at each machine's design and the useful accessories that are included, and we examined whether you get things like an adjustable thermostat and BPA-free plastic parts touching the food. We also looked at the warranties, how helpful the instruction manuals were and whether they included clear and easy-to-understand directions as well as recipes.
We tried to include the best machines from a wide price range and chose sensible options within that range. Whether you just want a small unit for making a few dried fruit snacks on occasion or a large machine to facilitate large-scale food preservation, we have found some great candidates.
How Much Do Food Dehydrators Cost?
You can purchase a good countertop food dehydrator for as little as $40. However, prices vary quite a bit based on power and size. For example, the powerful commercial dehydrators favored by hunters, fishermen and avid gardeners can cost as much as $300.
Can You Really Save Money With A Food Dehydrator?
Yes, for quite a few reasons, according to an online article published by The Nest.
Citing the National Resources Defense Council, author Steve Lander says the typical American family throws away about 25 percent of the food it buys. Dehydrating food can save you money by preventing food waste. Lander mentions beef jerky and fruit leather as examples, both of which many people enjoy as snacks.
“These products are usually very expensive on a per unit basis, since you usually only eat a couple of ounces at a time. Plus, if you're buying them at convenience stores, you pay an even higher markup, but if you make your own, you can bypass this expense,” Landers says.
Dehydrating food also helps you save money by making it worth buying in bulk or on sale. You can then preserve the food for use when costs are higher. Further, other than the initial drying time, dehydrated foods don’t require electricity for preservation like those that need to be frozen or refrigerated.
Another benefit is you control what goes into your dehydrated foods, so you’ll likely eat healthier and may save on medical costs. You can save even more money if you grow your own fruits and vegetables to dehydrate.
Food dehydrators are a smart and thrifty way to extend your grocery budget, and they let you keep plenty of easily stored food on hand, according to Cathy Merrill. She would know, as an Extension Assistant Professor of Family and Consumer Sciences for the Utah County Extension Office of Utah State University. "I like dehydrators because they are a safe, easy way of preserving food," she said. "Dehydrated foods are easy to pack, they don't take much space and, usually, dehydrators are not very expensive."
Dehydrators also let you preserve foods the way you want. Dried banana chips made at home often are healthier because typically the store-bought chips have been fried in coconut oil and have added sugar, she said.
Dehydrating food poses less risk of illness. "You are safer with dehydrating things compared to any other preservation method because it's simple," Merrill said. "The kids can help with it. They can eat it 24 hours later. They can take it to school and say, 'Look, I made this.' "
Rella Capraro, a Texas respiratory therapist who feeds a family of four and enjoys gardening, dehydrates a much of the food her family eats. Her mother taught her to dry food 40 years ago and she's been doing it so long, it's now a family tradition. "My kids love banana chips and we like jerky a lot, too."
Besides drying plenty of fresh fruits, she also makes fruit leathers and dehydrates such thing as mushrooms. She primarily does it for convenience. "It keeps forever," she said of dehydrated food.
What to Look for in the Best Food Dehydrator
You can get just about any shape or size dehydrator. You can get countertop units that start small and then store even smaller if they have nesting trays, and you can get ones with the same dimensions as a wine cooler. It might work best to start with a small unit and experiment to see how much you like the final product before investing in anything larger.
All of the dehydrators we considered do a decent job of making dried fruit and jerky, but some make it easier with convenient features. For instance, interior lighting can make it easy to check on fruit without interrupting the process. Many of these units have timers so you don't have to keep checking back over and over. Some of the more sophisticated ones monitor their own temperature and make adjustments when needed.
Most of the units we considered are pretty flexible and can make many different types of foods, but you may need specialized items to make certain things. It is worth noting whether everything is included in the purchase price. You may need to buy special trays to make fruit leather, or jerky guns in order to dry meat.
Nesco Snackmaster Pro
This is a high quality dehydrator at a relatively low price. A top-mounted fan sends air down and across trays, drying efficiently and keeping flavors from mixing along the way.
Presto 06300 Dehydro
The Presto Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator is a competitive and well-regarded fruit leather machine that has an impressively low price. We found it for under $40 through some online sources, and it still has legions of fans.
If you do a lot of hunting or just want to quickly increase your homemade food storage, the Cabela's 80-liter Commercial Food Dehydrator is a worthwhile investment. This capacious unit has 12 racks that give you a vast amount of space for large-scale food preservation projects.
|Product||Price||Overall Rating||Peformance||Design||Warranty & Support||Overall Performance||Even Drying/Food Texture||External Heat (degrees F)||Noise Level (decibels)||Number of Trays||Total Expansion With Extra Trays||Fruit Roll Sheets Included||Flexible Screens Included||Dishwasher Safe Trays||On/Off Button||Temperature Control||Adjustable Thermostat Range (degrees F)||Watts||Width (inches)||Length (inches)||Height (inches)||Weight (pounds)||BPA-Free Plastic Touching Food||Warranty (Years)||Recipes Included||Phone/Email|
|Nesco FD-75A||View Deal||5/5||10||10||8.8||95%||95%||102||61.2||5||12||2||2||✓||-||✓||95-160||600||13.5||13.5||10.5||9||✓||1||✓||✓|
|Open Country 51542||View Deal||5/5||9.8||10||8.8||91%||91%||118||67.8||4||30||1||1||✓||✓||✓||95-160||1,000||17.5||17.2||10||11.8||✓||1||✓||✓|
|L'Equip 528||View Deal||4.5/5||8.5||9.3||9.8||80%||80%||84||54.1||6||-||2||6||-||✓||✓||90-160||520||10||17||11.8||11||Flex Screens||10||✓||✓|
|Presto 06300||View Deal||4.5/5||8.5||9.5||8.8||92%||92%||98||59.8||4||8||-||-||✓||-||-||165||600||15||14||6.25||7.5||✓||1||✓||✓|
|Cabela's IK-541649||View Deal||4.5/5||9.5||7.3||9||93%||93%||89/top 123/door||58.8||12||0||0||0||-||Display||Display||80-160||1,400||20.13||23.25||25||75||-||Lifetime||✓||✓|
|Cuisinart DHR-20||View Deal||4.5/5||9.3||7.3||9||87%||87%||101||62.5||5||9||1||-||-||✓||✓||110-175||620||12||14||10.25||8.7||-||3||✓||✓|
|Weston 75-0201-W||View Deal||4/5||8.5||7.3||8.8||90%||90%||85||52||10||0||-||-||-||✓||✓||84-155||620||15.4||21||15.4||35||-||1||-||✓|