Best Dehydrators of 2018

Linda Thomson ·
Writer/Reviewer
Updated
We maintain strict editorial integrity when we evaluate products and services; however, Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links.

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.  

Best Overall
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.
View on Amazon
Best Value
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.
View on Home Depot
$39.90@Home Depot
Best Value
Presto 06300 Dehydro
Best for Large Quantities
Cabela's
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.
View on Cabela's
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
$74.95 Amazon
9.8 10 10 8.8
95%
95%
102
61.2
5
12
2
2
-
95-160
600
13.5
13.5
10.5
9
1
$127.10 Amazon
9.7 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
$99.00 Home Depot
9 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
$39.90 Home Depot
8.9 8.5 9.5 8.8
92%
92%
98
59.8
4
8
-
-
-
-
165
600
15
14
6.25
7.5
1
$349.99 AvantLink
8.6 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
$65.00 Amazon
8.5 9.3 7.3 9
87%
87%
101
62.5
5
9
1
-
-
110-175
620
12
14
10.25
8.7
-
3
$159.99 Amazon
8.1 8.5 7.3 8.8
90%
90%
85
52
10
0
-
-
-
84-155
620
15.4
21
15.4
35
-
1
-
Best Overall
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.
Pros
  • Adjustable temperatures mean you can optimize this dehydrator for different foods.
  • This unit is designed to keep flavors from mixing, and there is no need to rotate trays.
  • The outer shell is cloudy in order to block sunlight.
Cons
  • The smaller capacity might not work if you like to make a lot of dehydrated foods.
  • With more plastic parts than some competitors, this unit is not designed to last forever.
  • There are less expensive machines that might work better for entry-level dehydrating projects.
$75.00Amazon
Read the full review
Best Value
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.
Pros
  • It can make everything a bigger unit can, including fruit leather, herbs and jerky.
  • The compact size is just right for smaller kitchens.
  • The trays nest to make this dehydrator even smaller.
Cons
  • The lack of a timer leaves more responsibility on you.
  • Trays for fruit leather aren’t included.
  • The fan is at the bottom, which makes it more likely that juice will drip down onto it.
$39.90Home Depot
Read the full review
Best for Large Quantities
The racks are coated in a non-stick substance to prevent significant cleanup afterward. Most foods dry evenly in about 12 hours, but you can set this unit to dry food for up to 23 hours. It has a 1,400-watt heater and a fan that is designed to move air around to every corner of the cabinet. There is strong internal lighting on this dehydrator, so it’s easy to check in on your drying foods without opening the door.
You pay quite a bit more for a unit like this, but you get nice extra features. For instance, this Cabela’s dehydrator can monitor its own temperatures and adjust its own fan speed. You also get digital controls that are easy to understand and use. It is worth noting that you have to find quite a lot of space for this one – much more than for the compact countertop fruit dehydrators. That won't be ideal in every kitchen.
Pros
  • The digital controls are easy to use and understand.
  • Bright interior lighting means you can check progress at any time.
  • Smart sensors allow this unit to adjust itself to reach and maintain ideal temperatures.
Cons
  • The price is prohibitive for some households.
  • This is a large unit that will not fit easily in smaller kitchens.
  • The industrial materials and larger size make this dehydrator hard to move.
$289.99Cabela's
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Most Expandable
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.
Pros
  • It can expand from four to 30 trays.
Cons
  • You sometimes need to experiment with drying times.
US$127.10Amazon
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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.
Pros
  • You don’t need to rotate the trays.
Cons
  • You must wash the trays by hand.
US$129.00Walmart
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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. 

Further Information

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

Dimensions
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.

Features
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.

Accessories
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.

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