Comes with a fine mesh sheet for drying delicate foods like herbs. Has a 48-hour timer with automatic shutoff for easy monitoring. Built to last with solid construction.
Comes with a learning curve, and it's better for experienced users.
Trays keep food separated to prevent flavor mixing. Comes with 5 trays but can add up to 12. Easy to adjust temperature, which is displayed in Fahrenheit and Celsius.
Doesn't have a timer, which many consumers say is somewhat inconvenient.
Quiet operation at only 48 decibels. Has an auto shut-off to prevent food from overheating or burning. BPA-free trays are dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning. Works well for dried fruit slices.
Some reports that the device shows signs of major wear within a year or two.
Offers a class-leading 15 square feet of drying space. Thoroughly and rapidly dehydrates food. Comes with flexible poly-screen sheet inserts for easy cleaning. Stronger wattage than previous models, and at a lower price.
Appliance is heavy. Trays don't fit in many dishwashers. Pricey.
An inexpensive dehydrator that's very easy to use. Features 5 roomy trays and an uncomplicated knob control. Doesn't take up a lot of storage or counter space.
Not as durable as some pricier competitors. Some units didn't heat up properly. On the loud side.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Whenever you store or preserve fresh food, you will lose some nutrients. That is why eating fresh foods is recommended by so many nutritionists. But a dehydrator can be one of the best compromises available. Depending on the process and temperature you use, it is possible to preserve food for impressive periods of time with only a minimal loss of some nutrients.
A box dehydrator offers more consistent heat and flexibility than the lower-priced stacked dehydrator. Typically, a dehydrator with a rear-mounted fan and heater is better than a top or bottom mounting. Be sure the temperature range is appropriate for your needs and look for a model with a timer that also offers variable heating throughout the dehydration process for best results.
If you're still on the fence about whether or not to buy a dehydrator, here are some reasons why we think they're useful kitchen appliances.
Dehydrating food is an excellent way to preserve produce that would otherwise spoil before you get around to using it.
You can make your own snacks — such as dried fruit — for much less money than they'd cost you at the grocery store.
Dehydrating is perfect for people who want to start eating more raw foods.
Foods made in a dehydrator tend to be on the healthy side, so these appliances can help improve your diet.
They can create lightweight foods perfect for camping or hiking — and you can even rehydrate foods dried in a dehydrator.
You'll find two main types of dehydrator on the market: stacked and box (or "rigid frame") models.
Stacked: Stacked dehydrators are composed of a number of stackable trays or racks, with open sides. The fan and heating elements are usually either at the top or the bottom. Due to the fan placement and the open sides, the temperature isn't always consistent and can be harder to control. However, these units are often more affordable than box models and take up less space.
Box: Box dehydrators have a rigid frame with a back and sides (and sometimes a door on the front) into which you slide the trays. Since you can choose the tray placement, you can adjust the space between trays, making it more versatile — you're able to dehydrate taller pieces of food.
Some people even use their box dehydrators to proof dough.
Box dehydrators tend to have fans and heating elements at the back of the unit, which maintains a more consistent temperature and helps dehydrate food on all trays more evenly.
Box dehydrators tend to give the most consistent results, but they also take up more counter space.
Dehydrators come in a number of shapes and sizes.
Given the fact that you must find somewhere to put it while in use — and somewhere to store it — these specs may impact your decision.
Stackable (or racked) dehydrators save you the most space, of course, but it's worth examining the size and tray capacities of all contenders.
Household food dehydrators use either convection systems or fans, but no two are the same. (Factors such as where the fan is mounted can have a considerable effect on drying efficiency.)
There's no right or wrong choice of drying method, but some units are faster and more effective than others.
As a rule, those that have rear-mounted fans and heaters dehydrate food more effectively than those with fans and heaters on the top or bottom.
Any dehydrators can be set at a range of temperatures, as all drying jobs have slightly different heat requirements, but the minimum and maximum temperatures vary between models.
Therefore, if you're purchasing a dehydrator with a particular job in mind, make sure its temperature range fits your requirements.
Some higher-end models also have variable temperature cycles to encourage thorough drying. This means you can just "set and forget" rather than having to manually change the temperature at various points throughout the drying process.
Not all dehydrators have timers, but it's an extremely useful feature.
Drying cycles often take eight to twelve hours to complete and are sometimes even longer. Unless you plan extremely carefully, there's no guarantee you'll be at home — or awake — when the cycle is complete.
Improve your dehydrating game with the following tips.
Don't dehydrate sweet and savory foods at the same time. Air circulates around the unit while drying, so it's possible for flavors to mix, especially when dehydrating pungent foods.
Cut foods into even chunks or slices. This way they'll all be ready at the same time — larger pieces take longer to dry.
Don't let food overlap on the trays. If you do, the pieces won't dry evenly.
Never dry moldy fruit. Because of the low temperatures involved in drying food, the dehydration process won't kill any of the mold spores.
Do you want to make fruit leather? You can buy special trays for making fruit leathers in a dehydrator, though with some models you can simply line a regular tray with wax paper.
Visually inspect for mold. Dehydrated fruits and vegetables that are no longer safe to eat will have visible mold on the surface. If there's no mold, it's still good.
Do you want to make jerky? If you do, make sure your dehydrator can reach temperatures of at least 160°F.
Dehydrators can be found at a range of prices to suit all budgets. Ultimately, you tend to get what you pay for, with the most inexpensive models being less effective.
You can find basic stacked dehydrators for as little as $30 to $60. In this price range, it's a mixed bag. You can find a handful of decent models, but they won't rival high-end units.
Mid-range dehydrators cost between $70 and $100. At the higher end of this price range, you can start to find box dehydrators, which tend to be more effective.
High-end box dehydrators cost between $100 and $300. You can find excellent models closer to the $100 mark, but if you plan to dehydrate food often and you have the budget, it's worth spending more on one of the very best units.
A. If you don't store dehydrated food properly, it can absorb moisture from the air and ultimately rehydrate itself. Keep it in an airtight container, ideally with a food-grade moisture absorber pack in there, too.
A. If stored properly, fruits and veggies dried in your dehydrator should last for at least a year.
A. This varies depending on what you're dehydrating and how large the chunks are. While you're getting used to drying food, we recommend closely following recipes to get the right temperature setting and time.