Whether you want to preserve an overabundance of home-grown produce, eat more raw produce, create homemade fruit rollups or crispy kale chips, make handmade dog treats, or customize your own flavored jerky, food dehydrating is a fun alternative to store-bought snacks. Dehydrating food creates concentrated flavors and crispy textures, which are great for taking on hikes or anytime snacking. Certain nutrients that are broken down by cooking with heat are retained when dehydrated at standard temperatures.
To help you find which food dehydrator is best for your kitchen, we tested 22 models side-by-side and evaluated their ease of use, performance, ease of cleaning, design, and noise. Products tested were used to dry herbs and citrus zest and make fruit leather, jerky, fruit and veggie chips, and more.
Cosori Premium Stainless Steel Dehydrator
Customizable time and temperature settings
Very even dehydrating from level to level
Large countertop footprint
Who else recommends it? Taste of Home, Good Housekeeping, and This Old House all picked the Cosori Premium Stainless Steel Dehydrator.
What do buyers say? 86% of 12,200+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 5 stars.
One of the sleekest dehydrators you'll find, this Cosori model is black and stainless steel with a glass door that lets you keep an eye on the drying process. It's got a digital control panel that is easy and intuitive to use and arrives fully assembled. Simply set the time and temperature, which can be set to operate up to 48 hours and between 95 and 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
We loved the automatic shutoff feature, whisper-quiet operation, and stellar performance; everything we made came out very evenly dehydrated with no cracking and peeled off the trays nicely. It was even easy to dehydrate foods to different textures.
This machine comes with six stainless steel drying trays, one mesh screen that can be used to dehydrate small fruit, a cookbook, and one fruit roll sheet. Cleanup is easy since all the food trays are dishwasher-safe.
Price at time of publish: $160
Power Rating: 600 watts | Tray Size: 12 x 13 inches | Trays Included: 6 (max capacity: 6 trays) | Temperature Range: 95 to 165 F | Dimensions: 13.4 x 17.8 x 12.4 inches | Weight: 23.3 pounds | Timer: 48-hour max | Air Flow Type: Horizontal
“Dried foods peeled off very nicely from the provided trays, and the machine came to temperature and stayed at that temperature pretty consistently.”
Runner-Up, Best Overall
Magic Mill MFD-7100 Food Dehydrator Machine
Super quiet operation
Consistently great results
Auto-shutoff and keep-warm features
We gave this machine perfect scores across the board for ease of use, ease of cleaning, performance, design, and noise. The timer goes from 30 minutes up to 24 hours and has an automatic shutoff as well as a keep-warm feature.
This dehydrator arrives fully assembled and includes seven stainless steel trays, two mesh trays for small or sticky items, two nonstick solid trays for fruit rolls, a cookbook, and a silicone oven mitt. All trays are dishwasher-safe and very easy to clean. The food dried very evenly from level to level, did not crack, and peeled off easily. The machine also came up to temperature after 40 minutes and stayed at the same temperature almost the whole time. It operated very quietly, too.
The front door is see-through and easy to open, and it stays open when you need to access the contents of the trays. The trays slide in and out easily, and the digital controls are easy to use.
Price at time of publish: $190
Power Rating: 480 watts | Tray Size: 12 x 13 inches | Trays Included: 6 (max capacity: 7 trays) | Temperature Range: 95 to 165 F | Dimensions: 12 x 18 x 14 inches | Weight: 15.7 pounds | Timer: 24-hour max | Air Flow Type: Horizontal
“The trays are easy to slide in and out, and the digital time and temperature controls are easy to use.”
Elite Gourmet EFD319 Food Dehydrator
Design is compact and collapsible
Some unevenness between levels
No auto-shutoff or precise temp control
This is a small, basic machine with a small countertop footprint, but the capacity feels larger than some of the other small models. The controls are very basic: just one knob with various temperature ranges, which makes it tricky to adjust to a specific temperature. Still, it was very easy to use and arrived fully assembled. The trays can collapse for storage and are dishwasher-safe.
We noticed the bottom drying more quickly than the top and middle levels; it took five hours to make fruit leather to the point that the middle and bottom racks were fully dry. Drying herbs took six hours, and the middle and bottom racks were not as dry. The machine had more issues with coming up to temperature than the others but typically did so in about 20 minutes. It dehydrated more evenly and quietly than the other compact, lower-budget models we tried.
Price at time of publish: $53
Power Rating: 350 watts | Tray Size: 11.5 inches in diameter | Trays Included: 5 (max capacity: 5 trays) | Temperature Range: 95 to 158 F | Dimensions: 12 x 12 x 9 inches | Weight: 4.25 pounds | Timer: N/A | Air Flow Type: Vertical
"This is a small machine with a small footprint, but the capacity feels larger than some of the other small models we tested.”
Nesco FD-1040 Gardenmaster Food Dehydrator
Digital controls easy to use
Comes to temperature quickly
Customizable temperature settings
Outer surface stays cool to the touch
No way to check progress
Less consistent results between trays
This dehydrator comes with only four trays, but you can buy extra trays and use up to 20 at a time, giving you plenty of drying space. The drying pressure adjusts for the number of trays being used for more even drying, no matter how much food you have. The temperature control is digital and adjusts from 90 to 160 degrees.
This unit has a top-mounted fan, and the timer can be set for up to 48 hours of drying time. The bottom rack seemed to dry more quickly than the middle and top racks, but the fruit leather was dried in only three hours and peeled off its sheet easily. We appreciated that the machine arrives fully assembled and comes to temperature in 10 minutes, but we didn't like that the opaque plastic meant there was no way to look in and check on progress.
This model comes with one screen, one fruit roll sheet, a sample of jerky seasoning and cure, and a recipe and instruction book. The trays and base can be washed in the dishwasher but must be removed before the drying cycle.
Price at time of publish: $160
Power Rating: 1,000 watts | Tray Size: 15.5 inches in diameter | Trays Included: 4 (max capacity: 20 trays) | Temperature Range: 90 to 160 F | Dimensions: 11 x 16 x 16 inches | Weight: 11 pounds | Timer: 48-hour max | Air Flow Type: Vertical
“We like that the whole outer surface of the machine remains completely cool to the touch.”
Tribest Sedona Express Digital Food Dehydrator
If you want a dehydrator that offers a huge capacity without being too bulky, this is the one you need. The temperature adjusts from 77 to 167 degrees, and that high temperature means you can make jerky without needing to pre-cook it for safety. The dehydrator can automatically switch from an initial high temperature to a lower one for quicker drying without overcooking.
This unit has 11 dishwasher-safe stainless steel trays, a glass door, and an interior LED light, so it’s easy to check the drying process. There are several cooking modes (fast, raw, combination, and continuous), and the timer can be set for up to 99 hours per mode or up to 120 hours total—more than you’ll ever need. It operates very quietly and arrives fully assembled. In our tests, the machine came to temperature quickly and didn't take long to make fruit leather (but did take much longer to dry herbs).
This top-of-the-line dehydrator can do it all, and its price tag reflects that. If you want to save a bit of money, you can opt for plastic trays instead of stainless steel, but the stainless steel ones will last longer. You’ll need to dry a lot of kale chips to recoup the cost, but since it comes with a 10-year warranty, chances are that you’ll get a lot of use out of it.
Price at time of publish: $550
Power Rating: 470 watts | Tray Size: 10 x 13 inches | Trays Included: 11 (max capacity: 11 trays) | Temperature Range: 77 to 167 F | Dimensions: 12 x 19.6 x 14.5 inches | Weight: 22 pounds | Timer: 120-hour max | Air Flow Type: Horizontal
“As far as these machines go, this one is probably one of the most aesthetically pleasing, with a clean and simple design.”
Gourmia GFD1950 Premium Electric Food Dehydrator Machine
Easy to use
Nine drying trays
Dries evenly across all trays
Hand wash only
This nine-tray dehydrator can handle large batches at a time and has an LED panel for precise temperature control. The machine arrives fully assembled and is big and tall but not too bulky; we loved its design and ease of use. It comes with a fruit leather tray, herb tray, drip tray, and recipe book.
We found that although the drying times were longer than the other dehydrators on this list, all trays dehydrated evenly and at the same rate. What we didn't like, though, was that the trays were hand wash only with lots of little crevices, but if you have the patience for hand washing and want to be able to dehydrate large quantities of food at once, this may be the machine for you.
Price at time of publish: $190
Power Rating: 600 watts | Tray Size: 11 x 12 inches | Trays Included: 9 (max capacity: 9 trays) | Temperature Range: 95 to 158 F | Dimensions: 17.75 x 16 x 13.5 inches | Weight: 13.9 pounds | Timer: N/A | Air Flow Type: Horizontal
“The bonus fruit leather tray, as well as the top, middle, and bottom parts of this model, dried at the same rate.”
|Overall Rating||Ease of Use||Performance||Ease of Cleaning||Design||Noise|
Cosori Premium Stainless Steel Dehydrator
Runner-Up, Best Overall:
Magic Mill Food Dehydrator Machine
Elite Gourmet Food Dehydrator
Nesco Gardenmaster Food Dehydrator
Tribest Digital Food Dehydrator
Gourmia Premium Electric Food Dehydrator Machine
The Cosori Original Food Dehydrator got top scores across the board in our tests for dehydrating everything quickly, quietly, and evenly. The Elite Gourmet Food Dehydrator is our winner for best budget pick.
How We Tested
We tested 22 food dehydrators side by side in our Lab to see how well they would dry herbs and make fruit leather. Our testers noted how long each item took to dehydrate in each machine, whether or not the items dehydrated fully, how evenly the foods dehydrated from the top to the bottom of each machine, how easy it was to peel each item off the tray, and how easy each dehydrator was to use and clean. Our Lab testers even did a noise test, where they played a specific song on their phone, set it in a specific spot next to the dehydrator, played it at a set volume level, and rated how well they could hear it over the machine.
We also sent several dehydrators to the homes of our at-home testers for them to evaluate. Our home testers tested the machines on jerky, fruit and veggie chips, herbs, citrus zest, and more.
Other Options We Tested
- Hamilton Beach Digital Food Dehydrator: We found this machine to be very simple to use and easy to clean, but it got low scores for performance. It took seven hours to get herbs just mostly dry and five hours to get just the bottom tray of fruit leather dry, and there was a great deal of unevenness in the dryness levels between trays. Notably, the machine was not able to come to the temperature required to make fruit leather, which ended up cracking.
- Presto Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator: While this machine is also dishwasher-safe and very easy to use, we noticed dramatic temperature fluctuation and some cracking in the fruit leather made in it. The fruit leather also didn't come off its tray easily, which made cleaning more difficult. The herbs took six hours to get (not fully) dry, and the fruit leather took 4 hours, which was about average among the machines we tested. We didn't like that this dehydrator lacked temperature control.
- NutriChef Food Dehydrator Machine: We found it difficult to figure out how to set this machine to the temperatures we wanted since it only has low, medium, and high settings. The test results all showed a lot of unevenness, and the machine was never able to come to the temperature required to make fruit leather (which yielded uneven, not-done results). There also wasn't a fruit leather tray included, although the manual gave instructions for making it. Herbs started to dry only after six and a half hours and turned out very uneven and not fully dry. In addition, the trays are not dishwasher-safe and have lots of crevices to clean by hand. For all these reasons, this machine was not among our favorites.
- Brod & Taylor Sahara Folding Food Dehydrator: This dehydrator is certainly compact and easy to store, but we struggled setting it up. It certainly wins points for the automatic shutoff safety feature and temperature range of 86 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit (notably higher than many other models). However, it also lost some points due to not being able to fully dry herbs after seven hours of running. The dehydrator similarly struggled to fully dry fruit leather and rarely came up to temperature quickly.
What to Look for in a Food Dehydrator
Dehydrators either have horizontal or vertical airflow. In horizontal airflow models, the heating element and fan are positioned on the side or back of the dehydrators. Vertical airflow models have the heating element and fan positioned at the bottom or top of the dehydrator.
According to Elizabeth L. Andress, PhD, professor emerita and extension food safety specialist at the University of Georgia, the advantages of a horizontal flow model are "reduced flavor mixture so several different foods can be dried at one time, all trays receive equal heat exposure, and juices or liquids do not drip down into the heating element."
Vertical airflow models tend to be tougher to clean since bottom-oriented heating elements are more exposed to drips and bits of food. Mesh tray liners can help prevent pieces of food from falling to the bottom of your dehydrators.
Dehydrating isn’t a fast process, so a larger-capacity machine can save you time if you have a lot of food to dry, though they also take up more space. Smaller units work well for small batches and kitchens, but it's helpful to know that crowding your trays will result in your food taking much longer to dehydrate.
Number of Trays
When dehydrating a batch of food, you want to make sure your machine dries it all evenly. To ensure consistency, look for a model with more trays so you can space out your food as much as possible. Overlapping pieces of food or crowding the trays with too much food will result in inconsistent results. Some dehydrators can fit only a handful of drying trays, while others allow you to stack up to 20 or more.
Both tray material and shape also play a role in how many a dehydrator can fit. Typically, BPA-free plastic is more commonly used in vertical food dehydrators. Since plastic is easily molded and versatile, it offers more variation in both shape and layout. Stainless steel, on the other hand, is often found in horizontal air flow cabinet-style due to the rigidity of the material. Stainless steel models tend to be more expensive than their plastic counterparts, but many prefer the aesthetic and durability of the stainless steel models.
Typical dehydrator trays have big holes in them to allow for maximum airflow and efficacy, but some dehydrators come with different screens and sheets that allow you to dehydrate smaller and more liquid food items. Fruit roll sheets let you dehydrate pureed fruits and veggies into delicious fruit leather, and they also allow you to dehydrate sauces for just-add-water meals that are great for camping, backpacking, and power outages.
Mesh screens allow you to dehydrate small items like berries that would otherwise fall through typical dehydrator trays. These types of accessories can be a game-changer, but are not compatible with all dehydrators, so be sure to look into these options ahead of time if these are foods you'd like to dehydrate.
Some dehydrators operate at a single temperature, while others have an adjustable temperature dial. Adjustable temperatures typically range from 80 up to 160 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
Being able to control the temperature may be desirable if you plan to dehydrate several different types of food and want more precision over the process. However, if you're just getting started dehydrating your own snacks or only plan to dehydrate one or two types of food, a set temperature model makes the process even easier.
Timers and Automatic Shutoffs
"Often the completed drying time may occur during the night and a timer could turn the dehydrator off and prevent scorching," says Andress. Depending on what you're making and how often, you may want to pick a dehydrator with an auto-shutoff function.
Given that food dehydrators use air flow and heat to work, an air filter is an important factor to consider. These filters trap particulates, such as dust or pet dander, and prevent them from getting into your food. Many dehydrators come equipped with a washable and reusable air filter, though some models may need replacements from time to time. Be sure to check what kind of filter system a food dehydrator has before purchase.
Because meat is more prone to spoiling than vegetables, not all food dehydrators are capable of drying it safely. If jerky-making is high on your list of priorities, it’s wise to make sure the machine you buy has a temperature range appropriate for drying meat (going up to at least 150 degrees Fahrenheit).
How does a food dehydrator work?
Food dehydrators contain a heating element that produces low levels of heat and a fan that keeps the warm air circulating. Pieces of food are placed on drying racks, which are perforated to allow the warm air to circulate 360 degrees around each piece of food.
The heat in a dehydrator typically doesn't exceed 145 degrees, which is just warm enough to evaporate moisture from foods without cooking or burning. The exact temperature to use and the length of drying time depend on which type of food you're drying. Consult a recipe book and/or the instruction manual included with your dehydrator as a starting guide.
Prior to refrigeration, dehydrating was one of the earliest forms of food preservation since all it required was a safe place to keep the food while all the moisture dried out.
What are the best foods to dehydrate?
Dehydrating fruits including apples, bananas, grapes, mangos, pineapples, tomatoes, peaches, apricots, and cherries concentrates their sweetness and makes them easy to enjoy on the go. Dehydrating vegetables such as kale, carrots, beets, squash, broccoli, cabbage, mushrooms, and eggplant, especially if you season them first, turns them into crispy snacks that have turned the hearts of many veggie haters. Dehydrating fresh herbs concentrates their flavors and helps to preserve big garden hauls (and save money on spices, which can be surprisingly expensive at the store).
Beyond produce, you can use a dehydrator to make homemade crackers, meat jerky, and fruit leather. You can also dehydrate sauces (from tomato sauce to fruit jellies) and full meals so that they're lightweight, shelf-stable, and ready to rehydrate with some hot water. This option is incredible for hikers, campers, and hunters who need nutritious meals that won't spoil or be too heavy to lug around.
What foods should not be dehydrated?
Foods that are not dehydrator-friendly include avocados, olives, fatty meats, eggs, nuts, cheese, or other foods with high-fat content. If you're making a batch of veggie chips with a creamy cashew-cheese-based sauce, that's fine (and highly recommended by us), but these other foods just don't dehydrate well. High-fat contents cause foods to go rancid faster and are often resistant to dehydrating in the first place.
How should I slice my food before dehydrating?
A number of factors, such as uneven slicing, variations in fruit or vegetable size, or different amounts of moisture, can affect drying time even in the controlled environment of an electric dehydrator. To ensure the best results, take the time to prep foods so that they're similar in size and thickness. Thinner, smaller pieces will dehydrate more quickly due to a larger amount of surface area being exposed. A mandoline slicer can help create thinly and evenly cut fruits and vegetables.
How do I get my food to dehydrate evenly?
Dehydrators with vertical air flow models often run into the issue of some trays dehydrating more quickly and thoroughly than others, based on their proximity to the heating element. To remedy this, you can shuffle the trays around during the dehydration process, or remove trays that are completely done while some trays still have longer to go. It can be a bit of a pain, so if you'd prefer to avoid the hassle, it may be smart to choose a slightly more high-end dehydrator that works more evenly.
How much does a food dehydrator cost?
Dehydrators can range all the way from $40 to around $600.
What is the best temperature to dehydrate food?
Elizabeth L. Andress, PhD, says, "Dehydrators are efficiently designed to dry foods fast at 140 degrees, the most commonly recommended temperature. You don’t want too high of a temperature for dehydrating because the outside of food pieces cannot dry too much before moisture is pulled out of the interior of pieces." Some say that meat jerky should be dehydrated at 150 degrees to keep potential pathogens at bay.
What is the smallest food dehydrator?
If you're looking for a dehydrator that takes up minimal space in your kitchen, the smallest models are usually around 9 x 9 x 7 inches and accommodate three to five trays.
How long does dehydrated food last?
The National Center for Home Food Preservation recommends that dried foods can be stored on average for four months to one year. The exact storage period depends on a few factors, including how much moisture remains in the finished product and the method of storage.
Dried fruits and fruit leathers are chewy because they still retain some moisture. They should be stored on the shorter end of the scale because this moisture can be breeding grounds for bacterial growth.
In general, dried foods stored at lower temperatures will last longer than those stored at room temperature or in warmer climates. You can store dried jerky and snacks in the refrigerator or freezer to extend their shelf life. Vacuum sealing will also help dried foods last longer. (Here's where you can find our roundup of tested and reviewed vacuum sealers).
How do you store dehydrated food?
Dehydrated foods that you'll be eating right away should be stored in airtight containers. To store dried foods for longer periods of time, plastic freezer bags, vacuum-sealed bags, or glass jars are the best options.
When packing dried foods for long-term storage, it's recommended to put only as much food as you will use at once or is needed for a given recipe in each package. Storing more than you can use at once in one package will decrease the shelf-life since opening and closing a package several times increases exposure to oxygen which promotes spoilage.
Can you dehydrate food in the oven?
Yes, a standard oven or toaster oven can be used to dehydrate foods if it can go down to the proper temperature range for dehydration. However, if you're not comfortable leaving an oven on to run over the course of several hours or overnight, this method may not be the best option.
Some ovens and toaster ovens may have a dehydrating preset. If yours doesn't have this, you can still dry foods by setting the oven to the lowest possible temperature. Place foods on parchment-lined baking sheets in the oven, prop the oven door open slightly to help moisture escape and evaporate, and be sure to check your food periodically.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Cookbook author Donna Currie covers kitchen tools and appliances for The Spruce Eats. In addition to food dehydrators, she's written roundups on the best air fryers, food steamers, and Instant Pots (among many more) for the site.
This roundup was updated by Katya Weiss-Andersson, a writer and editor with nearly a decade of experience as a professional chef, including in raw food restaurants where food dehydration was king, and Katrina Munichiello, a writer and editor who specializes in the tea and food industries.
Elizabeth L. Andress, PhD, is professor emerita and extension food safety specialist at the University of Georgia
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The 9 Best Food Dehydrator Picks for Healthier Snacking. Taste of Home. https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/best-food-dehydrators/
5 Best Food Dehydrators for 2022. Good Housekeeping. https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/cooking-tools/g30200878/best-food-dehydrator/
The 5 Best Dehydrators (2022 Review). This Old House. https://www.thisoldhouse.com/kitchens/22756877/best-dehydrator
United States Department of Agriculture. Jerky and Food Safety.
National Center for Home Preservation. Packaging and storing dried foods.
United States Department of Agriculture. Shelf-Stable Food Safety.