Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator at Amazon
"Perfect for average-sized batches of dried foods."
Best Budget: Presto Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator at Amazon
"The perfect starter unit and ideal for small batches."
Best Expandable: Nesco Gardenmaster Food Dehydrator at Amazon
"Even drying no matter how much food you have."
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Excalibur Food Dehydrator at Amazon
"Has a 26-hour timer so you can leave food drying while you work or sleep."
Best High-End: Tribest Sedona Express Digital Food Dehydrator at Amazon
"Can automatically switch from an initial high temperature to a lower one."
Runner Up, Best Budget: NutriChef Food Dehydrator Machine at Amazon
"Temperature is adjustable up to 180 degrees, so you can dry a variety of foods."
Best Rectangular: Hamilton Beach 5 Tray Dehydrator at Walmart
"Continuous airflow provides even drying, eliminating the need to constantly rotate."
01 of 07
Best Overall: Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator
A bit smaller than our top pick, this model is perfect for average-sized batches of dried foods. It comes with five trays, but can handle up to 12 if you want to work in larger batches. The thermostat on this dehydrator is adjustable from 95 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, and it has a top mounted fan that’s designed to send the air downward and then horizontally across the food trays for more even drying.
Along with the dehydrator, it also includes two solid liner sheets for making fruit rollups or drying sauces or other liquid-like substances, two mesh sheets for other foods, and three packages of jerky spice to get you started making your own jerky. The exterior is speckled gray.
The only drawback is that this dehydrator doesn’t have a timer, so you’ll have to be nearby to turn it off when the food is ready.
02 of 07
Best Budget: Presto Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator
The perfect starter unit and ideal for small batches, this dehydrator comes with four trays but you can add an additional four trays to double your drying space. The fan is at the bottom of the unit which means it’s possible for food juices to drip down onto it. So keep that in mind when you’re dehydrating fresh produce.
Fruit roll sheets and mesh sheets are available to fit this dehydrator. The temperature isn’t adjustable; it operates consistently at about 165 degrees Fahrenheit. The trays nest for more compact storage and the cord stores out of the way in the base. The dehydrator has a white exterior with a clear top cover so you can watch the drying process. Sadly, there is no timer, so you’ll have to be nearby to turn it off when the food is done. But that’s the ideal time to taste test as well.
03 of 07
Best Expandable: Nesco Gardenmaster Food Dehydrator
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 Fahrenheit.
This unit has a top-mounted fan, and the timer can be set for up to 48 hours of drying time. This model has a white exterior, and it comes with one screen and one fruit roll sheet. If you want to start with more drying space, this model is also available at a higher price with six trays instead of four, as well as three fruit roll sheets, three screens, six packets of jerky spice, and a jerky gun.
04 of 07
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Excalibur Food Dehydrator
This dehydrator provides a lot of drying space—with nine trays totaling 15 square feet to be exact. Each tray is fitted with a nonstick screen, which is suitable for most drying. But there are also several types of dehydrator sheets available for the trays, which are ideal for making fruit leather or drying other thick liquids like sauces.
The thermostat is adjustable from 105 to165 degrees Fahrenheit and it has a 26-hour timer so you can leave food drying while you work or sleep. A fan at the back of the unit circulates air evenly throughout.
If you have taller foods you want to dry, you can remove some of the trays to make more room. This unit can also be used to proof dough when baking or to warm rolls or bread before serving. With almost all the trays removed, you can even use this model to cultivate homemade yogurt. If color matters, it’s available in either black or white. The drawback with this model is that it’s quite large, and takes a lot of space to store.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
Best High-End: Tribest Sedona Express Digital Food Dehydrator
If you have a large garden and want to take your food dehydrating to a professional level, this machine is the one you need. The temperature is adjustable from 77 to 167 degrees Fahrenheit, and that high temperature means you can cook jerky from start-to-finish in this machine without needing to pre-cook it for safety. Plus, it can automatically switch from an initial high temperature to a lower one for quicker drying without overcooking.
This unit has 11 stainless steel trays, a glass door, and an interior LED light so it’s easier 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. The exterior is black and the fan is at the back of the unit, with a filter to keep out dust. The unit is not expandable. This top-of-the-line dehydrator can do it all, and its price tag shows it. 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.
06 of 07
Runner Up, Best Budget: NutriChef Food Dehydrator Machine
If food dehydrating is something you’ll do occasionally, rather than the way you’ll feed yourself over a long, harsh, winter, you’re probably looking for a budget-friendly dryer like this one. It does what you need, but without breaking the bank with extra features.
This operates with just one button that turns it on to start the dehydrating process. The temperature is adjustable up to 180 degrees, so you can dry a variety of herbs, fruits, and vegetables. It includes five removable and stackable trays that are easy to clean.
The manufacturer states that this can be used to make jerky, but food safety sites have warnings about using simple dehydrators for meats, so read the information carefully before proceeding.
07 of 07
Best Rectangular: Hamilton Beach 5 Tray Dehydrator
Five rectangular stacking trays provide plenty of space for long sprigs of herbs or strips of vegetables, as well as shorter slices. The continuous airflow provides even drying, eliminating the need to constantly rotate trays. An adjustable thermostat lets you set the proper temperature for different foods, while the 48-hour timer with automatic shut-off lets you turn it on and walk away. The clear lid lets you check the food without opening the dehydrator.
This includes two specialty sheets for versatility. The mesh sheet can be used to dry herbs that would otherwise fall through the screens, and the solid sheet can be used for fruit purees that can be turned into homemade versions of fruit rolls.
Products Tested by The Spruce
How We Tested
Our reviewers spent eight hours testing a top-rated food dehydrator. To get the most comprehensive results, they set it up and dried meats, fruits, and more. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using this dehydrator, from its capacity to its footprint. We've outlined the key points here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.
What to Look for in a Food Dehydrator
Capacity 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, on the other hand, work well for little batches and small kitchens.
Consistent drying When dehydrating a batch of food, you want to make sure your machine dries it all evenly. To ensure this consistency, look for a model with more trays so you can space out your food as much as possible.
Jerky 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 is up to the task.
Test Results: Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator (Best Overall)
Easy to use
Preset temperature markings
A little difficult to clean
One of our reviewers used this machine to dehydrate mangoes and Gochujang-marinated beef jerky. She thought that it was easy to use and held a lot of food. Another highlight was its preset temperature markings: “They let you know what temperatures correspond with each food,” she explained. “The recipe I ended up using was wrong — it told me to make jerky at 140 degrees — but those markings actually helped me realize the mistake.” On the other hand, she thought that its large size made it tougher to store and felt that it was slightly difficult to clean: “I used the spoked trays for my jerky and it took some time to get the marinade off of the spaces between each spoke,” she said.