Vegan diets and lifestyles are fast becoming the way forward, with positive effects on both your health and the environment. However, it can still be difficult to find affordable, tasty and healthy snacks that don’t cost the earth and don’t perish within days. We’re all becoming more health-conscious too, but with our hectic lifestyles and grab-and-go mentality, it can be a strain to prepare and eat food that we can store in our cars or rucksacks, without leaking, requiring cooking, or putting you out of pocket. A food dehydrator can be the answer to your healthy snack prayers for both vegans and meat eaters alike. Food dehydrators allow you to create delicious snacks at home, from beef jerky to vegetable crisps to banana chips. We’ve outlined some of the best food dehydrators on the market, providing you with a range of features and prices.
The Best Food Dehydrator
This is our choice of the best food dehydrator. The NESCO Snackmaster Pro (which you’ll surely become after using it) is designed to be affordable, easy to use, and create some tasty snacks, perfect for the whole family. Its Converga-Flow patented drying system gives this dehydrator machine the edge, producing vertical and horizontal air flow that dries out your food evenly and quickly. This also means that your flavours aren’t mixed and different types of food don’t soak up the taste of others; great for cooking a range of meat, fruits, and vegetables at the same time. Although you’re not provided with a vast amount of trays, this machine allows you to expand your cooking range up to 12 trays, giving you more choice when it comes to snacks. The appliance is also light weight and easy to store, but we’re guessing you’ll rarely put it away when you start seeing the results. If you’re new to the dehydrating world, the Snackmaster comes with different tray inserts, so that you can place different sizes and types of food in the right sections. It also comes with a handy booklet that provides you with inspiration and guidance on what to try your hand at next. Be sure to also check out our list of the best indoor grills for more great items like this.
5 trays, but has the capacity to expand to 12
Drying power comes in at 600 watts
- Brand Nesco
- Weight9 pounds
Hey presto! This home dehydrator is a perfect all-rounder for beginners. It’s smaller than other dehydrators on this list, but comes with its own benefits. The see-through cover lets you view your food whilst the cooking process happens; perfect for those Instagrammable moments. This products is incredibly easy to clean and store, which is perfect for those who might not be using it as much in the long-run. However, the results this device creates, you’ll be whipping up batches of jerky and fruit leather on a weekly basis. Don’t forget, you can even make healthy snacks for your pets too. Although not a huge, commercial dehydrator, the Presto food dehydrator is quick, simple to use, and you’ll definitely get your money’s worth. Unfortunately, the appliance doesn’t come with a timer or an adjustable thermostat, which means you can only dry your food at the set temperature of 140 degrees. This may be a bonus for some, as it means you don’t have to mess around with settings, but if you’re a more experienced dehydrator, then your options are limited.
See-through cover, which allows you to view your food
4 tray system, with the capacity to expand to 8 trays
- Weight7.5 pounds
More on the higher price level, the Magic Mill Professional Food dehydrator is both a great fruit dehydrator and meat dehydrator. If you’re looking for a commercial machine that allows you to choose your temperature settings and timer, then this is the perfect choice. You can create your own optimal textures and crispiness for your snacks, without relying on the standard temperature settings or having to keep going back and checking on your food. The transparent, removable door allows you to view your veggies, meat, or herbs so if you do want to change the temperature or timer, you can. This device also has a drying time of up to 19.5 hours, which is perfect for the likes of beef jerky. Our mouths are watering at the thought of it already. Not only that, but the Magic Mill also comes with 9 stainless steel trays, which are large enough to fit a whole host of snacks on and you’re also provided with silicone over mitts, so that you don’t burn yourself when removing the racks. The rear-mounted fan creates an even air flow throughout the dehydrator, so that your food is cooked consistently and just to your tastes. Our handy guide to the best waffle makers features more great products like this.
Digital thermostat and timer, providing you with accuracy
9 adjustable drying racks
Can dry food up to 19.5 hours, if required
- Brand Magic Mill
- Weight21.4 pounds
We’re still in the higher price range, but you’ll see why. The Gourmia Premium Countertop dehydrator is a great accompaniment to any budding chef’s kitchen, with 9 removable trays, a detachable see-through door, and silent air flow, so you can simply dehydrate and go. The added benefit of this machine is that it has automatic shut-down once your timer and cooking has finished. This means you can leave the Gourmia to do its thing and come back and enjoy a range of healthy, nutritious snacks. With a choice of temperatures, this appliance is perfect for those of you who are looking to expand your dehydrator repertoire and need something that bit more professional. The LCD panel lets you view the timer easily, with the option of selecting up to 19.5 hours of drying time. With a 360 degree air flow circulation system, food is cooked evenly and results are amazing. You can also get your hands on a free recipe book, with 12 easy to follow ideas, from fruit leathers to granola bars. Bon Appétit!
9 trays included, alongside a fruit leather sheet and drip tray
Automatic shut-down once cooking has finished
Adjustable thermostat, from 95°F- 158°F
- Weight13.94 pounds
Another NESCO featured item on our list, the Gardenmaster food dehydrator is a great upgrade from its cheaper sister, the Snackmaster. The device makes use of the patented Converga-Flow circulation system, ensuring that each tray receives the amount of air flow it deserves, to create consistent and tasty results. The added bonus with this dehydrator is that it can expand from a reasonable 8 trays, up to a incredible 30, giving you the opportunity to create a vast amount of delicious and healthy snacks, both meat and vegetable or fruit. The trays are also dishwasher friendly, which means even clean-up is a breeze and with additional features, such as recipe instruction book and spice pack, you’ll be cooking up a storm in no time. Although this machine has 1,000 watts of power, it also has an extremely quiet motor, so you can achieve the results you desire, without the noise to match. A great appliance, perfect for those looking to increase their output, but still retain great quality and nutritious content. Find more great products like this by checking out our guide to the best pellet grills.
1,000 watts of power
8 dehydrator trays, with the ability to expand up to 30
Comes with additional features, such as fruit roll up sheets, recipe book, and Original Jerky Spice pack
- Weight17 pounds
Affordable, great design, and1 year warranty, the Chefman food dehydrator is perfect for beginners and those looking for a simple and straight forward device to incorporate into their busy schedules. The Chefman has a one touch button mechanism, which means no faffing around with temperatures or timers, if that’s not what you’re into. The 5 transparent trays allow to your view your food as it cooks, great for creating banana chips or crunchy strawberries for a quick and convenient snack. The trays are also adjustable, which means you can include bulkier and chunkier food into your dehydrating range. Once purchased, you can also join ‘Club Chefman’, which provides you with video tutorials on your favourite snacks and hundreds of recipes. This device is great for those looking to start out, as well as individuals who don’t want to spend a small fortune of their first product. Choose from a range of meat, vegetables, fruit, and herb options to cook in your Chefman – the possibilities are endless.
One touch button operation for ease of use
Adjust your shelves to the desired level – great for bulkier food
5 trays provided
- Weight11.2 ounces
If you’re looking for a well-designed, easy to use countertop food dehydrator, then the Gourmia Premium is the one for you. With 6 tray capacity and transparent door, it’s great for cooking a range of products from meat to vegetables. This machine also comes with Circu-Smart 360 degree air flow, meaning precise cooking throughout, producing perfect snacks and meal accompaniments. The adjustable timer and temperature gauge provides you with more options when it comes to cooking, so you have a choice of crispiness and textures. Additional bonus features with this dehydrator include a fruit leather sheet, as well as a drip tray, providing you with further options for tasty snacks. This machine is great for those who are already experienced in the method of dehydrating and are looking an all-rounder that can be kept in-sight. Price-point is reasonable, but perhaps not ideal for a beginner. However, the instruction manual is clear and easy to follow, with advice and directions on how to cook a wide variety of snacks.
6 tray capacity, with additional fruit leather tray provided
View your food as it dehydrates with the transparent door
Adjustable time and temperature options
- Weight17.8 pounds
Samson Silent Dehydrator
Yes, as the same suggests, the Samson Silent Dehydrator is the ideal machine for those of you who can’t cope with any more noise in your life. This product is probably one of the best performers on the list, cooking food consistently and evenly on most tests. There’s also lots of additional features on this product, such as automatic shut-down, digital control panel, and a timer. However, the Samson does have some pitfalls, such as the 400 watt power, which isn’t as strong as others on the market. This means that dehydrating time can be longer than most, but you do still get some great results. Sometimes the best things in life are worth waiting for and the larger fan means that food is evenly cooked, creating great textures and consistency. With a range of temperatures to choose from, the Samson provides you with a number of options when cooking and can accommodate most types of food, including bread! If you do require a larger number of trays, the Samson Silent also comes in a 9 tray format, ideal for those with bigger appetites.
400 watt power with push button LCD control panel
Food preparation chart provided, giving you access to over 40 options
6 trays included
- BrandSamson Brands
- Weight12.05 pounds
With a maximum temperature of 180 degrees and one button operation, the NutriChef Food Dehydrator Machine is an affordable, easy system, perfect for beginners. The appliance comes with 5 removable trays, that can be stacked on top of one and other; great for dehydrating a range of products. Although this machine doesn’t have a timer or temperature option, it still cooks food consistently and evenly, providing you with a great selection of tasty snacks and treats. It does require some manual checking and watching, but the transparent trays make this easy to do. The NutriChef is perfect for those of you who have a busy life, but need something affordable and easy to use, without the hassle of setting temperatures and timers (as well as reading a hefty instruction manual).
Removable trays, which are easy to clean
One button operation for ease of use
Retains around 97% of vitamins and minerals within the food
- Weight7.1 pounds
What can we say about the Proctor Silex? It’s a great option for those of you looking for something simple and ready to go, as well as being extremely affordable. Although this won’t give you chef-quality results, it does do what it needs to and produces some yummy snacks, with the health benefits you crave. With 4 adjustable trays, it’s a great option if you’re looking to experiment with a range of food types, even bulkier ones. The on/off power light is a unique feature and allows you to know exactly when you’re dehydrating and when you’re not. With dishwasher safe trays, as well as a lid, clean-up is a breeze and you’ll be snacking in no time at all.
Adjustable heights for trays, so you can cook a range of different foods
4 translucent trays included, so you can view your snacks as they dehydrate
On/off light for safety
- BrandHamilton Beach
- Weight5.85 pounds
Food Dehydrator Buying Guide & FAQ
How We Chose Our Selection Оf Food Dehydrator
We took into account a number of different elements when it came to choosing this selection of food dehydrators for you. It’s crucial that we look at reviews, reviews, and more reviews to really understand how users interact with the machines and the individual nuances and features they have. Price point is also a huge component for us too and we know how important affordability is to our readers. High cost does not always equal high quality and it’s vital we take into account how well these devices are reviewed, the features they include, and the results they produce.
Features To Look For In А Food Dehydrator
If you’re just starting out in the world of food dehydrators or need a better idea of the best ones to look out for, then make sure you take note of some of main features that can make your life a little easier. Remember, even if your chosen dehydrator doesn’t have all of these factors, that’s not an indication it’s poor quality – it just might not have everything you require.
Consistent Heat – you’ve invested in a dehydrator because you want to create tasty, crunchy, and nutritious snacks. Having a consistent heat function and even drying, means that you’ll produce great results through your machine. You shouldn’t have to constantly rotate or rearrange trays to get even distribution of heat, so make sure you invest in a dehydrator that offers great air flow circulation, through larger, vertical flow, base mounted fans.
Capacity – dehydrating food obviously causes it to shrink, which means you need to have a machine that’s capable of holding a decent amount of the initial product. Make sure your trays have the square-foot you’re after and choose wisely between round trays and rectangular.
Temperature Settings – temperatures can be tricky to decipher when it comes to food dehydrators. Generally speaking, the lower the temperature, the better the machine is for products such as nuts, flowers, and some more delicate vegetables or fruit, so if you know this is what you’ll be concentrating on, you might not need an appliance with higher temperature choices. However, for most vegetables, fruits, and meat, you’ll need something with a little more bite. If you need options, makes sure you pick a dehydrator with a digital control panel that allows you to choose different temperature bands. Although as a beginner you might not need this, it’s worth investing in something that could potentially help you out in the future.
Accessories – don’t limit yourself to a bog-standard machine that doesn’t give you the option to try your hand at fruit leather or jerky, if that’s what takes your fancy. Once you’ve got the hang of the dehydrating process, you’ll want to experiment, so choose an appliance that comes with a fruit-roll mat or fine mesh tray. This stops smaller food, such as herbs and nuts, from falling through.
Auto Shut Off – safety is paramount and so are optimal results when it comes to dehydrating. Having an auto shut-off function means that you won’t end up drying out your food so much that it becomes hard as rocks. We know how important your teeth are.
Noise Level – fans can be noisy, loud and irritating, so it’s important to invest in a food dehydrator that runs quietly or, at least, as quietly as it can. Countertop dehydrators are perfect for keeping in your kitchen, but do take note of their sound level, if you don’t want to be disturbed.
Types Of Food Dehydrator
There are two different types of food dehydrators, in regards to air flow, and it’s an important decision to make when picking the best type for your needs.
Vertical Flow – vertical air flow comes with advantages and disadvantages, dependent on the type of food you’re looking to dehydrate. Machines with vertical flows are more suited to herbs and nuts and flowers because they aren’t as aggressive as horizontal flow appliances. This means your food remains intact. However, if you are looking to dehydrate more than just the above products, then vertical air flow comes with pitfalls. Trays will need to be rotated in order to achieve consistent and even distribution of heat, so that meats and vegetables can achieve the right texture and result. Although they tend to be cheaper than horizontal flow machines, they are limited in the results they can reach, but do provide you with a smaller carbon footprint, which can be appealing to vegans and vegetarians. Look for a round vertical flow dehydrator to get the very best out of your food.
Horizontal Flow – for perfect results for larger food stuffs or for a broader range, choosing a dehydrator with horizontal air flow is the best option. It produces a consistent air flow, cooking food evenly throughout each level of the appliance, which means you can dry a large volume of products at one point. Most of the time, you don’t need to rotate the trays in order to achieve these results, which allows you to simply switch on and get back to your day. However, some horizontal flows can dry unevenly, if the fan isn’t big enough, which is why this is an important feature to look out for. Horizontal air flow dehydrators also tend to be much more expensive than their vertical flow counterparts, so make sure you do your research and invest wisely.
Food Dehydrator FAQ
Q: What is a food dehydrator?
A: A food dehydrator is a great asset to any kitchen, as it can preserve food that you would more than likely throw away. It works by drying out, ‘dehydrating’, produce. You might have already come across some dehydrated food before, from berries in your cereal to snacking on dried apricots. You can either dehydrate your food and eat it straight away or save it for later and rehydrate it when you need to. The act of dehydrating food is similar to that of pickling or ‘canning’ food. It preserves it and seals in the nutrients. Before the invention of these handy machines, dehydration could be done outside in the sun; thankfully the process has sped up and is much easier to achieve great results.
We’re fans of dehydrated food because it provides us with a reduction in waste, means we can snack healthily on the go, and is a relatively easy and affordable way to produce great food. Think of how much a small bag of dried apricots or banana chips sets you back in regards to cost. Creating your own snacks is a great way to know exactly what’s gone into your food, gives you peace of mind, and saves you money too.
There’s also a whole range of food you can create in your food dehydrator including:
- Yogurt (yes, yogurt!)
- Celery – so you can use it in soups when it’s no longer in season
- Cranberries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries… we could go on
- Cheese and butter
- Onion rings
- Potatoes – this is a healthy way to keep your regular crisps, but with the healthiness of dehydration
And the list goes on. Whether you grow your own vegetables or fruits or herbs and are looking to make the most of them for the winter, or if you always have an overflow of food from the week before and need to preserve it, dehydration is a convenient and cost effective way of saving food – and space. You won’t need to store your products in the freezer and can easily organise into your pantry. Plus, dehydrated food tends to hold its nutrient and vitamin levels better than other methods of preservation, such as freezing. This means you can enjoy healthy and convenient snacks throughout the year, without the additional cost or disadvantage of losing those goodness benefits.
- The Best Dehydrators And How To Use Them - BBC Good Food
- Horizontal Flow vs Vertical Flow Dehydrators - Pick My Dehydrator
- How Does a Food Dehydrator Work? - Live Strong