If you’re anything like me, a gardener and a homesteader, you want to consider owning a food dehydrator – why? It’s one of my most used tools during summertime for preserving my locally sourced and homegrown food to guarantee an almost endless supply all year round.
Sadly, canning has been the go-to for preserving your food instead of drying out in the sun. But if you want to create healthy snacks or preserve your harvest without breaking the bank, then you need the best food dehydrator.
But when trying to purchase a food dehydrator, it’s easy to get confused and overwhelmed, considering the hundreds of options out there. Thus, in this post, we will look at the best food hydrator by America’s test kitchen to help you make a smart investment.
What Is Food Dehydrator
This appliance, an electronic box with one or more fans, is designed to preserve your food items by removing the moisture from your fish, meat, herbs, vegetables, and fresh fruit. The fan distributes warm air evenly around the metal or plastic trays of food, letting the moisture inside uniformly evaporate. This system guarantees a longer shelf life.
Why You Need A Food Dehydrator
To start with, you can maintain the quality of your food ingredients for a longer time, which allows you to get healthy food all year round. If you want to stick to or try out more raw food diets, this is the device you want to have.
Also, you can always buy your food ingredients at wholesale price and preserve them for an extended period. More so, for people who love to garden but find preserving all your produce a bit challenging, the food dehydrator can be the solution.
Above all, if you can put an end to your peppers, corn, carrot, garlic, and many more going to waste by using this product. I really hate to see them go to waste!
Reviews of The Best Food Dehydrator America’s test kitchen
Here are top rated Food Dehydrator by consumer reports of 2021
Top 1 – Excalibur 3926TB 9-Tray Food Dehydrator
If you want the best food hydrator for a large family, then the Excalibur 3926TB 9-Tray Food Dehydrator can be your best bet. This product comes in a square design to accommodate large amounts of food and meet your needs with ease.
This machine has nine trays offering a total dehydrating space of 15 square feet. This space should be enough to spread out your meat and other thinner foods.
In addition, the Excalibur 3926TB 9-Tray Food Dehydrator has an adjustable thermostat to allow you to set the preferred temperature between 105 to 165 degrees F. Plus, it’s equipped with a 26-hour timer.
Even better, this system rocks the patented Parallex Horizontal Airflow to deliver fast dehydration without tray rotation while retaining your food ingredients’ taste, look and more nutrients.
What else? This food dehydrator comes with a flexible poly-screen tray insert to ensure a nonstick experience. Also, I loved the fact that its tray does not need to rotate or move during operation.
- Easy to use
- 10-year manufacturer warranty
- Nine trays offering up to15 square foot capacity
- Equipped with a 7-inch fan for increased air circulation
- The fan is a bit loud
Top 2 – Excalibur 9-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator
Another spot, another food dehydrator from the Excalibur. This model is similar to our top choice. It has nine trays offering a large 15 square feet to hold your favorite snacks. This model features an adjustable thermostat to allow users to properly preserve their flowers, vegetables, herbs, and many more at precise temperatures.
Furthermore, it offers a wide temperature range, 105 to 165 degrees F. This way, you can preserve just about anything, including your arts and crafts.
This model operates without the tray moving or rotating, which makes it hassle-free to use. The trays are removable to create more space to allow users to dehydrate bulky items.
- User-friendly design
- Comes with an adjustable thermostat for accurate temperature control
- Large dehydration space
- Wide temperature range
- Easy to clean
- The noise can be annoying
Top 3 – COSORI Food Dehydrator
The COSORI Food Dehydrator is our best home dehydrator. This product is constructed with food-grade stainless steel that guarantees extreme durability. Also, it features a glass door to make it easier to keep tabs on your contents.
In addition, it has six stackable trays made of stainless steel that are hassle-free to clean, thanks to its dishwasher-safe design. However, the tray liner features a BPA-free plastic tray liner that’s hand-washed.
Moving on, the COSORI Food Dehydrator rocks a simple digital control and an auto-shutoff ‘feature, which improves its already impressive ease of use. On top of that, there’s an overheat protection feature to prevent the system from getting too hot.
Further, this appliance comes with a fine mesh screen to dry herbs or make potpourri. And, the included solid sheet is suitable for making fruit leather with great flavors without any hassle. Last, you get a recipe book containing 50 recipes for inspiration and to get you started with the system.
- High-quality stainless steel construction
- Dishwasher safe tray for snappy cleanups
- Affordable price point
- Equipped with specialized fan for unparalleled airflow
- Customer support could be better
Top 4 – Magic Mill Food Dehydrator Machine
Taking a spot on our list is the Magic Mill Food Dehydrator Machine, with its excellent airflow circulation technology promoting even drying without having to rotate or move the shelves. Thanks to its see-through door window, this machine makes it easier to monitor the whole process.
Furthermore, it has an adjustable temperature and timer for total control over the dehydration process. With these features, users can set the exact timing and optimal temperature for desirable results.
While this product has a large space, it comes with a hanging rack, fruit roll trays and more to ensure you get the most out of the space. Also, it has ten adjustable trays that are dishwasher safe for convenient cleanup.
- Easy to use and clean
- Adjustable stainless steel tray
- See-through cover for easy monitoring
- Automatic shut off
- Poor quality control
Top 5 – NESCO Gardenmaster Pro Dehydrator
This is the best stackable food dehydrator out there. This machine features a programmable digital timer and adjustable temperature control. With its patented Converga-Flow airflow system, this system delivers even dehydration to ensure your vegetables and fruit retain their active enzymes, taste and flavor.
The NESCO Gardenmaster Pro Dehydrator is expandable up to 30 trays, which is perfect for storing large amounts of dry foods. While it comes at a salty price, you’d definitely be getting what you’re paid for.
This 1000-watt food packs enough power to handle bulky food ingredients. It also comes with a recipe book to get you started with the appliance.
- Eight trays expandable to 30
- Converga-Flow System to deliver uniform heat distribution
- Wide temperature range, 95- 160 degrees F
- 1000 Watt Powerhead for utmost speed
- On the pricey side
Top 6 – Homdox Food Dehydrator Machine
The Homdox Food Dehydrator Machine has a large capacity with eight layers and allows users to customize the space with two-way tray placement. Also, you can rotate the food tray for different heights.
Similarly, you don’t have to rotate the trays, thanks to its 360-degree all-round hot circulation heating system, including a heating element and bottom-mounted fan. Both components work in tandem to deliver consistent airflow and proper dehydration.
That’s not all: this model’s black cover and see-through trays are dishwasher friendly. It features LCD digital temperature settings to keep track of the process easily.
- Decent temperature range: 35 – 70 degrees C
- It does not require rotation for optimum dehydration
- LCD digital temperature settings
- Eight stackable trays
- The customer support could be better
Top 7 – NESCO FD-75A, Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator
Here’s another food dehydrator from Nesco. This product comes with a jerky and fruit roll-up kit to allow you to maximize the space. This manufacturer opted for an opaque design to keep unwanted light for optimum dehydration.
This all-in-one appliance is designed to preserve your food nutrients while drying. This model is affordable and expandable up to 12 trays. Unlike most models out there, this unit runs quietly and is suitable for beginners.
What’s more? NESCO FD-75A, Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator, helps create dried snack food and do much more. One of the drawbacks of this model is the manufacturer’s poor quality control, as some users received damaged units.
- Top-mounted fan for consistent airflow
- Runs on a 600-watt heating element
- It comes with a recipe guide
- Affordable price point
- The heating element isn’t very durable
What Should I Look For When Buying A Food Dehydrator?
These systems are available in different sizes. The size options to settle for should depend on how much space you have on your countertop or in the kitchen. There are models with a small, compact design to squeeze perfectly on your countertop.
Number of trays
Before splurging on this device, you need to determine how much dehydrating you plan to do. A food dehydrator with at least six trays is your best bet for preserving large batches of items. But if you plan to hydrate fewer items or occasionally, you should settle for a product with four to five trays.
For gardeners looking to dehydrate fruit and vegetables mainly, you need an appliance that runs for up to 12 hours. However, if you want to preserve herbs with a dehydrator, you should settle for a machine that runs for at least 24 hours.
Not all food hydrators include additional inserts such as trays or silicone mats for fruit leather and many more. Therefore, when trying to choose the best food dehydrator, you should look out for tucked-in accessories. These extras offer more value for your money.
1. What dehydrator does Bon Appetit use?
If you need to make a similar choice, then it’s the COSORI Food Dehydrator for making jerky.
2. Does a dehydrator use a lot of electricity?
Food dehydrators, unlike our regular kitchen ovens, are impressively energy efficient. For example, compare running a 1000-watt food hydrator for 12 hours to operating a 10,000-watt for a similar time.
3. Is a dehydrator healthy?
Dehydrated foods retain their nutritional value, which makes them a healthier alternative to many snacks.
We’ve reviewed the top 7 best food hydrator by America’s test kitchen. Now, it’s up to decide which model suits your needs. But if you’re still on the fence, you should definitely consider our top choice (provided you have got a spacious kitchen) – Excalibur 3926TB 9-Tray Food Dehydrator.