The 5 Best Food Dehydrators

by Gina Ippolito on 13 September 2013 2 comments

A food dehydrator takes the age old practice of drying out food to lengthen shelf life and preserve freshness and simplifies it for modern times. Food dehydrators work best on foods that have a high percentage of water and are low in fat, such as fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. Owning a dehydrator means you can buy items in bulk and store them for long periods of time. There are a wide variety of them on the market today, so we here at Wise Bread decided to compile our list of the top five food dehydrators.

What Is a Food Dehydrator?

Food is placed inside the dehydrator and then heated. The heat draws out the moisture in the food, which is then blown away from the food by an internal fan. The constant heat coupled with the constant air flow from the fan dehydrates the food which prevents bacteria from growing, thus drastically increasing its shelf life. When the food comes out, it is much smaller and lighter due to the water weight that has been lost.

Best 5 Food Dehydrators

Excalibur 3900 Deluxe Series 9 Tray Food Dehydrator

The Excalibur 3900 Deluxe Series 9 Tray Food Dehydrator has a unique, square design. Reviewers tend to favor this over the more common, rounded design, claiming that it can handle a much higher quantity of food. The larger size of the appliance also makes it very easy to clean.

A large, 7-inch fan in the back of this unit helps distribute heat evenly, dehydrating the food more quickly than other options out there. The fan also eliminates the need to turn the food and trays periodically, which is a real time saver. The nine trays are a total of 15 square feet, which is a huge selling point to anyone wanting to dehydrate many different foods at once. The one downside to this appliance is that reviewers indicate it may be on the loud side during operation.

This dehydrator is equipped with an adjustable thermostat which offers flexibility based on the type of food being prepared. It uses 600 watts of drying power, and it also comes with a booklet containing recipes and instructions for dehydrating common foods.

Current Price: $249.99 at Amazon

L'Equip 528 Food Dehydrator

This medium capacity food dehydrator comes equipped with six stacking trays, or 7.2 square feet of drying area. The unit can hold up to 12 trays but the added trays must be purchased separately. With 12 trays, the total drying area is 14.4 square feet, which is fairly large for a dehydrator, meaning it can handle large quantities of food at once.

The L'Equip 528 Food Dehydrator uses 500 watts of drying power and the fan and heating elements are located in the base, promoting even air flow. This also makes rotating trays during drying unnecessary, saving the user a considerable amount of time and hassle. It has an on/off switch and an adjustable thermostat, but is not equipped with a timer, which irritated some reviewers who claimed you have to keep checking to make sure your food is done.

Compared with other dehydrators, reviewers indicate that the L'Equip operates very quietly, which is a selling point for anyone planning to place it in a busy area of the home. It comes with an instructional booklet that has recipes and drying times for common foods.

Current Price: $119.99 at Amazon

Nesco 600-Watt Food Dehydrator

This medium sized dehydrator uses 600 watts of power for faster drying time. It has a top mounted fan which dries food evenly from top to bottom and eliminates the need to rotate trays periodically, which is a huge time saver. The air flow system ensures that flavors don't mix, so your food comes out tasting exactly as it should.

This unit is extremely easy to use and is equipped with an adjustable thermostat and recommended temperature settings for a variety of foods. However, there is no on/off switch and no timer, which some reviewers find inconvenient.

The Nesco 600-Watt Food Dehydrator comes with five durable trays but can expand to 12 trays. The extra trays must be purchased separately. Each tray is slightly less than one square foot, so when all 12 trays are utilized, you get about 10 square feet of drying space. This is not as much drying space as other models on this list, due to the fact that the trays are circular in design instead of rectangular. However, if you don't need that extra capacity, this is a great option.

The granite Vita-Save opaque plastic exterior blocks light from foods, which assists in retaining nutrients and vitamins for healthier dried foods. This appliance comes with a recipe booklet.

Current Price: $59.98 at Amazon

Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator

If you're new to dehydrating and aren't sure whether you're quite ready to shell out the money for a larger, more expensive unit, then the Presto 06300 is perfect for you. It is smaller than the other models out there and comes with few bells and whistles, but it gets the job done and does it well.

This dehydrator comes with four trays but can stack up to eight. The extra trays must be purchased separately. The bottom mounted fan and heating element provide even drying throughout, making rotation unnecessary. The see-through cover on top allows you to easily monitor the drying process without having to remove the trays.

The Presto 06300 is not equipped with a timer or an automatic shut off, meaning you have to keep a closer eye on your food than usual, but it is equipped with an adjustable thermostat up to 165 degrees. This dehydrator uses 600 watts of power and reviewers find it extremely easy to use and clean.

Current Price: $35.55 at Amazon

LEM Products 10 Tray Food Dehydrator With Digital Timer

The LEM Products 10 Tray Food Dehydrator is more expensive than some of the options on this list. This is due to the fact that, at 800 watts, it is the most powerful and therefore can dry foods much more quickly. With 10 trays and 15 square feet of drying space, it also has the highest capacity, meaning you can prepare larger amounts of food at once.

Another benefit to this dehydrator is the fact that it has a digital timer, which is unfortunately lacking in many of the other models on the market. It has an easy-to-use, adjustable thermostat and the powerful, rear mounted fan distributes air evenly which makes rotating trays during drying unnecessary.

This dehydrator comes with an instruction manual with drying times for most commonly dried foods. Reviewers indicate that the square design makes the removable trays extremely easy to clean. The LEM is a good option for anyone who is looking to dehydrate a lot of food with little hassle.

Current Price: $164.23 at Amazon

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Guest's picture

If you're serious about using a dehydrator, you're probably pretty interested in good, quality food. If so, go with the stainless steel excalibur. It's the only one on the market that doesn't have plastic and/or non-stick trays.

Wth BPA, pthalates, parabens, and other crazy, dangerous chemicals in most plastics and non-stick coatings, you don't want your food sitting on hot chemicals drying out for hours and hours as they outgas into your food.

Stainless steel is the way to go.

Guest's picture
Sandra @ dehydratormagic

Very nice and valid points by Jack. The plastic elements should be avoided.
There are some new models in Excalibur which come with glass doors that allow monitoring without interfering in the drying process which I think is cool as earlier they did not have this.
Nesco FD-80 which is the only square model from them is also nice.