Best Food Dehydrator Buying Guide – Top Rated 2016

You do not have to go through the tedious process of pickling or canning food so that it can take you through winter or when preserving it for hard times because you can use a dehydrator. A food dehydrator is one of the handiest machines you can have in your kitchen. With this machine, you only need to pop in the food and give it some few hours to dry. After the dehydration, you can be sure of a very long shelf life for your fruits and vegetables.

Here are our Top Rated Food Dehydrator:

Top 5 Best Vertical Air-Flow Food Dehydrators 2016

Nesco FD-75A Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator
  • Nesco FD-75A
  • Watts: 600
    Thermostat: Adjustable
    Drying Trays: 5
    Expandable to Trays: 12
  • Editor Rating: 4.5 Stars
Presto 06300 Dehyro Electric
  • Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric
  • Watts: 600
    Thermostat: Non-adjustable
    Drying Trays: 4
    Expandable to Trays: 8
  • Editor Rating: 4.5 Stars
Nesco American Harvest FD-61 WHC Snackmaster Express
  • Nesco FD-61WHC Snackmaster Express
  • Watts: 500
    Thermostat: Adjustable
    Drying Trays: 5
    Expandable to Trays: 12
  • Editor Rating: 4.7 Stars
Nesco FD60 Snackmaster Express
  • Nesco FD-60 Snackmaster Express
  • Watts: 500
    Thermostat Adjustable
    Drying Trays: 4
    Expandable to Trays: 12
  • Editor Rating: 4.6 Stars
Waring Pro DHR30
  • Waring Pro DHR30
  • Watts: 620
    Thermostat: Adjustable
    Drying Tray: 5
    Expandable to Trays: 9
  • Editor Rating: 4.2 Stars

Top 5 Best Horizontal Air-Flow Food Dehydrators 2016

Excalibur 3926 With Timer
  • Excalibur 3926T
  • Dimension: 19" x 17" x 12.5" Watts: 600
    Thermostat: Adjustable
    Drying Trays: 9
    26 Hour Timer
  • Editor Rating: 4.7 Stars
Excalibur 3900 Deluxe
  • Excalibur 3900 Deluxe
  • Dimension: 19" x 17" x 12.5"
    Watts: 600
    Thermostat: Adjustable
    Drying Trays: 9
  • Editor Rating: 4.7 Stars
Excalibur 2900 ECB Economy Dehydrator
  • Excalibur 2900 ECB Economy
  • Dimension: 19" x 17" x 12.5"
    Watts: 600
    Thermostat: Adjustable
    Drying Trays: 9
  • Editor Rating: 4.7 Stars
Excalibur 3526T
  • Excalibur 3526T
  • Dimension: 19" x 17" x 8.5"
    Watts: 400
    Thermostat Adjustable
    Drying Trays: 5
    26 Hour Timer
  • Editor Rating: 4.5 Stars
Excalibur 3500 Deluxe
  • Excalibur 3500 Deluxe
  • Dimension: 19" x 17" x 8.5"
    Watts: 440
    Thermostat: Adjustable
    Drying Tray: 5
  • Editor Rating: 4.5 Stars

What is a Food Dehydrator?

Food dehydration is one of the oldest methods of preserving food, and human beings have been doing it for thousands of years. Even with the invention of advanced methods of preservation such as refrigeration food dehydration is still very current. And the popularity has been growing steadily in the last few years. A food dehydrator is a machine that is designed to remove all the moisture from different types of foods with fruits and vegetables being the most common ones. It uses a low temperature and a fan to remove the water from food while keeping all the enzymes intact. It uses a heat source and air flow to dehydrate food and although most are electrical there are still others that use solar power.

Why Should You Have The Best Food Dehydrator?best food dehydrator

Just like with any other home appliance, it is advisable to buy the best food dehydrator. Most people assume that the ability to dry your food thoroughly or as you wish is what makes a good food dehydrator but there is way much more to it than this. Although this is the main reason why you should buy the best there are still many other reasons and they will convince you to shop for the best in the market. Below are a few ways that having the best dehydrator is good for you.

  • Less Noise: Just like any electric machine the dehydrator makes some noise when it is in operation. However, the level of noise that the device will make depends on several things, but its built quality is the main one. And so if you have a quality machine it will not make a lot of noise.
  • You can use it for other purposes: Advanced food dehydrator will not just remove water from your food, but they can also serve other purposes. And this means that you get to do several other things with your machine such as making yogurt and proofing sourdough bread.
  • It will serve you for long: A quality machine is designed to last for many years because it has durable components. If you buy a top notch machine, you will not have to buy a new one soon, and this will save you a lot of money in the long run. In fact, some are built to last for a lifetime, and they have a very long guarantee to show this.
  • The best dehydrator will get the job done: Food Dehydration is a process that requires a particular temperature, and anything below or above it only means that the food will not dry as needed. However, the best of these machines have what it takes to ensures that you get all the moisture from any food.
  • It guarantees equal heat distribution: A good dehydrator will make sure that heat is distributed equally to all trays, and this means that all the food inside the machine will get dehydrated to the same level and within the same time.

Types of Food Dehydrators

There are several models of food dehydrators, and they also come in different shapes and design because they come from various manufacturers. However, you can classify all of them into two broad categories that are vertical-flow and horizontal-flow. This classification is according to the direction of the air-flow.

1. Vertical-Flow Dehydrator

best food dehydrator
Nesco FD-61 Snackmaster Encore Food Dehydrator

Just as the name suggests, the air flow in a vertical machine is in an up and down orientation. This device comes with the heating element and the fan on the base, but few will have them at the top. The air moves from the bottom towards the top, and so the foods on the lower trays tend to dry faster than the rest but they are also more affordable, and this makes them perfect when shopping on a budget.

Pros

  • This machine is very fast when you are using a few trays of food.
  • It is more affordable than the horizontal flow machine.
  • Vertical-flow is also very ideal for delicate foods such as strawberries, fish, raisins, and herbs.
  • They are small and compact devices, and so they take up less kitchen space.
  • There are several brands to choose from since it is more common than the horizontal.

Cons

  • The foods on the lower tray dry faster than the rest because air flows from below.
  • It is not very effective when you want to dehydrate large batches of food.
  • You have to pay close attention to the foods on the bottom to ensure that they do not over-dehydrate.
  • When using this dehydrator you have to rotate the trays occasionally and this means that it requires more attention than the horizontal.

2. Horizontal-Flow Dehydrator

best food dehydrator
Excalibur 3926TB Food Dehydrator

With this type of dehydrators, air will flow from the sides (horizontally).It comes in many forms, but the stackable models are the most popular ones because you can expand them to use many trays. However, the heat is still distributed equally meaning that all foods get dehydrated at the same rate. These machines are perfect when you have large volumes of food to dry. However, they are also more expensive than the vertical ones, and they also consume more energy.

Pros

  • Foods will dry uniformly regardless of the number of trays because air flows from the sides.
  • It is perfect for drying meat, poultry and any other hard vegetables and fruits.
  • A horizontal-flow machine is perfect for making steamed walnut leaves and fruit leather rolls.
  • This machine is perfect if you are a busy person because you can put the food and allow it to dry while you do other things since you do not have to rotate trays.

Cons

  • They consume more energy than the vertical one, and they are also not ideal for delicate food.
  • Dehydration takes longer than when using a vertical-flow machine.
  • These machines are more expensive than other types.

Things to Consider While Buying a Best Food Dehydrator

A food dehydrator is one of those machines that every home must have as it reduces food wastages and it also has may other benefits. However, just like with any other home appliance you should not just buy any dehydrator but you should only go for the best of them all. It may sound very straightforward, but things are not always easy especially for first-time buyers. There are several brands in the market, and they come in different shapes and sizes. If you do not have the right information choosing among them will be tough. However, there are some specific things that you should consider if you want a machine that will serve you efficiently and for long. Below are a few of the important things that you should consider when buying the best food dehydrator.

  • Capacity

Capacity is a crucial fact that you should consider before buying any dehydrator as this is what will determine how conveniently and efficiently it will serve you. When looking at this, you should first determine how frequently you will be using your device and also the volume of food that you expect to be dehydrating. It is important to choose a machine that is big enough to handle all your food without having to put them in several batches. However, you should also avoid buying one with excess capacity because you will have to pay more for it and this only means you will waste some money.

  • Air Flow: Vertical or Horizontal

This factor is one of the most if not the most important thing that you should consider when shopping for a dehydrator. However, you should first understand what a vertical-flow and horizontal-flow is and also their merits and demerits. The air flow in a vertical machine is up and down since the fan and heat element are at the bottom. It is typically a small device that is perfect for delicate foods such as raisins and herb. However, it also has some issues with heat distribution because the foods on the bottom tend to dry faster than those on the top trays but it is also very affordable. The horizontal-flow, on the other hand, has the air flowing from the sides, and this ensures equal heat distribution throughout the machine, but it is also more expensive than the vertical one. And so it is important to understand each type of machine and choose one that conforms to your individual needs.

  • Tray Access: Stacking Models or Shelf Tray Models

best food dehydrator

The tray access is also a vital factor and any person with a dehydrator understands just how this may make you happy or annoy you. And so it is important to consider the access because you will need to check on the food when it is drying to ensure everything is going as you wish. A good access means that you will have an easy time when setting the food, checking it and also when removing it once it is ready. With shelf tray models this is very easy because each tray can pull out individually just like in an ordinary oven and so there is no need to interfere with the shelves below or above. However, the story is very different with stackable models because you have to lift all trays above a middle one if you want to check it. And so you should consider how this will affect you before making your choice on what to buy.

  • Material¬†

The material is one of the most important things that you should consider when purchasing any appliance and so a food dehydrator is not an exception. These machines are not very cheap, and so you should buy something that you can use for a long time so as to save some money because you will not need to replace it soon. Although most are made of durable and food safe plastic there are some issues with the fumes and chemicals that the plastic emits when it gets hot. And so as an informed buyer you should go for a stainless steel machine as it will not only last for a long time, but it also has no safety issues.

  • Versatility

The best machine for you is the one that allows you to do various things without having to look for a separate one. And so you should always look at the versatility of a dehydrator before buying it, but this will need you to understand them well. However, if you know what a dehydrator can do and what it cannot do you can determine how versatile it is. For example, a shelf tray model allows you to remove some of the trays, and this means that it can accommodate taller foods without having to chop or change their shape. This machine also makes it possible to proof bread and make yogurt once you remove some trays. All these things may not be possible when you are using a stackable model, and so you should consider whether you intend to do anything else with your machine other than just drying food.

  • Budgetsaving money

It is paramount to stick to your budget as this is the only way to ensure that you do not go through unnecessary financial constraints. Consider the amount of money that you are willing to spend on the device before you buy it. And this is simply because the price varies not only from one brand to the other but also according to capacity and type. For example, vertical-flow ones are cheaper than horizontal-flow machines, and so your budget is what should determine what you should buy.

  • Customer Reviews

One can never overemphasize the importance of reading customer reviews before buying anything. And this is because they are the most reliable way to find out how the machine works and other important things about it. Although every manufacturer will advertise their dehydrator as the best on the market, it is only an independent person who uses it can ascertain or refute this. And so it is vital to spare some time to go through online food dehydrator reviews before buying any dehydrator that interests you.

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Here Are Our Best Food Dehydrator Reviews

Nesco FD-75APresto 06300Nesco American Harvest FD-61WHCExcalibur 3926 with TimerExcalibur 3900Excalibur 2900ECB

Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator FD-75A – Best Seller

The FD-75A is one of the newest machines from Nesco, and it works better than most of their previous devices. It has a top mounted heat element and fan, but its trays have a distinctive design that ensures equal heat distribution. The machine comes with five racks, but it is expandable to a total of 12. Its controls are at the top, but it does not have a timer or a power button.

Nesco FD-75A Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator

Features and Specifications

  • Airflow System: The heating element is top mounted, but it uses a patented system called the Converga-flow for fast and uniform drying. It has unique trays with holes at the center and some air channels on the system to ensure equal heat distribution.
  • Materials: It has a unique opaque plastic material that blocks any harmful light, and this ensures that the foods preserve their nutrients during the drying process.
  • Capacity: This is a medium size machine that comes with five trays with each one providing about one square foot of drying area. However, you can expand it to 12 trays to increase the size of the drying area.
  • Controls: The controls are on top of the machine, and it does not have a time or power switch, and the only thing available is a temperature control.
  • Weight and Dimensions: FD-75A weighs only 9 pounds making it one of the lightest on the market and its dimensions are 13.8 x 22.1 x 13.9 inches.

Pros

  • FD-75A comes with an expandable feature meaning you can dry a lot of food in one batch.
  • This appliance will not require a lot of counter space because it has a very compact design.
  • It has an opaque exterior that will block out any harmful lights.
  • You get five free trays and a recipe book when you buy this machine.
  • Perfect for drying delicate flowers, herbs, fish, beef and turkey.
  • The top mounted fan makes it very easy to clean.
  • It is a very affordable dehydrator

Cons

  • The actual running temperature of the machine is different from what the manufacturer claims
  • This machine does not come with a timer and so you have to keep on checking on your food.
  • Its plastic body makes it less durable than others on the market.
  • Airflow is equal, and so the foods on the top trays will dry faster than the rest.

Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator – Cheap Food Dehydrator

The Presto 06300 is an expandable four-tray dehydrator that is perfect for drying vegetables, fruits, seafood and vegetables. It has a bottom mounted fan and heat element, and this ensures that you get consistent vertical airflow. This machine also has a see-through cover that lets you monitor the drying progress.

Presto 06300 Dehyro Electric

Features and Specifications

  • 4 Tray System: This machine has four trays for drying food, and it will only cost you a fraction of what you would pay for commercial dry foods. The machine is also expandable to eight trays to increase its capacity.
  • Bottom Mounted Fan and Heat Element: The heat element and fan are at the bottom of the machine, and this means that the air flow will be vertical. And so you might have to keep on rotating the trays to ensure that foods dry equally.
  • See-through Cover: Presto 06300 has a see through cover that makes it possible for you to monitor the drying progress.
  • Dishwasher Friendly: Cleaning could not be easier because the cover and all the trays are immiscible in a dishwasher, and this ensures faster and efficient cleaning.
  • Weight and Dimensions: This machine weighs 7.5 pounds, and its dimensions are 14.5 x 6.25 x 15 inches.

Pros

  • The machine operates very quietly and so it will not disturb your sleep if you leave it running overnight.
  • Its compact design and lightweight make it easy to move around.
  • Presto 06300 is very easy to use and also affordable.
  • It is very easy to wash after use hence making its maintenance effortless.
  • The see-through cover makes it possible to monitor the progress of the dehydration.
  • This machine is also fairly priced.

Cons

  • It does not have a thermostat, and so this can be an issue when drying meats and jerkies.
  • The lack of a timer means that you have to keep of checking to ensure food is drying well.
  • You have to rotate the trays after some time because it does not have an equal heat distribution.
  • This machine is a little bit small, and so it will not work for you if you have large batches of food to dry.

Nesco American Harvest FD-61WHC Snackmaster Express Food Dehydrator

The FD-61WHC is another impressive machine from Nesco, and it has a top mounted fan and heat element but uses the patented Converga-Flow action to ensure equal heat distribution to all trays. It comes with five stacks but it accommodates up to 12, and this gives it a very impressive capacity. The body is BPA free plastic, and so you will never have to worry about food poisoning from noxious fumes. It also has an Opaque Vita-Save exterior that will block all harmful lights and hence prevents them from destroying the nutrients in your food.

Nesco American Harvest FD-61WHC Snackmaster Express Food Dehydrator

Features and Specifications

  • Capacity: This machine comes with a total of 5 trays, but this is expandable to 12 to offer you a big drying area for your foods.
  • Heat Distribution: The powerful heating element and fan are at the top, but the heat will be distributed equally throughout the machine thanks to the patented Converga-Flow action. And it has a power rating of 500w making it ideal for drying most types of food.
  • Materials: It is a BPA-free plastic dehydrator, and so you will not have to worry about any noxious fumes from the machine when it overheats. And so you can even leave it running overnight without worrying about food poisoning.
  • Opaque Vita-Save Exterior: This exterior coating will block harmful light to ensure that your foods preserve all their nutrients.
  • Accessories: FD-61WHC comes with a roll sheet, individual ones for drying herbs, and a jerky gun for making jerky. And this just means that you can use it straight from the box because it comes with everything you need.
  • Weight and Dimensions: The machine weighs 9 pounds, and the dimensions are 13 x 11 x 13 inches.

Pros

  • This machine is relatively faster than most others on the market.
  • Comes with everything that you need to dry all types of food including a jerky gun.
  • It is very easy to use because everything is straightforward.
  • Converga-flow action ensures fast drying and eliminates the need to rotate trays.
  • You can expand it to 12 trays to get a large drying area.
  • It is entirely dishwasher safe, and this makes cleaning easy for you.

Cons

  • The thermometer is a few degrees off, but you will be able to control the temperature better once you get used to the machine.
  • Its 500W power means that you cannot use it to dry foods that are very thick.
  • The plastic in the machine is BPA free, but it will not last as long as stainless steel.
  • Other downsides include the lack of an on/off button and a jerky cup.

Excalibur 3926 with Timer Food Dehydrator – Best Food Dehydrator with Horizontal Air-Flow

Excalibur 3926 is a horizontal-flow machine that has everything that you can ever wish for in a dehydrator. It operates with a massive seven-inch fan and a heating element with a wattage of 600 and hence giving it enough power to dry any food. The built-in timer makes it possible to set food to dry for up to 26 hours, and it has nine large removable trays that give you 15 square feet of food drying area.

Excalibur 3926 With Timer

Features and Specifications

  • Adjustable Thermostat: The thermostat allows you to get temperatures ranging between 95 and 155 degrees. You can use the high temperatures to make jerky and the lower one for fragile food.
  • Built-in Timer: It comes with a built-in timer that you can use to set the machine to operate for up to 26 hours. And so with this machine, you only need to set the time and forget about it.
  • Parallexx Drying System: This patented system will provide you with fast and even drying. The fan and heating element are at the back of the machine, and so this makes sure that hot air is distributed evenly throughout the device.
  • Trays: It nine trays in total that will give you 15 square feet of drying area. These shelves are also removable, and so you can get rid of some to create space for dehydrating large jars or chunky food.
  • Flexible Poly-Screen: The flexible poly-screen is one the things that customers like most about this machine because it allows you to dry food without it sticking to the tray.
  • Operation: It has a horizontal airflow that ensures even distribution of heat. And it operates with a seven-inch fun and a voltage of 110V.
  • Dimensions: Its dimensions are 12 x 17 x 19 inches

Pros

  • The nine trays give this machine more drying space than any homeowner can ever need.
  • Horizontal air flow ensures even heat distribution in all the trays.
  • It has a 26-hour timer that gives you the freedom to set and forget about it.
  • Very easy to use even if you do not have a prior experience with food dehydrators.
  • It comes with an impressive 7-inch fan that increases efficiency and performance.
  • You can use this machine to dry any food that you wish.

Cons

  • It is a massive machine, and so it will take up a lot of counter space.
  • Moving it from one place to the other may be an issue because it is quite bulky.
  • The fan noise is louder than other advanced machines in the same category
  • Its plastic construction makes it less durable than stainless steel models

Excalibur 3900 Deluxe Food Dehydrator

Excalibur 3900 is an amazing nine-tray dehydrator that you will want to keep for as long as possible. It has an adjustable thermostat that lets you control the temperature according to the food that you wish to dry, and it is also a powerful 600W machine with a seven-inch fan. And to make things even easier for you, it has a built-in ON/OFF switch.

Excalibur 3900 Deluxe

Features and Specifications

  • Large Capacity: This dehydrator comes with large removable trays that will give you up to 15 square feet of drying space.
  • Polycarbonate Trays: The polycarbonate shelves also have a poly-screen insert that ensures that your foods do not stick and this, in turn, makes cleaning very easy for you.
  • Adjustable Thermostat: Excalibur 3900 gives you the capability to control the temperature during the drying process because it has an adjustable thermostat that varies the temperature between 85 and 145 degrees.
  • Built-in On/Off Switch: This might sound like something minor, but it gives you more control because most other machines do not have this switch.
  • Airflow: It has a horizontal airflow because the fan and the heating element are on the rear side of the device. The seven-inch fan is heavy duty, and the machine has a wattage of 600W.
  • Opaque Plastic Casing: The opaque plastic will block light and hence ensuring that your food preserves all the vital nutrients.

Pros

  • Excalibur 3900 is very easy to clean, and this is thanks to the poly-screen inserts that prevent food from sticking.
  • It has a large drying space thanks to the massive nine trays.
  • The adjustable thermostat gives you better control of the temperature.
  • You can set and leave it to do other things because it has a built in timer.
  • This machine is also a great proofing box for sourdough.
  • It comes with an extended ten-year warranty.

Cons

  • Some customers also complain that this unit is too loud especially if you compare it to some other brands
  • Its controls are at the rear of the dehydrator, and most people find this inconvenient.
  • The design is basic if you compare it to other modern dehydrators.

Excalibur 2900ECB Economy Dehydrator – Cheap Horizontal Air-Flow Food Dehydrator

Excalibur 2900ECB is a machine for consumers who are shopping on a budget. It has almost identical features as the 3900 that costs way much more than it. It might not have as much power as the 3900, but it will serve you better than most others on the market. This dehydrator has a large capacity thanks to its massive nine trays. And it also has an adjustable thermostat and a built-in On/Off switch that gives you better control of your machine. It also has other excellent features such as a removable door for easy cleaning and poly-screens to prevent food from sticking on the shelves.

Excalibur 2900 ECB Economy Dehydrator

Features and Specifications

  • Adjustable Thermostat: The built in time allows you to adjust the temperature, and you can vary it between 105 and 165 degrees.
  • Built in Switch: With this machine, you get to control when to switch in on and off. And this means that you have a better control of how you want the foods to dry.
  • Trays: it comes with nine removable shelves that will give you a total of 15 square feet for drying your foods. And the fact that the trays are removable means that you can still use the machine to dehydrate dense foods.
  • Removable Door: You can detach the door from the device, and this makes clean up and loading easy.
  • Poly-Screen Inserts: With the Excalibur 2900ECB you will never have to worry about the mess that food create when they stick on trays because the poly-screens will help prevent this from happening.

Pros

  • It is not necessary to rotate trays because it has a massive seven-inch fan that provides even horizontal airflow.
  • Excalibur has been on the market for many years, and so it is a proven and reliable brand.
  • It has a drying guide printed next to the controls, and this makes reference easy.
  • You can dry all your food in one batch because it has a larger drying space.
  • Thermostat makes it easy to vary the temperature.
  • It is an affordable food dehydrator.

Cons

  • 440 watts may not be enough for dense foods and it will take a lot of time to dehydrate them.
  • Just like with most Excalibur dehydrators, the controls are at the rear of the machine.
  • The design would do with some improvements to make it look modern.
  • It may not be the loudest, but it is noisier than other advanced machines on the market.

>> Click Here To Read More Food Dehydrator Reviews <<

Conclusion

A food dehydrator is an important and very helpful machine to have at home, but you should make sure that you have one that it is top notch. Choosing a dehydrator should not be a problem with the above important things in mind, but there are also other things that you should consider such as the brand. And if you want to buy the best dehydrator it is also important not to be in a hurry and instead, take the time to compare several brands.