Food dehydrators are a great way to both preserve food and make some of your favorite snacks at home. Beef jerky, yogurt, potato chips, and may other favorites can be made with a dehydrator and just a little bit of time.

We’ve picked out five of the best dehydrators on the market today and compared their features, capacity, and overall quality. We’ll also go into detail about the features you need to look out for and how to pick the best food dehydrator for your home.

  • 9 trays
  • 15 square feet of space
  • 26-hour timer
  • 5-year limited warranty

  • Stackable design can accommodate extra trays
  • Strong top-mounted fan
  • Opaque design blocks light
  • 1-year warranty

  • Easy reach top controls
  • LCD panel
  • 19-hour timer
  • Limited 5-year warranty

  • 360 degree circulation
  • Fruit leather sheet
  • Drip tray
  • 1-year warranty

  • 1000W Operation
  • Can stack up to 30 trays
  • Converga-Flow drying system
  • 1-year warranty


1

Quick Navigation

Excalibur 3926TB

This dehydrator pick is the largest by far out of any other dehydrator on our list and comes with more than enough features to justify its asking price. The Excalibur 3826TB is a horizontal food dehydrator with a glass door, which’ll let you see how your food is faring without disrupting the dehydration process. You can dehydrate food on nine trays for a day or longer with the included 26-hour timer and adjust the temperature across a wide range of options.

We greatly appreciate the lengthy warranty and overall quality, but do have to note that this option is going to cost a significant amount more than most others on our list. At over 20 pounds, the Excalibur is also cumbersome and may be difficult to move around the kitchen. Still, the Excalibur 3926TB is highly lauded, offers huge capacity, and is built to last.

Pros

  • Sturdy build
  • High capacity
  • Long timer
  • Glass door
  • Great warranty

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Bulky & heavy


Stackable dehydrators certainly have their benefits—and this vertical option from NESCO checks off all of the boxes without breaking the bank. The NESCO FD-75A comes with five trays and a little under five square feet of space to work with. If you purchase extra trays, though, you can stack up to thirteen without needing to buy a second unit. This makes the NESCO FD-75A a great option for those who aren’t quite sure about how much space they may need.

While the opaque design makes it hard to track food progress, we greatly appreciate the simple white design and ease of use. Just turn the knob and the machine does the rest for you. If you need a simple option with lots of expandability for a low price, this is a great place to start.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Expandable
  • Easy operation
  • Compact design

Cons

  • Hard to track progress

For an affordable horizontal option that’s fairly compact and easy to control, the Samson Brands Silent Dehydrator may be right for you. As the name implies, this dehydrator keeps quiet and fairly out of the way with a small footprint. Six trays provide over six square feet of space to work with, so that footprint doesn’t come at the cost of capacity.

A great warranty and easy controls are both appreciated, although the plastic build quality can feel flimsy to some. Plus, at 400 watts of power, this dehydrator may take longer to work than others. Regardless, it’s reasonably priced, works well, and offers lots of options for the size.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Great warranty
  • Easy controls
  • Quiet operation

Cons

  • Weak construction
  • Low wattage

The Gourmia GFD1680 features a more modern, sleek design and uses a unique air circulation system that helps speed up the dehydration process. It offers six trays and over six square feet of room in a sleek, black package. Built into the unit is 360 degree circulation, which ensures air flow is even and no tray is more or less dehydrated than the next.

We appreciate the transparent door, which helps users keep track of their cooking with a simple glance, but the low wattage does mean cooking will take some time. The substantial weight of the Gourmia GFD1680 can also be a bit frustrating on the back. Overall, though, this dehydrator comes with more than enough room for single-family households and is a great pick for modern kitchens.

Pros

  • Sleek design
  • Affordable
  • Great air circulation
  • Easy operation

Cons

  • Heavy & bulky
  • Low wattage

The NESCO FD-1018A, our final pick, offers the greatest expandability and packs the biggest punch in terms of wattage. This model looks virtually identical to the NESCO FD-75A, but this variant comes with a 1000 watts of power and can dehydrate up to thirty trays at a time. There’s simply no competing with this option when it comes to capacity.

The opaque design and lack of timer are a bit disappointing, but we think the temperature range and unique Converge-Flow drying system make up for some of the lack of features with raw capability. The NESCO FD-1018A is great for those who need to dehydrate lots of food quickly.

Pros

  • Expandable to high capacity
  • Quick operation
  • Easy controls
  • Highly storable

Cons

  • No timer
  • Hard to track progress

Comparison Chart

Excalibur 3926TBNESCO FD-75ASamson Brands Silent DehydratorGourmia GFD1680NESCO FD-1018A
Air FlowHorizontalVerticalHorizontalHorizontalVertical
Drying Space15 sq ft~4.6 sq ft6.5 sq ft~6.5 sq ft8 sq ft
Trays95 (expandable to 13)668 (expandable to 30)
Temperature Range105-165F95-160F95-158F95-158F95-160F
Wattage600W600W400W480W1000W
Dimensions12.5 X 17 X 1913.8 X 22.1 X 13.917.8 X 12.5 X 13.519.3 X 15.2 X 14.117 X 15.5 X 14
Weight (lbs)227.0512.0517.6517

Buyer’s Guide:

Food Dehydrators

Getting into dehydrators can be a bit confusing for the first-time user. To help you pick between one of our five options, we’ve discussed trays, wattage, stacks, and we tackle more with our guide and answers to some commonly asked questions below. Here’s what you need to know before you buy.

Your first consideration when it comes to a dehydrator is going to be how much food you can effectively dry out. Dehydrators utilize multiple horizontal trays that allow you to fill your dehydrator from floor to ceiling with food. Still, some dehydrators are larger than others, and if you tend to a garden or have need to go through a higher-than-average volume of food, you may find that a larger dehydrator is better suited for you. Vertical dehydrators can also often be expanded with extra trays sold separately.

Dehydration is often a slow process, so if you want to make sure you aren’t spending half the week on your food needs, make sure that your needs align with the capacity of your dehydrator.

Perhaps the most important distinction between the five dehydrators on our list is between horizontally-drying and vertically-drying products. While both are able to dehydrate food just as effectively given enough time, there are a few differences and benefits between picking one or the other.

Horizontal dehydrators often come in stainless steel builds and utilize horizontal fans to blow air across the food rather than through it. This results in less taste and flavor transferring between different types of food in the same dehydrator, which can be a bit of an issue with vertical options. Horizontal dehydrators, however, are more expensive, heavier, bulkier, and take up more cabinet space overall. For small kitchens and spaces, this can be problematic. Likewise, horizontal dehydrators cannot be expanded using extra stacks. If you have more food to dry than can fit in the dehydrator, you’ll just have to work in batches.

Vertical dehydrators are able to get around this due to their design. Should you need more space, you can purchase many extra trays to add to the existing number and increase the overall square footage to your exact needs. Since hot air is being blown into the dehydrator from the bottom, though, flavors and tastes from foods in the bottom tray can transfer upward to the upper trays. Likewise, this design means that the top tray will dry out slower than the bottom tray. Uneven drying can be a bit of a frustrating issue—especially when working with meats—so you may need to dry for longer to achieve the same dehydration than with a horizontal option.

For more pros and cons to each type of dehydrator, be sure to check out the following table:

Horizontal Dehydrators

Pros

  • Dries more evenly
  • Works slightly faster
  • Glass doors allow you to view progress
  • No flavor transfer

Cons

  • Cannot be expanded
  • Heavy & bulky
  • Often more expensive
Vertical Dehydrators

Pros

  • Can be expanded with extra trays
  • Lighter & easier to store
  • Often more affordable

Cons

  • Uneven drying in some models
  • Can be slower
  • Some flavor transfer

The wattage of any appliance is often a measurement of the power of the device. In the case of dehydrators specifically, the wattage will give you a rough guess as to how powerful (and how efficient) your dehydrator will be. Lower powered dehydrators, such as the Samson Brands option on our list, will simply take more time to dehydrate than those with higher wattage, such as the NESCO FD-1018A.

Price differences and other features, though, make finding the right dehydrator more complicated than simply picking the most powerful and fastest option. For example, the issue of weight can be a problem, as dehydrators often don’t have a permanent space in the kitchen and countertop space is often more important to give to microwaves and more often-used appliances. This means that you may be lifting and replacing the dehydrator from cabinets or closets more often than you’d expect. Our dehydrators vary greatly in weight, so a lighter option may be more preferable for other homeowners or those who struggle with heavy appliances.

  • Why is space measured in square footage and not cubic footage?
  • Dehydrators rely on trays on which food is placed, and these trays are stacked from floor to ceiling within the dehydrator to maximize airflow and prevent any negative space left in the dehydrator. For simplicity’s sake, dehydrators offer their square footage as a measure of the amount of horizontal space offered by the number of trays included in the unit as opposed to the cubic volume.
  • Why are some dehydrators expandable and others aren’t?
  • This aspect of dehydrators has a lot to do with the design choices made by different dehydrator manufacturers. When it comes to vertical dehydrators, manufacturers are often able to build the fan and heating components in the bottom of the device and force air upward. This means that additional stacks can be added so long as the top section of the device (which keeps outside air out) remains on top.

    Stackable dehydrators often have a stacking limit, as noted with the two stackable options on our list. Horizontal dehydrators, on the other hand, have no means to expand. We recommend taking a look at your dehydrating needs and considering whether or not a stackable dehydrator is going to be necessary for your kitchen.

  • What temperatures are best for drying my food?
  • Food preservation procedures and safe dehydrating temperatures vary greatly, so it’s always important to double-check the proper temperature for your food. Many of the products on our list also include guides for properly drying and storing food as well as recipes for making some of your favorite snacks.

    Generally speaking, though, you’ll want to keep your temperature near 100 degrees Fahrenheit for sensitive and delicate items such as herbs. If you’re trying to make yogurt, 115 degrees Fahrenheit is often cited. Vegetables and fruits can keep in the 120-140 degrees Fahrenheit range, but meats need special attention to temperature.

    Heat your meats for at least four hours at the 155-160 degrees Fahrenheit range to ensure that your meats are safe to eat. These high temperatures are necessary for killing bacteria that could potentially cause food-borne illnesses.

Final Thoughts

All five of these dehydrators bring something unique to the table, but only one covers all of the bases and presents itself as the best overall pick for most homes.

The Excalibur 3926TB offers the highest capacity (excluding expansions) out of any dehydrator on our list and offers the timers, capacity, temperature range, and warranty for years worth of dehydrated treats. If the price on the Excalibur is too high, however, or you’re just looking for a basic dehydrator, the NESCO FD-75A gives you everything you need to get started with the option for adding more trays if you need the extra space.

Otherwise, we think the Samson Brands dehydrator is a good pick for quiet operation, the Gourmia GFD1680 is perfect for modern homes and affordability, and the NESCO FD-1018A gives you the most options in expansions and power. No matter which dehydrator you end up choosing, we hope your pick helps increase your favorite foods’ shelf life and expands your kitchen’s potential.

Related Posts