The 6 Best Food Dehydrators of 2023, Tested and Approved

Whether you prefer to eat homemade beef jerky on a camping trip or you like to meal prep far in advance, chances are you’ve seen the benefits of adding a food dehydrator to your arsenal of kitchen appliances. But with so many options on the market, how do you know which is the best food dehydrator for you?

Temperature range is one feature that should be top of mind when shopping for a food dehydrator for home use, says Tiffany Sage Swan, retreat chef, food scientist, and author of Confidence in the Kitchen. You’ll need to heat your dehydrator up to the appropriate temperature depending on the ingredients you’re drying. Some dehydrators allow you to adjust the heat by choosing from temperature range presets—similar to a low, medium, or high setting—while others are programmable to a specific degree point. Occasional users will find dehydrators with more general heat settings to be sufficient for their needs, but as Swan says, “If you’re going to be really getting into dehydrating things, having that [adjustable] temperature range will be great because you can do more precise drying depending on the product.” 

To help you find the best food dehydrators on the market, we tested out 18 models in our lab in Birmingham, Alabama. We dried trays upon trays of herbs, beef jerky, and fruit leather to help us decide which models were the easiest and most efficient to use. We also consulted with Swan to learn more about what to look for when buying a food dehydrator for home use.

Best Overall

Magic Mill MFD-7100 Food Dehydrator Machine


Amazon


Our Ratings

  • Ease of Use

    5/5

  • Performance

    4.5/5

  • Ease of Cleaning

    5/5

  • Design

    5/5

  • Noise

    5/5

After testing 18 models, we found this to be the best food dehydrator. The device reached the desired temperature after 40 minutes and stayed consistent the entire time. As a result, the ingredients dried evenly without any cracking, no matter whether we placed them on a high, middle, or lower tray. The fruit leather also peeled off quite easily—there’s a designated fruit leather tray that does its job quite well.

Many of the best food dehydrators we tested were substantial appliances, so know that this machine will take up a moderate amount of room on your counter. However, it’s super quiet, so we feel like this advantage balances out its large size. The front door is easy to open, and it will stay open to slide the trays in and out or adjust the contents on the trays. The display and temperature controls are easy to use, so if you’re new to dehydrating food, you’ll get up to speed rather quickly—even though we found herbs dried slowly.

We liked that the door is clear, so you’re able to check in on your ingredients during the dehydration process. What’s even better? The trays are dishwasher-safe for easy cleanup. 

Price at time of publish: $150

Product Details: Dimensions: 18 x 13 x 14 inches | Number of Trays: Seven | Temperature Range: Maximum of 165°F | Dishwasher Safe: Yes

Best Budget

Elite Gourmet EFD319 Food Dehydrator

Elite Gourmet EFD319 Food Dehydrator

Amazon


Our Ratings

  • Ease of Use

    5/5

  • Performance

    4/5

  • Ease of Cleaning

    5/5

  • Design

    3/5

  • Noise

    4.5/5

If you’re brand new to dehydration or know that you won’t be drying ingredients very often, you might be daunted by the price tag on some of these models. That’s why we love this effective and budget-friendly appliances from Elite Gourmet.

There aren’t a lot of controls to fiddle with on the five-tray dehydrator, which makes it even easier for first-timers to get acclimated. However, the single knob with temperature ranges doesn’t allow for more precise temperature control, so it might be frustrating for more veteran users.

While the device never came to full temperature and the bottom trays dried quicker than the top and middle levels, we still found that everything came out well. Overall, we love that this model has a compact footprint—which is not something you can always say about food dehydrators. Still, despite its smaller size, we felt the capacity was as big or even roomier than the other models we tested. 

Price at time of publish: $38

Product Details: Dimensions: 11.4 x 8.5 x 11.4 inches | Number of Trays: Five | Temperature Range: 95ºF to 158ºF | Dishwasher Safe: Yes

Best for Jerky

Cosori Premium Stainless Steel Dehydrator

Cosori Food Dehydrator

Amazon


Our Ratings

  • Ease of Use

    5/5

  • Performance

    5/5

  • Ease of Cleaning

    4.5/5

  • Design

    5/5

  • Noise

    5/5

If you’re a jerky fan, you’re in for a treat with this food dehydrator. We found that the device came to temperature fairly quickly and stayed there. We were impressed with how evenly it dried ingredients, no matter where it was stacked. There was no cracking, and the fruit leather peeled off easily. 

While it does hold lots of jerky and other ingredients, this medium-sized dehydrator won’t take up your entire counter while in use. We liked how easily the side door opens and closes, making it super simple to load and remove trays. In fact, we preferred using the side door. The front has a convenient glass window to keep an eye on your ingredients, but we did find it a challenge to pop it open—we would have loved a handle rather than just an indentation for your fingers. The digital controls made it easy to adjust time and temperature, so overall, it’s great for all of your meat jerky recipes.

Price at time of publish: $149

Product Details: Dimensions: 13.5 x 12.2 17.8 inches | Number of Trays: Six | Temperature Range: 95° to 165°F | Dishwasher Safe: Top rack; remove trays before dry cycle

Most Durable

Samson “Silent” Dehydrator

Samson "Silent" Dehydrator

Amazon


Our Ratings

  • Ease of Use

    5/5

  • Performance

    4.5/5

  • Ease of Cleaning

    2/5

  • Design

    5/5

  • Noise

    5/5

We found that this dehydrator lived up to its name—it was very quiet compared to the other devices we tried out. We also liked that the LCD digital control panel was easily accessible on the top of the machine’s front side.

We were impressed by its ability to dry ingredients evenly no matter where we placed the trays.  The fruit leather not only dried quickly, but it was easy to peel off, too. We also liked that though this machine is medium-sized, it’s not tremendously tall, so you could stow it in a corner under cabinets if you wanted to keep it out of sight. The metal trays are durable, too—definitely sturdier than some of the plastic trays in other models we tested.

Price at time of publish: $130

Product Details: Dimensions: 18.98 x 14.02 x 14.72  inches | Number of Trays: Six | Temperature Range: 95ºF to 158ºF | Dishwasher Safe: Not listed

Best Compact

Nesco FD-75A Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator

NESCO Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator

 Amazon


Our Ratings

  • Ease of Use

    5/5

  • Performance

    4/5

  • Ease of Cleaning

    5/5

  • Design

    3/5

  • Noise

    4/5

If the sheer size of some of these food dehydrators gives you pause, check this one out. The machine is not only compact, but it’s easy to set up, too—just plug in and you’re ready to go. It has a round design, which makes it stand out from the other square and rectangular models on our list. We liked that the convenient handle on the top made it easy to open the dehydrator, though we found the round design made loading in the trays a bit trickier.

This food dehydrator is simple to use, which is normally a good thing, but we would have preferred more precise temperature control as opposed to the dial with preset temperature ranges. There’s no timer, so you’ll need to remember to set your watch, smartphone, or tablet when you’re dehydrating batches of ingredients. As a result, we found that the ingredients dried a bit unevenly, so you might have some trial and error your first couple of uses.

Price at time of publish: $85

Product Details: Dimensions: 13.75 x 13.87 x 22.13 inches | Number of Trays: 12 | Temperature Range: 95°F to 160°F | Dishwasher Safe: Top rack; remove before drying cycle

Best Large Capacity

Gourmia GFD1950 Premium Electric Food Dehydrator Machine

Gourmia Premium Electric Food Dehydrator Machine

Amazon


Our Ratings

  • Ease of Use

    5/5

  • Performance

    4/5

  • Ease of Cleaning

    3/5

  • Design

    5/5

  • Noise

    4/5

If you are a champion meal prepper who fills a fridge with meals for weeks or you want beef jerky to feed the whole crew on your next camping trip, this is the best food dehydrator for you. Although this dehydrator is large and rather tall—it holds a whopping nine trays, after all—it has a streamlined design so it doesn’t take up as much room as you might think on your countertop.

We found that the top, middle, and bottom rows dried rather evenly. However, we found we needed to extend the drying time on some ingredients. We were also a bit disappointed to see that fruit leather was hard to peel off the tray, but we think with some experimentation this could be solved for future batches. The digital display is easy to access right on top, and we liked that we had full control over the time and temperature. 

Price at time of publish: $138

Product Details: Dimensions: 17.75 x 16 x 13.5 inches | Number of Trays: Nine | Temperature Range: 95˚F to 158˚F  | Dishwasher Safe: No

The Bottom Line

The Magic Mill Food Dehydrator Machine is the best food dehydrator we tested. It was effective and easy to use for all the recipes we tried. We love that the digital display allows for more precise temperature and time control; plus, we appreciate that the trays are dishwasher-safe for easy cleanup.

Our Testing Process 

We tested 18 food dehydrators in our Birmingham, Alabama, lab, putting each through three drying tests: dried herbs, beef jerky, and fruit leather. We noted details like ease of assembly during setup—particularly how simple or challenging it was to load trays—as well as any special features, such as a digital control panel or specialty food mats or racks, like a designated fruit leather tray.

For the herb drying test, we dried sprigs of thyme at a 95ºF setting, recording the temperature at each tray level and location in the hydrator as well as the time it took to dry out the herbs. 

For beef jerky, we heated up the dehydrators to 150ºF. We once again recorded the internal temperature and how long it took to properly dry the beef into jerky. Then, we cleaned the dehydrator per the manufacturer’s guidelines, noting how easy or challenging it was.

For fruit leather, we started out with a thawed pint of frozen berries that we pureed and cooled before adding 2 teaspoons of lemon juice. With dehydrators set to 140ºF, we prepared the trays, noting which dehydrators came with plastic sheets or which ones needed to be wrapped in plastic wrap. We made a note of how much of the berry puree each  tray could hold, then dried it for five hours, or until it achieved the consistency of fruit leather. We noted how easy it was to then peel from the trays, then we cleaned the dehydrator per the manufacturer’s instructions.

During each of the food drying tests, we analyzed the noise level of each dehydrator by playing a song on our phone as it sat right next to the device; we rated how well we could still hear the music on a scale of 1 to 5. 

After all three food tests, we made our final selections for the best food dehydrators list based on ease of use (including setup and cleaning), design and features, noise level, and overall performance.

What to Know About Food Dehydrators Before Shopping

Style 

Food dehydrators tend to come in two different styles—stackable or slidable trays. Which model you choose all comes down to preference. Swan prefers slideable because the trays are more rigid, which is good for making ingredients that might be a bit runny when you first insert them. However, if you’re looking to use flexible silicone trays—great for when you want food to peel off easily without cracking, like fruit leather—she says a stackable dehydrator is your best bet.

Additionally, slidable trays are usually metal, which Swan loves to use because they’re dishwasher-safe. Flexible, stackable trays are often made from nylon, which might be dishwasher safe, but you should read the manual to make sure—you might instead have to hand wash them, but they’re generally pretty easy to clean.

Airflow

Hot air flows through a food dehydrator in either a vertical or horizontal motion. Dehydrators with vertical air flow typically have a stackable, more compact design, so if counter space is an issue, you’ll likely lean toward buying one with vertical air flow. If you’ve got more room or prefer a dehydrator with slidable trays, these have horizontal flow capability. Since these are bigger, they’re good for frequent users or those who like to dry a lot of ingredients at once.

Swan says whether air flows vertically or horizontally in a food dehydrator really comes down to your budget and design preferences. She personally likes dehydrators with a vertical air flow. “You’re drying out the bottom and the top at the same time as it goes through the trays as opposed to just coming over the top like in an oven,” she explains. 

Temperature Range

The selections on our best food dehydrators list range between 85°F and 165°F. That’s fine for dehydration, but it’s important to keep microbial growth in mind, says Swan. For meat, which can spoil quite easily, she recommends curing it a bit. “That’s why jerky is great,” she explains. “You’ve got a bit of salt and sugar there to help preserve it.

If you are drying something that can lead to spoiling, you’ll want it to dry between three and four hours, Swan says. “If it takes longer than four hours, then your chances of microbial growth are going to be so much greater,” she explains.

Swan says you don’t have to worry as much with foods not threatened by microbial growth, but here’s the caveat: Wash the outside of your foods before dehydrating so that you don’t bring the microbes in with your knife as you peel and slice.

Features

At the end of the day, all the best food dehydrators do the same thing, but with varying levels of efficiency. Depending on your budget and frequency of use, you can opt for the most basic of models, or you could go for one with more features, like more precise temperature adjustment.

“If you’re a once-in-a-blue-moon user, you probably don’t need to splurge on all the bells and whistles,” says Swan. “But if you’re going to be using it regularly, you’re going to want something that’s going to be robust and last for a long time.” 

Other Food Dehydrators We Tested

Tribest SDE-S6780-B Sedona Express

Although the Tribest Sedona Express dried evenly and had a pleasing aesthetic—we wouldn’t mind leaving it on our countertop—it took over 1.5 hours just to come to temperature.

Cuisinart DHR-20 Food Dehydrator

While we were impressed with its even drying performance, we would have liked if this Cuisinart model included a timer and the option to customize the temperature beyond the low, medium, and high ranges. We also found the trays didn’t fit together easily.

NutriChef Food Dehydrator Machine

We loved the compact footprint of the NutriChef Food Dehydrator, but found it dried unevenly. We also would have preferred more precise temperature control.

Your Questions, Answered

How long will dehydrated food last?

If you’re debating whether to buy a food dehydrator because you’re unsure of how long dehydrated food will last, rest assured that it will be shelf stable for quite awhile. In short, much longer than regular food can. For example, fruit leather can last around three months or so, says Swan. It’ll last longer in the freezer, but be careful with taking it in and out too frequently, because you’ll let it get moisture in it from the condensation.

Food dehydrators are a great choice for making foods and snacks for camping trips and storing on a shelf in your pantry.

Do you need to vacuum-seal dehydrated food?

Swan says vacuum sealing is always a great option when you want to store food longer because it keeps moisture out. It’s ideal if you like to meal prep because the food will last “kind of forever,” she says. 

Don’t have a vacuum sealer at home? No problem. Here’s Swan’s solution: Place the dried ingredients in a zip-top bag and get as much air out as you can. “The easiest way to do that is to submerge it in water and then have the water pressure push the air out of that almost-sealed bag,” she says. “That’ll get you pretty darn close [to a vacuum seal].”

What are the best foods to dehydrate?

“If there’s moisture in it, you can dehydrate it,” Swan says. That leaves the world of food hydration wide open to your personal preferences. “I don’t think that there’s anything that you couldn’t dehydrate as long as it’s not already dry,” she says, noting you can even dehydrate butter, though she admits she hasn’t tried it herself. 

Normally, Swan would recommend using ingredients that contain less than 90% moisture. But that would leave out watermelon, a moisture-rich fruit that does have enough solids in it to successfully be dehydrated. Although dehydrating watermelon might sound counterintuitive, Swan says, “It’s really, really good.”

Who We Are

Barbara Bellesi Zito is a freelance writer from Staten Island, New York, covering all things home and lifestyle for Better Homes & Gardens. To compile this list of the best food dehydrators, Barbara analyzed lab insights from our testing site in Birmingham, Alabama. She also consulted Tiffany Sage Swan, retreat chef, food scientist, and author of Confidence in the Kitchen.

What Is BHG Recommends?

Next to all of the products on this list, you may have noticed our BHG Recommends seal of approval. Products that earn the seal have been put through rigorous testing to make sure they’re worth a spot in your home. We buy most of the products we test ourselves, but occasionally we are provided samples by companies if buying isn’t an option. In these cases, we use the same testing criteria we use to test the purchased products.

Looking for more products that have earned our BHG Recommends seal of approval? Check out our picks for everything from picnic blankets to humidifiers.